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“Climate Change is NOT a hoax” (B. Obama) blog #5: Introducing York’s UNFCCC delegates

It's that time of year again: the annual Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This year, UNFCCC COP 18, is being held at Doha, Qatar, and meetings began yesterday, Monday, November 26th. This year, York's delegation is made up of professors from quite different disciplines: Professor Muhammad Yousaf (Chemistry - at left) and Professor Idil Boran (Philosophy - below right). Sadly, Professor Ian Garrett from the Department of Theatre, who received accreditation as part of the delegation, was unable to attend the COP in person, but plans to blog about it from afar.

Professor Boran is carrying out SSHRC-funded research which re-examines climate change policy, with a special focus on the challenges for decision-making, both at the individual and the societal level. She is interested in understanding the extent to which recent research in the social sciences that pertains to the effect of social and cognitive factors on our decision-making processes can help to develop new approaches to climate change policy. Professor Boran seeks to articulate the implications of this research for international debates and negotiations toward a global agreement.

Her participation at COP18, will, she hopes, allow her to assess whether the strategies and arguments used in international debates are compatible or incompatible with the latest social scientific developments, and whether they can mutually learn from one another. In light of these observations, she will be able to draw implications both for theory and policy practice. She will set targets, for her own research, on how to analyze the new scholarly advances on decision-making on climate change policy, in light of insights from actual decision-making and negotiation processes. This in turn can potentially contribute to a more refined theoretical analysis and help bridge the gap between theory and practice in scholarly research.

Although Professor Yousaf is newly arrived at York's Chemistry Department (in 2011), which he chairs, from the Chemistry Department at the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, he is no stranger to the campus. He is a York alumnus, having graduated with a Chemistry and Biology B.Sc. degree in 1994!

Professor Yousaf has wide-ranging research interests that span from chemistry to biology, and he also has an interest in understanding how science informs policy. He will be bringing his science-perspective to the COP, as he seeks to understand exactly how the science of climate change is regarded by the policy makers, and politicians.

Ian-GarrettWe wish Professors Boran and Yousaf all the best in Doha. They will be sending updates and mini-blogs as time permits. Professor Ian Garrett (at left), who attended COP 15, is a veteran blogger and co-founder of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts. He is the recently arrived Professor of Sustainability and Design in the Faculty of Fine Arts, and he will be casting his critical artist's eye on the Doha meetings, from Toronto.

This is the fourth delegation that York University is sending to the annual meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, since 2009, when we applied for, and received Civil Society Observer Status for York University in time for COP 15 in Copenhagen. Past York delegations have included staff, students and faculty from areas as diverse as Political Science, Nursing, and the Faculty of Environmental Studies. Outcomes from delegates have included experiences that informed a book, Climate Change - Who's Carrying the Burden, edited by Professor Anders Sandberg and his son, Tor, and blogs by Jacquie Medalye, as well as extensive national and international networking.

Dawn R. Bazely

“Climate Change is NOT a hoax” (B. Obama) blog #4: David Miller lectures to students in Climate Change Science & Policy (ENVS 3400)

While it's possible for university students to spend all of their time outside of scheduled classes, so as to be learning even more (perish the thought!), by attending additional guest research seminars and lectures, most students don't take advantage of opportunities to hear well-known speakers who come to campus.

Realizing this, Annette Dubreuil, the IRIS co-ordinator, spearheaded an effort to bring invited speakers, who will be of interest to the broader community, into the classroom, and to open up these lectures as IRIS events. Last Thursday, former mayor of Toronto, David Miller spoke to students in Dr. Kaz Higuchi's course, Climate Change Science and Policy (ENVS 3400).

Originally, Kaz had discussed convening a panel to debate opposing views on climate change, but David categorically dismissed this option; as he put it - the climate skeptics funded by corporate interests don't need another platform.  In case you're wondering, Dr. Higuchi is a climate scientist who recently retired from Environment Canada's Adaptation and Impacts Research Group. He has been teaching in the Faculty of Environmental Studies for several years, and he is very concerned that academics from all disciplines learn how to debate and handle arguments for and against climate change.

David Miller, who has been teaching at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University based in Brooklyn, showcased his oratorical skills in a tour-de-force lecture about how Toronto and other cities are mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.

It was a text book lesson in how to explain, very clearly, evidence-based policy that leads to actions which are beneficial for people, the planet and, profits. Citing many statistics and studies, as he laid out the challenges facing cities, David described and explained the steps that Toronto took while he was mayor. He described Change is in the Air, the 2007 Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan, as well as other Toronto city plans, and how they are driving action on combatting climate change.

David also explained some fascinating, green jobs technologies, including one in which heat is extracted from sewage - this also has a high "ick" factor. He challenged the audience of students, faculty and staff to come up with a snappier name for the company and product - International Wastewater Heat Exchange Systems (IWHES)! (Check out the awesome video on their site).

We filled one of the gorgeous new lecture halls in the recently opened Life Sciences Building which is built to LEED silver rating standards, on the Keele Campus. After a 45-minute lecture, students lined up to ask David questions, for 45 minutes, about all kinds of sustainability, climate change and social justice issues. After the talk, I asked Roger Keil, director of York's CITY Institute, who was sitting behind me, why he hadn't asked a question, he quipped "what for? the students did a great job!"

And, after all the questions were finished, David stayed for a bit longer, and chatted informally with students, many of whom were keen to have their photos snapped with him. Enrique Miranda (Student Engagement co-ordinator) and Ramsen Yousif (President) of the Undergraduate Political Science Council executive, a co-sponsor of the event, are shown above left, with the former mayor.

At the end of the day:

Score one for a brilliantly delivered explanation of evidence-based policy.

Score two for articulate speakers who can explain the science and connect the dots for making the social justice case clear, when it comes to climate change.

Score three for former politicians who live on in more ways than in old fridge magnets (that's my super-duper green fridge at right, on which we have a collection of old magnets, including one from when David Miller was our city councillor - back in 1995). One student remarked after the lecture "I just learned more about municipal planning in this lecture than I did all year!"

The lecture will soon be available on the IRIS website, in case you missed it and want to hear what David had to tell the students.

Dawn R. Bazely

“Climate Change is NOT a hoax” (B. Obama) blog #3: Evidence-based policy and the need for scientists to talk to the public

In their 2000 book, The Cultural Creatives, Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, two professors in the USA, examined common values that are held by people regardless of their political affiliation - democrat or republican. They generated a long list of shared characteristics that cut across partisan political boundaries, such as an interest in ecological sustainability, and respect for womens' rights.

One value that I hope most people would share across a broad-political spectrum, is that of using the best-available research to inform policy. I would also wager, that given the difference between the trends in Canadian and USA citizens' beliefs about whether climate change has a human cause, most Canadians would think that we'd be much more likely to find ideology-driven policy (this is basically policy that's driven by belief and values, even in the face of contradictory evidence, that suggests that the value-based policy may not serve society's broader interests), south of the 49th parallel.

51OBQ4EnYnL._SL500_AA300_Ummm, so, the actual evidence appears to runs contrary this assumption. In an in-depth article for  The Walrus in September 2012,  and a more light-hearted Toronto Star article from August 2012 (if that's possible, given the seriousness of the topic), by self-described seniors, criminal defence lawyer Edward L. Greenspan, and criminologist, Professor Emeritus Anthony N. Doob challenge federal criminal justice policy that runs in direct opposition to research results. They wrote in the Toronto Star, that: "The minister of justice said he is not interested in evidence-based policy: “We’re not governing on the basis of the latest statistics,” he said. “We’re governing on the basis of what’s right to better protect victims and law-abiding Canadians.”"

If crime has been declining since 1992 (so the stats say), then building more prisons to incarcerate more people, which the Harper government is pushing, just doesn't make good policy sense. But, aha, perhaps there's a profit-motive in here somewhere. So, if you are interested in learning more about what a profit-motive associated with higher levels of imprisonment could look like, then, in the spirit of NOT getting our information from verifiable, peer-reviewed sources that feed into the evidence-base of the policy pyramid, I can thoroughly recommend the Jailhouse Job episode, from the TV series, Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton.

Since the present Canadian justice minister is not interested in evidence-based policy, it seems pretty evident to me, that this value must, logically, hold across all branches of the federal government. You can't have one ministry rejecting the concept of "evidence-based" and another accepting it, can you? OK - maybe you can....  in a blog from 2011, Tobi Cohen explains exactly how this government achieves this multiple-personality approach.

So, what's a researcher, engaged in knowledge production to do, when confronted by all this rejection of tedious data? One option, is to go to a meeting where politicians are discussing the importance of research in policy development, and try to feel some love. This is exactly what I did last week at the Thornhill Federal Liberal Riding Association fundraiser event in Vaughn, Ontario, just north of Toronto.

A retired colleague, Prof Emeritus Ken Davey FRSC, Order of Canada, of York University's Biology Department, organized a panel consisting of provincial and federal members of parliament, including Dr. Ted Hsu, the Liberal MP for Kingston and the Islands. Dr. Hsu is a physicist, who went into business, and then into politics. He is the Liberal critic for science and technology, and has been one of the most active Canadian politicians in calling out the Harper government on their humungous cuts to science, including the closure of the Experimental Lakes Area. Incidentally, York University's Professor Norman Yan is speaking, today, on a panel at the University of Toronto, about the Experimental Lakes closure: Unmuzzled -  The Urgent Need for the Vocal Aquatic Scientist in Today's Political Climate in Canada.

In his speech, Dr. Hsu explained the implications of cancelling the long-form census, the gutting of Environment Canada and Parks Canada, the muzzling of federal scientists, and of many other Harper government idealogically-motivated cuts to those parts of our federal government that deal in producing high quality data or the provision of expert review. Dr. Hsu also talked about his excitement at the Death of Evidence rally in Ottawa in July 2012, at which he was the only MP to address the crowd. He was delighted to see a group (namely, scientists), who don't normally engage in political actions, becoming active.

Well, yeh, I was aware of the demonstration, since a number of my colleagues organized it and many  attended it - and, way to go, guys! Unfortunately, as a veteran demonstrator myself (taking my toddler to Queen's Park in the mid-1990s, to demonstrate against cuts to daycare, etc.), it's hard for me to see how this lab-coat protest is going to contribute towards bringing about a change in attitude on the part of the Harper government. The real work lies elsewhere. This rally was baby-step number zero.

In my opinion, one of the main reasons why Canadian science has been suffering so much at the hands of the current federal government, is that Canada has been a laggard when it comes to supporting and promoting the Public Understanding of Science. You only have to look to the United Kingdom, at science personalities like, now retired, Richard Dawkins, Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, Oxford University, and Jim Al-Khalili, the Professor of Public Engagement in Science at Surrey University, to see the boosted profile that basic science research has in society.

Both in the UK and the USA, there is much more organized advocacy for research. For example, while  on sabbatical at Harvard, there was a call at the Forest, for a training opportunity to teach researchers how to speak to their congressman or congresswoman.

Are there strategic solutions to this Canadian gap in science engagement? Yesterday, the Science Media Centre of Canada, a non-profit charity, and the office of York's Vice-President for Research and Innovation, held a "journalism bootcamp" or Journalism 101 afternoon session for scientists to learn how to improve their interactions with the media. Members of a panel, Karen McCairley, an Executive Producer at Discovery Channel, Jim Handman, Senior Producer of CBC's Quirks and Quarks, Hannah Hoag, freelance science journalist and Penny Park, Executive Director of the Science Media Centre spelled out, in hilarious, and very plain language, how to be a more accessible scientist to the public and media.

I got to give a presentation, as a scientist, about why we (I'm looking at you in your lab coats and uncombed hair!) SHOULD communicate with the public about science, both directly and indirectly, instead of hiding in our labs., or in my case a ditch, or a forest. Here are my 5 main reasons:

1. The public are taxpayers, they fund you, and they deserve to hear directly from you (OK, so the Harper government doesn't want that, but other governments support this notion and have developed some great guidelines).

2. Outreach and engagement is increasingly written into funding requirements.

3. If the scientist doesn't communicate in plain language, someone else will do it for him/her.

4. Learning how to communicate in plain language can have the payoff, of enabling better interdisciplinary communication within academia, and increased research opportunities where large, interdisciplinary collaborations are required for funding.

5. To help Canada catch up with the UK and USA, which are ahead in encouraging the area of the public understanding of science.

At the bootcamp, Peter Calamai, a veteran Canadian science journalist and a founding member of the Canadian Science Writers' Association, reported some alarming statistics from the USA that underscored the importance of scientists communicating with our various publics. Most Americans cannot name a living scientist  - 15% managed Stephen Hawking (the slide above is used with permission). This was reported in the March 2011 Research Amer!ca: Your Congress, Your Health, National Public Opinion Poll. Peter also recommended the book, Escape from the Ivory Tower by Nancy Baron, as a must-read for scientists.

In their book, Unscientific America - How scientific illiteracy threatens America, authors Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirschenbaum report that only 18% of Americans have actually met a scientist. Which prompted one blogger, at New Voices for Research to encourage scientists to head out into the street, shake  a stranger's hand and introduce ourselves!

So, there are the marching orders for scientists living in Conservative-held Federal ridings across Canada - go forth and shake a lot of hands. That's what it is going to take to build voter-support for natural and physical sciences, social sciences academic research, and evidence-based policy, one hand-shake at a time.

Dawn Bazely

And PS - I talk to politicians of all stripes and people from all walks of life - this is a fundamental approach of sustainability - to be inclusive, and cut-across partisan politics. I believe that I just might be a Cultural Creative! Do the test for yourself, and find out whether you are one.


Robert Watson, then and now: the former chair of the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change who was removed by President George W. Bush in 2001

In May 2012 , Professor Sir Robert Watson FRS gave a very informative lecture at Oxford University, entitled:

Climate change and biodiversity loss - the importance of scientific assessments to national and international policy formation

The talk was sponsored by the Biodiversity Institute (which hosted me during my sabbatical time at Oxford this year), one of the interdisciplinary Oxford Martin Schools. It was important for several reasons.

First and foremost, Robert (Bob) Watson is an excellent example of a scientist who is actually well versed in the ways of anti-science politics. He gave a detailed explanation in his lecture of how evidence-based policy ought to be formulated. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment, of which he was co-chair provided a case study.

I was excited to be able to ask him my current standard question for colleagues in the science community:

"What can Canadian scientists based in Universities do to bring attention to the current anti-climate change science and anti-peer-reviewed research policies of the Harper government?"

Who is better placed to be asked this question than the man who was was pushed out of IPCC by George W. Bush in response to pressure from Big Oil? Was Robert Watson demoralized by  his experience? Absolutely not - he's dynamic, positive and inspirational. This makes him an important public voice in advocating for evidence-based policy. He has continued to serve in a series of high-level science-policy roles as well as being a professor at the University of East Anglia.

In responding to my question, Prof. Watson indicated that he is very up-to-date on the Harper government's track record on Kyoto. He is also well aware of its gutting of Statistics Canada and of the political ideology driving this and other cuts. Why wouldn't he be? He was, himself a victim of political ideology.

In a nutshell, he advised that scientists MUST go directly to the public to advocate for the importance of peer-reviewed research. So, scientists must invest in learning to not "be such a scientist" outside of their labs and field sites. (For most of my colleagues in the natural and physical sciences, I immediately thought "well, good luck with that - I really don't see it happening!").

I will end this post with the text of his 2000 speech to the COP 6 of the UNFCCC. I have bored many second year Ecology students (BIOL 2050) by reading chunks of it out loud during lectures, when I was teaching this course from  2000-2006....

It might be boring but it's important - so much of it is coming to pass - WE WERE WARNED BY SCIENTISTS...

OK - on balance, perhaps it's more fun to listen to Robert Watson in person, Dawn Bazely




Eyjafjallajokull: Necessity is the mother of green invention?

This morning’s episode of CBC’s ‘The Current’ featured the sounds of birds singing in West London. A newsworthy event, since no one knows if the birds sing everyday. On most days, the songs are drowned out by the ever present droning of jet engines overhead. Local residents interviewed commented both on how nice the sounds of nature are, and how refreshing silence can be in the city. A radical idea: nature is part of the city and contributes to our well being. Elsewhere, the British Navy has sent ships to take stranded travelers home; others have taken trains home. And for those whose travel plans have been canceled, they are opting to go local by taking trips to the countryside.  A radical idea: we can relax close to home, and we can move across Europe by train, boat, and not plane.  Business is adapting as well, with the grounding of employees on their way to meetings, conferences, and presentations, business is replacing travel with video conferencing.  Another radical idea: business people do not have to fly for every meeting abroad.  Perhaps the Icelandic volcano was fortuitous for climate politics, because without any advocacy from environmentalists, people have found alternative ways for moving, consuming, and conducting business. It is estimated that the grounding of planes has saved about 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in less than a week (plane emissions minus volcano emissions).  This is not to sideline the frustration of millions of travelers or the loss of millions to the airline industry. But, just before the planes take off again, we should take a moment to think about how this one geological event opened a space of potentiality, and showed us that we can find alternatives to emitting GHGs, if necessary.

NIMBYism and windfarms in Toronto

The City of Toronto was well ahead of the Canadian curve when it came to adopting basic principles of sustainability around public transport, intensification of building density and the need to increase sources of renewable energy. The Ontario Green Energy Act has provided marvelous opportunities for increasing provincial sources of renewable energy. I have been amazed at how wind farms built in recent years in southwestern Ontario and on the way to Grey Bruce have livened up the landscape.

But, as the province moves on from terrestrial wind farms to offshore projects, one Toronto community is mobilizing against them. Some Guildwood residents have asked their city councilors, Paul Ainslie and Brian Ashton, to bring forward a motion to the city’s executive committee asking the province for a blanket-moratorium on wind-power development. The Globe and Mail article, Bluff residents fight wind turbines, explains that this motion, if passed, will be purely symbolic. But, while it will have little impact, it illustrates the nature of local opposition to such projects. The article quotes my colleague, Mark Winfield: "it would be “tragic" if fear of angering residents prevented the city’s politicians from pursuing much-needed renewable energy initiatives."

I am grading final exams right now. Since my head is in this space, my response on hearing about this motion in the last week was to imagine a take-home exam that I would like to set all of the voting residents of this local community. Here are the essay questions:

1. Explain what the acronym NIMBY stands for and discuss how this may or may not be applicable to Guildwood.

2. Define the term “ecological footprint” and explain how you would calculate your personal footprint.

3. In the documentary, The Age of Stupid, the filmmaker, Franny Armstrong illustrates the case of local residents opposing a wind farm project on the basis of landscape aesthetics. Compare and contrast this case with that of Guildwood in terms of how you are still “do[ing] your bit for the environment” (quote from wind-farm opponent in The Age of Stupid).

4. Discuss the evidence in the peer-reviewed literature for the harmful impacts of wind farms on human health and the environment. In your answer, define the term, peer-reviewed literature. (hint - you may want to use Google Scholar for this).

The purpose of these questions? Well, none of them have definitive right or wrong answers, so they are aimed at improving the level of informed opinions on the issue, because, obviously, there is homework that would need to be done to answer these questions. In the Globe article, Mr. Ainslie comments “there’s a lot of things that are unanswered”. These questions would help in addressing his concerns.

And, I am NOT advocating for only peer-reviewed science to drive action and policy. My close colleague,  environmental ethicist, Dr. Nicole Klenk proposes that “scientific narratives should be denied a priori privilege over non-scientific interpretations of nature for policy purposes”. I completely agree – local knowledge is very important and should be taken into account. BUT just how much local knowledge is there about wind farms in Guildwood?

I have lost patience with the dominant notion in our society, that an uninformed opinion should count for as much as an informed opinion. Too many people, including my teenager,  are getting away without doing their homework. The question of exactly whom I see as being responsible for this lamentable state of affairs is a topic for another blog.

Dawn R. Bazely

PS the quote is from the 2008 article, Listening to the birds: a pragmatic proposal for forestry in the peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Values, volume 17, pages 331-351

My thoughts are with the Haitian people

From David Adam’s article about the CARMA International report, Western Media Coverage of Humanitarian Disasters, January 2006:

“The western media’s response to … humanitarian disasters is driven by “selfishness and egocentricity”…  Domestic politics, tourism and feel-good tales about western heroism and donations make a story… rather than human suffering.” The Guardian, 30 Jan. 2006

I had two thoughts yesterday morning, when I heard the CBC news reporting the devastating earthquake near Port-au-Prince. The first was about how limited the capacity of Haiti will be to respond to this disaster, given that it is one of poorest countries in the world. Haiti has one of the smallest per capita ecological footprints in the world, at just 0.5 ha per person. Compare this to a whopping 7.1 ha/person for the average Canadian. Yes, one average Canadian consumes the resources used by a total of 14 Haitians. I just shook my head in dismay at the ongoing suffering of the Haitian people, recalling their continuing political turmoil of the last decade, which included the US-backed removal of their elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide. And arguably, this history clearly plays a role in the suffering created by the impact of the earthquake.

My second thought was that because Canada’s Governer-General, Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean, is originally from Haiti, that the kind of self-interested Western media response to humanitarian crises, described in the CARMA International report, may not, for a change, happen here. What do I mean? Well, the media plays a major role in defining a disaster and  CARMA (who are global media analysts) analyzed how various natural and man-made disasters that resulted in high loss of life were being covered in the Western press. The report’s main conclusion was that “Western self-interest is the pre-condition for significant coverage of a humanitarian crisis”. It’s great to read the report directly, but David Adam’s article gives a good summary (Western media ‘underplay disasters in developing world’ in the Guardian Weekly, Feb 10-16 2006 p.27, and Crisis of Communications, The Guardian, Monday Jan 30 2006).

The report examined 2,000 articles from 64 daily and weekly publications from among  9 countries (including UK, USA and Australia, with emphasis on the European press). The newspaper coverage of 6 disasters was compared:
1. Earthquake in Pakistani-Kashmir
2. Indian Ocean Tsunami
3. Earthquake in Bam, Iran (2003)
4. Darfur, Sudan - a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by environmental degradation
5. Hurricane Katrina, USA
6. Hurricane Stan, Central America, especially Guatemala

Each article started with a 50 point score and points were subtracted depending on:

Headline, Placement in the paper, Portrayal of the situation and Evidence of bias. The articles scored were those published from 2 days before to 10 weeks after the disaster. Here’s what the report found: that there was “no link between the scale of a disaster and resulting media coverage”. For example, Hurricane Katrina received the highest media coverage (referred to 3,105 times in UK papers), while Hurricane Stan received the lowest media coverage (referred to, only 34 times in UK papers). But, both hurricanes killed over 1,000 people.

"The hurricane Stanley emergency stands out as the worst indictment of the selfish western approach to humanitarian disasters. There is no obvious significant economic or political interest. Consequently, there is virtually no coverage of any kind beyond the first few days." (CARMA International, 2006).

And to think, that Haiti was on my mind only a week ago, as I headed back to Toronto from a one-week cruise in the western Caribbean. During my trip, I had a number of interesting encounters with several of the many Haitian immigrants to Florida, including an adventure with a taxi driver who got lost between the port and the Amtrak station. This story was going to be in one of my forthcoming travel blogs about whether it’s possible to holiday with a low carbon footprint – but hey, CARMA, I get it, and I hope that other people do, too – it’s not about me and my recent chats with Haitians - IT’S ABOUT DOING SOMETHING, BOTH SHORT AND LONG-TERM, TO RELIEVE THE IMMEDIATE SUFFERING OF THE HAITIAN PEOPLE AND TO SERIOUSLY ADDRESS THEIR “POVERTY-DRIVEN LOW-LEVEL OF EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS”!
Is it to much to ask every Canadian with an ecological footprint that is greater than 2 ha to reduce their footprint by 1/14th and to demand that the Federal Government  direct those resources to the average Haitian? Simplistic, yes, but worth reflecting on.

Dawn R. Bazely

Please note that the Ecological Footprint figures are from WWF Living Planet Report 2008.

COP15: The entitled, the resentful and the powerless


From one perspective, the climate change conference in Copenhagen looks rational.  It’s about science – understanding the implications of the largest scientific project in history – and it’s about deliberation – well briefed representatives of 192 nations brought together to write an international treaty.  But the meeting is not so rational.  People come to the negotiating table not only with interests, but also with emotions.  The negotiators in Copenhagen represent some who feel entitled, others who feel resentful and yet others who feel powerless.  This play of emotions seems to be the story of the conference, a global summit of desires, fears, outrage and frustration.  Out of this mix of emotions, the challenge is to feel and act on the latent but powerful feeling of mutual responsibility.

The feelings of resentment and powerlessness come into focus when the feelings of entitlement are acknowledged.  No leader of any developed country can say to its citizens, “We are not entitled to our way of life.”  The point of view is implicit in the language: “we” are developed; those who do not share our prosperity are “developing” or “underdeveloped.”  Surely the road ahead, as the international development industry has taught for decades, is for others to model themselves on us, to work hard and succeed, just as we have.  “We” can help the underdeveloped.  Money is available for assistance in climate adaptation and mitigation.  There are intellectual and organizational resources as well to support the transformation of the global energy system.

All this good will does not challenge the feelings of entitlement in developed countries, or even admit that entitlement is an issue.  People have become accustomed to - and the economic system dependent on - transportation, food and building practices that are comfortable and satisfying, but unsustainable.  Even leisure activities that produce high greenhouse gas emissions – air travel, destination holidays, cruise ships – seem unlikely to change dramatically on a voluntary basis.  This sense of entitlement is understandable.  Prosperous countries have meaningful historical narratives of hardship, struggle and success.

It is precisely this sense of entitlement that is the focus of the resentments that have surfaced so strongly in Copenhagen.  China, India and the others in the G77 use the language of “historical responsibility” - greenhouse gases accumulated in the atmosphere when the West dominated industrial production.   The West has been responsible for the problem; the West has the responsibility to clean up the mess. Because the West’s prosperity is based on creating a global crisis, it also has the responsibility to assist others with the clean technologies that the global crisis requires.  To do otherwise is to ask the victims to pay for the damages.  The resentment gets even stronger.  Consider the history of the India textile industry.  When India was a colony, village weavers, using low GHG producing hand looms, were driven out of business by the importation of cheap cloth from British coal fired textile mills.  Now, India, with its impoverished multitudes, is being asked to restrain low per capita green house gas emissions in order for the West to continue its prosperity and higher per capita GHG emissions!  Perhaps the expressions of resentment are partly verbal posturing, intended to produce an agreement more favorable to the interests of the G77 plus China, but the outrage and anger are much more than tactics.

Some other countries, lacking the political leverage of China, India and a handful of others, are the beggars at the banquet.  The 39 members of the Alliance of Small Island States are, with the exception of Singapore, low income and vulnerable.  They can plead, but their ability to influence is slight.  The Alliance includes the most desperate, and the most frustrated.

The outcome at COP15 depends on more than the science, the negotiators’ clarity on national interests, and the skills at compromise.  The outcome, and even more the follow through, depend as well on the emotions that come out of the conference.  The perpetuation of entitlement, resentment and powerlessness jeopardize global success.  Rising to the challenge of climate change requires other emotions, of mutual care and concern, across the globe and across generations.  Success will ultimately come from shared personal commitments, and leadership that evokes them.

Stuart is a long-serving member of the IRIS Executive.

Dawn R. Bazely

Why does anyone bother with Bjørn Lomborg?

Here's another reason why history matters. Because anyone who has done their research into Bjørn Lomborg's history would be aware that most of what he has published in the peer-reviewed journal literature (and it's not much), has hardly ever been cited by other academic scholars in their peer-reviewed journal articles! (I checked Lomborg's citation record on Web of Science). He and his appallingly researched book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, (defended by Cambridge University Press as peer-reviewed), were investigated for academic dishonesty. While the book was found guilty (but not the author), the decision was later overturned by a Danish government review for "process" reasons.

Like Daniel Simberloff, when I read the chapters in the book on which I would consider myself an expert, I was shocked at the poor coverage of the pertinent literature. My own book with Judy Myers was also published by Cambridge University Press, and I was therefore interested in the overall implications for and interpretations of the quality of their in-house book review system. How had Lomborg's book gotten through the process, and was it really as bad as it seemed? So, in 2003, I taught a Biology graduate course in which students "deconstructed" the Lomborg book's chapters. They scrutinized Lomborg's sources, and detailed the many ways in which he skewed and misrepresented the data. Frankly, if Lomborg was a new Master's student in Biology, and he submitted any of these chapters to me as essays, he would receive a failing grade. The reason for this would have nothing to do with his polemical positions, because good scholarship is essentially about challenging the status quo, and everything to do with his poor scholarship. But Lomborg has simply never acknowledged his shortcomings. A few years ago I wrote to Scanorama, the SAS airlines magazine (the one you find in your seat pocket), after they profiled Lomborg, and made the following points:

"Dear Sir - I enjoyed your article about Dr. Lomborg in the October 2004 issue
of Scanorama, and feel compelled to share four thoughts I had after reading
1. Dr. Lomborg is photogenic, and I doubt he would have received so much
attention if this was not the case.
2.  As a practicing field ecologist, I learned early on to avoid consulting
colleagues who are trained as pure statisticians for help in analyzing my
data, because they lack practical experience.  I invariably feel more confused
after a conversation with a statistician, than I do beforehand.  Dr. Lomborg's
book left me feeling both irritated and confused.
3.  It is particularly noteworthy that the people who lodged the formal
complaint against Dr. Lomborg were not environmental activists but first and
foremost, peer-reviewed scientists, with pretty comfortable careers in
academia.  Why did they exercise themselves when they did not need to?
4.  From the point of view of Cambridge University Press, the publisher of The
Skeptical Environmentalist, that there is no such thing as bad publicity when
it comes to book sales.
Sincerely, Dawn R. Bazely, Associate Professor, Biology Department, York
University, Toronto, Canada."

Apparently some form of my letter was published, although I never saw it. And then, I simply forgot about the book, except that I refer to it as an excellent example of how to misrepresent the biodiversity literature. BUT now, I find that this is the man sponsored by the Munk Lectures to debate Elizabeth May and George Monbiot? And, no one in the Canadian media and certainly not on the Munk Debate website is making any reference to Lomborg's history as an academic against whom formal charges of dishonesty were brought? The latter event is so rare and huge that it cannot and should not be ignored, regardless of the highly political outcome. Academics gripe and moan about each other, but are loathe to spend time insisting that formal charges of academic dishonesty be brought. I have been directly involved in only one such formal case at York University in the early 1990's, in which a PhD dissertation was found to contain manufactured data. The entire incident was quite emotionally exhausting for everyone who was involved both in uncovering the fraud and in investigating it.

Contrary to what one might expect in terms of a balanced assessment of Lomborg, the Munk Debates website states that Esquire Magazine described him as: "one of the world's 75 most influential people of the 21st century". What, influential like the Jonas Brothers and Simon Cowell of American and British Idol? I would certainly also approach all of Lomborg's subsequent writing with the working hypothesis that his selective  and biased approach is likely unchanged. Why would it change, when it has served him so well in the past?

This apparent lack of willingness by the Canadian media to research the full picture surrounding Lomborg can be interpreted in a number of different ways, but, if you want an analysis that is more of a political than scientific deconstruction, I would direct you to the Lomborg analysis on The Way Things Break blog, and the post called Lomborg and Playing the Long Game.

Dawn R. Bazely

Age of Stupid to be screened in Toronto at M.U.C.K. film festival and forum Saturday October 3rd at 6:30 pm

The engaging docu-drama about climate change, The Age of Stupid, will be screened this coming Saturday, at 6:30 pm at The Royal Cinema, 608 College Street (Little Italy) (416 534 5252) at the M.U.C.K. Film Festival and Forum.

The M.U.C.K. film festival and forum runs from Thursday October 1st to Sunday October 4th and features "movies of uncommon knowledge" that aim to "enlighten, enrage, engage and change", along with panels comprising the film makers and experts.

Read Dawn Bazely's review of the film, here.