Citizen Action Monitor

350 Canada’s “Climate Science Basics” fail the acid test of science reporting excellence

Its climate crisis assertions border on the fraudulent; they’re “misleading, overly simplistic, and sometimes, factually false.”

No 2723 Posted by fw, April 16, 2021 —

On Wednesday April 7, 2021, Amara Possian of 350.org sent an email to followers bearing the Subject line “We’re launching something big today.” The message expressed dissatisfaction with Justin Trudeau’s failure “to tackle climate change,” and called on followers to “Sign the petition to call on federal Green Party Leader Annamie Paul and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to form a Climate Emergency Alliance.”

As a follower of 350 Canada, I received Amara’s email. Disappointed with with the absence of any scientific facts to support the claim of “the climate crisis,” mentioned in the email, I did not sign the petition.

Instead, using the return address 350canada@350.org, I immediately replied to the email. Opening with the salutation “Dear Amara –”,  I candidly began: “If 350 were genuinely interested in the climate crisis, it would be reporting on the contributions of top climate scientists and experts in related disciplines. As things stand, 350’s apparent misunderstanding of the nature and scope of humanity’s global existential crises broaches on the fraudulent; one might be tempted to suggest your oversight of the facts is intentional.

I suggested to Amara that, for her own edification, she should look at the recent works of seven climate scientists, and researchers in related fields. I listed their names, academic qualifications, and links to a recent article or video presentation. (See the list at the bottom of this post).  

*****

On April 13, I received this follow-up email from Chris –

Hi Frank,

Thanks for these links. Yes, I know the situation is dire and that our growth-obsessed economic system is to blame, but what are you proposing exactly? A Green / NDP Climate Emergency Alliance seems like the best way to shift Canada’s politics towards the kind of economic transformation science says we need. Certainly, it would be better than letting the Liberals win a four-year mandate for more delay.

All the best,

Chris

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On April 14, I sent the following reply to Chris –

Chris, thanks for your reply to my email that was addressed to and intended for Amara Possian. I welcome your brief message, shown above. Below is my response to it. But first, a word about myself. I am not a scientist or a researcher. I am a blogger. Since 2006, I have reposted, among other topics, several hundred climate related articles written by experts on climate change. I can’t claim to be an expert on this topic, but I will claim to be able to distinguish scientific and research climate change fact from misrepresentations of the facts, whether willfully intentional or merely mistaken.

Here, then, is my brief reply to your message.

You write: “Yes, I know the situation is dire and that our growth-obsessed economic system is to blame, but what are you proposing exactly?

Chris, before addressing your question, I would ask — In what sense, specifically, do 350 Canada leaders understand how “our growth-obsessed economic system is to blame, for our dire situation?

As for “What am I proposing?” 

To be candid, I am proposing that 350 Canada immediately stop misinforming Canadians with its misleading, overly simplistic, and in some instances, factually false information about the “climate crisis”, as it is referred to in Amara Possian’s April 7 email titled “We’re launching something big today.” 

Humanity’s existential predicament is about so much more than the climate crisis alone. Without prejudice, I suggest that had 350 Canada leaders familiarized themselves with the works of some of the leading scientists and researchers in this field, they would have realized for themselves that their climate crisis contentions do not pass the acid test of a reasonable standard of science reporting excellence.

You write: “A Green / NDP Climate Emergency Alliance seems like the best way to shift Canada’s politics towards the kind of economic transformation science says we need.”

Again, and specifically, what “science” is that? As physicist Tom Murphy puts it:

Indefinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. Few would argue the truth of this statement in physical terms, but most believe that economic growth is immune to such a claim, because—the story goes—economics can be decoupled from physical throughput via efficiency improvements, transformative technology/innovation, and increased activity in low-resource-use “service” industries. All of these things happen, and are real. But I argue in a series of blog posts on Do the Math that these notions, too, have limits. I also explore what this means for the concept of sustainability.”

In addition, I have read 350 Canada’s “Climate Science Basics” at https://350.org/science/. Part 5, “We Can Fix It”, for example, is embarrassingly simplistic. To suggest that all we have to do is “keep fossil fuels in the ground and quickly transition to 100% renewable energy, will not be our salvation, for reasons that climate scientists and researchers have explained in depth.

350 2

Moreover, regardless of how cheap renewables become, as atmospheric physicist Tim Garrett has explained in detail, Jeven’s Paradox illustrates why increasing any and all forms of energy efficiency and availability will ultimately serve to accelerate global climate change and rapid, unrelenting resource consumption.

To conclude, 350 Canada’s assertions about “the climate crisis” border on the fraudulent and must be exposed for what, in my words, they are: “misleading, overly simplistic, and in some instances, factually false.” I only wish that I could believe that my challenge to 350 Canada would inspire its leadership to invest the time to fill in gaps in their knowledge. As long as 350 Canada can continue to get by with fairy-tale accounts of climate science, where’s the incentive to get responsibly informed? As Tom Murphy says, “Do the Math”.

Regards,

Frank White

*****

My list of climate scientists and researchers in related fields submitted to 350 Canada

Tom Murphy professor of physics at University of California, San Diego – “Growth has an Expiration Date”  — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_8b6ej0U3g

Dr. Nate Hagens focuses on the interrelationship between debt-based financial markets and natural resources, particularly energy and the unique (and so far unplanned for) risks from the coming ‘Great Simplification’. — “The fate of civilization is in our hands, says Hagens, We must bend and not break.” —  https://citizenactionmonitor.wordpress.com/2021/03/02/the-fate-of-civilization-is-in-our-hands-says-hagens-we-must-bend-and-not-break/

Dr. William Rees Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia, primary interest is in public policy and planning relating to global environmental trends and the ecological conditions for sustainable socioeconomic development. — “Climate change isn’t the problem, so what is?” —  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oVTHKzC7TM  — ZOOM lecture by William Rees, You Tube, January 28, 2021 (74-minutes)

Dr. Tim Garrett professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah. — “Economic growth: the engine of collapse ” — http://nephologue.blogspot.com/2019/12/economic-growth-engine-of-collapse.html   — Future growth depends on availability of energy and raw materials on a finite planet – and we’re depleting those resources faster than ever.

Richard Heinberg Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute who studies and reports extensively on energy, economic, and ecological issues, including oil depletion — “Capitalism, the Doomsday Machine (or, How to Repurpose Growth Capital)” —   https://www.resilience.org/stories/2021-02-25/capitalism-the-doomsday-machine-or-how-to-repurpose-growth-capital/

Gail Tverberg an actuary who reports on finite world issues – “Why Collapse Occurs; Why It May Not Be Far Away”  — https://ourfiniteworld.com/2021/02/25/why-collapse-occurs-why-it-may-not-be-far-away/

Tim Watkins UK social and economic scientist with a background in public policy research, on a mission to raise awareness of the predicament of the “three Es” (Economy, Energy and Environment). — “What if growth cannot return?” —   https://consciousnessofsheep.co.uk/2021/03/03/what-if-growth-cannot-return/

And, as an added bonus, a report by a team of 17 scientists on three major and confronting environmental issues that have received little attention and require urgent action — “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future” by Frontiers in Conservation Science. — https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcosc.2020.615419/full

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