Canadian Scientist Speaks Out

Another egghead figures it out…wonder if he’s ever conversed w/ an
Indigenous person before in his life.


“Climate scientists who grapple with this every
day … we see where it’s headed.
We understand it very well.

“I think the public needs to know, straight in
their face, that you can give up on
civilization as we know it. This is what I’m
trying to get across in the book. Do we
actually give a s— for future generations?”

Vancouver Sun
Saturday » September 20 » 2008

Scientist speaks up
Andrew Weaver’s conscience pushed him into the political fray

Nicholas Read
Special to the Sun

Andrew Weaver says global warming could cause 80
per cent of the world’s species to become
extinct, and destroy civilization as we know it
by the end of the century.

It was pure chance that University of Victoria
climate scientist Andrew Weaver’s new book on
global warming came out during a federal election
campaign. But since it has, he’s taking an
extraordinary step for a scientist and declaring,
point-blank, no punches pulled, how he thinks
people should vote.

“Vote for [Liberal Party Leader] Stéphane Dion;
don’t vote for the Green Party,” Weaver said in
an interview promoting Keeping Our Cool: Canada
in a Warming World.

“If the Green Party has a strong candidate who’s
going to beat out the Liberal and Conservative
candidates, then, okay, go ahead and vote Green.
But, by and large, a green vote is not a Green
vote. A green vote is for a Liberal government
and Stéphane Dion. There is no other candidate
you can vote for.”

Stepping into the political fray is almost
unheard of for a scientist, especially one of
Weaver’s stature. As one of the world’s
pre-eminent climate scientists, he was part of
the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) that collates and
interprets climate change data for the world’s
governments and a lead author of its seminal
assessment reports.

But so “incensed” is he by what he calls Prime
Minister Stephen Harper’s war on science and
scientists, by the government’s questioning of
climate change and by the obstructionist
positions the Tories have taken on the issue
internationally, he felt he had no choice.

“I have historically refused to actually say
anything like I’ve said to you,” he continued.
“But I recognize that [climate change] is the
defining problem for humanity, and I recognize
there’s only one leader in Canada who’s actually
dealing with it.”

In Keeping Our Cool (Viking Canada, 323 pages,
$34), written during a sabbatical last winter,
Weaver outlines in a comprehensive way what
climate change is, why it’s real, what causes it
and what obstacles politicians and industrial
interests place in the way of countering it.

Throughout there are diagrams and tables that
attempt to present graphically what he admits is
an inherently complicated truth. But this has
always been one of Weaver’s strengths. Without
ever dumbing the issue down, he keeps it as
simple and understandable as he can.

He has no patience with people who persist in
believing there is still scientific debate on
climate change.

Of them, he writes: “In a now-famous study
published in the December 2004 Science, Naomi
Oreskes at the University of California, San
Diego, examined the abstracts of 928 articles
published in peer-reviewed scientific journals
between 1993 and 2003 containing the key words
‘global climate change.’ Her goal was to see
whether legitimate dissenting voices had been
left out of the IPCC assessments and other

“Her conclusions were not unexpected. Not a
single study disagreed with the consensus view
concerning the role of greenhouse gases in
causing global warming.”

As far as his own book is concerned, he agrees
the crux of it comes down to a single alarming
sentence on page 28: “People have simply no idea
how serious this issue is.”

It’s so serious, he said, that unless we reach a
point where we stop emitting greenhouse gases
entirely, 80 per cent of the world’s species will
become extinct, and human civilization as we know
it will be destroyed, by the end of this century.
These are compelling enough reasons for people
finally to wake up and do something, so why don’t

Weaver struggles to understand. “I don’t know,”
he finally said after several false starts.
“Climate scientists who grapple with this every
day … we see where it’s headed. We understand
it very well.

“I guess it’s like the bomb that goes off in
Iraq. Can we understand the pain of those people
in Iraq if we’re sitting in our comfortable homes
in Vancouver? Maybe not.”

He added that 80 per cent of B.C. forests are
dying because of the mountain pine beetle, “but
how many people really understand that? They
think, ‘Oh, that’s just in Prince George.’ But
it’s not.

“I think the public needs to know, straight in
their face, that you can give up on civilization
as we know it. This is what I’m trying to get
across in the book. Do we actually give a s—
for future generations?”

Asked, then, if international climate scientists
are doing enough to alert the public to something
so devastating, Weaver explained that it’s not in
scientists’ nature to invite attention to their

“Success in science is other people saying your
work is good without you having to tell them.”
Besides, he added, if scientists were to
criticize the government publicly, they could
lose the funding they need to do their research.

However, seeing the planet at imminent risk,
Weaver decided to be a whistle-blower by writing
Keeping Our Cool. He believes its message is so
important that he even decided to get political,
a thought that used to make him queasy.

“Yes, it does bother me to be put in this
position, but I’ve been so incensed by what has
happened in Ottawa, by the war on science in
Ottawa, that this has driven me and others to
say, ‘Enough is enough’.”

Reading in another newspaper that
environmentalist David Suzuki and his wife
sometimes retire to their bedroom to cry, Weaver
said he can understand why. But as dire as things
are, he’s not ready to join them just yet.

“I know what he’s feeling, but I’m still a
fighter,” he said. “I have my teeth in, like a
pit bull, and I’m not going to give up.”

© The Vancouver Sun 2008
Copyright © 2008 CanWest Interactive, a division
of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All
rights reserved.

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