Posting will be light until July 2, as Sixth Estate is on vacation.Tweet
|View Larger Map. Alert, NT|
Warning: there may be a mild peppering of sarcasm in the following post.
About a week ago, Guelph climate change denialist Ross McKitrick — an economist, not a physical scientist — contributed a column to the National Post dismissing climate models as a bunch of unreliable hocus pocus. I responded that McKitrick is quite silly for thinking that God will prevent climate change. And now McKitrick has written again, in turn, saying that his principal objection to climate change theory is that the IPCC and its allies have too readily dismissed what he calls “the socioeconomic model,” which states that the warming we observe is largely the consequence of warming from nearby industrial and other economic development, not from increased solar energy absorption due to greenhouse gas emissions.
People who follow this issue will know what McKitrick is referring to, although they may recognize it by the name used for one of the socioeconomic model’s alleged trump cards: the urban heat island effect. The urban heat island is one particular form of warming due to economic development: essentially, and for a variety of reasons, cities produce a considerable plume of heat irrespective of the underlying natural climate. So, if you cluster all your weather stations inside major urban centres, you might see a “warming trend” that is actually just local warming from economic development and urban sprawl.
As a matter of fact, these sorts of issues have occupied much time on the part of climate scientists, and the general conclusion has been that the urban heat island effect does indeed explain a small amount of observed warming at urban weather stations, but not all of it, and even less of it in remote areas. Please, please, please don’t just read McKitrick’s non-peer-reviewed “analysis” of what he describes as his use of a wide variety of global climate models and give it any more weight than you would a short summary from a sociologist with a high school physics course behind his belt who says he just popped over to Switzerland to take a look at the Large Hadron Collider and he can tell us with high confidence that he’s completed the search for the Higgs-Boson particle.
In any case, now seems an apt time to post the full Environment Canada homegenized data on Alert, Nunavut, for my ongoing Canadian Climate Survey series. (I wrote about the high Arctic before, but didn’t have the proper numbers; these ones show that Alert is experiencing the same trends as nearby stations.) As you can see from the above picture, for which I’m indebted to Google Maps, Alert is a hive of industrial activity. I’m not any more of a physical scientist than McKitrick is, but I assume this is precisely the sort of location we would want to start with if we’re searching for evidence of significant warming due to “socioeconomic activities.” And indeed, that’s precisely what we find:Tweet
The following post is deliberately alarmist. Orwellian, you might say. I’m not trying to paint a picture of what things are like in Canada right now, or even what I think they’ll be like in the near future. I’m not an idiot. But I do want to paint a picture of the sort of Canada which is explicitly permitted under some of the legal changes proposed and/or actually passed by the Harper regime. Whether this represents in any way the policies of a party that used to stand for small, transparent, and accountable government, is also up to you. I think by the end of this you’ll have a good idea where I stand on that question. So some of this list has already happened, but more of it are things the government has said they want to be allowed to happen, but haven’t actually done. Yet.
We’ll start from the perspective of an immigrant, rather than a newborn Canadian. You apply for immigration, you make sure all your ducks are in order, and you wait for your application to be processed. Because the government can’t afford to process the paperwork, your application may languish for a considerable time. Sometimes, the government simply eliminates the waiting list altogether and instructs you to start over from square one. You will also need to keep your political beliefs very quiet (or make sure they agree with the government in power), because the law allows the minister to personally reject your application for the nebulous reason of “public policy considerations.”
Assuming you arrive by air, from the moment you step off the airplane, you’ll be subjected — like all Canadians — to constant surveillance by the national security service, which routinely records all conversations at major airports. Also like all Canadians, your email, Internet use, and cell phone may be monitored at any time by the security service or the police, secretly and without a warrant. But as an immigrant, you’re also subject to some more intensive surveillance activities too. For instance, if the security service visits and demands that you report for an interrogation, you must agree. At this interrogation they can ask any questions they wish, and if you fail to answer truthfully, that’s grounds for expulsion from the country.Tweet
Okay, first of all, is there any real doubt where this mysterious leak of a confidential government report on public service sick leave actually comes from? Whether you agree with it or not, you should be a little bit cautious about being distracted by what’s obviously a leak from a Conservative insider hoping to change the agenda of the government and shore up its flagging public opinion through a good old war on the bureaucracy. The Conservatives are not serious about saving public funds spent on salaries and benefits.
Oh, they’re serious about suppressing labour in the public service. They have no problem with that. But if they were really serious about this new economy initiative, they’d start with themselves. On principle, if nothing else. Remember principle? To help us along, I’ve produced a handy chart comparing the average job requirements and benefits in the civil service with the average ones of their bosses in Parliament:Tweet