Green shifts and pine beetles

Concrete stairs

The July 5th issue of The Economist has two articles pertaining to Canada and climate change. There is one on the Dion carbon tax and another on the pine beetle infestation in our western forests. Both topics have come up here before, but remain pertinent and worthy of discussion.

The critical ongoing question in the first case is probably how effectively Dion will be able to build support for his plan. In the case of the pine beetles, it is probably the extent of the epidemic, as well as the volume of greenhouse gasses that will be emitted as a result. Despite considerable efforts to prevent it, the beetles have now become established in Alberta, having killed more than half the lodgepole pine in British Columbia. Natural Resources Canada estimates that the infestation so far will produce 990 megatonnes worth of emissions by 2020: equivalent to well over a year of total Canadian output. If they spread into the boreal forest, the ecological and climatic consequences could be massive.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

8 thoughts on “Green shifts and pine beetles”

  1. Wow, I can’t believe the negative comments on that article. I always thought Economist readers would be a little more rational – or at least understood economics…

  2. It is a rare website indeed where the commentary posted by users is always well thought out and decently expressed.

    Indeed, I don’t think I know of a single one that is accessible to the general public.

  3. Harper reiterated Conservative criticisms that the Liberal plan would simply shift tax dollars out of Canadians’ pockets back into federal government coffers, boosting the cost of just about everything.

    “It will stop the economic progress of the Canadian middle class dead in its tracks and it will make the cost of living unbearable for fixed income seniors and low-income seniors.”

    Harper said the Liberal plan doesn’t even set a target for emissions reductions.

    “Why? Because Dion’s carbon tax is not an environmental policy. It is just a wealth redistribution program disguised as an environmental policy.”

  4. stavrosthewonderchicken’s home is dying

    By gen on canada

    Canadian expatriate (and Metafilter member) stavrosthewonderchicken has a detailed and depressing look at the impact of the mountain pine beetle in Northern British Columbia, where a perfect storm of “forest fire suppression, clearcutting (and subsequent replanting), [and] global warming” has led to the destruction of over 130,000 square kilometers of forest.

  5. Extended harvest announced for pine beetle stands

    By Carole Rooney – 100 Mile House Free Press
    Published: March 03, 2009 7:00 PM

    Some light at the end of the tunnel may have been spotted for the forest industry, with good news released regarding the shelf life for harvesting pines attacked by beetles.

    Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell announced yesterday the shelf life of trees killed by mountain pine beetles previously thought to be four to eight years is now expected to be more likely eight to 12 years, or even longer.

    This means there is a whole lot more pine timber out there that can be successfully harvested and that it can also be hauled further, which is expected to drive up lumber prices and boost the industry into an upward swing with a much needed market improvement.

  6. The second development is the increasing bipartisan popularity of tax reform that aligns with climate protection. The far right doesn’t like the income tax and loves free markets. And the left wants to solve climate change and hates the fact that externalities aren’t valued by our economics. One way to address both concerns would be to replace part of the payroll tax with a carbon tax. There are several versions of this approach (including James Hansen’s suggestion to dividend the carbon fee back to citizens, which has been endorsed by Republicans for Environmental Protection — or ConservAmerica, as the group is now known), but all of them would be revenue neutral, in that a citizen’s wallet won’t change thickness; they will create market incentives to become more efficient for business and individuals; they will allow businesses to reduce their taxes through efficiency; they will create a free market for the first time by finally accounting for the costs of pollution; and the tax would help solve climate change. A carbon tax is, in a way, more libertarian than leftist; it’s a very conservative idea.

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