Harris: Ontario’s uninformed drive to price carbon

The Ministry of the Environment is leading a town-hall meeting in Windsor on March 19, to gather public input for their climate change discussion paper 2015.

After attending the event in Ottawa, I write to alert Windsorites to what are the many basic science mistakes to which you will be subjected.

Ministry of the Environment spokesperson Karen Clark set the tone at the Ottawa town hall by saying, “Scientists around the world agree that climate change is happening,” a statement as meaningful as “water is wet.”

When asked to comment later, Tim Patterson, professor of earth sciences at Carleton University, said, “It’s obvious that climate is and always has been variable. In fact, the only constant about climate is change.”

Clark continued, “We’re seeing it (climate change) in lots of different ways, but one of the ways that’s perhaps registering most with folks is the extreme weather events that have been happening with increasing frequency and severity. We can’t afford to do nothing.”

Former Environment Canada research scientist Dr. Madhav Khandekar, an expert reviewer for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says extreme weather such as heat waves, droughts and floods are not increasing anywhere.

“Our non-governmental international panel on climate change report states that there is no convincing evidence supporting a relationship between warming over the past 100 years and increases in extreme events,” said Khandekar. “The link between global warming and extreme weather is more perception than reality.”

Clark next warned the audience, that, “Warmer average temperatures mean drier forests and more frequent storms so we have more frequent forest fires.”

“That makes no sense,” says Dr. Tim Ball, former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. “If you have warmer conditions, the forest, particularly the boreal forest, expands. My own research showed the tree line moved an average of 200 km further north from 1772 to 1952 — that is, from the depths of the Little Ice Age to the modern warm period.”

Clark then went on to say, “And we also have, because of warmer average temperatures, warmer Great Lakes, and warmer Great Lakes means that we have more algae blooms and situations like Toledo, Ohio in August last year, where almost half a million people couldn’t drink the water coming out of their taps.”

Gatineau, Quebec-based water resources expert Don Farley replies: “Annual average water surface temperatures for the five Great Lakes as measured by satellites show no appreciable upward or downward trend for the period 1995 to 2013.”

“It is absolute nonsense to suggest that alleged anthropogenic global warming is responsible for the algae blooms which occurred in Lake Erie,” concludes Farley. “Dissolved phosphorous is the key and necessary nutrient for algae growth. Trying to control algae blooms in fresh water lakes by controlling carbon dioxide emissions is utterly futile.”

After again warning of “more drought, more heat, more impacts on human health and the environment,” Clark asked the audience, “So, how did this happen?”

Audience member: “Used our climate as a garbage dump.”

Clark: “That’s one answer. Anybody else want to elaborate?”

“The number of people living in the world.”

“Cheap oil.”

Clark: “Cheap oil and people. OK, we’ve got a consensus in the room on that? OK, good. So, it is because of the International Panel on Climate Change [sic], through very long study, has declared that it is unequivocal that the world is getting warmer and they’re pretty certain that the warming is caused by humans throwing stuff into the air.”

Ontarians should be afraid, not of the remote possibility of significant manmade climate change, but of the uninformed mentality driving our province to price carbon.

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition (ClimateScienceInternational.org). The climate change discussion paper public town hall in Windsor will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 19 at the Art Gallery of Windsor, 401 Riverside Dr.


Photo: The City of Toledo water intake crib is surrounded by algae, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, in Lake Erie, about 2.5 miles off the shore of Curtice, Ohio. (Haraz N. Ghanbari / Associated Press)

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