BC Views: Polluting the climate change debate

A fresh look at the obvious biases of climate change politics.

A typical day in Beijing at this time of year. This isn't just fog

By the time you read this I will be arriving in China, traveling from Japan with a forest industry trade mission led by B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson.

A fellow journalist stationed in Beijing posted a local story on Twitter the other day, a forecast that fall and winter air quality is expected to be worse than usual this year. And “usual” in that part of China is worse than anything we have ever seen in North America.

He followed that up with a cell phone video taken out the window of a plane as it taxied to its takeoff location. In broad daylight, even the edge of the runway a few metres away was shrouded behind a blank screen of grayish-white.

This is not “carbon pollution,” as some North American politicians now refer to carbon dioxide, the invisible gas we exhale with every breath that helps trees grow. It is soot particles, sulfur and nitrogen oxides and other contaminants, from burning massive amounts of coal and oil without adequate controls. It is poison.

Claiming carbon dioxide is pollution, rather than an essential trace gas that adds to heat trapping in the atmosphere, is just one problem with the climate change narrative pushed by the United Nations.

Using jet-setting, megayacht-sailing actor Leonardo DiCaprio as a spokesman is another. It’s hard to imagine a worse choice, measured by his Hollywood lifestyle or his technical knowledge. This is the guy who felt a Chinook wind blow in while filming in Alberta in winter, and thought the world was ending.

I’ve described some of the other inconvenient truths before, like the fact that polar bear populations have increased in recent decades, or that there has been a two-decade “pause” with only slight rise in average temperatures, a trend that may be returning after a couple of warm El Nino years, similar to 1998.

There’s one more problem I want to mention, and then I will give this topic a rest.

For this one I refer you to Judith Curry, professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. She runs a technical but readable blog at judithcurry.com that politely analyzes mainstream climate change theory.

Discussing Donald Trump’s promise to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, and his since-recanted 2012 claim that human-caused climate change is a “hoax” got up by the Chinese, Curry goes back to the original UN definition:

“Climate change is a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.”

She calls this “a perversion of the definition … designed to mislead people into thinking that all climate change is caused by humans.”

Curry also rejects the “propaganda” that the emissions reductions agreed to in Paris would have “any discernible impact” beyond natural climate variability.

Even if temperatures start to match climate models, and the U.S. and the rest of us meet our Paris targets, the expected reduction in warming would be two tenths of one degree by 2100.

U.S. smog and emissions have gone down in recent years, mostly by replacing thermal coal with natural gas. B.C. is proposing to do the same thing for China, helping to reduce real pollution as well as CO2 emissions there.

This idea is under continuous attack in what has become a religious war on fossil fuels.

Here’s to cleaner air and a fresh look at the obvious biases of climate change politics.


Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc


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