On a weekend when a "heat dome" has led to blistering temperatures in Eastern Canada, a federal politician is downplaying the magnitude of the climate crisis.
Maxime Bernier, leader of the People's Party of Canada, has tweeted there is no climate emergency and that there is no consensus supporting "climate alarmism".
Moreover, Bernier insisted that there's no reason to panic or be anxious.
In justifying this position, the Quebec politician has cited University of Guelph economist Ross McKitrick, who's also a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, a free-market think tank based in Vancouver.
McKitrick is among those who endorsed a controversial declaration by the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.
This evangelical statement denies that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and claims that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not achieve significant reductions in future global temperatures.
"We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory," the Cornwall Alliance states on its website. "Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history."
Bernier's tweet pointed to an interview with McKitrick. It came about as a result of a McKitrick article in the Financial Post on June 7.
That column drew the attention of the Climate Feedback website, which says it sorts fact from fiction in the media's coverage of climate change.
Following publication of McKitrick's article, Climate Feeback asked four scientists to analyze the piece.
They assessed its overall scientific credibility as "low".
The Financial Post subsequently updated McKitrick's article "to specifically identify the major extreme weather indicators that have been shown to have no solid climate change".
However, that did not significantly alter the reviewer's conclusions, according to Climate Feedback.
"This article is misleading since it confuses changes in climate change impacts with changes in climate and weather extremes and it subjectively selects examples that support its message," wrote Andreas Prein, a project scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "There is clear scientific evidence that many weather and climate extreme events increase in intensity and frequency due to anthropogenic climate change."
Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht postdoctoral research fellow Marlene Klockmann cited three reasons why McKitrick's arguments were "misleading":
1. They mixed the cost of damage of extreme events with the physical phenomenon of these events.
2. The article only relied on data from the United States.
3. Climate projections were ignored even though they clearly link global warming to an increase in extreme events.
Carnegie Institution for Science senior scientist Ken Caldeira gave McKitrick credit for "calling attention to the relatively weak observation-based evidence for association of damage from extreme weather with climate change".
But then Caldeira added this:
"Regardless of whether or not the reader finds compelling the evidence that climate change is increasing the number of intense storms, it is clear that climate change has been increasing the number of record hot days and heat spells. Thus the statements 'Globally there’s no clear evidence of trends and patterns in extreme events' and 'The bottom line is there’s no solid connection between climate change and the major indicators of extreme weather' would need to be regarded as false."
University of Illinois assistant professor of atmospheric sciences Ryan Sriver maintained that McKitrick didn't prove anything.
"He’s simply claiming there are not yet definitive links between climate change and some extreme events," Sriver wrote. "I would refer the readers to the most recent National Climate Assessment for a broader and longer list of salient impacts of climate change beyond the short and narrow selection quoted."
This isn't the first time that Bernier has downplayed the effects of climate change.
In May, he insisted that climate "hysteria" is intensifying everywhere.