It’s like something out of George Orwell’s 1984.
Canada’s Competition Bureau, an arm’s length agency funded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to the tune of almost $50 million annually, investigated three organizations accused of denying mainstream climate science for over a year, following a complaint from an environmental group.
The bureau discontinued its 14-month probe in June, citing “available evidence, the assessment of the facts in this case, and to ensure the effective allocation of limited resources”, according to Josephine A.L. Palumbo, Deputy Commissioner of Competition, Deceptive Marketing Practices Directorate.
But it will re-open its investigation should it receive relevant new information from the public.
The complaint was filed by Ecojustice on behalf of six “prominent” Canadians, including former Ontario NDP leader and UN ambassador Stephen Lewis.
It accused three groups, Friends of Science, the International Climate Science Coalition, and the Heartland Institute of making false and misleading claims about climate change, including that the sun is the main driver of climate change, not carbon dioxide, and that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.
When it launched its complaint in December, 2015, Ecojustice told the National Observer it would press the Commissioner of Competition to refer the matter to the Attorney-General of Canada for “criminal charges against the denier groups”.
In response to the Competition Bureau discontinuing its probe, Calgary-based Friends of Science said on its blog that: “The Competition Bureau is a very important enforcement agency. We regret that any of their time had to be wasted on this matter. We are not a commercial entity, we do not have federal lobbyists, we are not tax-subsidized as environmental charities are, we do not represent any industry. We only present the professional insights and expertise of our core team and represent the views of our individual members (not corporations). The typical process for Competition Bureau inquiries is confidential; Ecojustice appeared to use this call for inquiry to grandstand.”
In May, 2015, Advertising Standards Canada, a voluntary industry group that does not enforce its decisions other than through public suasion ruled, following 96 public complaints, that two Friends of Science billboards in Montreal stating: “The Sun is the Main Driver of Climate Change. Not You. Not CO2” contained, “categorical and unequivocal claims … (that) could not be supported by the preponderance of current evidence on the matters in dispute … (and) omitted relevant information, namely that a number of factors have led to climate change, of which the sun is just one.”
As someone who has written extensively on climate change for a decade, my view is that all of this is madness. We are entering into dangerous territory, a fundamental attack on free speech.
If we’re going to use agencies of the federal government to investigate and even prosecute “climate deniers”, for making “false and misleading claims” then let’s damn well do the same for “climate alarmists”, who do the same thing all the time.
I read and hear politicians making “false and misleading claims” about climate change almost daily, particularly with regard to what federal and provincial carbon pricing schemes will actually accomplish, as opposed to what our governments are claiming they will accomplish.
But the way to decide these issues is through public debate, not running to an agency of the federal government to shut up people we disagree with, particularly a government that itself makes false and misleading claims about man-made climate change all the time.
More climate ignorance and stupidity
GOP denies climate change, America pays the price
Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have reignited discussions about the link between global warming and extreme weather, with climate scientists now saying they can show the connections between the two phenomena better than ever before. Time
The frequency, intensity and duration of weather-related events is in fact rising. To deny what’s already occurred is the highest form of ignorance.
(Photo: Julie Smith, AP)
Let’s check in with two of America’s foremost experts on climate change.
It’s a hoax, President Trump has said, invented by the Chinese.
It’s a plot by the media and retailers to gin up fear — thus attracting viewers and boosting sales of batteries and bottled water, Rush Limbaugh sneered (just before he fled Palm Beach ahead of Hurricane Irma).
And there you have it. Nothing to see, folks, just a vast left-wing conspiracy.
It’s useless to explain to those who put political dogma before science that when air is warmer, it holds more water vapor. It’s that simple. The Economist notes that the world’s average temperature is about 1.2 degrees higher (Fahrenheit) than it was as recently as 1979. That’s a lot more water in the atmosphere — and it eventually it’s got to come down.
To such learned men like Limbaugh, who has a college degree from — well, from nowhere — that just means we get rain from time to time. After all, the weather changes every day, right? Brilliant!
But to others, who take such matters more intelligently, it means this: Weather-related disasters are increasing dramatically. Data from Munich RE, one of the world’s leading reinsurers, notes big spikes since 1980 in “meteorological events” (storms), “hydrological events” (floods, landslides and avalanches), and “climatological events” (extreme temperatures, droughts, forest fires). Munich’s data underscores what should be obvious to all but the most partisan skeptic: that the frequency, intensity and duration of “weather-related” events is on the rise.
This is the part where deniers mock “fake news” because it doesn’t jibe with their political beliefs. This is the highest form of ignorance: denying things that have already occurred.
Speaking of denial, one of the first things Florida Gov. Rick Scott did when he took office in 2011 was to ban official use of the words “climate change,” “global warming” and “sustainability.”
Such annoying phrases. Granted, Scott has done a good job in the days before and after Hurricane Irma. But we’ll never know how much less damage there might have been to businesses and homeowners had Scott chosen not censorship, but leadership six years ago by acknowledging climate change and facing it head on. Silence doesn’t make a problem like this go away.
Trump’s actions, meanwhile, have spoken louder than any words, banned or otherwise. He took more money from the coal industry — by far — than anyone else during the 2016 campaign. And as president, he has returned the favor in spades. He famously pulled out of the Paris climate pact — joining only war-ravaged Syria and tiny Nicaragua on the sidelines. He complained about all of Barack Obama’s executive orders, but signed one scrapping Obama’s Clean Power Plan rule designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
Trump has blamed Obama for coal’s decline, but the real reason is lower natural gas prices. Obama became president in 2009, yet between 2000 and 2010, power plants generated 50% more electricity from gas, while coal’s use declined slightly.
Obama gave these trends a further nudge, no doubt about it, but the shift from coal to cleaner, cheaper natural gas appears irreversible. I empathize with the coal industry, just as I would have empathized with the horse and buggy crowd in 1908, when Henry Ford’s first Model T spelled their demise. It’s called progress, folks.
And no column on energy and climate change would be complete without mentioning perhaps the worst Cabinet-rank pick ever made by an American president: Scott Pruitt. Pruitt, a climate denier par excellence, has, behind a cloak of secrecy and fear, turned the Environmental Protection Agency into an arm of the fossil fuel industry that has long had him in its pocket.
Pruitt has been Trump’s hatchet man in the administration’s war on science. Just as Rick Scott can’t say the words “climate change,” as Hurricane Irma barreled towards Florida, Pruitt said that this wasn’t the time to talk about climate change. The timing, he said, was “insensitive.”
You know what’s insensitive? Appearing to not give a hoot. Pruitt has purged the EPA of scientists and others who don’t fall in line with the administration’s agenda, halted data on fossil fuel emissions and taken down more than 1,900 web pages on topics like climate change, The New York Times claims. But Pruitt’s damage to the country extends far beyond denial of science. He has weakened water safety rules and moved to eliminate programs that limit children’s exposure to lead-based paint — which is known to cause brain damage.
This is a good time to point out, again, that elections have consequences. Approximately 42% of Americans eligible to vote in November didn’t. History, economics and the free market will ultimately prove Trump, Scott, Pruitt and their ilk wrong. Until then, this question: How much more damage to our environment must we endure?
Comment by Terry Worledge
Funny how the cherrypicking works. You pick all the bits of a theory that fit your agenda and then all the bits of the argument against you. In this article we are the ones who are driven by political motives. Deniers are the cherry pickers and all the things proven against these alarmists. Simple they say, warm air holds more water and that shows up as more rain and ergo more tropical storms. Why this infallable flawless natural system took 12 years off they don’t mention.
I’m sure that this human econeurosis needs examining by psychologists to effect a possible cure. There is a lot at stake here. The human ecosystem is fragile and subject to political interence. We’ve seen it happen again and again. War leading to hunger and privation caused by man destroying his own infrastructure. Most of us who have or had a job producing or maintaining the human infrastructure know the hard work that goes into it. The greenies wish to destroy it in order to create some imaginary society based on some sort of strange baseless nostalgia for a golden age that never existed.
We can assume that they envisage the world before the introduction of fossil fuels. A world in which you would have to work from dawn till dusk and, if you felt like reading after work, you couid buy enough of a candle with the wages from six of those hours to pay for an hours light for reading. Of course you wouldn’t because you can’t read or write. Your life is nasty, solitary, brutal and short to quote Hobbes. This is the world that these ignorant neo-savages wish to return us to. Now an hours electric light could be earned in a second. Coal and other fossil fuels are a fossilised mixture of sunlight and CO2. When you ignite coal you replay the massive amounts of sunlight and warmth that created it’s compressed miraculousness. You also recharge the earth’s batteries by releasing the CO2 it needs to keep it’s living cargo alive.
The Malthusian greens, misanthropic and miserable about the success of mankind wish to take all this away. They are not impressed with the achievements of man in music, art, medicine or anything else. They are the Ebenezer Scrooge for whom everyday is Christmas day and hateful because of it. There’s would seem to be the ultimate hate crime because the hate all mankind and all his works good or bad. They have stopped progress in Africa where people die because the incomplete human ecosystem without electricity or the use of fossil fuels can’t save them. Years ago a war was waged on Malaria with DDT but a woman called Rachel Carson wrote a book called “Silent Spring” which started a movement of ban DDT. Her reasoning has since proved false but the million lives each year that DDT could have saved continued to be lost. 60000000 human lives needlessly lost to a lie. Mass murder by mendacity and they speak with pride of their motive which was to save a few peregrine falcons.