Paige MacPherson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is not a scientist
She's also not an economist but that doesn't stop her from talking about the economy
Paige MacPherson, Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, June 8th, 2016.
In a revealing slip of the tongue during a radio interview with Ryan Jespersen, Paige MacPherson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation dropped a Republican climate denial talking point that was especially popular in 2014.
At first blush maybe it makes a bit of sense. After all, I'm not a scientist and in the population as a whole there just aren't that many of them. But that's exactly why we tend to defer to their expert scientific judgement. And scientists do, in fact, hold a nearly unanimous view that humans are responsible for climate change and that action must be taken to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we put in the atmosphere.
Here's the clip where Jespersen asks MacPherson what exactly she would do on climate change.
It's not a long clip and I encourage you to listen because it's a master class in two things: not answering a very clear question and climate action dithering.
The question she was asked. What would you do on climate change? Her answer? Well... she shows off her expertise in not answering specific questions and sticking to her message box. She engages in a long jeremiad on the evils of carbon taxes and how they won't affect the amount of carbon pollution we will emit (they will and it's the most economically efficient way to do so) and then immediately points to another convenient conservative climate action dithering talking point: China.
Yes, China emits a lot of carbon pollution. But climate change is the definition of a collective action problem. You don't solve a collective action problem by pointing at your neighbor and saying, "You first." This is why we need leadership on the climate change file and why conservative activists like Paige MacPherson and her ilk are so quick to point to China, the US and the rest of the world and say, "you first." Because they know that if everyone says the same thing nothing happens and the status quo will reign.
When she finally attempts to answer the question it's pitiful.
"In terms of what we can do I think we should not underestimate the power of individuals and the strides our industries have been making. Our farming industries, our mining industries. These are industries that have been making strides in terms of trying to reduce their carbon footprint and have done so quite successfully when compared to other countries... And as individuals we can always strive to do the same thing and if we are facing some new kind of climate reality and we need to look towards building our infrastructure in order to mitigate for that then I think that's a fair discussion we need to have in the coming years." (emphasis added)
If we are facing some new kind of climate reality? If? Then we can start having a discussion in the coming years? The coming years?
Individuals and industry can have an effect on reducing carbon pollution, but the status quo is what got us here in the first place. Depending on people and industry to reduce their carbon pollution out of the goodness of their heart is not actual climate policy.
Deny and delay has been the public relations strategy from the climate change denial community from the beginning. And it's still happening in 2016. And it's not like this is new territory for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. CTF's Federal Director Kevin Gaudet has said "we don't believe there's such thing as man-made climate change," while BC director Maureen Bader said "the consequences of global warming are vastly overstated."
And while Paige Macpherson is definitely not a scientist she's also not an economist. But that doesn't stop her from expounding at length about how the carbon tax will be the worst thing to happen to Alberta's economy since we introduced environmental regulations after the Lodgepole Blowout.