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Vicki Skywalker Vs. Darth Jetchick (Kyoto: Good Or Bad?)

Vicki Skywalker Darth Jetchick
Vicki Skywalker vs. Darth Jetchick
(Images copyright www.lucasfilm.com)

1) Introduction

The Kyoto Accord is presently playing a prominent role on the political scenes. Most of us are not well informed.

Two members of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada, Vicki Gunn (York-Simcoe, Ontario), and Stefan Jetchick (Louis-Hebert, Quebec) will hold an online debate to help present both sides of the question.

The first posts will be April 10, 2007 and be cross posted on:

Canadian Viewpoints

The debate will hopefully be structured constructively, as is described in Who Speaks Truly? Also, the summary of the arguments will be translated in English and in French (but not the actual e-mails exchanged, which will be in English only).

2) Summary of the arguments

2.1) Statements we both agree on, concerning Kyoto

2.1.1) Canada must defend its national sovereignty.

2.1.2) Pollution is a very serious problem, and greenhouse gases are only one small component of that very large problem. Everybody must participate in the fight against all forms of pollution.

2.1.3) Not everybody loves us. There are some bad people out there (Communists? Muslim extremists? Nasty UN bureaucrats? etc.) who will use any means to harm us (for example: manipulating the media, leveraging various fads or scares, etc.).

2.1.4) If proof is, or becomes available that climate change is significantly anthropogenic, the burden of reducing the impacts of climate change should be distributed between all countries with justice.

2.1.5) In any debate where only one side is heard, it is practically impossible to make a good decision.

2.1.6) The Liberal Party of Canada has been a greenhouse gas disaster (among other disasters!).

2.1.7) Countries who play by the rules (whether to protect the environment, or to protect worker's rights, etc.) are punished when other countries get away with cheating.

2.1.8) If we are to meet our Kyoto targets, sacrifices will need to be made. These sacrifices would be partially financial (like paying more for oil, gas and coal), and partially lifestyle changes. But in any case, there are no painless and easy answers.

2.1.9) While Christians pray for the Lord's Kingdom to come, this is not the same as an earthly kingdom. There is only one Ruler who has the wisdom to guide a united earth.

2.1.10) The Principle of Subsidiarity must be respected. See The Principles Of Solidarity And Subsidiarity.

2.1.11) Section 13 of Pacem in Terris also acknowledges the right to share in the benefit of culture. We cannot share in the benefit of culture if we try to eliminate the peculiarities of each culture.

2.1.12) To discount past relationship between temperature and CO2 because there is more human activity, would be forcing the data to meet with the conclusion. In other words, if you've already decided human activity has affected climate change, then according to you, years of science showing a relationship between sunspots, temperature, CO2, etc., must be discounted because there's something which MIGHT be a variable which you believe, without examining the science, is the cause.

2.1.13) People have been dying from droughts, floods, earthquakes. etc., since the beginning of time. We cannot, nor will we ever be able to, stop people from dying of natural disasters.

2.1.14) Scientists must retain an open mind in order to avoid the mistake of the conclusion being determined by their prejudices.

2.1.15) Many Scientists admit that they do not know for certain the cause of global warming. They are divided as a community.

2.1.16) The earth has a history of global fluctuations which include temperatures higher than we experience now along with ice ages. A direct correlation between sunspots and temperature has been found.

2.1.18) Any Government that is not accountable to its constituents, is a bad Government.

2.1.19) Any Government that seeks the glory of sinful men instead of God's glory, is a bad Government

2.1.20) The "current version" of the United Nations is a bad Government (because of #2.2.5 and #2.1.18, among other things).

2.2 For Kyoto

2.3 Against Kyoto

Canada's National Sovereignty

2.2.1) If I understand your position correctly, Canada is a sovereign State, and therefore nobody (another State, the United Nations, etc.) ever has a right to tell Canada what to do inside its borders.

I disagree. Sometimes a sovereign State must be imposed a behavior by a superior authority. Our national sovereignty (or any other country's, for that matter), is not absolute.

Many fundamental principles are at stake here. Firstly, the definition of good and evil doesn't change, depending on which side of a border one happens to be. Saying the contrary would be falling into the same error as Pierre Eliot Trudeau's Magic wallpaper. Moreover, the Principle of Solidarity sometimes justifies an intervention, even inside the borders of a sovereign State.

2.3.1) Kyoto should not be allowed to obligate it's member countries by way of charging Carbon Credits or determining carbon emission amounts as these infringe upon national sovereignty. Each country should be free to set it's own target with a recommended GHG decrease from the IPCC and a 'gentleman's agreement' to take positive action to direct our nation towards less GHG emissions.

2.2.2) If I understand your position correctly, you say [Gn 11:6-7] describes the social confusion God positively wills, in order to prevent mankind to organize itself politically at a level higher than the State.

I don't think [Gn 11:6-7] can be invoked against the Principles stated in #2.2.1.

I'm not a theologian, but I think the Book of Genesis describes the evil consequences of Original sin on all relationships: between God and men, between husband and wife, between brothers, and for all of society:

In the description of the "first sin," the rupture with Yahweh simultaneously breaks the bond of friendship that had united the human family. Thus the subsequent pages of Genesis show us the man and the woman as it were pointing an accusing finger at each other [Gn 3:12]. Later we have the brother hating his brother and finally taking his life [Gn 4:2-16].

According to the Babel story, the result of sin is the shattering of the human family, already begun with the first sin and now reaching its most extreme form on the social level.
[Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, #15]

2.3.2) We need only visit the conditions of the Tower of Babel to recognise that the Lord Himself did not see 'one world government' as desirable. Man, in his sinful state, seeks to achieve world peace to his own glory. God has declared that His glory is the ultimate goal. In Genesis 11:6-7 God disciplines this act of idolatry.

2.2.3) The current United Nations is quite Satanic (See #2.1.18). This means we have to fix the UN or replace it, as opposed to reject any authority above Canada. This also means we can't assume Kyoto is good because the UN supports it (but we can't assume Kyoto is bad either, because there are many scientists unrelated to the UN who support it. See also #2.1.19).

2.3.3) I'm not sure how this point supports Kyoto. Seeing the description of Satanic which you've given the UN and the destructive behaviours you've mentioned, why would you assume that their forcing of Kyoto is in the best interests of the world?

2.2.4) Mankind urgently needs a good One World Government, in order to solve problems which cannot be solved by individual nations. In other words, an application of the Principle of Solidarity to problems like world peace, the just distribution of natural resources like drinking water, the fight against the negative effects of climate change, etc. [See among others Pacem in Terris, #137]

2.3.4) I refer back to the Tower of Babel again. With the fallen condition of mankind, the creation for good of one world government remains the 'impossible dream'. Thus we must work together, within our imperfect systems, to ensure that power remains broad based for those matters not covered by the moral codes contained within the 2nd Table of the Law.

(previously 2.1.17)
Any Government not based on "Biblical Principles" (i.e. Natural Law) is a bad Government:

Peace on Earth [...] can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order.
[Pacem in Terris, #1]

Consequently, laws and decrees passed in contravention of the moral order, and hence of the divine will, can have no binding force in conscience, since "it is right to obey God rather than men"
[Pacem in Terris, #51]

I would agree with 2.3.5, but I have reservations about a possible "theological pessimism". Yes, the effects of original sin are still there after Baptism (darkening of the reason and weakening of the will), but the Christian who fights generously can avoid sin, through God's grace [CCC, #1264]. This theological debate can have repercussions in Politics, if for example we refuse the necessity of a world government, supposedly because God's grace is powerless.

2.3.5) There can never be peace on Earth until the Lord returns. The Earth will suffer the effects of original sin because you cannot undo that act of disobedience or its effect on us. The most we can do is build governments based in "Natural Law", limit the ability of sinful leaders to attempt to usurp the power of God and have appropriate discipline for those who break the laws. We seem to agree on this but have a problem with the practical issues.

(previously 2.1.21)
The fact the UN supports something doesn't automatically mean that thing is bad. For example, the UN supports clean drinking water and sufficient food for children, which is clearly a very good thing!

I agree with many parts of 2.3.6. Yes, "the fox in charge of the chicken house" is stupid, but that's not what I'm advocating. A fox is a simple creature, but political leader can be very complicated. A leader, who is bad in general, can sometimes make good and just decisions, to which we must obey. This touches upon a very fundamental idea in Politics: unjust "laws" are not laws, but the opposite is also true, i.e. just laws a really laws! When a leader tries to force us to obey an unjust "law", we must resist (because an unjust "law" is against God's will). But when a leader gives us a just law, we must obey.

The UN must be cleaned up, and any unjust "law" of the UN must be resisted. But in the meantime, they are the closest thing we have to a world government, and when they make a just law, we have to obey it.

Is Kyoto a just law? Well, that is something we have to debate!

2.3.6) I see this particular one as redundant because it goes without saying that anyone/group can support some good things. ie. even Hitler likely loved someone like his wife or mother. It does not make them any more likely to make correct decisions or incorrect decisions in any area.

Just because the UN supports some good stuff does not mean that allowing them to administer control over all of our countries is either good or safe. Having acknowledged in 2.1.20 (above) that the UN is a bad government then to allow them any form of authority over our elected governments would be imprudent. Kyoto grants them that authority. Therefore, to allow a group, which we've acknowledged is bad, authority in any sphere over our elected government is wrong. Rather like putting the fox in charge of the chicken house.

(previously 2.1.22)
Reality is real. We can't change reality by killing the messenger, or by listening to a charlatan. If global warming is a problem, getting rid of the UN won't eliminate that problem. Conversely, if global warming is not a problem, all the UN doomsaying won't change a thing.

For 2.3.7, I think we're still stuck on the concept of probability and risk. You say: "To risk serious damage to our national economy on an "IF" is unacceptable". I reply Distinguo: it depends on the probability of the "IF", and the seriousness of the possible consequences. Re-read my #2.2.13.

2.3.7) I agree with the sentiment however, for this discussion, it is based in an "IF" which leaves it open to any form of twisting and manipulating.

I would again question what you do with that observation. The problem is that "IF". To commit billions of dollars to an action based on "IF" would be imprudent. Spend our money on definites... i.e. air, land and water pollution. Do something concrete for them. It's okay to invest a few thousand dollars on speculation, if you can afford it, but to risk serious damage to our national economy on an "IF" is unacceptable.

Global warming and climate change

2.2.5) Apparently, there is a worrying proportion of scientists who think that: (a) the climate is warming.

(Warning: I'm not putting this forth as a proof that global warming is real, but as a proof that we can't dismiss these claims without examining them thoroughly. By "thorough examination", I mean actually looking at the arguments they make, and examining their scientific value.)

2.3.5; 2.3.6; 2.3.7) There is a worrying proportion of doctors who think that abortion is acceptable. This argument falls within the boundaries of argumentum ad numerum.

2.2.6) Apparently, there is a worrying proportion of scientists who think that: (b) this warming is at least partially caused by human activities.

See #2.3.5

2.2.7) Apparently, there is a worrying proportion of scientists who think that: (c) this warming, if it occurs quickly, could have serious negative effects on many of the poorest countries in the world (increased floods in some areas, desertification in others, increased probabilities of serious weather events, etc.).

See #2.3.5

2.2.8) Everybody agrees CO2 is non-toxic, and necessary for the growth of plants. Plant overgrowth is not included in the negative effects of climate change.

(I say this because the official position of the CHP, according to "CHP Speaks Out: Why not Kyoto? What would the CHP do?" of 2007-March-28, asserts: "It's also worth noting that both CO2 and water vapour are beneficial to life on Earth (including agriculture), and that there's no real evidence that "global warming" is actually going to be harmful." Nowhere in that position statement do they mention the negative effects quoted in #2.2.7)

2.3.8) This can go in the concedo section then.

2.2.9) The past relationship between temperatures and CO2 levels is not necessarily useful today, since something is quite different this time around in Earth's history (massive human activities).

The words "not necessarily" are important. This is why I can Concedo 2.1.12. In other words, the past relationship between temperatures and CO2 levels might be, or might not be useful to understand today's situation. We have to look at the actual science.

2.3.9) [Promoted to 2.1.12]

2.2.10) Everybody agrees polar bears and people survived previous warmings of our climate, and that many will survive again this time. We should worry about the people who might needlessly die, not the fact some will make it.

The word "needlessly" is important. That is why I Concedo 2.1.13, yet maintain my position. In other words, yes, some people will die of natural disasters, but many deaths and much suffering is avoidable, given wise actions.

This is why we build dams to control floods, strengthen buildings so fewer people will die during earthquakes, etc. All those events are natural (i.e. "Acts of God"), yet we make reasonable efforts to mitigate their devastating effects. This is not "usurping the position of God", but using the brains and the hands God gave us to do good.

2.3.10) [Promoted to 2.1.13]

If global warming is a natural event, to take the grandiose position that we can control the weather is to usurp the position of God.

2.2.11) The use of the word "believe" when discussing scientific issues such as global warming, while simultaneously avoiding all references to any scientific literature to support one's position, is unacceptable.

Note: the word "believe" is not the same as the word "opinion". When an assertion is qualified by a probability, and that probability is backed up with scientific data, it's not a "belief".

2.3.11) [Promoted to 2.1.14]

[Promoted to 2.1.15]

Thus by drawing a premature conclusion they are only stating what they believe.

2.2.12) A political party that doesn't have a single member who has read the whole IPCC report (and that might not even have a single member who can fully understand it) should be very cautious when contradicting the conclusions of that report.

I myself tried reading just one page of the AR3, and failed: Working Group I: The Scientific Basis; Appendix 12.1: Optimal Detection is Regression

2.3.12) However, scientists who reject the report as poor science do have the knowledge to fully understand it. Which IPCC report are you referring to which nobody of a political party has read?

The Kyoto Protocol

2.2.13) Any responsible Canadian policy on global warming and Kyoto must take into consideration more than the selfish interests of Canadians (the negative impacts of climate change threaten the rich northern countries far less).

Moreover, basic Risk Management theory states that the probability of a bad event happening is only one part of the equation. The other part is the severity of the negative consequences should that event actually occur. (That is why, for example, we have Fire Insurance for our homes but not Cold Insurance for our noses, even though we are 100% sure we're going to get a cold sooner or later, yet we are far from 100% sure that our house will burn down.)

2.3.13) To decide how to react to something which we don't even know is a catalyst for global warming is to react prematurely. Surely it makes more sense to work in areas that we can have an impact on while allowing climatologists to research without requiring that their findings support the UN's position.

2.2.14) Many people agree the carbon-trading scheme of Kyoto is bad. But nothing forces Canada from buying carbon credits from "Axis of Evil" countries. Actually, nothing forces Canada from doing anything (the Kyoto Protocol has no serious "teeth").

It's not impossible that the purchase of carbon credits would permit, for the poor countries selling them, to use that money to modernize their facilities in order to reduce their GHG emissions. (Of course, it's also possible to mis-manage that money! But Abusus non tollit usum.)

2.3.14) Buying carbon credits from any country is a drain to the Canadian economy. It neither decreases greenhouse gases, nor any other form of pollution, nor contributes to our economy. It is simply money spent which achieves no purpose.

Can we agree that to pour billions of dollars into something which scientists cannot agree is a problem is a waste of money?

2.2.15) No international plan to deal with climate change is going to be perfect. Waiting for such a perfect plan is like the stupid judges who throw out evidence and cancel the trials of dangerous criminals, just because the policeman had not flossed his teeth that morning when he made the arrest.

About arguments comparing the "DEFINITELY" versus the "MAYBE", see explanation on Risk Management in #2.2.13.

2.3.15) A plan to deal with decreasing poisons we are pumping into our air would be of major benefit to every country, as would a plan to decrease ground and water pollution. We can DEFINITELY offer a higher standard of living to all people if we deal with these.

We MIGHT be able to offer a better standard of life, should the disputed science of global warming have any validity. I'd rather go with the definite than the maybe.

[Promoted to 2.1.16]

We don't know enough about why.

[Promoted to 2.1.16]

3) E-Mails (the debate as such)

I've moved the e-mails to a separate page.

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