Stephen Harper, March 2010
In his letter of February 24th to La Presse, "Une position sage," your climate change expert, Mr Bernier, claims that "Canada is right to be prudent".
He argues that there is no scientific consensus on global warming. The fact is that the Academies of Science from 19 countries plus many scientific organizations that study climate science agree that humans are causing global warming. In fact 97% of peer reviewed climate scientists endorse this consensus position.
He also states that over the past 10 years global temperatures have stopped increasing, whereas the planet has continued to heat. Surface temperatures are variable due to heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere. 1998 was unusually hot due to a strong El Niño so it would be expected that following years would be cooler. Since many people do not understand the difference between climate (long term trends) and weather (short term conditions) they draw incorrect conclusions on the basis of a single decade.
Mr. Bernier also appears to think that the sun is causing some of the temperature rise (which, on the other hand, he says is not happening.) It is established that solar activity goes through cycles. It has been decreasing since 1978.
In Mr. Bernier's analysis, the cost of action is measured in dollars. What he fails to illuminate, however, is that the cost of inaction will be measured not only in dollars, but in millions of lives.
In his letter, Mr. Bernier argues "it would certainly be irresponsible to spend billions of dollars to impose exaggeratedly severe regulations to solve a problem whose gravity we are still far from discerning." The lack of discernment to which he refers is a profound failure on his part and on the part of the government. This failure endangers the public, and puts into question the legitimacy of your government.
As for spending public money to mitigate and adapt to climate destabilization, we know that renowned economist Sir Nicholas Stern, in the Stern Review (October 2006) declared "The benefits of strong early action on climate change considerably outweigh the costs." Subsequently, in April 2008, Stern warned "In the Stern Review we underestimated the risks....We underestimated the damage associated with temperature increases....We underestimated the probabilities of temperature increases...Because climate change is happening faster than predicted, the cost to reduce carbon would be even higher, about 2% of GDP instead of the 1% in the original report." It would be more irresponsible to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today. If you had a curable form of cancer would you wait to treat it until your symptoms were irreversible?
Prime Minister, you have two young children. What are you going to tell them in the future when they ask you why you didn't take action to mitigate climate change? The climate change that will seriously reduce the quality of their lives (and of their children)?
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from future generations (of humans and other species.)