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LETTER: Canada's emissions must be reduced

Canadians can't afford to ignore evidence on climate change
Traffic on the Pattullo Bridge. (Black Press Media)

Stuart Walker’s letter “Climate concerns don’t come without economic costs” reminds me of the old idiom about comparing apples and oranges.

It is not reasonable to suggest that Canadians can increase their CO2 emissions 14-fold because we are a large country. If we did, our emissions would grow to almost 200 tonnes/person each year, five times more polluting, per person, than people in Qatar, currently the world leader in CO2 emissions/person.

Canadian emissions stand at about 14 tonnes of CO2 per person each year, putting us firmly in the top 20 CO2-polluting countries in the world. If we are to compare apples to apples, we need to look at our emissions per person and compare that with per capita emissions elsewhere.

While it is true that CO2 has been around for millions of years, historic CO2 levels were in a state of equilibrium between the atmosphere, oceans, plants, and animals, until humans started using carbon for energy. Natural processes continue to recycle about 190 billion tonnes of CO2 each year, but human activity adds an extra 9 billion tonnes that the environment cannot cope with, and it is that extra 5% we add each year that acidifies oceans and raises atmospheric temperatures.

If we don’t pay attention to the science of global warming and control our CO2 emissions accordingly, the last footprint you’ll need to worry about will indeed be the last one humankind makes – because we chose to ignore the evidence before us.

Jim Kingham
North Saanich