LETTERS: Calm down and look at the evidence of climate change

We’ve only got a few years left before it’s irreversible

To the Expositor:

Mr. Desjardins once again has concocted another diatribe of Conservative climate change denial, a house of cards built of erroneous assumptions on a foundation of sand. In rebuttal, for starters, Michael Shellenberger, the co-founder of the quasi-neoliberal, pro-technology environmental think tank The Breakthrough Institute, is a cheerleader for nuclear power, while pretending to be a progressive environmentalist. Shellenberger is certainly not to the left of the political spectrum.

Disregarding the future of hydroelectric power in Ontario was actually initiated by the Harris Conservative government (1995-2002), who began the dismantling of Hydro One and the sellout to American power corporations. Apart from not taking advantage of importing hydro electricity from Quebec, the real loss was the selloff of various Canadian power companies and the resulting cutback of hydro development in Ontario. This is a very personal story to me, as my grandfather, John A. McPhail’s Great Lakes Power Company in Sault Ste. Marie, was one of those casualties. Once again, I need to point out that the renewable energy contracts Conservatives consider so outrageously expensive are only comparatively so, if one continues to ignore the obscene subsidies and tax breaks still given to the fossil-fuel and nuclear power industries. 

Ironically, it’s Mr. Desjardins who has launched into claims about climate change that are not supported by either evidence or current global scientific consensus. I could not find confirmation of his statement that the US National Hurricane Centre (at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) suggests no increase in the frequency or intensity of hurricanes since 1900. However, I did find confirmation on the NOAA website at Global Warming Projections and Hurricanes Activity, that: “recent studies suggest global warming may act to increase tropical cyclone activity due to a rise in ocean surface temperatures. However, there are a number of environmental factors besides ocean surface temperature which also influence the development and intensification of hurricanes, such as upper atmospheric temperature, relative humidity and wind shear.”

It is a complete misrepresentation of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report, released on March 29, 2012, to claim that, “The report concludes there is little or no evidence to support a claim that a warming climate is influencing extreme weather events.” What I did find was, “the number of severe hurricanes has doubled worldwide, even though the total number of hurricanes has dropped over the last 35 years. The increase in major storms coincides with a global increase of sea surface temperatures, which scientists say is an effect of global warming.”

Even geologists now recognize that the recent Holocene epoch has transformed into the current Anthropocene epoch, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century. Feel free to check out ‘The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene’ by Simon L. Lewis & Mark A. Maslin, or ‘Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,’ “A cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive re-engineering of the planet, narrated by Alicia Vikander.”

Referring to Al Gore as a “charlatan” is an insult to those who actually remember the history of the true charlatans, George W. Bush and his corrupt cronies, responsible for the theft from him of the 2000 US presidency. Al Gore’s progressive stance on Global Warming, trivialized by neoliberal pundits at the time of the election, was vindicated by the global response to the release of the documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ In 2007, former US Vice President Al Gore and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to increase public knowledge about man-made climate change.

The beloved iconoclast standup comic George Carlin is not the person to look for support to bolster a neoliberal justification for business as usual. As George was fond of saying, “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.”

Mr. Desjardins may take exception all he wants to the notion there’s a consensus of scientists about human influenced climate change and that there has been a conspiracy by oil interests for decades to suppress it. “Reports last year by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times found Exxon executives were aware of the climate risks associated with carbon dioxide emissions in the 1980s, but funded research to cover up those risks and block solutions. In a more recent investigation, the Washington-based Center for International Environmental Law uncovered documents that show the oil industry, including Humble Oil (now Exxon Mobil), was on notice about the potential role of fossil fuels in CO2 emissions no later than 1957 and was shaping science to shape public opinion’ even earlier, in the 1940s.

The demise of the polar bear is “fake news?” Yes, there are websites like Polar Bear Science that bolster that opinion. Yes, Polar bears may have trod the planet for millions of years, according to the latest genetic analysis. It suggests these white-coated, massive bears have weathered previous natural climate changes, and may pre-date the Arctic ice that is their preferred—and only—habitat today. Which is why the future of the species remains presently uncertain. “There’s no guarantee that they’ll survive this time,” says geneticist Webb Miller of Pennsylvania State University, an author of the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. After all, Miller notes, the species currently lacks sufficient genetic diversity to help it adapt to changing conditions, as well as facing unprecedented threats, such as heavy metal pollution accumulating in the Arctic.

Regarding Mr. Desjardins’ lame attempt to once again belittle the brilliant Naomi Klein, contrary to his opinion, she has never represented herself as an economist. Ms. Klein rather successfully and consistently has pursued a career as a journalist, known for her political analyses and criticism of corporate globalization and capitalism over the past 20 years.

Since Doug Ford became premier of Ontario, he has been dismantling the previous Liberal government’s efforts to push Ontario kicking and screaming into a progressive and desperately needed approach to climate action, while failing miserably to come up with any semblance of a climate plan of his own. Inspired by ‘The Leap Manifesto,’ the much maligned and trivialized Green Party has stepped up with their own: ‘Leaping into the future: A comprehensive strategy for reducing Ontario’s emissions.’

“Decades of inaction have put us in a race against time to prevent extreme floods, storms, drought, heat waves, forest fires and food shortages from becoming the new normal. According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, we have just a few years to drastically turn around the global emissions trajectory before unleashing “irreversible, catastrophic climate breakdown.”

Derek Stephen McPhail

Providence Bay