Government of Alberta feeding the fire that threatens to destroy Canada’s economy

Blog, Tom Harris, Uncategorized

The Government of Alberta paid $30,000.00 to have this advertisement published in the New York Times on March 17, 2013. Click on image to expand to readable size.

It was bad enough that that Alberta government misleads its own citizens about the climate scare. Now, they have taken the same flawed message to the American public in one of the worst public relations blunders of all time–supporting the climate scare in the New York Times.

The Alberta-based group, Friends of Science, has spent the past decade trying to convince the province to be realistic about climate change–climate changes all the time, they have repeatedly told the Alberta government, and humanity’s contribution appears to be very small on a global basis.

But the government of Premier Alison Redford continues to promote the climate alarmist message. Here is a sample of what appears on their Website:

“The issue is that humans have substantially increased the amount of naturally occurring GHGs by burning fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas. Scientists now agree that human activity is most likely responsible for most temperature increases over the past 250 years. The biggest concern is the speed at which these changes are happening.

“Carbon dioxide is the main concern.”

Of course, this is largely nonsense and many, if not most Albertans understand enough about the situation to know it. But the Government really feeds the fire that is threatening to destroy the province’s main source of wealth, its fossil fuel resources, when it boosts climate alarmism in Canada’s largest oil and natural gas customer–the United States.

Here’s the story:

On March 10, 2013, the New York Times editorial staff came out firmly against the Keystone XL pipeline in a piece entitled, “When to Say No”. Their main argument was man-made climate change. Here are their principal points:

“He (President Obama) should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem.”

“That decision will say a lot about whether Mr. Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, are willing to exert global leadership on the climate change issue.”

“In itself, the Keystone pipeline will not push the world into a climate apocalypse. But it will continue to fuel our appetite for oil and add to the carbon load in the atmosphere. There is no need to accept it.”

According to the Canadian Press, a spokesman for Redford said that the government requested a guest column in the Times to respond to the editorial but were turned down.

So the Government of Alberta paid $30,000.00 to the Times to buy advertising space to counter the editorial, thereby financially rewarding the newspaper for attacking the government’s most important project.

To make matters worse, the government advertisement that appeared on March 17, 2013 (click on the image above to see the whole ad) focused on the very issues opponnents have criticized Keystone XL pipeline supporters for concentrating on. In the third part of the ad, where they finally got around to addressing the Times editorial’s main points, and indeed the principal issues driving the anti-fossil fuel movement, the Government supported the climate scare, merely saying that oil sands emissions represented only a small part of the so-called problem and other measures were being taken to attack the issue. The phraseology used throughout the Alberta government ad implied that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions should be legally “curbed” as if it were pollution. But the Government neglected to explain that the GHG of most concern is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is not a pollutant.

As I discussed in my letter to the editor in the March 24th Calgary Sun (see here), this communications approach is wholly inadequate. It will sway no one either opposed to, or uncommitted about, the project. It appears that the Government would prefer to see Keystone XL die rather than risk the true wrath of the project’s opponents by daring to strike at the heart of the issue–climate change.

When Premier Redford goes to Washington DC in the coming weeks to try to sell the Keystone XL pipeline project, she must say nothing that would, directly or indirectly, support the climate scare. Here are correct, responsible messages that she could give instead. They have little political risk since they simply portray the government as an honest broker working to do what is best for their electorate and the environment:

“The science of climate change is immensely complex. While the field is advancing, it is not yet sufficiently mature that meaningful forecasts of future climate are possible. The influence of human-induced CO2 emissions is even less well-understood.

“However, we recognize that many Americans are concerned about the possibility of climatic problems due to CO2 emissions from the oil sands. Consequently, the Government of Alberta is taking the following steps:

  1. “We are convening open, unbiased hearings into the climatic impacts of the oil sands. Qualified scientists who specialize in climate change causes will be invited to testify, regardless of whether they do, or do not, support the hypothesis that CO2 emissions are a significant driver of global climate change. For too long, governments have promoted the idea that there is only one “correct” position on climate science. This is a mistake. No responsible government should spend billions of tax payer dollars on an issue without thoroughly examining all reputable points of view.  We will now do this on the climate file and encourage other governments to do likewise.
  2. “The Government of Alberta will continue to take “no-regrets” actions to save energy and reduce air, land and water pollution where they cause problems. This will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2, as we increase efficiency.
  3. “We will continue to fund research into the causes of climate change with a goal of someday being able to more accurately forecast future changes. This will allow society to better prepare for whatever climate change awaits us in the future. 
  4. “Finally, the Government of Alberta will continue to implement adaptation measures to help our citizens prepare for future climate challenges –cooling and warming, drought and flood, and other changes possible in our highly variable and unpredictable climate.”

It is perhaps understandable that the Alberta government is too worried about the reaction of left wing media and climate activists to come out against the climate scare. But, even their dreadful ad in the new York Times did nothing to appease climate campaigners who will not rest until all fossil fuel projects are ended in developed countries– look at how the alarmist Website DeSmogBlog thoroughly dismantled the ad here. But supporting the highly flawed science foundation of the alarm is a betrayal of all Canadians who have worked and died to build our nation.

Premier Redford’s appeasement of climate campaigners simply to avoid the short term pain often associated with telling the truth on controversial issues is a serious mistake. It is a one-way ticket to a future in which Canada will have no Keystone XL, no Northern Gateway pipeline, and, ultimately, no oil sands.

Please watch my YouTube video (here) that further discusses this enormous public relations blunder, one which will cost Canadians billions of dollars and countless jobs if it is not corrected very soon.

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Tom Harris is Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition, and an advisor to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.