Year 3, Month 5, Day 3: Mighty Lak A Rose…

I don’t usually pay much attention to Canadian politics. But recently the Wildrose party in Alberta has been attracting some attention with their remarkably stupid statements about climate change. The former PM of Norway has some choice words for these dingalings, in an interview in Toronto’s Globe and Mail:

The scientific basis for climate change has come under attack in Canada. Alberta’s Wildrose Party believes the link between human activity and global warming is inconclusive. How do you respond?

That is anti-scientific and naive. Politicians and others that question the science, that’s not the right thing to do. We have to base ourselves on evidence.

What message do you have for political leaders dealing with environmental issues?

It is important not to be influenced by, and inspired by, laissez-faire attitudes, which first had an impact before the [U.S.] financial crisis and [the BP oil spill] in the Gulf of Mexico. When you liberalize regulations, and you leave it more to companies, whether banks or oil companies, I don’t think this is the right way to go. You have to have governance. You must have serious and strict regulations.

She’s so sweet and forgiving, no? Not me. Sent April 24:

While many words come to mind when describing politicians who have embraced climate-change denial for electoral advantage, “naive,” the adjective employed by Gro Harlem Brundtland, is not one of them. To win the approval of conservative voters, Wildrose candidates are following the path marked out by Tea Party activists in the United States: reject ideologically problematic facts and expertise; exploit ignorance; sow confusion.

While voters may have many reasons for misunderstanding the work of climate scientists, politicians must be held to a higher standard. It is (or should be) their business to understand the real-world consequences of the policies they promote, and to take responsibility for the choices they advocate. The evidence for human causes of climate change is overwhelming and unequivocal; any politician arguing otherwise is either self-deluded or mendacious, and there is nothing ingenuous about either folly or lies. To describe denialism as “naive” is, well, naive.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 12, Day 21: One Good Letter Deserves Another

The Malaysia Star runs an opinion piece by Guenter Gruber, the German Ambassador:

Changes in the climate destroy the basis on which human life subsists; drought, for instance, leads to shortages in food and water. Rising sea levels are already threatening the territories of small island states and vast stretches of coastland.

Weather patterns are changing. In Thailand, we have just seen severe flooding. Last year, the south of Malaysia was unusually dry. Now, 40% more rainfall than usual is expected.

Climate change is the definitive challenge of the 21st century. However, the international community has to admit that it has not, as things stand, stepped up to this challenge.

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions went up again in 2010, global temperatures are already 0.8°C higher than before industrialisation, and sea levels rose twice as fast between 1993 and 2003 as they did in the preceding decade; icebergs and glaciers are melting at record speeds.

It’s a generic piece, and it gets a generic letter. Sent December 17:

There is no doubt: the climate crisis is not only the gravest threat our species has yet faced, but one which our existing political and economic systems cannot address competently. Just look at the parlous state of American politics, in which oil industry influence permeates the system to such an extent that one of the country’s two dominant political parties is reaping electoral rewards for a complete denial of scientific reality. Similarly, Canada ignores the danger posed to its own Arctic territories by pulling out of the Kyoto treaty and fostering climate-change denial in its own government.

Ultimately, of course, the laws of physics and chemistry will win; they always do, since they are unaffected by public opinion. The responsibility for preventing a runaway greenhouse effect necessarily rests with the world’s industrialized nations, for they are the ones whose CO2 emissions have pushed the planet to the brink of catastrophe.

Warren Senders