Alberta premier must be held accountable if she presents only weak arguments to support the oil sands in Davos
Redford must expose Gore’s climate fears as nonsense in Friday’s meeting
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Alberta premier Alison Redford has promised to take Al Gore to task at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday for “providing information to people that isn’t accurate” concerning the oil sands.
She claims, with good justification, that much of Gore’s activism against her province’s most important project is not based on sound science. Since the premier’s meeting with the former vice-president is private, Redford has said that she will report back on how the discussion goes.
Redford will probably ask Gore why he asserts that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the oil sands threatens global climate when only just over one one-thousandth of total worldwide emissions from human activities come from the project. She will likely also argue that oil sands emissions are inconsequential as long as China continues to bring more and more coal-fired electricity generating stations on line, stations that in total emit far more CO2 than the oil sands.
Gore will likely dispute the 1/1000th figure by pointing out how the oil is used in the U.S. He will probably also make the point that we need to start somewhere if we are to save the planet from climate catastrophe. Gore may observe that Redford’s argument about Chinese coal stations is ridiculous and is morally equivalent to arguing that it is fine for someone to frequently get drunk because a neighbour does so much more often.
On that last point, Gore would be right, if, that is, humanity’s CO2 emissions were a threat to the global climate. Consequently, Redford cannot rely on these weak arguments or even those that she often makes about how the province is reducing greenhouse gas emissions (mostly CO2) in other ways. She needs to address the core issue, namely, why does Mr. Gore say that man-made CO2 is a problem in the first place?
To do this, Redford needs to ask Gore the 19 simple questions listed below, or at least a representative sample of them. If she is brave enough to do this and then publicize Gore’s answers, it would go a long way towards helping defeat the main threat to oil sands expansion: the erroneous belief that the project, or indeed any hydrocarbon fuel project, is a significant threat to world climate.
- Mr. Gore, why do you refer to CO2, a benign gas on which all life depends, as “carbon pollution” and “global warming pollution”? It is obviously anything but pollution.
- Why are you so concerned about global warming when history shows that cooling is far more dangerous to civilization and nature? That is why geologists named past warm periods “optimums” and cold times “dark ages.”
- Why do you trust computer models of future CO2-induced global warming when none of these simulations predicted the current 17 year period of no warming that we are experiencing, a time frame during which CO2 rose 8%?
- Why will you not accept a wager with University of Pennsylvania Professor J. Scott Armstrong (Climatebet) that his forecast of no change in “global temperature” will prove to be more accurate that any computer model you chose?
- How can you say that the “science is settled” when the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) lists hundreds of scientific references from leading peer-reviewed journals that demonstrate that the causes of recent climate change is a topic of intense debate within the climate science community?
- Why do you assert that there is a consensus among climate scientists that emissions of CO2 from human activities are causing dangerous climate change when there has never been a poll of world experts that demonstrates such an agreement?
- Why did you say in your film, An Inconvenient Truth, that CO2 drives temperature when a close examination of the graphs you presented show that temperature rises before CO2 increases?
- Do you think that the good correlation between the brightness of the Sun and Earthy temperatures is just a coincidence?
- Why do you assert that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are rising when observational data shows this not to be the case?
- Why do you connect recent extreme weather events with climate change when both the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the NIPCC say that there is no apparent connection?
- How is it that sea level has been significantly higher than today in the Maldives seven times in the past five thousand years without destroying the islands?
- Why are you concerned about CO2-induced ocean acidification when the oceans did not become acidic even when atmospheric CO2 levels were 1300% of today’s levels millions of years ago, a period during which coral reefs flourished?
- Why is sea ice around the Antarctic now at an all-time high and record low temperatures were recorded last summer in the continent?
- Why are polar bears populations higher today than in 1960 and Inuit children now in more danger from the bears than are the bears from climate change?
- Why did you say nothing at all in your most recent 24 Hours of Reality about helping vulnerable populations cope with climate change that we see happening today? Do you think it ethical that, of the $1 billion a day spent on climate finance across the world in 2012 (latest figures available), only 6% of it went to helping people cope with real-world climate problems today (reference: Landscape 2013, October 22, 2013, Climate Policy Initiative)? Even participants in the 2009 United Nations Copenhagen climate conference committed to a 50-50 funding split between adaptation and mitigation (i.e., ‘stopping climate change’).
- If you really believe that we are headed for climate disruption, why do you promote the least reliable, most expensive energy sources — wind and solar power—while not promoting our most reliable and least expensive forms of energy—coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear? If your forecasts of increasing extreme weather are correct, we will need vast amounts of inexpensive power to reinforce buildings and strengthen public infrastructure by building levees, upgrading our irrigation systems, and burying our electrical and communications cables underground. We would also need to relocate populations living on flood plains or at increasing risk from tornadoes and hurricanes, at a cost of huge quantities of energy.
Finally, three questions that Redford would undoubtedly be too polite to ask, but should be asked by reporters less concerned about hurting Gore’s feelings:
- If you want people across the world to reduce their energy consumption, why don’t you set an example and greatly reduce your own energy usage, now easily an order of magnitude higher than ordinary people?
- How long do you think it will be before the $8,875,000 ocean-view villa that you bought in Montecito, California in 2010 will be under water? Do you think that was a wise investment considering what you have been saying about dangerous sea level rise?
- You assert that vested financial interests drive those who do not agree with your position on global warming. How much money have you made personally as a result of promoting concerns about man-made climate catastrophe?
Redford said with regards to Gore’s mistakes and exaggerations about the dangers of the oil sands, “I don’t really care who is saying it; we can’t have people out there spreading myths.”
Agreed. And there is no one better placed that the Premier of Alberta to start slaying the science myths that are the most serious threat to this vitally important project. Will Redford have the courage to do this when she debates Al Gore later this week?