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GOLDSTEIN: Cooler heads needed to rationally address global warming – Toronto Sun


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The problem with a study by the University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation is that many people aren’t going to get past its title: IRREVERSIBLE, EXTREME HEAT: PROTECTING, CANADIANS AND COMMUNITIES FROM A LETHAL FUTURE.

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Many will hear about its predictions that because of  climate change, Canada and major cities such as Toronto are heading for longer, hotter, more frequent and more deadly heat waves from 2051-2080, compared to 1976-2005.

Fewer will read the legal disclaimer in the study sponsored by Intact Financial Corp., “Canada’s largest property and casualty insurer” helping “homeowners, communities and businesses to reduce risks associated with climate change and extreme weather events.”

It cautions:

“The Intact Centre cannot make any guarantees of any kind, as to the completeness, accuracy, suitability or reliability of the data provided in the report … You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and Intact Centre employees and affiliates do not accept or assume any liability, responsibility, or duty of care for any consequences to you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this report or for any decision based upon it.”

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Basically, this is a study sponsored by an insurer which sells policies to customers to protect themselves financially from extreme weather events, whether they’re caused by natural or human-induced climate change.

It also notes: “We (society) cannot prevent extreme weather caused by climate change in the short term, but we can — indeed must — adapt to it” and that, “The good news is that heat-related illness and death are largely preventable with knowledge, education, and adaptive action.”

True. But how many people are ever going to hear the “the good news” given all the “bad news” preceding it?

The bulk of the study is about finding ways to adapt to human-induced (anthropogenic) climate change — such as building more resilient infrastructure.

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That makes sense. The massive damage caused by the flooding in B.C. last year, for example, whether induced by natural or anthropogenic climate change, was primarily the result of the failure of the province’s antiquated dike system. Despite years of advance warnings, it was in a state of near-collapse.

The irony is that adapting to climate change is dismissed by many in the environmental movement, who argue it detracts from the real issue — mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But mitigation is going to take decades, if not centuries, to have a discernible impact on climate.

And yet today, we are bombarded with a daily diet of apocalyptic warnings about an imminent, existential threat posed by climate change that the United Kingdom’s Institute for Public Policy Research has rightly described as “climate porn” — a never-ending rhetoric of despair that terrifies children and prompts hysteria in many adults.

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To retain perspective, keep in mind all the dire warnings endangering humanity that have failed to come to pass over many decades.

Urban planners fretted as we entered the 20th century that the world’s major cities would soon be buried under horse manure, because they failed to anticipate the invention of “the horseless carriage” — gas-powered automobiles — and public transit.

Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich’s dire predictions of global famines and societal collapse by the 1970s and 1980s in his highly popular 1968 book, The Population Bomb, which spawned a generation of apocalyptic thinking, failed to materialize because of massive advances in food production.

The “global cooling” scare of the 1970s, predicted to plunge humanity into a new Ice Age — with extreme cold being a far more dangerous killer of human beings than extreme heat — never happened.

Ditto the worst-case predictions of decades past about pesticides, acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer and early climate change warnings that major global cities would be underwater by now.

Some of these predictions were just wrong. Others were averted by human ingenuity, technological advancement and, to give credit where it’s due, warnings by scientists and environmentalists that resulted in corrective action.

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