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100 Canadian, U.S. scientists call for oilsands moratorium

‘I believe we have a duty to speak up’


 

Suncor

A group of 100 leading Canadian and U.S. scientists has issued an urgent call for a moratorium on new oilsands development and listed 10 reasons why no more projects should be permitted.

“I believe we have a duty to speak up,” said Mark Jaccard, an energy economist at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University who spent more than a year drafting a letter to make sure it was scientifically sound.

Jaccard was a co-author of a 2014 essay in a scientific journal that made a similar argument. But the current letter, released Wednesday, represents a much wider cross-section.

Economists, biologists, climatologists and political scientists have all signed the text, which has been sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and all members of Parliament. The signatories include 12 fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, 22 members of the US National Academy, five Order of Canada recipients and a Nobel Prize winner.

They are careful to include in their warning all high-carbon energy sources, including coal and other types of unconventional oil, but it’s focused on the oilsands.

“No new oilsands or related infrastructure projects should proceed unless consistent with an implemented plan to rapidly reduce carbon pollution, safeguard biodiversity, protect human health and respect treaty rights,” the letter says.

Jaccard said he was struck by the number of natural scientists who asked to sign. More and more of them, he said, are seeing the effects of climate change on the organisms or environments they study.

Jaccard remembers one scientist who studied British Columbia’s pine trees, decimated by a pine beetle expansion made worse by warming temperatures.

“This little scientist studying pine beetles and the foot of Godzilla called climate change comes down on top of it,” Jaccard recalled.

“He said, ‘I feel silly. Why am I just studying this thing and not trying to help humanity do something?'”

David Schindler, a University of Alberta ecologist, agreed.

“Everyone in this group really sees what climate change is starting to do to our ecosystems and the potential for harming society in major ways.”

The harm will be more than environmental, suggested David Keith, who teaches both physics and public policy at Harvard.

“The world is going to gradually decarbonize and the decisions will not be driven from Alberta,” he said.

“The deeper we get into a commitment to these large projects, the better off we are in the very short term, but the worse off we are in the long term. We’ll be worse off economically when there are real restrictions on carbon emissions.”

That message isn’t sinking in, said Keith.

“Outright climate denial is down, but I think that a lot Alberta oil and gas elites really don’t believe much is going to happen.”

Climate change is a challenge for every aspect of society, said Thomas Homer-Dixon, who leads the Centre for International Governance Innovation at Ontario’s University of Waterloo.

“There’s an enormous number of social science disciplines that are involved in this problem. We’re dealing with social phenomena rather than natural phenomena, and they’re all wrapped up in this problem of climate change and the impact of climate change.”

Wednesday’s letter is an example of natural and social scientists feeling compelled to share knowledge that increasingly alarms them, said Homer-Dixon.

“If we just keep it within our academic journals and papers, we’re not doing the broader society any favours. The situation is urgent and the information and knowledge that we have needs to be part of the conversation.”


 
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100 Canadian, U.S. scientists call for oilsands moratorium

  1. I am hoping that the NDP will commit to the principles laid out in this timely letter. I doubt that the Liberals will and it is obvious that the Conservatives will not.

    • Both Libs and Dips will go after climate change….OilCan Harper will be gone.

  2. Glo-Bull Warming is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated in human history.

      • Wide Gaper is a clam.

        Politicians will say anything and never have any intention of following through.

        What did Chretien or Martin ever do concerning the very weak theory of Glo-Bull Warming?

        Zero

        A clam doesn’t have the faculty to know when politicians are making promises that won’t be kept, can’t possibly be met and the fact most people alive today will not be around come 2100.

        Math is hard for clams.

  3. The title of this article is “100 Canadian, U.S. scientists call for oilsands moratorium”. Climatologists are supposed to be included, but it doesn’t say how many, or who they are, or whether they have actually published scientific papers on climate change, and if so, whether they were peer reviewed and approved. This alone casts a serious shadow on the rest of the article. Other scientists included economists, biologists and political scientists. They may all have some interest in the oil sands—maybe more than just oil sands.

    But then the focus of the article switches from oil sands, to climate change– “No new oilsands or related infrastructure projects should proceed [now a condition gets inserted] unless consistent with an implemented plan to rapidly reduce carbon pollution, safeguard biodiversity, protect human health and respect treaty rights,” the letter says. The letter is really about climate change, not oil sands. “More and more of them, he said, are seeing the effects of climate change on the organisms or environments they study.” So somehow, by assimilation, oil sands and climate change are treated as inseperable.

    David Schindler, a University of Alberta ecologist, agreed. “Everyone in this group really sees what climate change is starting to do to our ecosystems and the potential for harming society in major ways.” The climate has always changed, and always will. Is Shindler implying that climate change is man-made? If so, I would like him to explain in detail, from a pure and true scientific method, including all sources and factors that can affect climate, how much man has affected the climate. Dr. Tim Ball, a Canadian climatologist has already done this. He shoots holes in all the man-made climate change fear mongering that we have been subjected to for the last 20 yers. He also shoots holes in Elizabeth May’s Green Party policies about man-made climate change. Her arguments don’t hold up under Dr. Ball’s assertions. Ball has so much statistical data to back his position. There are two excellent and informative You Tube video presentations by Dr. Ball. Search You Tube for “climate change hoax”.

    Now, another corker– “The harm will be more than environmental, suggested David Keith, who teaches both physics and public policy at Harvard.” There is more than a casual association between Harvard and the Liberal Parties in Canada. Michael Ignatieff came from Harvard to run as a Liberal and became Prime Minister. He went back to Harvard when he was defeated in the election. Bob Rae spoke, as interim Liberal Party leader, to a Canada seminar as part of the Canada Program at Harvard. Dalton McGuinty, Ontario’s Liberal Premier until he stepped down, went to teach at Harvard. Stephan Dion authored a paper presented at the Durban, S.A. United Nations Conference on Climage Change in 2011. The Harvard International Review carries his message in the archives, article 11255. He spouts the same solutions to the same perceived problem of climate change as the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change), the same message Al Gore spouted. One of his favourite solutions was to implement a form of carbon tax. Note that Liberal B.C., and now Liberal Quebec and Liberal Ontario also have, or are planning, some form of carbon taxation. Climate change and carbon taxation is a recurring theme in Liberal circles. This Liberal tendency is also a new socio-politico-economic direction that makes me very skeptical that Justin Trudeau may have the same views for Canada when he says, “Canadians want change”. Trudeau ran in the same inner circle as Dion and Ignatieff while they were Prime Ministers, although he stayed more in the background.

    So this McLean’s article was entitled “100 Canadian, U.S. scientists call for oilsands moratorium”. It ends up that the letter from these scientists to Stephen Harper, is more about fighting climate change from a Liberal point of view. And it’s all based on CO2 from fossil fuels. Dr. Ball also spoke to Harper back around 2009, enlightening him to the realities of man-made climate change—a hoax. Did Harper take it all in? Is that why Harper gave us an 85 year grace period last week in Paris, to the year 2100, to meet some target commitment? That’s a lot of time to develop clean, cheap and practical alternative energy forms. I also believe that our Canadian culture, education, and mentality, give us every advantage to develop those new forms.

    Maybe the main purpose of the headline of this article was to put climate change in front of the Canadian public, rather than the message about oil sands. It could be a subtle, almost subliminal attack ad from the Liberals. After all, it is an election year. The burning of fossil fuels causing climate change has never been proven. It has been disproven. Now go check out Dr. Tim Ball on You Tube climate change hoax videos.

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