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Scientists Revive Debate in Canada
An open letter published in Canada’s National Post on June 4 urges Paul Martin, MP, Canada’s Prime Minister in waiting, to undertake comprehensive scientific consultations on the Kyoto Protocol when he takes office following Jean Chretien’s likely retirement. The letter was inspired by reports that Martin felt that Canadian ratification of Kyoto proceeded without adequate consultation with the provinces.
The letter was signed by 35 scientists, of whom 16 are Canadian. Tim Ball, for 28 years professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg and one of Canada’s first climate scientists, coordinated the letter. Also among the signatories was Freeman Dyson, emeritus professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, who has expressed strong skepticism about climate modeling.
The letter criticized Prime Minister Chretien for acting to ratify the protocol on the basis of a “gut feeling.” It provoked a reply from the Minister of the Environment, David Anderson, published in the National Post on June 9. Anderson called the signatories “dead wrong.” He argued for Chretien’s “gut feeling” on the basis that there will never be absolute scientific certainty on climate change and so leaders need to act in order to avoid “analysis paralysis.”
Dr. Ball replied, “The real threat in all this is Mr. Anderson’s dogged determination to take draconian action on climate change without a proper assessment of the relevant science.”
Administration Aids State AGs’ Lawsuit
On June 4, the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to initiate a process for regulating carbon dioxide emissions.
Their suit, naming outgoing EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman as defendant, seeks to force the agency to apply National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to CO2 despite the fact that the Clean Air Act does not authorize regulation of CO2 or any climate-related programs.
According to Greenwire (June 4), the plaintiffs base much of their case on the idea that the EPA has “made clear its understanding of the possible scenarios that could result from unchecked carbon dioxide emissions. Specifically, the AGs point to the administration-approved Climate Action Report released last June that said recent climate changes ‘are likely due mostly to human activities’ and that predicted increases in temperature and weather variability could have serious negative ramifications, including major ecosystem transformations, diminishing water supplies, a 4-inch to 35-inch rise in sea levels and increased outbreaks of insect-borne diseases.”