Greenhouse gases: Caution is the right stance for Canada
The Montreal daily La Presse published my opinon letter this morning discussing the debate over global warming and the position of the Canadian government. The paper also ran an article by François Cardinal about my position on this issue.
Here is the full text of my letter, of which La Presse only published two thirds:
by Maxime Bernier, MP for Beauce
During the Copenhagen summit last December, Canada was ferociously denounced by environmental groups. They accused our government of trying to derail an agreement because it was not ready to sign anything. Critics were raised again at the end of January when Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced new targets for reducing greenhouse gases that were more modest than the previous ones.
However, every week that goes by brings more confirmation of the wisdom of our government’s moderate position. Since December, the debate over the scientific basis of global warming, which had been stifled for years by political correctness, is finally taking place in the media. The many errors made by the IPCC that have been recently unveiled add more weight to the various alternative theories that have been put forward for a number of years.
As one tries to get information about the various aspects of the question, one finds out that it is possible to be “sceptical,” or at any rate to keep an open mind, on almost all the crucial aspects of the global warming thesis.
For example, although no one disputes that temperatures have gone up over the past hundred years, there is no consensus among scientists as to its degree. Satellite data show less warming than terrestrial stations, which may have been contaminated by heat coming from more extended urban areas.
Data from tree rings in the forests even show some cooling; that’s why they were replaced by temperatures considered more accurate from meteorological stations in the IPCC graphs. This is what the famous quote about the trick to “hide the decline” by British researcher Phil Jones, which created such controversy during the “Climategate” episode, refers to.
Phil Jones has admitted that we still do not know if the medieval period when the Vikings colonised Greenland was really warmer than today. But that if that was the case, it would contradict the claim that our era has been exceptionally warm due to human activity.
Moreover, we realize that during the period of greatest concern about warming – the last decade – temperatures have stopped increasing! Meanwhile, the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere, said to be the cause of warming according to the official theory, is still increasing. Some very serious scientists believe that we are underestimating the influence of the sun and other factors that have nothing to do with carbon emissions when studying climate change.
Mojib Latif, a German researcher associated with the IPCC who essentially supports the warming theory, said last fall that temperatures may decline for two decades before warming resumes. No model predicted this trend. But the same models claim to predict the number of degrees of warming that the planet will experience by the end of the century…
Those are only some of the “certainties” put forward by global warming supporters about which there is no scientific consensus. There is such disagreement that a Canadian climatologist, Professor Tim Patterson of Carleton University, recently declared in a radio interview to an Ottawa station that we should abstain from doing more until we really know what is going on.
What is certain is that it would be irresponsible to spend billions of dollars and to impose unnecessarily stringent regulations to solve a problem whose gravity we still are not certain about. The alarmism that has often characterized this debate is no longer appropriate. Canada is wise to be cautious.
And here are some of the questions sent to me by e-mail by François Cardinal, which he used to write his article. They contain more explanations regarding my position.
Question: Do you believe that the IPCC is still credible?
Answer: Credibility is a matter of perception. It is clear that the scandals we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks have eroded the credibility of the IPCC among the public, media commentators as well as many scientists, including scientists who believe in global warming.
Criticism started much before this however; it is simply getting more media attention at the moment. If serious researchers get together to form alternative organisations (such as the International Climate Science Coalition headed by Prof Tim Patterson), it is because they consider the scientific process to be corrupted at the IPCC.
I agree with those who say that the IPCC has become too politicized and too much of an activist organisation, which goes beyond its mandate of producing objective research when it takes an alarmist stance on everything and tries to stifles different opinions.
Question: Do you believe that the sun is responsible for the warming of the past century?
Answer: I am not a scientist and I have no clearly established position on the causes of global warming. I simply note that serious scientists who work in prestigious universities such as John Cristy (Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama-Huntsville), Richard Lindzen (MIT), or Willie Soon (Harvard) – see this recent article in the Wall Street Journal that quotes all three of them - offer theories that differ from the orthodoxy put forward by the IPCC. I would like to hear all viewpoints and see a real debate take place instead of hearing all the time that there is a consensus and that the debate is over, which is completely false.
Science is not a democratic process. The majority is now always right and even an isolated individual can be right against everyone else. Have we not learned anything from the story of Galileo, who was condemned by the Church and the elites of his time because he supported the theory that the Earth goes around the sun? The fact that sceptical scientists are not in the majority is not a refutation of their arguments.
Question: Should the scandals involving the IPCC serve as a reason for the Canadian government to abstain from doing anything until we know more about the issue?
Answer: I quoted Prof Patterson who said this. I believe however it would be unrealistic to do nothing, for many obvious political reasons. My position is that we should be cautious instead of ambitious when tackling this issue. That’s why I totally support my government, which has shown caution even if it brought us criticism and condemnations from environmental activists.
You can leave a response.