The Prime Minister went to the Arctic for nine days and never spoke of climate change.

The words didn’t cross his lips, as far as I know.  Yet the consequences of climate change should have been apparent all around him, assuming he was interested.

What kind of worldview can reconcile such disinterest with such predicted danger*?

One, I assume, in which the consequences of climate change are not believed to be consequential.  That is, whatever happens in the environment won’t be all that significant, not in the next decade, maybe not ever.  And technology, policy and leadership can respond when the times are ready.  Just not now.

Conservatives in Canada, Republicans in America, Coalitionists in Australia and soft denialists in power anywhere don’t have much to say about climate change.  There have no real policy innovation, and no desire to develop any.

So the strategy is not to say anything at all, and keep the topic off the agenda.

That was the consequence of the Prime Minister’s Arctic trip: to not raise the topic, and hence lower the expectations on what serious people need to say about climate change.

Business has raised the bar to about the same level: serious people don’t have serious public concerns about climate change.  That, presumably, is why it doesn’t get treated as a risk, fiscal or otherwise, when Canada’s industrialists make another big push to tap fossil fuels and get them to markets.  It’s apparent in the news coverage, or absence of it, on the expansion of terminal capacity for thermal coal in this region.  Concerns about coal dust, yes; train noise, yes.  Climate change?  Not so much.  Or not at all.

For most of our senior leadership, whether in legislatures, executive offices or editorial pages, there are no consequences of climate change that have to be treated seriously enough at the moment to justify change – certainly not pricing the carbon we export for its consequences to the climate – that would disrupt the status quo or break the silence now.

Or, they must hope, ever.

.

* As recently as yesterday: “New Climate Normal” Poses Severe Risks to Development—World Bank Report

Comments

  1. “…The Prime Minister went to the Arctic for nine days and never spoke of climate change.
    The words didn’t cross his lips, as far as I know. Yet the consequences of climate change should have been apparent all around him.”
    You really think his words would have given the climate a second thought on its billion-years journey?
    Btw: I am a “hard denialist”, as you call rational people

  2. Some countries actually benefit from climate change. Canada is one of them: more ice free ports, shorter shipping distances to Asia, longer growing season, lower heating bills.

    What Harper should have said is “We love climate change” .. for the reasons mentioned. But of course he is a smart guy and zips it. That is the right thing to do for him as a politician that don’t believe in all this socialist hype.

    Man made climate change is a theory.

    Higher energy prices are like higher taxes, i.e. a drain on the economy, another form of socialism. So, if energy costs are higher, due to forced forms of alternative, allegedly greener, energy, then taxes need to be lowered elsewhere.

    Taxation is high because public sector unions have hijacked the monopoly status of governments that cannot go broke, and forced excessive wages & benefits, forcing taxes up.

    This connection to taxation and public sector unions is utterly missing from the climate change debate.

    1. Good lord, man. Look at the cognitive pretzel you have to twist yourself into in order to justify your position.

      Is this really easier for you than admitting you are wrong?

      1. Gravity is a fact.

        Man made climate change is far too hyped, and primarily a socialist attempt to extract more research $s, to allow government to get even bigger and to extract $s from wealthy nations to poorer ones that can allegedly not afford it (due to corruption and poor governance practices usually)

        The glaciers have been melting for 10,000+ years, well before Al Gore inconveniently found out about that. The climate hasn’t even been warming for 20+ years.

        I am all for pollution reduction, or even higher energy costs, but only if income taxes, PST, GST or corporate taxes are lowered correspondingly. Look no further than Ontario or Europe’s very high debt, deficits or youth unemployment to understand the consequences.

        1. The word theory has a specific meaning when used in a scientific context. When you say “Man made climate change is a theory”, you are really saying that man made climate change is a well-substantiated explanation acquired through the scientific method which has been repeatedly tested through observation and experimentation.

    1. Yes, if the climate is warmer ( a big if, of course) it costs less to heat, especially in cold climates. But is it actually warming .. or just “changing” as we now inconveniently have discovered it is actually NOT warming for 20+ years …

      1. “we now inconveniently have discovered it is actually NOT warming for 20+ years …”

        Do you have a source for that?

        1. See here: http://business.financialpost.com/2014/09/22/judith-curry-an-unsettled-climate-for-climate-summit/ ..

          excerpts:

          “However, attempts to modify the climate through reducing CO2 emissions may turn out to be futile. The hiatus in warming observed over the past 16 years demonstrates that CO2 is not a control knob on climate variability on decadal time scales. Even if CO2 mitigation strategies are successful and climate model projections are correct, an impact on the climate would not be expected until the latter part of the 21st century. Solar variability, volcanic eruptions and long-term ocean oscillations will continue to be sources of unpredictable climate surprises.”

          and

          “Oversimplification, claiming “settled science” and ignoring uncertainties not only undercuts the political process and dialogue necessary for real solutions in a highly complex world, but acts to retard scientific progress. It’s time to recognize the complexity and wicked nature of the climate problem, so that we can have a more meaningful dialogue on how to address the complex challenges of climate variability and change.”

          or here: http://www.climatedepot.com/2014/10/09/climatologist-dr-judith-curry-in-wsj-the-global-warming-statistical-meltdown/

          1. Unfortunately, the author of these two posts merely asserts that there is a 16 year warming, but she does not provide any citations to scientific journals or provide the methodology she used to come to this conclusion. In the second link she further qualifies her assertion with the following:

            “the period since 1998 during which global average surface temperatures have not significantly increased. ”

            Here she is saying that temperatures have increased but the increase is not significant. Her choice of dataset is interesting, why just include surface temperatures and why choose 1998 as the starting point? As it turns out 1998 is an outlier in the dataset due to a strong el Nino. She doesn’t provide her dataset, so here is the temperature data provided by nasa:

            http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A.txt

            How does she conclude that warming is on hiatus? It can’t be that 1998 was the hottest year (2010 and 2007 were both hotter). It can’t be that be that the trends have remained stable (5 year averages have risen steadily). Is she coming to this conclusion based solely on 1998 being hotter than 2013?

            I guess if you cherry pick a dataset, you can find a year in the past that is hotter than the most recent year. Does this mean that warming is on a hiatus? But if that is what we are doing, why don’t we just say warming is on hiatus since 2010?

  3. Does anyone else consider, that (during modern history alone) large vulcanos frequently shoot as much toxic matters into the air in one day, the equivalent of 10 years of global industrial output – not including underwater vulcanos which run 24/7. Whoever thinks that by taxing farting cows and reducing CO2 will add a few years to the planets 5 billion years is greatly overestimating human impact to earth. We sure can (and probably will) destroy our
    h u m a n quality of live. The cosmos will give a flying fart about it. 10.000s of species have already gone before humans used aerosols and burned coal. The good news is that ol’ Gaia will get rid of us, before we can get rid of her – on that, you can bet.

    1. You’re right! I bet you all those scientists working out the climate models forgot about the volcanoes!

      Quick – send an email to the IPCC! You may want to include a link to Wikipedia’s entry on volcanoes, just in case they’ve never heard of them.

    2. Well stated. Just because we impact s.th. or think we can impact s.th. potentially doesn’t mean we should, and other factors, like solar radiation or volcanoes are beyond our control. Scientists playing God, really …

  4. Why do people perpetuate these myths. Can you provide credible research to back up your statements? A quick search yields this:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/08/volcanic-vs-anthropogenic-co2/
    The bottom line? Annual anthropogenic CO2 emissions exceed annual volcanic CO2 by two orders of magnitude, and probably exceed the CO2 output of one or more super-eruptions***. Thus there is no scientific basis for using volcanic CO2 emissions as an excuse for failing to manage humanity’s carbon footprint. – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/08/volcanic-vs-anthropogenic-co2/#sthash.HV0W30RZ.dpuf

    1. Please read properly –
      1.) I wrote about toxic material and micro-particles.
      2.) CO2 is a red herring. A global formula to balance the dynamics of plant absorbation vs. human production as well as atmospheric effects is as elusive as the unicorn.
      3.) There are scientific articles ponting out to an actual regenerating ozone-layer (without the ozone-layer checking with Al Gore first). I do have a link in german. I am sure similar can be found in english. http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wissen/un-bericht-zum-ozonloch-der-schutzschild-der-erde-regeneriert-sich-1.2124874
      4.) Climatologist rarely find jobs in the private industry. Working for governments doesn’t make them exactly independent.
      5.) Since decades, we are under alternative threats to freeze to death, then be barbecued, and so on, whatever the political spin-of-the-day requires. It is nothing more than William James’ “Moral equivalent of war”.
      6.) Since the formation of earth, the poles changed from N to S and back and other catastrophies of cosmic proportions, making Climate-conventions a ridiculos (if profitable) charade.

      1. well stated .. a profitable charade ..

        In the 1970’s it was the Club of Rome that postulated the “end of oil in the 1990s” and “the end of growth” and peak oil .. and all that jazz .. then acid rain, then global iceage, then ozone hole, then global warming, now only changing ..

        Should we pollute our air, earth and water less: of course we should. Should we try to use less resources and/or recycle more: yes we should. Should we bike or walk more and use land using and gas guzzling cars less: yes we should. But all this “the end is near .. CO2 is killing us” hype is self-serving and not all that proven nor efficient use of our scarce resources ..

        1. You should pick your examples more carefully. Acid rain and the ozone layer were real environmental problems that were address through worldwide government regulation without significantly harming the economy.

          You get to laugh about about these things now only because governments implemented cap-and-trade on SO2 emissions and heavily regulated CFCs in the 90s.

          Peak oil and “the end of growth” conjecture is sociological/economic speculation, embraced by some but never part of any kind of scientific consensus.

          Your opposition to AGW theory is clearly political, so maybe just come out and say “I care more about GDP than the environment” and leave your argument at that, instead of showing your ignorance by bringing up the science.

          1. Science is not always right, and there are quite a few climate change skeptics that are scientists, you know !

            They also disallowed DTD and millions of kids died.

            Actually I care about GDP growth AND a clean environment. Only with sufficient wealth can you actually do that. That is why the environment is so much cleaner in wealthy nations than in poor ones. That is why Ebola happened in Africa, but not here.

          2. You mean “DDT”, I think? Again, you’re showing that you have no real understanding of environmental science. DDT was a real environmental threat. *Maybe* there was an overreaction in the extent DDT bans, but mosquito populations were quickly evolving tolerance and the only reason DDT works at all today is because it’s been strictly limited to use against disease vectors instead of as a general pesticide. Even critics of DDT bans accept that continued unregulated DDT use would have been a disaster.

            And even if I grant you that DDT bans killed “millions of kids”, then that was a failure of policy, not science. Which brings us to Mr Price’s point, that climate change needs serious policy discussion. “Science isn’t always right” is not serious policy discussion — it is an empty truism that no one disputes and contributes nothing to the discussion.

  5. I used to marvel at affluent people who couldn’t balance their budgets and were getting themselves deeper and deeper into debt. “Not rocket science”, I’d lament. Why is it that some otherwise smart people can’t do this?

    Then I saw an episode of “‘Till Debt Do Us Part”. The host tallied up the problem couple’s income and expenses, then asked them to sit down to hear the news. “Do you want to know how much you’re in the red every month?”, she asked. The husband looked very glum and said “I really don’t want to know.”

    In a flash I suddenly realized that the problem that these people had wasn’t a lack of smarts or information. No – it was actually an emotional block, an irrational fear. They enjoyed their lifestyle and they really, really didn’t want to hear anything that might threaten it because that would mean that they’d have to do something about it.

    And that’s exactly where we are with climate change. The facts are pretty much settled, we know what the carbon budget needs to be, but we have an awful lot of people who really, really don’t want to hear the news. And even when they do hear it they’re in denial and desperate to find any reason to continue on as if there was no problem. I’ve never seen such blatant displays of confirmation bias as I have with climate change deniers.

    It’s a pity because, like the couple in financial trouble, once you start to constructively deal with the problem you discover that it really isn’t anywhere close to the horrid experience you imagined it would be.

    We need to get society to a shrink, ASAP.

    1. See here from a real expert on climate science, Judith Curry: http://business.financialpost.com/2014/09/22/judith-curry-an-unsettled-climate-for-climate-summit/ ..

      excerpts:

      “However, attempts to modify the climate through reducing CO2 emissions may turn out to be futile. The hiatus in warming observed over the past 16 years demonstrates that CO2 is not a control knob on climate variability on decadal time scales. Even if CO2 mitigation strategies are successful and climate model projections are correct, an impact on the climate would not be expected until the latter part of the 21st century. Solar variability, volcanic eruptions and long-term ocean oscillations will continue to be sources of unpredictable climate surprises.”

      and

      “Oversimplification, claiming “settled science” and ignoring uncertainties not only undercuts the political process and dialogue necessary for real solutions in a highly complex world, but acts to retard scientific progress. It’s time to recognize the complexity and wicked nature of the climate problem, so that we can have a more meaningful dialogue on how to address the complex challenges of climate variability and change.”

      or here: http://www.climatedepot.com/2014/10/09/climatologist-dr-judith-curry-in-wsj-the-global-warming-statistical-meltdown/

      1. “The hiatus in warming observed over the past 16 years demonstrates that CO2 is not a control knob on climate variability on decadal time scales.”

        The so-called hiatus, which seems to be seized on without fail by climate change deniers, is blip in an unmistakably upward trend. It’s not even as big or as long a blip as several others we’ve seen over the past 100+ years that we actually have measured records for.

        Yes, there are a lot of factors that influence global temperatures that can cause variation, resulting in outcomes like the “hiatus”. But there’s an undeniably strong correlation between CO2 levels and temperatures, undeniably strong evidence that most of the increase in CO2 levels is man made, and overwhelming agreement among people who best understand about these things that the CO2 levels are the major cause of the primary temperature trend we’re seeing.

        When I said that deniers show an astounding degree of “confirmation bias”, seizing on the “hiatus” as an excuse to do nothing is exactly what I mean.

        And that is all I’m going to say about that.

  6. Perfect example of how one simpleton can completely derail a discussion on doing things to a derisive exchange where energy is spent, no resolution is earned and those who want to move forward are left feeling exasperated and flummoxed. And that happened merely in this thread.

    I do wish those who puff the loudest and obfuscate the most actually put their money where their mouth is. Could they all go to a island somewhere, enjoy the epistemic closure among themsleves and probably get a pretty good deal on some ocean front property to boot? That would be true justice. But of course, they’ll be bringing the ship down for those of us who actually care or they’ll free ride on the actions and political capital we spend to try to move the needle.

    1. @Tyler Bryant
      “…Perfect example of how one simpleton can completely derail a discussion…”

      And just how do you believe, will your personal attack on other commentators improve the quality of this discussion? Where is your one argument in your polemic that elevates your own rant to a more scientific level?

      You are the perfect example of the totally emotional nature and the politically-correct aspect of this “debate”: Self righteous activists, who replace religion with environment only interested in breaching to the choir. It is because you b e l i e v e and don’t k n o w , that makes you aggressive against reason, or even just reasonable doubt.

      This is not about a choice between unlimited growth or a livable environment but about that politics should follow science – not the other way. It is about the secularity of science.

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