Blue Chip Canadian Science Group Calls for Urgent Action on Climate Change

Wed, 2008-06-25 16:42Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Blue Chip Canadian Science Group Calls for Urgent Action on Climate Change

“The pace with which action is being taken in Canada does not reflect adequately the urgency of the threat (of global warming).”

With those worlds, 130 of Canada's top climate scientists have written the attached letter to urge all “elected government leaders” in Canada to pick up that pace - to do something about climate change and do it quickly.

This will undoubtedly be dismissed in certain quarters as another chapter in the ongoing “battle of the lists,” further evidence that there is a scientific “debate” over the relevance of climate change because you have groups of “scientists” on both sides of the issue signing letters, petitions or declarations urging action or inaction.

It's tempting, in that light, to make some obvious arguments:

* that “our scientists” are better than “their scientists” (check the attached list: these are overwhelmingly people with serious careers and widespread credibility, rather than the deniers for hire and the academic also-rans who populate the oily think tank lists);

* that “our science” is endorsed by the U.S. Academies of Science, the Royal Societies of London and Canada, the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and all of the other major science academies in every developed country in the world; while their science is endorsed by Exxon Mobil and think tanks like the Heartland Institute, an organization that is still taking money from big tobacco while trying to convince people that smoking is a reasonable and safe life choice.

But in advancing the arguments, I find myself advancing into the trap. The focus goes back to the debate, and away from the nature of this most pressing warning.

The scientists say that even in Canada (which may be spared some of the worst early effects of climate change)

“global greenhouse gas concentrations are increasing, sea level rising and Arctic sea ice decreasing faster than projected only a few years ago. Water shortages are predicted in the western Prairies, the Okanagan and in the Great Lakes basin.”

Accordingly, the scientists say,

 “Earlier targets to avoid human interference with the climate system are now seen to be inadequate. Addressing greenhouse gas emissions will require a polluter-pay approach and absolute emission caps.  Adaptation to the inevitable impacts of climate change is now imperative and we need a national adaptation strategy to minimize those impacts and gain whatever benefits there may be.”

In response, we have a federal government (in league with an Alberta government) that is so addicted to Alberta's oil (and its votes) that it will gladly disregard a global threat. We have a prime minister who descends into crudity and ridicule rather than debating the merit of climate change policy.

We have a public relations debate instead of a sober conversation about science.

The scientists who have attached their name to this list deserve credit for their courage, their passion and their considerable good work. It's just too bad that Canadian politicians are doing such a bad job that scientists or this quality and standing feel they have to insert themselves into this ridiculously political discussion. 

Previous Comments

Well with 200 Canadian contributors to IPCC last report I wonder whether this is a subset of same ? The corollary is that if you are a Canadian climate scientist whose name is not on the list, by absence you must not think there is a climate change crisis.

Why not look it up? Oh.

No it is a “Sub species” and on the brink of extinction. Only a massive information campaign to bring this tragedy into the the public eye will force the government to add it to the Species at risk list.

Why should we listen to this mob of white-coated welfare queens in the ghettos whose only real objective is to keep the research grant express freight train rolling along the tracks and tossing big bags of money from the mailcar to any “scientist” that bleeps, “Global Warming!”

I haven’t experienced any “climate change” whatsoever. That is to say, the pattern of weather in Metro Vancouver has remained about the same since I came here 1972. For sure, the weather has quite variable from year to year and this is mainly due to the ENSO.

True. The only math and science we need is:

“Name: Harold D. Pierce, Jr.
Location: Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Prior to 1900, the amount of carbon dioxide was ca. 0.0280% by volume for mid-latitude dry air at sea level and 0 deg. C. Presently, this value is about 0.0380%. Essentially, the composition of the atmosphere has remained unchanged for the last 100 years.”

As noted in the science results above, a 36% increase means essentially no change. A stock with $2.80 that moves to $3.80 is essentially the same value as before. If you are 5’9”, and your friend is 7 and a half feet tall, you are essentially the same height.

That was awesome, RR!

Hi Harold – I don’t know why you are using phrases like “welfare queens”. I don’t know what you are talking about with respect to great gobs of money. If the government took them seriously, the money would go to policy folks and not to the scientists who are saying that they know enough to recommend policy. Did you find your lab got more money for beetle research when BC infestations were really bad or after the damage was pretty much unavoidable? I wouldn’t normally care about your personal experience wrt anything, but perhaps the personal question above is relevant. Also, are you claiming that non-ENSO climate change hasn’t played a role in BC’s pine beetle problem?

It’s amazing how the sillies come crawling out in unison for the really solid stories, like this one.

This assembly of scientists includes many superstars. I don’t know if all of Canada’s superstar climate scientists are on the list, perhaps some are not comfortable wading into the policy arena. But the leading folks I know of are here.

Wait! There’s one missing, a scientific titan whose previous contributions couldn’t possibly be denied. Whose publications are so many and so influential that he ranks right up there with the folks on this list who almost routinely publish in Nature, Science… yes, you guessed it. Apparently, these scientific overachievers who signed this letter (all of whom are apparently still alive and were aware of what they were signing, unlike the deniers’ attempt at this) must all be wrong because the “first climatology ph.d.” in Canada hasn’t signed on! Yep, you guessed it: Tim Ball, where are you?

Although lionized by the spaciest neocons (and their Canadian cousins, the neoCANs) out there, Timmy is less accomplished than even the most cynical denier thinks: he has published a grand total of four articles in his ENTIRE career that have been cited four times or more.


p.s. Hal: Who cares if you noticed weather changes in Victoria? Is this really the evidence you marshall against the global observations of thousands of climatologists, phycisists, biologists, geographers, amateur natural history people, and so on? Puhlease….

But the Calgary Herald published “According to Ball’s curriculum vitae he has conducted research on climate and has published 51 papers, 32 directly related to climate and atmosphere.” Are you saying the Calgary Herald is not telling it like it is?

that when Ball tried to sue the Herald and Dr. Dan Johnston of U of Lethbridge for pointing out that he had inflated his credentials and “damaged his reputation”, he had to quietly drop the whole thing when they pointed out that he had no reputation to damage!

Fern Mackenzie

Well, if you count the opinion pieces in the National Post, National Enquirer, Roswell Visitor, and so on, his numbers will go up… The comment I made applied to impact: scientifically speaking, Tim Ball has had virtually none. The damage his propaganda has caused in the public arena: priceless.


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