Friday, December 04, 2009

Even Prentice Gets It - Climate Science is Clear Despite Stolen Emails, We Must Cut Emissions

Canada's federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice got something right for once:

"[The stolen email controversy] does not change the position of Canada... The science overall is relatively clear on all of this and as a conservationist and as a responsible environmental steward, Canada wants to see carbon emissions reduced." (Sun Media, via Orilia Packet & Times)

The BBC provides a timeline of the controvercy in a sidebar to this story.

Here's why Prentice is right:

"'The emails do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus ... that tells us the earth is warming, that warming is largely a result of human activity,' said ... government scientist, Jane Lubchenco. A marine biologist and climate researcher, she heads the [US] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"The emails do not negate or even deal with data from both NOAA and NASA, which keep independent climate records and show dramatic warming, Lubchenco told members of the House global warming committee."


"The chairman of the [US] Academy of Science panel, Texas A&M University atmospheric scientist Gerald North, confirmed... [that]

"'...even if Jones, Mann and others [whose emails had been stolen] had done no research at all, the world would still be warming and scientists would still be able to show it." (CP via Yahoo! Canada News)

Spencer Weart, former director of the American Institute of Physics' Center for the History of Physics who wrote The Discovery of Global Warming, said that surface temperature data (the subject of the emails) is notoriously hard to deal with. Weather stations are run by people who make mistakes -- or sometimes even move the stations, using instruments that may be off by a few degrees, in an environment that can change around the station over the years. But Weart agrees that surface climate data is not required to prove recent global warming. Studies of stalagmites in caves and temperature changes in near-surface rock layers have confirmed the trends independetly. (CBC Radio's The Current on December 3, 2009. You can listen using the player on the CBC site -- go to the player for Part 3 near the end of that page. The discussion noted above starts around 07:30).

I'll let David Suzuki have the last word for now:

"Sadly for the deniers and for all of us, the emails don't show that global warming is a grand hoax or conspiracy. They do nothing to diminish the decades of overwhelming scientific evidence that the Earth is not only warming largely because of emissions from burning fossil fuels but that it's worse than we thought. Recently, 26 scientists from Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, the U.S., and Australia released a report showing that the impacts of global warming are occurring faster and are more widespread than other reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had projected.

"The report, titled The Copenhagen Diagnosis, summarized the most recent research from around the world, which shows that Arctic sea ice is melting faster than we thought, that both Greenland and Antarctica are losing more ice than predicted, and that sea levels are rising more quickly than anticipated. The scientists conclude that the Earth could reach several 'tipping points' if we keep pumping emissions into the atmosphere at the same rate.

"The report also quashes the myth of 'global cooling' that has been 'promoted by lobby groups and picked up in some media.' The report's authors conclude that 'even the highly "cherry-picked" 11-year period starting with the warm 1998 and ending with the cold 2008 still shows a warming trend of 0.11 C per decade.'

"It's astounding that those who deny that climate change exists or that it is human-caused, either out of self-interest or ignorance, are willing to see some grand conspiracy in a handful of stolen emails but are unwilling to see the undeniably clear evidence of the impacts of climate change already occurring around the world.

"Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence, world leaders are dragging their heels in the lead-up to the Copenhagen climate summit this month. As University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver notes, in abandoning the idea of reaching a binding agreement in Copenhagen, world leaders are essentially saying that they don't believe they owe anything to our children and grandchildren.

"Unfortunately, Canada has a poor record on climate change and international negotiations to address the problem. Our government argues that the economy takes precedence over the environment. It's incredibly short-sighted to think that a healthy economy can be maintained when the health of the planet is failing. And it's absurd to pin our economic hopes on extracting limited supplies of dirty fossil fuels in a world that is increasingly switching to cleaner forms of energy."

[Important Notice]

1 comment:

j_mcbane said...

You're right, at least Prentice doesn't deny climate change. Unfortunately we need more proactive action than that.

Here's how we as Canadians can try and make it happen:

Event: The World Wants a Real Deal

World leaders are gathering in Copenhagen this December to negotiate a new global climate agreement.

Between December 11th and 14th, Canadians will be organizing and attending events across the country to send a clear message: The world wants a real deal. That means a climate agreement that is fair, ambitious and binding. Rallies in support of a real deal are being held in major cities in Canada and around the world on December 12th as part of the Global Day of Action.

To see if an event is already scheduled in your town, or to create and register your own event, visit and click on the map.