Blog Archive

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Andrew Weaver: Keeping Our Cool -- Canada in a Warming World

Scientist delivers political shots with climate change book

by Margaret Munro, Canwest News Service, September 11, 2008

When Environment Canada scientists were ordered to refer all media calls to Ottawa earlier this year, climatologist Andrew Weaver denounced the Harper government for "muzzling" federal researchers.

After the Conservatives announced "aspirational" targets for reducing Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, the University of Victoria researcher said he could see no scientific rationale for the numbers. "Maybe they have a Ouija board or something," he suggested.

Now the colourful and outspoken academic has a new book, Keeping Our Cool, Canada in a Warming World, coincidentally published by Viking Canada the same week Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the election.

Prof. Andrew Weaver's latest book is getting high praise in some quarters, but is not likely to win him many friends on the Conservative campaign plane.

Prof. Andrew Weaver's latest book is getting high praise in some quarters, but is not likely to win him many friends on the Conservative campaign plane.

Ray Smith/ Victoria Times Colonist

It is getting high praise in some quarters, but it is not likely to win Weaver many friends on the Conservative campaign plane.

The book gives a sobering account of climate change and includes colourful commentary on the increasingly wacky weather -- Weaver was visiting family in Greece during last summer's wild fires. There is also an insider's perspective on the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was co-winner of the last's year Nobel Peace Prize. Weaver was one of the lead authors.

Weaver's overriding message is that the planet is fast approaching the threshold of "acceptable" global warming and society must slash greenhouse gasses by weaning itself off fossils fuels, one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide.

But he notes how Alberta, by far Canada's largest greenhouse gas emitter, plans to reduce emissions by 14% by 2050, far less than is required. If Alberta is to only cut emissions by 14%, the rest of Canada would have to cut emissions by 81% to meet Harper's "aspirational" target of 60% reduction by 2050, he says, calling attention to the "staggering" disconnect between the national and provincial targets.

Environmentalist David Suzuki says the book "should be the final alarm."

Thomas Homer-Dixon, who specializes in environmental security at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, has also endorsed the book saying: "For Canadians, this is the best single book on our climate crisis and what we should do about it."

The book is also laced with harsh criticism of the Harper government's handling of the climate file. He writes that the Conservatives have in the last two years dismantled and cut funding to important federal climate programs and research initiatives, rebuffed calls for action and requests for meetings by leading climate scientists, and "played a major role in obstructing international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The Conservatives' media office declined to respond to the criticisms raised in the book.

Link to article:

No comments: