There is no evidence for a "climate emergency". Stop the nonsense.

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Sign this petition if you oppose your city's declaration that it is in a "climate emergency" (any city, your city).

There is an epidemic of cities in North America declaring that the city is in a "climate emergency". This, below, is my recent submission to Committee opposing such a motion for Canada's capital, Ottawa. There is no evidence that supports such a declaration. We should discourage our politicians from engaging in nonsense.

My signed submission document is also at: https://www.scribd.com/document/406277896/Dr-Denis-Rancourt-to-Committee-Enviro-Protection-City-of-Ottawa-2019-04-14

[The motion in Ottawa passed: 6 (for), 2 (against). Ottawa is therefore now in the throes of a "climate emergency"? The media refused to cover my scientific arguments and did not seek the views of the other side, whatsoever, despite several neighbours and Ottawa residents who agree with me.]

Here is my text: SUBMISSION TO COMMITTEE

PURPOSE: Comments of Denis Rancourt to the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management regarding two motions brought by Councillor Shawn Menard for the hearing of Tuesday, 16 April 2019: (1) Motion to declare a climate emergency in Ottawa; (2) Motion to delay introduction of plastic bags in Green Bins

FROM: Denis Rancourt, PhD, Long-time resident of Capital Ward (Ward 17), Internationally recognized environmental researcher: https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=1ChsRsQAAAAJ

TO: Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management (Ottawa, or any city)

Motion to declare a climate emergency in Ottawa

This motion is ill-conceived and in-effect political rather than being evidence-based. It recommends a costly make-work project, and would not address real and important environmental matters. City staff and consultation resources would be expended with no benefit to residents of Ottawa.

First, I address each of the “WHEREAS” statements of the motion, as follows.

1.      “WHEREAS Climate change is currently contributing to billions of dollars in property and infrastructure damage worldwide …”

This is false. Violent weather events have always caused destruction. The more infrastructures are built, the more destruction there is of infrastructures from violent weather events.

Historical climatologists have not concluded increased incidences of violent weather events. There is no such statistical study from the field of historical climatology.

Specifically, there is no study establishing a higher or increasing or changing incidence of violent weather events (storms, drought, hurricanes…) in the Ottawa area. There is no study showing statistically deviant weather in the Ottawa area. Such studies performed elsewhere in North America have found null results for statistically meaningful weather incidence deviations.

There has not ever been a single scientific study that demonstrates from data either: (i) climate regime change, in terms of measured spatiotemporal weather incidences, since the 1950s surge in use of fossil fuel, or (ii) that any weather events or groups of events can be attributed to increased CO2 rather than statistical variations and the known decadal El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. 

Virtually all such suggestions of CO2-induced weather in the scientific literature are inferred from tenuous global circulation model predictions, not actual weather data.

2.      “WHEREAS, Climate change is currently jeopardizing the health and survival of many species and other natural environments worldwide, stressing local and international ecosystems”

This is false and misleading. 

It is misleading because by far the overwhelmingly dominant cause of threat to the natural environment and to animal species is habitat destruction, direct habitat destruction by industrial harvesting, industrial extraction, large-scale anthropogenic land-use re-assignment, and anthropogenic water and forest management practices; followed by unprecedented agricultural-sector tonnage application, world-wide, of herbicides (specifically, glyphosate) to crops, which are genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant.

In addition to its environmental impacts, glyphosate is now being recognized by several research groups as a cause of increased chronic diseases and conditions in humans, including in North America.

To attempt to resolve or finesse a “climate” component in these circumstances is a socio-political exercise, in which some well-meaning ecologists, who are not historical climatologists, are content to oblige.

It is false because there is no known 20th (or 21st) century example of climate change causing a species to become extinct. Not to mention that there are no demonstrated cases of regional or global climate regime change, in terms of measured spatiotemporal weather incidences, having occurred since the 1950s surge in use of fossil fuel.

3.      “WHEREAS Climate change is currently harming human populations through rising sea levels and other extraordinary phenomena like intense wildfires worldwide, extreme heat events, and more variable and unpredictable droughts and heavy rains …”

This is false and misleading.

It is false because there is no known example of the average global rise in sea level causing human or property damage.

The global sea level rise has been continuous and stable, with a rate of approximately 1.2 mm per year, for the last 200 years of measurements:[1]

The regular rise shows no feature that can be connected to the 1950s surge in use of fossil fuel.  The geophysics of sea level change is complex and largely unknown, as several experts have explained.

It is misleading because other factors are overwhelmingly dominant regarding ocean flooding events:

(1)   Building more human infrastructure near ocean shorelines necessarily increases the likelihood or “nuisance flooding”. (Not to mention that Ottawa is far from any ocean.)

(2)   Pacific island stability relies on complex bio-geological processes, especially natural erosion, and has always been variable in low islands of unconsolidated sand and gravel. (Not to mention that Ottawa is not a Pacific island.)

(3)   Natural erosion, after plate tectonics itself, is the most significant Earth-surface process, and it acts to reduce the altitude contrast between continent and ocean, everywhere, all the time.

(4)   Sea level change is negligible compared to all the relevant natural catastrophic events: typhoons, hurricanes, tide variability, coastal weather events, tsunamis, etc.

It is false, because “intense wildfires worldwide, extreme heat events, and more variable and unpredictable droughts and heavy rains” are not “extraordinary phenomena”. They are natural phenomena, ever present in a given climate era. Not a single study has shown a statistically meaningful increase in such events since the 1950s surge in use of fossil fuel.

Forest fires are a good example. My detailed review of forest-fire science shows how the false notion of increased modern forest fires was incorrectly introduced into the scientific literature, based on comparing distinct and incompatible US-government historical databases, and was corrected by historical climatologists, to no avail.[2]

Virtually all such suggestions of CO2-induced extreme weather events in the scientific literature are derived from tenuous global circulation model predictions, not actual extreme-events data analyzed by historical climatologists.[3]

4.      “WHEREAS recent international research has indicated a need for massive reduction in carbon emissions in the next 11 years to avoid further and devastating economic, ecological, and societal loss”

This is false.  There cannot be “further and devastating economic, ecological, and societal loss” if there has not yet been any “devastating economic, ecological, and societal loss” caused by the increased use of fossil fuel since the 1950s.

I infer that the Mover of the Motion is referring to IPCC executive summaries. These are political documents that reflect policy desires, not “international research”.

In conclusion, the Committee should take notice of the following facts when it considers this Motion:

(1)   There is no conclusive scientific evidence that climate change (unnatural increased extreme-weather incidence) has occurred since the surge in use of fossil fuel that started in the 1950s. There is only tenuous theoretical conjecture that such might occur.

(2)   Not a single death on Earth has been scientifically attributed to “climate change”, which includes Ottawa.

(3)   Not a single animal or plant species has been scientifically established to have become extinct from climate change. There is no scientific demonstration of such a thing.

(4)   Weather data for Ottawa does not show increased incidence of weather extremes, or any statistically meaningful deviations from the known natural variability (ENSO).

(5)   Changes in Ottawa canal skating-season schedules result from ice-management and safety protocol changes, not from (empirically known) weather data.

(6)   There is no rational reason, based on empirical data, to believe that Ottawa is at risk of climate change or is susceptible to anomalous future extreme weather events.

The Motion, in my opinion, is what can be termed “goodness propaganda”, which appears intended to convince citizens of being looked after. In fact, this Motion is a waste of resources and political attention. 

It is verging on the ridiculous to think that the reality that 87% of world energy from fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) can be changed by policy statements or taxation.[4] The only significant alternative contributors, as now demonstrated by decades of publicly funded adventures, are nuclear and hydro, both requiring massive structural investments, and both having large environmental consequences.[5]

In contrast, real environmental issues that should concern the Committee are many and serious, and include:

(1)   Deposition of toxic heavy metals and cancer-causing PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) from major transportation lanes running through the populated city centre. Such deposition is a known and well-studied scientific reality.

(2)   Historical toxic-waste landfills in populated areas, including Vanier and the Mover of the Motion’s own riding.

(3)   The sustained and steadfast refusal of the City to disclose its soil toxicity study results for Old Ottawa East in Ward 17, even to the resident participants of the study, including me.

(4)   The disproportionate lack of family-oriented parks in densely populated neighbourhoods.

(5)   The narrowing river access corridors and shrinking river-area green space with every new river-adjacent or island urban development.

(6)   The lack of air-quality and noise monitoring near major transportation lanes through populated areas.

(7)   The increased littering along new foot paths, from lack of litter infrastructure and maintenance.

Motion to delay introduction of plastic bags in Green Bins

The plan to introduce plastic bags in Green Bins in Ottawa is a good plan. It takes the realities of household convenience, user psychology, and 4,000 tonnes of pet excrement per year into account. Otherwise, the Green Bin program is defeated.

The plan centralises plastic bag separation, thus accomplishing a task that users overwhelmingly refuse.

Any environmentally concerned councillor should be concerned with a few related issues, which are not mentioned in the Motion:

(1)   Will the plastic separation actually be done, without compromising the purpose of the organic recycling program?

(2)   What verifications are available to the City with respect to the plastic separation and its efficiency, and what reporting to councillors is planned regarding separation efficiency?

(3)   In the long term, what can be done (federal grants, research institute partnership) to develop dog-excrement collection and sealing devices that are inexpensive, practical, and paper or cardboard and organic-oil-wax or modified-paraffin based, and thus biodegradable, such as to circumvent the significant separation problem?

In my opinion, delaying inclusion of plastic in the Green Bins would be misguided. I would say that the solution is to monitor, report, and improve, rather than delay.

The Mover of the Motion appears to be motivated by removal of plastic bags through regulation, thus targeting the most disadvantaged members of society. The only real and immediate problem here is preventing plastic from entering waterways. Ottawa has no vector that leaks plastic into waterways, to my knowledge.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like follow up documentation.

ALL OF WHICH IS RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION.

[1] Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA
[2] “Anatomy of the false link between forest fires and anthropogenic CO2”, by D.G. Rancourt, Reseach Gate, May 2016, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.2059.6087.  (18 pages, 69 references)  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303446052_Anatomy_of_the_false_link_between_forest_fires_and_anthropogenic_CO2
[3] Ibid.
[4] Source: World Energy Council, UN-accredited global energy body, representing the entire energy spectrum, with more than 3000 member organisations located in over 90 countries and drawn from governments, private and state corporations, academia, NGOs and energy-related stakeholders.
[5] Ibid.