Focus on creating wealth

Dear Editor
I think the letter, titled ‘Smart move and desperately needed’, pg. 6, ECA Review, Feb. 4, 2016, demonstrates that sense isn’t all that common.

As a student some 50 years ago, I did take courses in economics as well as various science courses. I learned enough to be dangerous. I must also confess at the outset that I’ve been a long time supporter of the Fraser Institute. I think Herman Schwenk and the Fraser Institute are closer to the truth than the writer of the Feb. 4 letter.

Dr. David Montgomery wrote a book called Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations. He looks at agriculture over the last 10,000 years and its effect on civilization.

The writer of the Feb. 6 letter mentions climate refugees from Syria. If the Garden of Eden wasn’t in Syria it was certainly nearby but because of poor farming methods at the time, the desertification of Syria started thousands of years before the discovery of oil.

Several great civilizations fell because their agriculture couldn’t support them.

People came to North America for that reason.  They started on the coasts and destroyed the land by mining nutrients and moved inland.  Fast forward to the dirty thirties and the dust bowls.

Improved farming techniques have slowed the erosion process but so far haven’t stopped it. I’ve read that the U.S. still exports a bushel of soil down the Mississippi for every bushel of corn grown.  Zero Till has helped slow erosion and build organic matter but it still needs some refining.

Over time organic matter has gone from say eight per cent to one per cent throughout the world.  New work has found ways to reverse that and rapidly build top soil. A few people around the world are doing that.

Zero till helped increase organic matter but it depends on herbicides and commercial fertilizer which is detrimental to living soil organisms. Part of the organic matter has to be living organisms. The organic farmers know this but news flash: tillage is just as bad for destroying mycorrhiza.  Eventually we’ll get it right.

I’ve long been bothered by the notion that excess carbon dioxide is causing global warming. Greenhouse operators add CO2 to increase production so if we have too much CO2 in the air it should grow more plants and be self correcting. I think the problem is not too much CO2 in the air, it’s too little in the soil in the form of organic matter. For every one per cent increase in organic matter the soil it can hold 40,000 gallons more water. Increased plants and evapotranspiration will have a cooling effect.

Ultimately the problem will have to be solved by improved farming techniques, not by left leaning governments.

Harper has taken a lot of criticism for his inaction on climate change but he was right. Punitive carbon taxes or pumping CO2 into a cave won’t make one iota of a difference to the climate. It just punishes the taxpayer.

The paranoia about climate change is about politics not science. It’s based on the thinking that the world is running out of resources and the developed world has proportionately way to much wealth that must be distributed to the under developed economies.

The thinking is, if everyone is equally poor we will be better off.

Free market economists like the Fraser Institute, for example, realize wealth creation can be infinite. Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world.  Every one of us is better off because of his work over the years.  If all his wealth was redistributed to the people of the world we wouldn’t be any better off.

Instead of trying to make everyone equal (equally poor) we should focus on creating wealth instead of putting the brakes on the economy in the name of climate change.
Pat Rutledge
Monitor, Ab.

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