Bernier questions climate science

“The alarmism that has often characterized this debate is no longer appropriate”


Maxime Bernier may not be in Cabinet, but he’s certainly finding his way back into the headlines. The Beauce MP published an open letter La Presse on Wednesday in which he unreservedly embraces climate change skeptics, arguing that “every week that goes by brings more confirmation of the wisdom of our government’s moderate position.” An unedited version of the letter obtained by the CBC shows Bernier going even further in his criticism of climate science. “Satellite data show less warming than terrestrial stations, which may have been contaminated by heat coming from more extended urban areas,” Bernier asserts. “Data from tree rings in the forests even show some cooling; that’s why they were replaced by temperatures considered more accurate from meteorological stations in the IPCC graphs.” Given that “there is no consensus among scientists” as to the extent of the climate change problem, Bernier concludes the best way to address the issue is to sit back and wait. “It would be irresponsible to spend billions of dollars and to impose unnecessarily stringent regulations to solve a problem whose gravity we still are not certain about,” he writes. “The alarmism that has often characterized this debate is no longer appropriate.”

CBC News

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Bernier questions climate science

  1. Ah yes, the "wait and see" approach.

    There is, of course, doubt in the science of AGW, especially with regards to specific consequences. But uncertainty isn't a reason for inaction – quite the opposite. If I had a vat of mysterious yellow fluid and I ask my friend, let's call him Bob, to figure out what it is, there are a number of things he could do to find out. One of them is see what the fluid does to himself, perhaps by ingesting it. If, say, it's acid, he'll know by the acid burns all down his throat and that dying sensation in his belly. If it's lemonade, it'll taste delicious going down, and he'll have a chance to drink all the lemonade before I can (damn you Bob!).

    Of course, it would make more sense for Bob to run some other tests that don't involve him possibly dying, even if that means I'll find out that it's actually lemonade at the same time he does.

    When it comes to climate change, the earth is Bob and we're drinking the fluid. There's plenty of reason to question, even doubt, many of the claims from AGW theory, and there's far greater reason to be skeptical about the certainty of those claims. But there still must be a recognition that CO2 emissions represent a significant change to the atmosphere and environment in general, and that there is a non-trivial chance of something very bad happening if we continue our rate of emissions. Inaction is not the best policy in the face of uncertainty.

    As for alarmism, it runs both ways – expressing overconfidence in the gloom and doom predictions of AGW isn't appropriate, but neither is overstating the costs of lowering emissions, provided it's handled at least somewhat intelligently.

    • "but neither is overstating the costs of lowering emissions, provided it's handled at least somewhat intelligently. "____Any costs whatsoever, especially any form of taxation is an infringement on our freedoms. This is not to be taken lightly and I don't care if one views "1%" or whatever as "only 1%". It's my 1%.____This isn't to say nothing needs to be done (I honestly don't know since the debate is now murky beyond recognition), but it attests to why there is such a strong opposition to it. We already pay enough in taxes, and the AGWers would have us just accept another tax? No way. It stops here. If a clear argument can't be presented without the bias that liberals have (all liberals seem to love AGW since it is a perfect vehicle to implement socialist policies under the guise if environmentalism), and a consensus decision can't be made by both sides of the political spectrum, then there is something wrong.____At this point, it is the intentions of liberals that prevent everything. I cannot trust those who are so eager to implement taxes and regulations in an attempt to run my life.

      • Properly implemented, all policy directed towards reducing carbon emissions would do is reduce a person's (or corporation's) ability to pollute, either by placing restrictions or increasing costs of polluting. When has polluting ever been considered a freedom in our society?

        Even carbon taxes shouldn't do more than that. The point of such a tax is to create framework where polluting is less profitable, not to bring in more revenue for the government. So, if we don't want a tax increase, we can just slash income, corporate and/or general taxes to compensate.

        You say you don't want people trying to run your life, but that's not my objective, nor is it (I hope) the objective of most proponents of AGW. So I ask you, do you think you have the right to pollute, regardless of the potential consequences to yourself, others, and future generations? If so, why, and if not, how would you propose going about preventing such pollution?

        • Gah, that was supposed to be "general sales taxes", not "general taxes".

  2. I guess what irks me most is the undue urgency some climate change activists promote. Almost all of the science I have read concludes that global warming is here to stay for the next 100 years. We can't stop it, but maybe we can reduce its severity or duration to some extent.
    We need to take action, but we have time to be smart about it. We don't have to plunge foolishly into expensive and damaging measures because of a sense of panic.
    We also need to put more effort into planning how we will deal with the inevitable consequences of global warming. We can't stop it, so we'll have to live with it.

    • You're right in that some of the effects of increased CO2 emissions are already inevitable – since CO2 can take decades or potentially centuries to remove itself from the atmosphere, what we've put in there already will do whatever it does, even if we cut emissions to zero right now.

      But that doesn't mean there isn't urgency, because every tonne of CO2 increases the severity of potential problems. Right now we're emitting more carbon than ever before and the rate of emissions is increasing. So there is plenty we can stop, and it's the stuff we can stop that has the potential to lead to those catastrophes (or more likely, non-catastrophic negative environmental effects that degrade quality of life) that we'd like to avoid.

      Think of it this way – think of the CO2 concentration as a you in a car on a road, pointed away from Disney World which is 2 kilometers behind you. You really want to get to Disney World. But you're going 50 km/h away from it – and you're speeding up. Now, to get to Disney World, the obvious thing to do take your foot off the accelerator, put it on the brake and turn around.

      But when it comes to CO2 emissions, we're all still debating whether to take our foot off the accelerator. What's worse is that unlike a car, we can't turn around – we either emit (move away from Disneyland) or don't emit (stay still doing nothing). Nature seems to have some mechanisms that push us towards where we'd like to be (Disneyland!), but we can't control that. This is why there's urgency – because we haven't even started the process of getting to where we need to be and in the meantime, we're getting further and further away from our goal.

      As for dealing with the consequences, as I said, there's a lot of uncertainty as to what will happen – how do we prepare for things that we don't know will happen, don't know how severe they'll be if they do happen, and don't know if we can deal with them if they do happen and or what the cost will be if we can deal with them?

  3. "Bernier questions climate science"

    Since what the science says is in dispute, shouldn't the headline be "Bernier questions Anthropogenic Global Warming"?

  4. Hey the lid is off of this thing. We see it for the scam that it is.

  5. Environmemtalis is a religion. It is all about faith and little on science.

    It is a reposatory for communists and other rabble that see in it an the vehicle for state domination over individuals.

  6. There are people on both sides of the debate who approach the issue based on faith, rather than evidence and reason.

  7. I was overjoyed when I heard this on the radio yesterday. Hopefully it will result in more politicians stepping forward to question the science and the motives behind it.

  8. The reason Bernier questions the scientists on this issue is because he never read their notes…he left them somewhere.

  9. Bernier is unfortunately misguided and spreading falsehoods.
    The debate is over about whether or not climate change is real. Irrefutable evidence from around the world – including extreme weather events, record temperatures, retreating glaciers, and rising sea levels – all point to the fact climate change is happening now and at rates much faster than previously thought.

    The overwhelming majority of scientists that study climate change agree that human activity is responsible for changing the climate. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is one of the largest bodies of international scientists ever assembled to study a scientific issue, comprised of more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries. The IPCC has concluded that most of the warming observed during the past 50 years is attributable to human activities. Its findings have been publicly endorsed by the national academies of science of all G-8 nations, as well as those of China, India, and Brazil.
    While some level of debate is of course useful when looking at major social problems, eventually society needs to move on and actually address the issue. To do nothing about the problem of climate change is akin to letting a fire burn down a building because the precise temperature of the flames is unknown, or to not address the problem of smoking because one or two doctors still claim that it does not cause lung cancer.

    • You're barking up the worng tree here when you start on with the IPCC. That's a tired talking point that no longer has any validity to anyone with a brain. Its credibility has been completley blown out of the water – you've either been under a rock for the last 6 months, or are in denial. If you've actually been under a rock, please Google climategate, glaciergate, and amazongate for starters.

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