Alberta is a centre of climate-change denial, but not all Albertans deny reality of global warming

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      Some Albertans reacted angrily to a column I wrote yesterday about the impact of climate change on the careers of right-wing politicians.

      I merely pointed out that climate-change deniers, such as former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former Australian prime minister John Howard, each lost elections for taking this position.

      And I suggested that the same fate could easily befall Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has modelled his career on Howard's.

      That prompted Alberta progressives—and a few trolls—to attack me for characterizing Alberta as "Canada's centre of climate-change denial".

      Some comments were fairly abusive. One questioned whether I had been dropped on my head as a baby.

      Another accused me of dumping hate on citizens.

      A third called me a "smug, judgemental prick" and expressed a desire that my home collapse in an earthquake.

      I guess this is what happens when you add the Alberta politics hashtag #abpoli to a link on Twitter. In B.C., commenters usually aren't nearly as vitriolic.

      Another commenter cited Environment Canada's page discussing climate-change adaptability studies—as if that wiped out years of denial and efforts to silence scientists by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

      Let's get real. There's a large number of climate-change deniers in Alberta. What else could explain a dinosaur like Rob Anders winning six consecutive elections with more than 50 percent of the votes in Calgary West?

      Then there's Wildrose Party of Alberta Leader Danielle Smith, who claimed just over a year ago that the science wasn't settled on climate change. She heads the Official Opposition in the Alberta legislature when she should have been laughed out of political existence.

      Exhibit three: Barry Cooper, a friend of Harper's, who's been on the vanguard of Canada's climate-change-denial movement.

      Vancouver journalist Charles Montgomery revealed in 2006 that Cooper, a University of Calgary political scientist, channelled money through a university trust account to the nonprofit group Friends of Science. It has promoted the views of such cimate-change deniers as retired professor Tim Ball and economist Ross McKitrick.

      That's not to say there isn't also a progressive bent in Alberta.

      Provincial Liberal leader Raj Sherman has a 21st-century view of the world, as does NDP MP Linda Duncan.

      Keep in mind that Calgary is home to one of Canada's greatest environmental writers, Andrew Nikiforuk. And I recently interviewed an adventure athlete from Canmore, Will Gadd, who's extremely progressive in his views.

      So when I write that Alberta is Canada's centre of climate-change denial, I'm not saying every Albertan denies that human-induced carbon emissions contribute to global warming.

      Far from it.

      Calgary elected Naheed Nenshi as mayor, and he's about the farthest thing you can imagine from Toronto's Rob Ford.

      I came to admire Nenshi after reading a chapter about his family in Adrienne Clarkson's 2011 book Room For All of Us.

      My respect for Nenshi has been enhanced by his response to the terrible flooding in his city.

      We can expect more of these extreme weather events as humanity keeps pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

      But don't expect this to be on the agenda when the Conservative Party of Canada finally gets around to holding its annual convention in Calgary later this week.

      The Conservatives can't even have a reasonable conversation on whether Alberta's energy industry is contributing to Dutch disease in Canada, let alone wrap their minds around the impact of rising greenhouse-gas emissions on the state of the planet.

      Comments

      40 Comments

      Charles

      Jun 22, 2013 at 3:49pm

      Charlie,
      Thanks for telling the truth. The climate is changing, not just the physical climate, but the political one as well. I am a conservative Republican from Texas and got my family off of carbon in 2 years. My prayers are with the people of Alberta in this time of trouble that they will find courage to help each other keep safe, and also to rebuild in a wise renewable way.

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      Bruce

      Jun 22, 2013 at 4:43pm

      The earths temperature has been cooling for at least 10 years. People have a right to deny its warming when it has indeed stopped warming.

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      You Stnkin Commie Pinko

      Jun 22, 2013 at 5:43pm

      Climate change, Yah it changes 4 times a year.

      This flood was caused by Justin Trudeau, Bob Rae, Jean Chretien and the ghost of Pierre Elliot Trudeau puttin out negative vibes about Western Canada and us God Fearing Conservatives.

      Did I mention yet that Homo's are probably behind this also.

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      Jeff

      Jun 22, 2013 at 6:21pm

      Has anyone given any thought as to how much carbon is delivered into the atmosphere when anyone of the 200 or so active volcano's erupt? I would imagine it is quite a bit! just sayin

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      Christine

      Jun 22, 2013 at 6:23pm

      Keep speaking the truth to power - and Albertans! It's way past time to pussyfoot around the truth of the climate crisis and the special interests that our politicans are kow-towing to, keeping their eyes on short-term profit and not on future generations.
      Each of us has to look the children in our lives in the eyes, and tell them we are doing everything we can to address the destabilization of the climate. If we can't tell them this, we aren't doing enough.

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      Anna

      Jun 22, 2013 at 7:33pm

      Let' s be fair here: it's a little more easy to be vitriolic when you or people you care about are facing thousands of dollars of flood damage, the river still isn't receding, and there's nothing you can do about it. People are frustrated, scared, and hurting, and getting lectured at right now feels like a bit much. That's not to say there aren't plenty of CC denying idiots in Calgary and Alberta, but part of the nastiness you're getting is because yelling at Albertans collectively right now comes off as kicking people when they're down. It's double frustrating because a lot of people - not you, and not here, but a lot of people - have been talking as though Alberta were responsible for climate change all by its little lonesome, which is idiotic. For that matter, they're not really uniquely responsible for the conservative federal government either; that distinction goes to the GTA, which went almost entirely blue in the last election. Alberta votes conservative every year (which ticks me off, but I only get one vote) and yet the government still changes hands on a regular basis.

      As for Danielle Smith and Allison Redford...yeah, no argument there. Most of Alberta is pretty peeved with Redford right now, but from what I can tell, many have still managed not to notice Smith's tenuous relationship with facts. There are a (very) few things she has a sensible approach to, but I'm sure they'll go out the window if she ever gets elected.

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      Moses

      Jun 22, 2013 at 7:54pm

      Then God cast down upon the dirty Albertans a vitriolic rain storm that lasted for days and days. On the third night, the waters breached the river banks and washed out the downtown streets causing massive damage. The west coast Environites danced with glee and laughed and made fun of the suffering oil people saying "see what happens when you abuse your land".

      Later on that summer, in the height of the tourist season, the west coast Environites started to notice that their hotels, restaurants, parks, gold courses and beaches were all empty. The people from the rich oil city had suffered so badly in the June storm that they simply couldn't afford to go to lotus land to indulge in the annual ritual of heaping tourism gold, silver and myrrh upon the expectant west coast Environites.

      "Hmmm" thought one west coast Environite, "Maybe we shouldn't have wished such ill-will upon our neighbours. Maybe the product they work so hard to produce is beneficial to us as well".

      And so the parable goes: what goes around, comes around.

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      Stephanie

      Jun 22, 2013 at 8:08pm

      Thanks for writing this piece at this point in time. Although I agree with some of what Anna said about the timing of this discussion due to the flood, it's a discussion that needs to happen in the context of the flood. We need to be able to talk respectfully and sensibly in Canada about these issues. Unfortunately harper has worked hard at polarizing the electorate, creating divisions between east and west, calling anyone who opposes his agenda radicals, and in the heart of oil country, anyone who dares to ask questions is considered a traitor. There was a discussion on climate change on the Friday edition of The Current with someone from Alberta, so it's going to happen. It will take some time before people are receptive, lots of mopping up to do first. It's a terrible scene there.

      Here is the segment from The Current http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2013/06/21/severe-flooding-in-south...

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      SPY vs SPY

      Jun 22, 2013 at 9:49pm

      Climate change is easy to explain - What goes up, must come down.

      The earth has a circumference of about 25,000 miles and about 15,000 miles of that is over the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.

      At the equator the ocean temp. can reach 90F, so for about 100 miles north and south of the equator, for 3,000,000 sq miles of ocean, billions of tons of water evaporate. More heat = more evaporation = more rain & more snow. More heat = more flash flooding in spring and some rivers may become seasonal rivers. Floods in the spring and dry in the summer and fall.

      Climate Change ??? It was 90F in Alaska and the Yukon this past week. It was as hot as Bermuda.

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      SupDood

      Jun 22, 2013 at 9:52pm

      "What else could explain a dinosaur like Rob Anders winning six consecutive elections with more than 50 percent of the votes in Calgary West?"

      What a stupid comment - I stopped reading there - because Rob Anders gets elected there are a large number of climate change deniers? What insane ignorant logic. Sometimes you take the bad with the good. And the only thing good most people in his riding only see is that he is conservative...and that's enough. But hey these are the same people who will give Nenshi a landslide victory in the next municipal election.

      He is conservative and you could run a monkey in that riding and it would win.

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