It’s tough for Politicians to ignore even the crappy science of climate change

I am almost hesitant to post an article on climate change. At least one that doesn’t repeat the mantra that the sky is falling. There are those that take serious umbrage with anyone who doesn’t toe the party line that the world is doomed unless we park our vehicles, remove the jet planes  from the skies, shut down our power plants and stop eating meat. Well maybe not the meat thing, but then if we got rid of all of the cows there would apparently be a decrease in the production of methane gas which they say would be a good thing, although I would miss my ribeye steaks.

The major environmental activists need this climate of fear (is there a pun there?) to ensure that continuing pressure is applied to politicians in order to turn them green. Like it or not, it is a tactic that appears to be working.

Schwarzenegger has gone green in California. In British Columbia the Campbell government is talking environment. And even Prime Minister Stephen Harper has seen the light and is pumping a green agenda.

Now politicians have always said they loved the environment. It’s just that they have never put the money where their respective mouths were. Environmental promises given in the heat of an election more often than not quickly cool down to ashes in the aftermath.

So the enviros are quite happy to have them running scared on global warming and would rather muzzle any discussion to the contrary than give the politicians and the industrialists an argument against making major changes to how we do business.

That is a tactic that is common to the environmental movement. In British Columbia we saw the attack on the grizzly bear hunt fueled by statements that there were only 4,000 grizzlies in the province. This while every population study that was done only served to prove that there were more grizzlies in the province than previously predicted. The last estimate I remember hearing was 18,000 bears and the figures may be higher than that by now. Now they are arguing that Polar bear populations are decreasing, this time with the goal of forcing environmental assessments in the Arctic. This again in the face of population studies showing that Polar bear populations have not been decreasing, but in fact have been increasing in most areas.

Science is a continuing process and what we think we know today about climate change may be totally different than what we will know a decade from now with more information available and more scientific work undertaken. So I fear that if the demonization of contrarian thinking on climate change is accepted by the media, government and the public that there is a distinct possibility that studies that do not support the popular theories will not be funded and those scientists who go against the popular flow will be shunned and ignored. And that would be a bad thing.

But the other side of the argument as articulated in this article is that you can’t wait until all the evidence is in before you take some kind of action.

That science is an unfolding process of discovery is fairly self-evident. The more we seem to know, the more questions we seem to need answering. Some avenues of scientific inquiry may close off, but many new ones open up. We know a lot more about climate change now than 17 years ago when the first IPCC scientific assessment was published. And no doubt in another 17 years our knowledge of how the climate system works and the impact that humans have made on it will be significantly different to today.

Yet it is important that on big questions such as climate change scientists make an assessment of what they know at key moments when policy or other collective decisions need to be made. Today is such a time.

Even if I scoff at the 100 year projections of catastrophe I won’t know if my scepticism is justified until maybe 50 years down the road. And unfortunately (barring some radical medical breakthrough) I won’t be around to say “I told you so” or even “Damn, you were right. Sorry you had to relocate Vancouver”.

Regardless of the mixed bag of information that we now have before us, some real, some false and some frivolous, governments cannot ignore the public perception of global warming.    In the ensuing battle between political parties to determine which one is truly “for the environment”, we can only hope that the politicians and bureaucrats find intelligent and real solutions and not the convenient political ones. The obvious one I would suggest being carbon credits. Or the close second, a carbon tax, where the government once again transfers money from my pocket to the black hole of general revenue.

Thanks to small dead animals for the link to this article. Also worth a read for a more critical analysis of the overall content of the article.

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