#GOASPIN--at a time of recession the GOA is spending $9 million to advertise the dumb Climate Change plan where they have to give money back to people to get them to accept a carbon tax. Now they add $600,000 to the bill of advertisements.
Graham Thomson: Alberta government spends $600,000 to counteract climate change denial
Published on: February 9, 2017 | Last Updated: February 9, 2017 10:17 AM MST
Edmonton Journal columnist Graham Thomson comments on the Alberta government's carbon tax and their response to climate change.
Propaganda or education?
This week, Environment Minister Shannon Phillips announced she will be spending $600,000 on a program to educate people about climate change.
Phillips is encouraging non-profit community groups — including school-based associations and indigenous organizations — to apply for grants under the Community Environment Action program by March 6.
The Wildrose official Opposition has slammed the program as “propaganda” and “an offensive waste of Albertans’ money that will be used to further the government’s out-of-touch carbon tax agenda.”
Indeed, at first glance you’d be tempted to think this is yet more money being added to the government’s $9-million campaign to promote its Climate Leadership Plan (that includes the carbon tax).
That campaign includes ads that pop up when you watch something on YouTube or even go see a movie in the theatre.
And, yes, you can certainly call the $9-million advertising campaign “propaganda.” It’s the government promoting one of its own policies.
However, the Community Environment Action Grant program is different.
Its mandate includes “building awareness and understanding about core climate change concepts, based on credible science.”
In other words, this is the government trying to educate the public about the basic realities of the science behind man-made climate change.
That is not promoting propaganda. That is promoting science.
Some critics of the spending say it’s not needed because people already understand and accept the science of anthropogenic global warming.
Oh, if only that were so.
Instead, we have a president in the United States who has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
Most recently, some Republican politicians in the U.S. are doing their best to discredit a report by their National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that concludes there has been no “pause” in global warming.
Independent scientists have verified those conclusions, but climate change deniers have seized on an internal, highly technical scientific debate over how ocean temperature data was handled by the NOAA.
It’s worth noting the scientist who started the debate is not questioning the reality of man-made climate change “but rather really of timing of a release of a paper.”
As he told reporters afterwards, “I knew people would misuse this.”
And, boy, have they ever.
Climate scientists have had to jump into this mess to support the NOAA’s conclusions that global warming has continued apace.
But this just confuses the public.
Closer to home, we have examples of Wildrose MLAs questioning whether humans are driving climate change, even though scientific organizations including NASA say we are. Of course, if you follow the Wildrose logic to its conclusion, you are left wondering why we should do anything about a non-existent problem.
That’s why the NDP is spending $600,000 to counter the spin by those who deny the science behind global warming and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s not to say the NDP’s Climate Leadership Plan is the right plan or that its carbon tax is a good solution.
Climate change realities
You could argue that we should have a revenue neutral carbon tax like the one in British Columbia. Or that we should have a cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions like what is done in Ontario.
Or maybe you think we should do nothing and wait to see what U.S. President Donald Trump does (which is what Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann suggested last fall before changing his mind and reluctantly supporting the NDP carbon tax).
You’re also free to get irritated by Phillips’ suggestion this week that Albertans are warming up to the carbon tax. Unless she can back that up with polling data, it’s just political spin, much like the $9-million campaign to sell the government’s climate plan.
However, the $600,000 worth of grants to promote the realities of climate change, and explain how people can reduce their own carbon footprint, is education, not propaganda.
As Phillips told journalists: “These grants are only politically motivated if you don’t believe climate change is real.”