Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Warming Wednesdays: Why isn't Canada better on Climate Change?

Even before the current government, Canada has not exactly smothered itself in glory on the Climate Change file.  While the Chretien Liberal government did ratify Kyoto, they never actually took action to implement it and actually reduce emissions.  While plenty has been written rightly scolding both Chretien and Martin for their lack of action, it must be said that there really wasn't a lot of public support for it.  Rather than rehashing the failures of elites, I think this lack of groundswell is somewhat noteworthy given how close Australia is to implementing its own national carbon pricing scheme.  While some would hand wave about the impact of Canada's oil patch, Australia has huge coal reserves, and pricing carbon will make them seriously unhappy

While there are many things going on, I'm going to submit that this map really must be a signifiant part of the story:


If you know anything about Canada, what this map tells you is that almost all the warming is happening where people aren't.  Here's a map of Canadian population density:

Even this doesn't tell the story as well as I'd like, that blob by the Great Lakes in southern Ontario stretching accross into Quebec is where something close to 50% of Canadians live.

Let's look at the climate situation in Australia:


And where are Australia's people?

Something fairly similar to Canada can be said about America, at least with respect to most of the warming not impacting the bulk of the population, but I wouldn't want to underestimate the impact of the powerful interests funding the denial machine in the US.  Not that these are absent from Canada or Australia, but basic acceptance of science is so much more prevalent in both, so the impact of the denial machine can't really be the decisive factor.

I hate to think things have to become acute before there will be a public groundswell for action, but if you were trying to distribute the warming in Canada in the least politically impactful way, it would look something like that map above.

Meanwhile, if you stick to the national average temperatures in relation to the norm:

Grim and grimmer.

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