Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Elizabeth May Goes Where Trudeau Fears To Tread

Some would say that to link the terrible losses in Fort McMurray to climate change is insensitive and political. Of course, they would be wrong, since climate change is not an ideological issue, however much the deniers try to frame it. It is a fact.

While Justin Trudeau calls making such a link unhelpful, (not to mention politically costly), Elizabeth May refuses to tow the tread the safe and narrow path.
Prompted by questions from reporters at a news conference, May said that scientists cannot link specific events to climate change, but noted that the disaster was following a pattern.

“The fact that the forest fire season has arrived so early in northern Alberta is very likely a climate event - very likely related to extreme high temperatures and very low humidity, very low precipitation and it is, as we saw in the quote from one of the firefighters - it’s a firestorm,” she said. “It jumped a highway, it jumped a river. It’s a devastating tragedy right now and I think our focus is always on the right now: to think for the firefighters, for first responders, for people who are losing their homes. It’s a disaster. But it’s a disaster that is very related to the global climate crisis.”
Predictably, there is hell to pay for such candour, as her comments provoked
a vicious backlash after they were reported on social media websites from critics who accused her of exploiting the tragedy to advance a political agenda.
But truth is truth, as
... her comments were consistent with assessments from climate scientists that have predicted increasing extreme weather events linked to rising heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.

The Trudeau government was also advised by bureaucrats when it was sworn in last November that wildfires were getting worse. The bureaucrats at Natural Resources Canada told its new minister, Jim Carr, that governments across the country hadn't provided enough funding to help communities prepare for the worst.
One hopes that the disaster in Fort McMurray is soon brought under control. Unfortunately, the larger crisis confronting all of us continues unabated.


  1. Our friend, Kinsella, condemns "lefties" for linking the wildfires to climate change. He seems to buy into the rightwing contention that this is a political issue, not a scientific problem. Climate change impacts are a leftie concern, not an all of humanity concern.

    All the focus on Fort McMurray obscures the reality that forest fires are raging from northern BC across to northern Manitoba. The forests, like the tundra, are falling victim to early thaws and drying conditions. People unfamiliar with forests don't realize how much they depend on winter snowpack both for reducing the fire risk and for sustaining their growth during the summer season. Every creature in the forest depends on that water.

    To not draw the link, to not present it as an object lesson and a warning of what awaits us in the future, is irresponsible, particularly from those who seek to lead us.

    1. I couldn't agree with you more, Mound. But the fact that labelling it as an ideological issue is still seen as a viable strategy by the deniers causes me much consternation.

    2. The title of your posting Lorne says it all. Elizabeth May also said that Trudeau should get rid of Some of Harpers civil servants, because they still may believe in Harpers policies and may share in Harpers beliefs. That is another change that Trudeau doesn't have the guts to do.

    3. If 'real change' is to come, Pamela, it had better happen very soon; the signs thus far are not auspicious.

  2. Scientific American has an article published May 4 on the Fort Mac fire, the huge output of carbon these forest fires from California through Oregon, Washington, BC and Alberta have output to the atmosphere in the past decade, and the likelihood of peat fires that never stop burning in the vast peat bogs in the tundra of Northern Alberta as they thaw.

    Add that to the never ending fires in Indonesia which are now also peat based as the underbrush was burned to make way for palm tree oil production, and which produce on any given day as much CO2 as the entire US, it's all a bit sobering.

    I did a bit of online research on this matter a month or so ago, and found that CO2 from fires in Alberta and BC easily equal the CO2 output of the two provinces from burning and/or processing fossil fuels in a given bad fire year.

    Laying this info on DeSmogBlog resulted in the attack dogs having at me accusing me of lies and gerrymandering. No it's all the fossil fuel industry to blame. Sure, they were the original igniter, but should we bury our heads in the sand about the wildfires now occurring? We might well be able to formulate a strategy for remediation of them before we can stop China burning coal, for example. And the headlong rush that seems to be occurring is fuelled by increased CO2 production, no matter the cause or source.

    So, as I have often observed, people so far into a subject that they feel they have discovered a holy grail are often completely unable to assimilate new facts or change their opinions. And this goes as much for Greenies as Right Wing TarSand Diggers and PipeLine Proponents.

    Far too little neutral brainpower exerted on this fire file worldwide in my opinion, so as I've said before, I'm a fatalist. The squawkers of all stripes are convinced they're the only ones that are correct.


    1. While everyone is talking, BM, it seems, from your narrative, that no one is listening unless it fits into their own ideological framework. This kind of fanaticism clearly serves no one, and meanwhile, the world continues to burn, both literally and figuratively.

      Watching the news from Fort McMurray should be sobering and instructive for everyone; regardless of the root cause, the fact is that when you really think about it, that conflagration attests to our powerlessness to control events, a powerful reminder of how vulnerable the world is to both environmental and ecological destruction.

  3. BM: Your critics (and you) should look up the meaning of 'gerrymandering'.
    The fires may be Gaia's response - is she trying to convert these regions to a desert ecology that can survive the warming?

    Lovelock's Gaia theory includes: "Transitions between stable climate states may be sudden"
    Is Lovelock's theory coming true?
    Boreal forest-->Northern desert?

  4. The climate changes. People are hooked emotionally to this false green (ideology)political agenda. I used to think the same way but suddenly decided to examine the objective facts and the truth changed my mind. {Gaia theory is nonsense btw.} The hoopla about C.C. is the Big Green $$$$$ machine. In truth it is the "Climate Hustle", it is Christina Figueres & Nato, $$$$-enviromentalists, globalist political agenda manipulating the facts & little people. The real scientists are now speaking out against the Faulty Data of Clmate change & CO 2 etc.Don't get angry just look into the facts.

    1. I obviously can't agree with you here, Anon. When 97% of scientists agree on the anthropogenic influence exerted on climate change, I listen and am duly impressed.

  5. The "97%" is a made up number Lorne.100 % of Statistician's Worldwide verify this! :) ...Seriously , it is a bogus made up number and repeated over and over.

  6. Re "predicted increasing extreme weather events linked to rising heat-trapping gases". 7 Environment Canada scientists published this journal article in Atmosphere-Ocean:

    It says " observed by tipping bucket rain gauges from 1965 to 2005 ... analysis shows a general lack of a detectable trend signal". This considers records at over 550 climate stations. So the rain extremes have not changed along with the temperatures. In southern Ontario there are actually more statistically significant decreases than increases:

    Over time we should observe more extreme events simply due to "sample mean bias" that exists for skewed probability density functions, for natural events like extreme rainfall. Here is that general principle that I referenced in my blog post above:

    Given this sample mean bias, a relatively short period of record for rainfall (say 20 years) would likely not show the true 'statistical population' behaviour because it is rare to observe the extreme 'right tail' events in the distribution. But over a long time the average observed behaviour increases toward the underlying true characteristics. But that does not mean the weather changed, but rather that we eventually have a more robust, unbiased sample of the true behaviour.

    Most people avoid statistics and have heuristic biases in how they analyze complex problems. Kahneman's book Thinking Fast and Slow has a great breakdown of this. I have tried to relate these typical biases to reporting on extreme weather and flooding:

    Overall I'd have to agree with Kahneman that ""People are not accustomed to thinking hard, and are often content to trust a plausible judgment that comes to mind." This is why they relate flooding to weather and skip over intermediate processes like hydrology and hydraulics.

    Here's hoping data can help us "speak the truth" and avoid ideological debates.

    1. Thanks again for your contribution, Flood Advisor. I shall check out these links as I am doing with your previously posted links.

    2. You're welcome Lorne. I appreciate any feedback. I'm presenting these findings and my municipality's flood reduction programs at an insurance conference next month and I'd like to know if how I've presented the data and trends makes sense.


    3. I will post feedback here Rob, but I'm not quite sure when that will be, as we are going away midweek and I want to carefully examine each of the links you have provided.