Montreal, July 2, 2006 • No 182




Harry Valentine is a free-marketeer living in Eastern Ontario.




by Harry Valentine


          Several documentaries that pertained to global warming and climate change were broadcast across Canada during the final week of June 2006. Recent discoveries concerning the geological and climate history of Canada have indicated that Southern Canada may have been a subtropical rainforest during an earlier time period while the average annual temperature of the Arctic may have been above the freezing point of water. If the global warming theory is valid, it will merely reintroduce to Canada the kind of climate that actually existed in its distant past. A future generation of Canadians may actually be able to adapt to living in that kind of climate and utilize the advantages that it may have to offer.


What could happen...

          Global warming is claimed to have increased rainfall in Northern Canada and reduced the amount of winter pack ice in the southern part of Hudson Bay. A reduction in the amount of ice in Hudson Bay means that less ice will be pushed into Hudson Strait in winter by the powerful ocean currents than occur there twice daily. A recent study that was done on ocean tidal power in Canada revealed that Hudson Strait may hold a possible tidal power potential of over 25,000 megawatts for up to 10 hours each day. If world water levels rise, the volume of tidal water moving in and out of Hudson Bay would increase dramatically and raise the power potential.

          Global warming could cause the climate on the lands (Quebec and Nunavut) on either side of Hudson Strait to become more hospitable for a human population. A large number of people could migrate to live in Northern Quebec and Southeastern Baffin Island where a warmer northern climate may be able to support agriculture. The warmer temperature could enable trapped methane to be more easily released from Northern Tundra lands and be used to generate electricity at a myriad of small power stations located across Northern Canada. The methane could also be processed into a sulphur-free synthetic liquid fuel (diesel).

          One aspect of a warmer Arctic would be easier year-round ship navigation into Hudson Bay and through the Northwest Passage. Ports such as Churchill (Manitoba) and Moosonee (Ontario) could operate year round. If ocean levels rise, the ports could be moved further inland. It may be possible to dredge the Nelson River to allow ocean going ships year-round passage into the southern parts of Lake Winnipeg where a major intermodal terminal could be built at a future time. Global warming could mean that the Canadian population could expand to locations that are north of the 55th parallel where agricultural production may become possible at a future time. The population could even increase at locations that are north of the 60th parallel.

          Global warming and rising ocean levels would likely affect some Canadian coastal cities. Ocean levels will likely rise very slowly over a prolonged period while the price of real estate near the ocean slowly declines. Older buildings may be imploded and the land they occupied left vacant. Canadian coastal populations would likely adapt to slow change as developers move to build real estate developments at higher elevations in coastal cities like St. John's, Halifax, Dartmouth, Saint John and Vancouver. Other developers may take advantage of higher ocean water levels and build upscale neighbourhoods that include navigable canals providing all properties with ocean access from their backyards. The environment that was once exclusive to Venice (Italy) and some Dutch cities could appear in coastal Canadian cities at a future time courtesy of private industry.

"Several thousand scientists have rejected the hypothesis that human activity is the cause of recent changes in weather patterns and climate and have instead pointed to a variety other causes to climate change. However, bureaucratic action is believed to have kept such information away from politicians..."

          Inland cities like Montreal have seen the levels in their river waters drop by over 6-feet over the period of a century. Higher ocean levels would merely return the river water levels around Montreal to where they were over a century ago. Montreal would continue to be a major inland maritime port city after the climate warms and the ocean levels rise. The great concern about climate change in Central Canada is that water levels in the Great Lakes could drop to levels that would curtail shipping and reduce hydroelectric power generation along the Seaway system. Even the annual volume of water that flows over Niagara Falls may need to be reduced. Such a drastic move could allow excess off-peak power from power stations to be used to pump water from Lake Ontario to the higher elevation in Lake Erie. The power may be held there in temporary storage until demand increases during peak periods.

          The prospect of climate change could propel governments into implementing misguided environmental policies that would likely achieve the opposite of their well-intentioned objectives over the long-term. Several thousand scientists (8000 who signed the Oregon Petition and 4000 who signed the Heidelberg Appeal) have rejected the hypothesis that human activity is the cause of recent changes in weather patterns and climate and have instead pointed to a variety of other causes to climate change. However, bureaucratic action is believed to have kept such information away from politicians who have since bought the carbon dioxide theory of climate change. Political action in regard to climate would more than likely have negative long-term economic repercussions.

          The future prospect of more frequent storms over the ocean and higher ocean water levels would cause flooding in coastal areas. In a free market, land that is prone to frequent flooding would decline in value. Governments may choose to remain popular with voters and fund programs to build levees or dykes to protect coastal areas that could become prone to frequent flooding. A hurricane in 2005 (Katrina) broke through the levees at New Orleans and revealed the shortcomings of state-funded levees. There are even fears in Holland that rising ocean levels could spill over the dykes/polders and flood most of that nation. Canada could use alternatives other than dykes and levees to manage any rise in the levels of ocean water.

          Canada's Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world. Those tides could rise even higher under a regime of more severe storms caused by climate change and by rising levels of the ocean. One productive way to deal with possible future super tides in the Bay of Fundy would be to allow private enterprise to build canals or tunnels (that house turbines and electrical generation equipment) from the east end of the Bay of Fundy to Northumberland Strait. Power could be generated twice every day since the tide rises to a greater height in the Bay of Fundy than in Northumberland Strait. A similar approach could be undertaken in Newfoundland between Placentia Bay and Trinity Bay to prevent the Trans-Canada Highway from being flooded by future oceanic super storms.

          There is a remote possibility that in the distant future Canada will experience the effects of climate change. Those changes could include reduced ice packs in a warmer Arctic, reduced water levels in the Great Lakes and elevated tides and higher levels along the coastal regions. Many of these changes represent future business opportunities that private companies could bring to fruition in a free-market economic environment. However, political reputations and bureaucratic stature would be built on developing political solutions that would depend on forcible restraint and coercion of peaceful private citizens. Such an approach would likely lead to a squandering of billions of tax dollars. A government that allows an unregulated private sector to create innovative business solutions to global warming and climate change may actually achieve far more to manage the problem than any bureaucrat could achieve using a state-contrived plan.