The following interview with Ezra Levant, author of the new book Fight Kyoto, was broadcast December 9, 2002 on the Cat Country Radio show Agritalk with Jim Fisher
Transcript by J. L. Jackson
Jim Fisher: First of all before we get to agriculture, specifically you warn 450,000 Canadians will loose their jobs in this dangerous treaty concocted by what you say are unaccountable foreign diplomats. Tell us more.
Ezra Levant: Absolutely, and by the way, in my book most of the terrible of the economic scenarios you just alluded to the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. Those aren't from biased industry sources; those are actually studies put out by the federal government itself. And I have literally 300 footnotes in the book, showing where every single statistic comes from, because it's so important that we have a credible basis for our fighting Kyoto. When the government itself confesses to literally half a million jobs being threatened and a recession coming because of this, we have to take them seriously. [The treaty] was signed in Kyoto, Japan, five years ago--without any democratic scrutiny--by foreign bureaucrats and diplomats gathering in hotel lobbies and inking a deal that most Canadians didn't know much about. Now it looks like they're going to sing the treaty this week. But we still can fight it, because signing the treaty and enforcing it--implementing it--are two different things. We can't stop Chretien from putting his signature on the Kyoto Protocol, but we can fight like heck to stop him from forcing it down our throats.
Jim Fisher: Let's talk about the agricultural impact, as you pointed out earlier, Ezra, not just the oil and gas involved here. I like your reference to the belching and flatulence directorate in Ottawa.
Ezra Levant: That's right, you know one of the misconceptions about Kyoto is that it goes after true pollution. If it did, I think a lot of us would be open-minded to it, if it went after smog, or poisonous water or things like that. But all Kyoto does is go after things like carbon dioxide, which you know is a natural gas that plants need to grow, and methane and to a smaller extent nitrous oxide. It's those two other gasses that farmers should concern themselves with, because methane, of course, is emitted by livestock. Cattle, I don't want to be rude, but cow farts. That's where a lot of methane in Canada comes from. And cattle emissions are actually 56 times more global warming potential, according to scientists, then carbon dioxide. So believe it or not, all the livestock in Canada their emissions and their manure, contain more global warming gasses then every steel factory, every jet aircraft, every incinerator combined. In fact, it's almost as much as all the cars in the country. And nitrous oxide as you know is found in agricultural fertilizers. So people that think this is just an issue for oil men or just an issue for urban car drivers. They're wrong. Unfortunately, the bull's eye of Kyoto is aimed straight at farmers, whose livestock are doing just what livestock normally do. Eating and emitting.
Jim Fisher: You know, the other day we had Dr. Tim Ball on here and he pointed out that the levels of methane gas are actually dropping, but Ottawa doesn't say that. They don't go back to the dinosaur era or when we had 25 million buffalo roaming the country. He says, in his terms anyway, there's really nothing to this.
Ezra Levant: You're exactly right, I mean I've seen statistics saying there was as many as 60 million buffalo roaming the prairie at one time--maybe we don't have precise count. Everyone who's listening to these ridiculous plans by the government ought to be scratching their heads and saying, 'Why are we cutting down on livestock? Why don't we go after true pollution like, acid rain, or sulphurous ozone smog?' I think it goes to the number one misconception that Kyoto is being sold as a treaty to fight pollution, but in effect it is actually a treaty to de-industrialize Canada, both the oil patch and the agricultural sector. And believe it or not, if Canada cannot reduce its emissions we have to pay foreign countries money to get permission to make our emissions. They call that tradeable permits and it would mean Canadian farmers and Canadian taxpayers would be sending billions of dollars to countries like Russia and the Ukraine and countries in Africa, just for the right to raise livestock or burn energy. It's more a trade treaty and a foreign aid treaty than an environmental treaty. And farmers have every right to be concerned.
Jim Fisher: Don't you find that revolting, Ezra, we would send millions of dollars to, say, Russia?
Ezra Levant: You know, if as a country we genuinely want to give foreign aid to Russia, let's have a debate about it and let's be honest about it. But, Kyoto sneaks that in by the back door. It says that if we can't reduce our emissions, we have to give cash to other countries just because Kyoto gives them a surplus of emissions. It's a bizarre treaty that was concocted by people who wanted to sneak a few things by in the name of environmentalism. Again I come back to my chief point; it doesn't do anything to make the world cleaner. And here's something farmers will find of concern: our number one customer and competitor, the United States, is not signing Kyoto. In fact, their Senate voted unanimously against Kyoto. What does that mean? Well, it means our competitors in the States will not have the higher costs that we do so they will be able to sell their agricultural products more cheaply than us. They already get huge subsidies. We will be hobbling ourselves with Kyoto. By the way, you mentioned that excerpt that appeared in some newspapers about cattle emissions. If anyone wants to read a few excerpts from the book for free, they're welcome to do so on my website www.fightkyoto.com .I have several excerpts that people can read without buying the book. If you like them enough, of course, I'd like you to buy the book, but I want people to get the word out there--agriculture is in jeopardy because of Kyoto.
Jim Fisher: And the book is now out on the stands?
Ezra Levant: Absolutely, at independent book stores everywhere, plus we just made an agreement with Chapters and Indigo, the largest bookseller and again over the website. I've been very pleased with the response, especially heartening is the fact that Ontarians are realizing this hurts them, too. And I'd say 40% of our book sales over the Internet have come from Ontario; that tells me we've got a chance. Because, Jim, to be very frank, if Ottawa thought this was just a western prairie issue, I think they would ignore us. The more Ontarians realize this is going to hurt them too--both at the gas pump and with Ontario and Quebec farmers--we've got a fighting chance to stop the implementation. Again, there is no way we can stop the ratification of the treaty, but if we raised enough of a ruckus, tell our friends and family in Ontario it's going to hurt them, maybe we can get Paul Martin to stop implementing the thing.
Jim Fisher: Ezra Levant, author of the new book, Fight Kyoto. it outlines some of the real serious pitfalls that will occur if it goes through as is planned by Jean Chretien. If you have a questions or comments we're at 1-800-666-7715. Ezra is with us for just a few more minutes; this is Canada's daily presentation of agriculture. There have been a few of us, Ezra, over the years who just don't understand the so-called scientists who say we're into global warming. Today some of those same scientists say, 'oh, oh, we got it wrong, we're going into colder conditions.' How do you follow this? Does anyone really know what they're doing here?
Ezra Levant: Well, the earth naturally oscillates in temperature. I mean, a thousand years ago there was period of global warming, Greenland was actually green; that was when the Vikings made their settlements there. There were vineyards in southern England. Then 600 years ago, there was the period called the "Little Ice Age" that we're still actually emerging from. So it's natural for the temperature of the earth to fluctuate. It's actually not the fault of human activity because it's happened many times in the past. You know, in my book I quote from a 1975 Newsweek article about the perils of global cooling, so I think if we were to jump every time some scientist said it was time to jump over climate change, we would be jumping quite a lot. And I think the smart thing to do is to focus on cleaning up real pollution in the world instead of running around trying to reduce our emission of harmless gasses like carbon dioxide and methane that are mostly released by natural sources. And to all of a sudden try to criminalize naturally emitted gasses like carbon dioxide is folly in the highest degree.
Jim Fisher: Take us through some of the other chapters of the book that we haven't touched on. What might they be?
Ezra Levant: Right at the beginning I talk about some of the global diplomats who wrote the Kyoto Protocol--like Maurice Strong--whose names may not ring a bell with most of your listeners, but who are very powerful un-elected people. I try to shine some light on them. Then I talk about the US Senate unanimously voting against it. I talk about some of the debate in the scientific community that shows how the science behind global warming is far from settled. One of the most important things in the book is showing how it affects Ontario; the auto sector, the steel industry... because I want Ontarians to know it's not just us westerners who are going to be hurt. I also show how the media has been real cheerleader for Kyoto and how it has really criticized Kyoto sceptics and given a free ride to those who promote Kyoto. Finally, I talk about how this is like the National Energy Program. But I end on a hopeful note; I say that there is a way to fight back. I'm a constitutional lawyer by training and I outline a draft plan that provincial governments can use to fight back against Kyoto by using a new section of our constitution called section 92A. That came in after the last National Energy Program and it allows provinces to take control of their own energy sectors without yielding to Ottawa. So I end on a hopeful note, where I say if provinces show the willpower we can fight back against some of Kyoto's most pernicious aspects.
Jim Fisher: And before we let you go, Ezra, the word for people in agriculture; hey, this hits you square on.
Ezra Levant: Not just because fuel costs will go up, not just because fertilizers with nitrous oxide will be targeted by Kyoto, but largely because natural livestock emissions, believe it or not, are 56 times more global warming quotient, as they say, than carbon dioxide. So farmers that think this is just the oilmen's problem ought to read the treaty, and it's time to be scared, I'm afraid. The treaty's being signed this week, but we still can stop it from being implemented. By the wa,y Japan ratified the treaty but later they announced they were not going to enforce it because it would just cause too much economic damage. That's my hope for Canada.
Jim Fisher: Ezra, thank you kindly for joining us, and all the best with the new book Fight Kyoto.
Ezra Levant: Thank you, I appreciate the hospitality.