Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Letter to Stephen Harper on Climate Change

On April 18, Gordon McBean of the University of Western Ontario organized an open letter to Stephen Harper, expressing concern over climate change, and the direction the PM seems to be taking. Ninety scientists signed the letter. Here is the full text. The italics and bold types are the authors'.

An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Canada
on Climate Change Science

April 18 2006

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A3
Dear Prime Minister:

As climate science leaders from the academic, public and private sectors across
Canada, we wish to convey our views on the current state of knowledge of climate
change and to call upon you to provide national leadership in addressing the issue.
The scientific views we express are shared by the vast majority of the national and
international climate science community.

We concur with the climate science assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001, which has also been supported by the Royal Society of
Canada and the national academies of science of all G-8 countries, as well as those of China, India and Brazil. We endorse the conclusions of the IPCC assessment that
“There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities” and of the 2005 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment that “Arctic temperatures have risen at almost twice the rate of those in the rest of the world over the past few decades”.

Climate variability and change is a global issue and the international IPCC process for assessment of climate science, with its rigorous scientific peer review processes, is the appropriate mechanism for assessing what is known and not known about climate science. Many Canadian climate scientists are participating in the preparation of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report which will be completed in 2007.

The following points emerge from the assessments and ongoing research by respected
Canadian and international researchers:

• There is increasingly unambiguous evidence of changing climate in
Canada and around the world.
• There will be increasing impacts of climate change on Canada’s natural ecosystems and on our socio-economic activities.
• Advances in climate science since the 2001 IPCC Assessment have provided more evidence supporting the need for action and development of a strategy for adaptation to projected changes.
• Canada needs a national climate change strategy with continued investments in research to track the rate and nature of changes, understand what is happening, to refine projections of changes induced by anthropogenic release of greenhouse gases and to analyse opportunities and threats presented by these changes.

We have supplied justification and more detail for each of these points in the
accompanying documentation.

We urge you and your government to develop an effective national strategy to deal with the many important aspects of climate that will affect both Canada and the rest of the world in the near future. We believe that sound policy requires good scientific input.

We would be pleased to provide a scientific briefing and further support, clarification and information at any time.

Yours sincerely:

Signed by 90 Canadian climate science leaders from the academic, public and private
sectors across the country.

Cc: Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Environment, Honourable Gary Lunn,
Minister of Natural Resources and Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Satire personified

Satire is arguably the most important form that dissent can take. Nothing can bring to public consciousness the foolishness of the decision makers like a reflection of that foolishness. From fictional characters like Hawkeye Pierce and Archie Bunker to comedians like Jon Stewart, quick wit has caused many a headache for the targets upon which their talents are focussed. A classic example of this was Stephen Colbert's speech to the White House Press Correspondents' Dinner. Here are some gems:

I'm a simple man with a simple mind. I hold a simple set of beliefs that I live by. Number one, I believe in America. I believe it exists. My gut tells me I live there. I feel that it extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and I strongly believe it has 50 states. And I cannot wait to see how the Washington Post spins that one tomorrow. I believe in democracy. I believe democracy is our greatest export. At least until China figures out a way to stamp it out of plastic for three cents a unit.


Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.


I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message: that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound -- with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.


I'm sorry, but this reading initiative. I'm sorry, I've never been a fan of books. I don't trust them. They're all fact, no heart. I mean, they're elitist, telling us what is or isn't true, or what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914? If I want to say it was built in 1941, that's my right as an American! I'm with the president, let history decide what did or did not happen.


But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!


And, of course, we can't forget the man of the hour, new press secretary, Tony Snow. Secret Service name, "Snow Job." Toughest job. What a hero. Took the second toughest job in government, next to, of course, the ambassador to Iraq.

Got some big shoes to fill, Tony. Big shoes to fill. Scott McClellan could say nothing like nobody else. McClellan, of course, eager to retire. Really felt like he needed to spend more time with Andrew Card's children. Mr. President, I wish you hadn't made the decision so quickly, sir.

The full text is here. The video is here.