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Globe columnist lauds Trump and says there is no climate consensus

UN Photo/Mark Garten

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The Globe and Mail is a serious newspaper, which generally treats facts and evidence with respect.

But one has to ask who was checking the facts when, earlier this week, it printed a series of howlers about the current state of climate science by columnist Margaret Wente.

"There is no consensus on how much more the Earth will warm or how dangerous it will be, and still less on the best ways to mitigate the risk," Wente wrote, and then, for good measure, added an ad hominem attack on unnamed "climate alarmists" who "have done a brilliant job of demonizing anyone who points out that the apocalypse may not be at hand."

A few weeks ago, CBC Radio's As It Happens interviewed Donald Trump climate adviser Robert Walker, who made similar claims.

Walker said only about half of the world's scientists actually agree with the idea that human-caused climate change is real. When challenged to cite a source for this assertion, he could not.

Later, the Trump adviser emailed As It Happens some supposed references in support of his view. This writer checked them and found them all to be bogus or non-existent.

The IPCC represents a genuine scientific consensus

Like the Trump man, Wente cites no sources.

She does not name a single "climate alarmist" and does not cite research to show that a consensus on the prospects for climate change does not exist.

There is, in fact, massive evidence that such a consensus does exist.  

Indeed, it is the job of one world body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to gather research and data from an enormous range of sources and report on the extent to which there is or is not a worldwide, scientific consensus.

The IPCC was set up 28 years ago by the UN and the World Meteorological Organization and currently has 195 members.

On its web site, the IPCC explains that its:

"[a]ssessments are written by hundreds of leading scientists who volunteer their time and expertise  ... They enlist hundreds of other experts as Contributing Authors to provide complementary expertise in specific areas. IPCC reports undergo multiple rounds of drafting and review to ensure they are comprehensive and objective and produced in an open and transparent way. Thousands of other experts contribute to the reports by acting as reviewers, ensuring the reports reflect the full range of views in the scientific community."

And what has the IPCC concluded?

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," it reports, "and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen."

The report then goes further and concludes that this warming is significantly caused by human activity.

As for the future, the IPCC projects that the temperature of the earth's surface will rise over the 21st century "under all assessed emission scenarios."

The "very likely" consequences of this temperature rise will be that "heat waves will occur more often and last longer, and that extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions. The ocean will continue to warm and acidify, and [the] global mean sea level ... [will] rise."

If Margaret Wente has other reputable, scientific sources which express a different view, why doesn't she cite them?

If she doesn't, then one has to ask: Where are the editors? The Globe and Mail is not a shoestring organization. It has the staff and resources to do thorough fact checking.

A new, Canadian Trump-lite ideology

At bottom, Wente is making a political, not scientific, point.

Her column is part of a new Trump-changes-everything movement, part of a growing effort to not only legitimize the president-elect, but to use him as a cudgel to beat back those who care about such trivia as the environment or social justice.

"Donald Trump is ascending to the White House,"Wente writes, almost gleefully, "which means the age of climate idealism is dead." 

The Globe and Mail columnist wants us to believe that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's climate deal with the provinces is not a brave effort on the part of Canada to live up to its commitments, but a "dog's breakfast" that will cost a bundle and likely do no good for the environment.

It is perfectly legitimate, of course, to criticize the way the Liberal government is going about its business on the climate change file.

But Wente tips her hand when she elevates Donald Trump to the status of latter-day prophet, and engages in attacks on climate science that eerily resemble those of Trump's climate change-denying acolytes.

Here in Canada, we are just at the beginning of the get-used-to-Trump (and maybe even learn to like it) bandwagon.

We've had Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch jumping on the Trump train when it comes to identity and immigration, and the premiers of two provinces saying we now have to align Canadian policy with the incoming, environmentally hostile Trump administration.

Now, with Wente, we can see the beginnings of something that looks like an ideological justification (however tortured) for going along with the new regime south of the border.

One thing is clear: The choices facing Canadians in this frightening new age are about to get brutally stark. 

Karl Nerenberg is your reporter on the Hill. Please consider supporting his work with a monthly donation Support Karl on Patreon today for as little as $1 per month!

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