An editorial in the Calgary Herald praises the latest report from Britain’s Royal Society entitled “Climate Change: A Summary of the Science”. Though the Royal Society’s report is anything but skeptical of the science of climate change and the tangible impacts it will have on populations, the Calgary Herald inappropriately cites the reputable organization’s report in an effort to deny climate change and attack climate legislation that would hurt their bottom line.
In response to the misperceptions held by some media and members of the public about climate change (despite the overwhelming scientific consensus), the Royal Society produced a definitive guide to the science of climate change that summarizes the current scientific evidence on climate change. It highlights the areas where the science is well established, where there is still some room for further investigation to improve confidence, and where substantial uncertainties remain. Far from claiming that there is any lack of consensus that climate change is happening, the report demonstrates, in layman’s terms, where the science is established, and where more scientific work is still needed. The report states that :
1. There is strong evidence that changes in greenhouse gas concentrations due to human activity are the dominant cause of the global warming that has taken place over the last half century. This warming trend is expected to continue, as are changes in precipitation over the long term in many regions. Further and more rapid increases in sea level are likely which will have profound implications for coastal communities and ecosystems.
2. It is not possible to determine exactly how much the Earth will warm or exactly how the climate will change in the future, but careful estimates of potential changes and associated uncertainties have been made. Scientists continue to work to narrow these areas of uncertainty. Uncertainty can work both ways, since the changes and their impacts may be either smaller or larger than those projected.
3. Like many important decisions, policy choices about climate change have to be made in the absence of perfect knowledge. Even if the remaining uncertainties were substantially resolved, the wide variety of interests, cultures and beliefs in society would make consensus about such choices difficult to achieve. However, the potential impacts of climate change are sufficiently serious that important decisions will need to be made. Climate science – including the substantial body of knowledge that is already well established, and the results of future research – is the essential basis for future climate projections and planning, and must be a vital component of public reasoning in this complex and challenging area.
In short, the Royal Society does not dispute that climate change is happening and is real. Despite not knowing how and how much the climate will change, the report makes a clear call to action that we respond to climate change.
The Calgary Herald editors do not seem to have read the same report as us, because they praise the report’s author for a “refreshing departure from the strident, doom-and-gloom message that has characterized most scientific statements on global warming, which have been parroted by the Al Gores of the world thusly: humans are to blame, sea levels will rise and the end of the world is fast approaching.” The op-ed suggests that the Royal Society is itself being skeptical in its report. In fact, it is anything but.
The Calgary Herald editorial chalks up a victory for climate change deniers, and takes quotations out of context in the Royal Society’s summary to suggest that the Royal Society has a skeptical view of climate change.
With that, they suggest that the Alberta government’s $2 billion investment in carbon capture needs to be rethought, and that investments in climate change policy without “proof” should be thrown out. They also suggest that climate change is nothing but alarmism.
The Calgary Herald editors need to read the report more closely.
The fact remains that the climate is changing in real ways, and we must respond to it based on scientific evidence, not spin and political gamesmanship. Any delay could be devastating for the planet, for Canadians and all people around the world.
By sowing phrases like “insufficient understanding” and a lack of clarity together, the Calgary Herald is attempting to fool their readers into thinking there is not an overwhelming consensus about climate change, and that its nothing but alarmism. And that’s a problem.