Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
It is not the business of today’s politicians to decide which energy sources will be used 85 years from now.
In 1930, horse-drawn wagons were still common. That year, the first traffic lights were installed in New York City, and the first East-West crossing of the Atlantic took place via airplane. Vaccines for illness such as diphtheria, tetanus, cholera, typhoid, and tuberculosis were yet to be discovered. This was a world without television, without computers, and in which telephones were definitely not portable.
How ridiculous would it have been for political leaders back in 1930 to decide how we, here in 2015, should live? In an era before large hydro electric dams and nuclear reactors, how sensible would it have been for US President Herbert Hoover, British PM Ramsay MacDonald, and German Chancellor Heinrich Brüning to decide what energy sources societies should rely on 85 years hence?
And yet, as Steven Goddard points out on his RealScience blog, the leaders of today’s G7 countries think it’s their job to make choices on behalf of future generations. They have now solemnly agreed to “phase out fossil fuel use by end of century.” What rot. What hubris.
Let us be serious. When Barack Obama, David Cameron, and Angela Merkel manage to balance their national budgets that’s a major accomplishment. The idea that younger generations, equipped with as-yet-undreamed-of technological marvels, will feel constrained by what was said at a press conference this week is plain bonkers.