Following is the viewpoint of Harris, an Ottawa-based mechanical engineer and executive director the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, and Ball, chairman of NRSP and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg.
Olympic skiers Thomas Grandi and Sara Renner held a press conference in December to announce they were joining David Suzuki to fight climate change.
Twice a World Cup gold medal winner, Grandi intends to donate half his circuit winnings this season to the David Suzuki Foundation. Suzuki hopes his “Play It Cool” campaign will also attract the support of other athletes to “help combat global warming.”
When asked about the issue by CBC news, Nancy Greene Raine, Canada’s “female athlete of the century,” expressed reservations about today’s global warming fears. For this, she was lambasted by university and government proponents of the human-caused climate change theory, some even questioning whether she could remain Chancellor of the new Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, B.C. in light of her statements.
“What kind of a role model have we put in place when the chancellor herself gives poorly considered credence to widely discredited extremist opinions such as these?” TRU nursing professor Penny Powers was quoted as asking in the Kamloops Daily News.
Also quoted were TRU journalism professor Charles Hays, who wrote to colleagues that Greene Raine cannot remain chancellor and make such remarks, and Environment Canada’s Eric Taylor, who chastised her for speaking out on an issue he says she does not understand. Why the upset? Let’s compare what Grandi, Renner and other skiers on Suzuki’s side said with what was said by Greene Raine, herself a World Cup and Olympic gold medallist.
Grandi told reporters: “I think all the top scientists agree that if we continue business as usual, we’re going to live in a world that doesn’t resemble anything the way it is right now.”
Greene Raine said she is suspicious when she sees “people make blanket statements because there are two sides to every issue … in science there’s almost never black and white”.
Renner is quoted as saying, “It’s the air that everyone breathes. It’s the water everyone drinks,” clearly confusing climate change with pollution.
Having communicated extensively with Greene Raine, we are confident that she understands the distinction between these different issues.
Cross country skier Becky Scott is cited as saying: “I think it’s a grave concern for snow-sport athletes the way the trends are going … It’s scary.”
Scarry is a word also used by Grandi in the original CBC item that started this furor.
Greene Raine remarked, “We don’t know what next week’s weather is going to be. To say in 50 or 100 years, the temperature is going to do this, is a bit of a stretch for me.”
It is a bit of stretch for climate scientists as well. Computer models used to forecast climate decades from now are based on the same fundamentals as models used to predict next week’s weather.
No sensible person would bet much on a seven-day weather forecast, so why should Canada wager billions on what the models predict for a century from now? Greene Raine’s caution is justified.
This affair is just a sample of how the climate science debate has been ruined by politics and bullying.
When statements as inoffensive and centrist as Greene Raine’s results in indignation and attacks, we know the issue is no longer about science but instead has become fundamentalist environmentalism where no one dare question established dogma.
Let’s hope more Canadians follow her example and think critically about this, the most complex field of science ever studied.