Monday, August 22, 2005
Editorial Byline: Tim Ball Source:
Special to the Sun
Environment Canada has accomplished a feat astounding even by the standards of a government that wasted $5 billion on the non-existent Y2K computer "crisis." It has successfully tricked Canadians into accepting an economically crippling climate change strategy that is based on computer model predictions already proven incorrect. As a consequence, the department's climate change plan diverts billions of dollars away from serious environmental concerns such as air, land and water pollution towards a project that is fundamentally backwards. Instead of focusing on helping our most vulnerable citizens adapt to whatever climate change nature has in store for us, Environment Canada has succeeded in convincing Canadians that, by mandating carbon dioxide (CO2) restrictions, "the government will work with the planet to fight climate change," to quote Environment Minister Stephane Dion.
Anyone with even a minimal understanding of science has a right to be at least skeptical about such pronouncements. After all, rapid climate change is known to have occurred many times in the past, long before humanity arrived on the scene. The evidence that the 20th century's modest warming is unusual and due to our release of CO2 is questionable at best. How can anyone seriously believe Environment Canada's confident assertions that CO2 rises drive global warming when ice cores show temperature rises before CO2, and the Earth cooled steadily between 1940 and 1980 as our CO2 emissions increased at the fastest rate in history? Environment Canada's approach is backwards for an even more important reason.
The evidence indicates that gradual planetary cooling, not warming, is next in the natural cycles driven by the sun. And records reveal cooling to be a far greater threat. When dust from the 1992 Mount Pinatubo eruption reduced solar energy input to the Earth by two per cent, global average temperature fell 1 degreesC and many regions experienced the coldest summers on record. Winnipeg summers became like those of Churchill, Man., 1,000 km to the north. Harvests were delayed and yields were reduced across the country. Grains remained green into September across the Prairies. Heat units, a term used to measure the temperature dependent growth potential of specific crops, were low for corn in Southern Ontario. But this impact pales in comparison with what would have happened had we already been in a global cold period. In 1815-1816, towards the end of the Little Ice Age, the Tambora eruption resulted in a worldwide temperature drop of 1.5 degreesC, causing massive crop failures in what became known as "the year without a summer." Snow fell in Albany, N.Y., on June 6, 1816, while hard frosts occurred in every month of the summer throughout the New England states that year. History also shows that the Northern Hemisphere is far better off with warming than cooling. While cooling dramatically reduces plant and animal range, even Kyoto advocates acknowledge Canadian agriculture would benefit with longer frost-free seasons and more heat units.
Extreme weather risks are also reduced in a warming world, a significant bonus for all. When Dr. Robert Watson, then chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, spoke to members of Parliament in the House of Commons in April 2002, he tried to frighten MPs by displaying a map that forecast world agricultural productivity if the global warming hypothesis was correct. But his scare tactics fell flat when his audience forced him to acknowledge that his own map indicated that Canada would see a net increase in productivity in a warmer world. So why did our elected representatives agree to CO2 restrictions if our country would see a net global warming benefit? Chalk it up to the remarkable PR success of the Environment Canada/enviro-lobby alliance, which convinced most media and the public that significant global warming is caused by our emissions of CO2 and that such warming will be catastrophic. The official Opposition, initially a supporter of science-based climate policy, succumbed to lobby group pressure and developed a platform based on opinion polls that indicated that most Canadians had been taken in by the hoax. Instead of helping educate the public about the realities of science, the Conservative platform effectively supports today's climate change mythology by adopting the dogma that increasing CO2 is a "huge environmental problem" and, while opposing the specifics of Kyoto, advocating the development of plans to "fight climate change." Logic suggests that, given the choice between preparing for cooling or warming, we should prepare for the greater danger, namely global cooling. But what is Canada doing to prepare for a colder world? Nothing.
Dr. Tim Ball is a Victoria-based environmental consultant and Chairman of NRSP. He was one of the first climatology PhD's in Canada and taught and researched in the field as a professor at the University of Winnipeg for many years.