I Love Climate Scientists, Don't You?

show some love on Valentine's Day*

Even as the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration climbs upward, some climate deniers are bent on attacking climate scientists’ reputations. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we empower climate scientists to keep doing the stellar work they do, the work that makes climate change activism possible.

Sign the Valentine’s Day love letter to climate scientists, and tell them why you appreciate them!

Click here to go to Forecast the Facts to send a valentine’s day message to those hardworking climate scientists.

Scientists To Harper Government: It’s Time For Grown Up Conversation on Climate Change

This week twelve climate scientists and energy experts penned a letter to Canada’s Natural Resources (aka “Oil”) Minister, Joe Oliver, to express their concern about his ongoing support for building new pipelines and expanding fossil fuel production in face of the  threat of climate change.
Mr. Oliver was an international banker before he was elected to represent the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence in 2011, so it is understandable that he’s a little fuzzy on the details of climate science. What isn’t reasonable in a minister of the Canadian federal government is the unwillingness of a former banker to learn from, and follow the advice of, experts in the field of climate science. Unfortunately in this department Mr. Oliver is following the lead of Stephen Harper, who has a graduate degree in (neo-con) economics. Harper and Oliver clearly skipped out of their high school science classes, where they might have learned that the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.
Harvard University professor David Keith was blunt in his condemnation of this government’s approach, stating in an interview with CBC that it is time for the Conservative government to “grow up” on climate change and adopt a more balanced approach:
They need to balance the long-term environmental risks and the benefits to Canadians … not using the atmosphere as a waste dump for carbon. And they need to balance that against desire in current laws, for companies to export oil.
graphic: I Heart Climate Scientists
graphic: I Heart Climate Scientists
Here’s the text of the letter, which was initially published on Professor Mark Jaccard’s website:
The Honourable Joe Oliver, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources
Parliament Hill
Sir William Logan Building, 21st Floor
580 Booth Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0E4
May 7, 2013
Dear Minister Oliver,
As climate scientists, economists and policy experts who have devoted our careers to understanding the climate and energy systems, we share your view that “climate change is a very serious issue.”
But some of your recent comments give us significant cause for concern. In short, we are not convinced that your advocacy in support of new pipelines and expanded fossil fuel production takes climate change into account in a meaningful way.
Avoiding dangerous climate change will require significantly reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and making a transition to cleaner energy.
The infrastructure we build today will shape future choices about energy. If we invest in expanding fossil fuel production, we risk locking ourselves in to a high carbon pathway that increases greenhouse gas emissions for years and decades to come.
The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) “450 scenario” looks at the implications of policy choices designed to give the world a fair chance of avoiding 2˚C of global warming. In that scenario, world oil demand is projected to peak this decade and fall to 10 per cent below current levels over the coming decades. The IEA concludes that, absent significant deployment of carbon capture and storage, over two-thirds of the world’s current fossil fuel reserves cannot be commercialized. Other experts have reached similar conclusions.
We are at a critical moment. In the words of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, “each additional ton of greenhouse gases emitted commits us to further change and greater risks.” The longer we delay the transition to low-carbon economy, the more drastic, disruptive and costly that transition will be. The implication is clear: the responsibility for preventing dangerous climate change rests with today’s policymakers.
The IEA also warns of the consequences of our current path. If governments do little to address emissions, energy demand will continue to grow rapidly and will continue to be met mostly with fossil fuels — a scenario that the Agency estimates could likely lead to 3.6˚C of global warming.
Yet it is this very dangerous pathway  — not the “450 scenario” linked to avoiding 2˚C of global warming — that you seem to be advocating when promoting Canadian fossil fuel development at home and abroad.
If we truly wish to have a “serious debate” about climate change and energy in this country, as you have rightly called for, we must start by acknowledging that our choices about fossil fuel infrastructure carry significant consequences for today’s and future generations.
We urge you to make the greenhouse gas impacts of new fossil fuel infrastructure a central consideration in your government’s decision-making and advocacy activities concerning Canada’s natural resources.
We would be very happy to provide you with a full briefing on recent scientific findings on climate change and energy development.
Thank you for your consideration of these important matters.
J.P. Bruce, OC, FRSC
James Byrne
Professor, Geography
University of Lethbridge
Simon Donner
Assistant Professor, Geography
University of British Columbia
J.R. Drummond, FRSC
Professor, Physics and Atmospheric Science
Dalhousie University
Mark Jaccard, FRSC
Professor, Resource and Environmental Management
Simon Fraser University
David Keith
Professor, Applied Physics, Public Policy
Harvard University
Damon Matthews
Associate Professor, Geography, Planning and Environment
Concordia University
Gordon McBean, CM, FRSC
Professor, Centre for Environment and Sustainability
Western University
David Sauchyn
Professor, Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative
University of Regina
John Smol, FRSC
Professor, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change
Queen’s University
John M.R. Stone
Adjunct Research Professor, Geography and Environment
Carleton University
Kirsten Zickfeld
Assistant Professor, Geography

Simon Fraser University


More links:

Government Should “Grow Up” On Climate Change, Scientist Says

Letter To Minister Joe Oliver From Climate Scientist And Energy Experts

Academics Warn Canada Against Further Tar Sands Production

*thanks Ted for the early morning email with the link to the CBC article* 🙂

How To Green Deserts & Address Climate Change At The Same Time

Two thirds of the globe is turning into desert, at the same time that our population is heading towards ten billion, and we are disturbing weather patterns by pouring heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are behind the “greenhouse effect” that is warming our atmosphere, but our land use habits, especially those of industrial agriculture, play a much bigger part in our changing climate than is usually acknowledged. It’s TED Talk Tuesday on 350orbust, and in today’s talk by biologist Allan Savory he addresses this issue, and offers a surprisingly hopeful vision for the future:

“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.


Limiting Scientists’ Free Speech: A New Canadian Tradition

Ah, Rick, I love you, and your honesty and willingness to use your celebrity status to remind Canadians what our nation has come to under Stephen Harper. Thanks!



Wondering what all the fuss is about? Listen to Dr. Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist from the University of Victoria, discuss the current clampdown on Canadian scientists by the federal government:



More links:

Canadian Federal Research Deal “Potentially Muzzles” U.S. Scientist: Arctic Research Agreement Contains “Excessively Restrictive” Language

Prestigious Science Journal Slams Harper Government’s Muzzle on Scientists

Information Commissioner Called Upon to Probe “Muzzling” of Federal Scientists

For My Grandchildren

From the March 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach California, NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen talks about why he must speak out climate change. A powerful and moving video – please watch, and share with your family and friends, and on social media.



For a summary of Dr Hansen’s talk, go to The Solution to All Our Problems on Martin’s Lack of Environment blog. I agree with both Dr. Hansen and Martin Lack about the importance of implementing a carbon fee & dividend as soon as possible; indeed it is one of the major policies of Citizens Climate Lobby, a group that inspires me in much of the climate work that I do. However,  I would go further and assert that implementing a price on carbon is the first step towards addressing the climate crisis, but the climate crisis (and ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, water and air pollution, etc) has been brought on by a world view that places humans above the natural world. We have somehow convinced ourselves that what happens to the water, air, and creatures around us won’t ultimately affect us, which of course is nonsense. Corporate well being is not more important that human and ecosystem well being.  It’s that mindset that needs to change if we are to live sustainably on this amazing planet that we are lucky enough to be alive on.

Do you want to become a climate hero, for your children and grandchildren? Join other parents and grandparents at Citizens Climate Lobby who are speaking out on this issue. Dr. Hansen had this to say about CCL:

“Most impressive is the work of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a relatively new, fastgrowing, nonpartisan, nonprofit group with 46 chapters across the United States and Canada. If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of this group.”

Canada’s Environment Minister Doesn’t Know What Ozone Is, But Approves Cuts To Ozone Monitoring

Unfortunately, this is the fellow in charge of preserving Canada’s water, air, and climate for future generations. The video below shows Environment Minister Peter Kent can’t respond to Justin Trudeau’s straightforward question about what ozone is, and the difference between ozone at high and low levels of the atmosphere. This is the same Environment Minister who just cut funding to Canada’s important ozone monitoring network, as Graham Saunders just explained (see Solving The Big Environmental Calamities Requires Measuring, Research, Monitoring). Shameful.


More links:

Kent Sidesteps Science Question on Ozone

Senior Bureaucrat Cast Doubt About Ozone Monitoring Cuts

Canada Cuts Environment Spending: Stephen Harper’s Government Is Cutting Budgets For Climate, Conservation, and Ozone Monitoring Projects