Friday, April 28, 2006

And he is an economist at a respected University?

Reading articles like this, and realizing that people can be published and respected makes me SO SAD! I encourage everyone to write to the Post to discredit his weak arguments here:

Climate 90 miss the point of debateNational Post Fri 28 Apr 2006 Page: FP19 Section: Financial Post: Comment Byline: Reuven Brenner Source: Financial Post
Judged by their Climate Manifesto, the Climate 90 signers are not scientists. That is the unavoidable conclusion of the Climate Manifesto's language.
The issues in this climate debate are simple and rather clear. The disagreement is not about rising temperatures but whether the rise can be attributed to human activity. None of the Manifesto's four points claim to solidly back their conclusion. Their approach isn't scientific at all.
1. The two groups agree on the first point: "There is increasingly unambiguous evidence of changing climate in Canada and around the world."
2. The second point has nothing to do with "science": It is a forecast. Moreover, the point does not say how the forecast is linked to "human activity" or which human activity brings it about. Since all climate scientists know that the Earth's climate has gone through periods of warming and cooling that had nothing to do human activity, and since we are now within the range of that variability, this forecast must be taken with grain of salt.
3. Advances in climate science since the 2001 IPCC Assessment have provided more evidence supporting the need for action and development of a strategy for adaptation to projected changes." What does this statement mean, if anything? It reads like bureaucratic political blah-blah. "More evidence" does not mean "convincing evidence." And even skeptical scientists have not opposed people adapting to the warming temperature.
4. Their last, very prudently articulated fourth point suggests a lack of evidence -- it only asks for more taxpayer money to finance research. This point is fine; researchers are entitled to be lobbyists, though perhaps they should register as such." Canada," it says, "needs a national climate change strategy." First, red flags should pop in one's mind when people invoke nationalism and patriotism when talking about science. If one is talking about "global climate change," what can Canadian taxpayers, with just 33 million people scattered on an immense surface, do to have any effect? Then the signers ask for "continued investment in research, [to] understand what is happening, to refine projections of changes induced by anthropogenic release of greenhouse gases."
Does this sound as if there is strong evidence of human activity causing global warming? Not really. Which is fine, that's why there is disagreement in this field of science. This isn't the major issue.
But here we come to the most troubling part of the entire manifesto, and one wonders how 90 scientists could endorse it. The principle of scientific research is NOT to confirm, and analyze opportunities and threats but to try and reject a hypothesis. Scientific research is about finding deviations, because deviations disprove rules. Science is not about going with the herd and confirming what some have found but to try and reject it. After all, the saying in science is "Even if one million people believe in an idea, it can be a very dumb idea."
The government may decide to fund further climate research but it should do so with strings attached, and finance proposals that state explicitly how they will try to reject findings rather than confirm them, let alone politicize the subject or speculate about threats. (Of course, fear mongering is easy, can find political support, and bring in money for "research" that very conveniently subsidizes pleasurable conferences in -- where else? -- warm climates. This principle should hold true for researchers on either side of this or any other scientific debate.
It is about time that taxpayers stop funding activists and lobbyists who masquerade as scientists. The government would give a strong signal by applying a scientific "Accountability Act" by putting the 90 who signed this "manifesto" on the watch list.
Reuven Brenner lectures at McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Seals eat fish as a main source of food, so do you think the hunting of seals would affect the number of fish found in the ocean by a great amount?

Paul Watson: Only 3% of a harp's seals diet is made up from Cod. There is a very complex food chain in the ocean and this diversity and interdependence has worked very well throughout time. The cod was not destroyed by the harp seals. The species was depleted by human fisheries. At the time of Jacques Cartier, there was no shortage of fish and there were ten times as many seals. The fact is that the largest predator of cod aside from people are other species of fish, the very fish that harp seals prey upon. When you lower harp seal populations you increase predatory fish populations thereby contributing to a further decline in the cod. Rather than more seals less cod, it is more seals = more cod and less seals = less cod.

Rebecca Aldworth: In fact, many scientists believe culling seals may further impede recovery of fish stocks by removing even more biomass from the ocean. Visit to find out more about this theory. We do know that harp seals (the target of the commercial seal hunt) are opportunistic feeders (see That means they eat a little bit of a lot of different species. Commercially fished cod accounts for about 3 percent of their diets, but they also consume many significant predators of cod. To learn more about this, you can read a presentation that was given to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans by Dr. David Lavigne on the topic. You should also have a quick look at this simplified depiction of the food web of the northwest Atlantic - as you can see, determining what the impact of a seal cull on any one fish population would be next to impossible. And even the Department of Fisheries and Oceans agrees: "Seals eat cod, but seals also eat other fish that prey on cod. There are several factors contributing to the lack of recovery of Atlantic cod stocks such as fishing effort, the poor physical condition of the fish, poor growth, unfavourable ocean conditions and low stock productivity at current levels…It is widely accepted in the scientific community that there are many uncertainties in the estimates of the amount of fish consumed by seals. Seals and cod exist in a complex ecosystem, which mitigates against easy analysis or simple solutions to problems such as the lack of recovery of cod stocks."


I challenge any reader to dispute this information and convince me that the seal hunt off the Canadian East Coast has the capacity to recover cod stocks (that dropped because of human mismanagement.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Monday, April 10, 2006

My words were published in the Vancouver Province yesterday, in response to Friday's editorial. I'd have written a little more intelligently if I'd have thought that there was a potential that it would end up in the newspaper.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Here I am in Cranbrook! I have meetings at the "regional offices" tomorrow - this is where business trips in BC will take you! I feel SO lucky - this province is GORGEOUS! I slept on the plane and when my eyes opened, I was so impressed with the beauty out the window.

I think it will be hard to find a yummy and nutritious vegetarian dinner, though. Tomorrow I hope to go to the taxidermy museum if I have time!

What is this bullshit??