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

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“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. 

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