A rebuttal

April 1, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Mr. Hooker turns logic and reason on its head in his letter “The Endangered Species Act” published in your paper March 26, 2015. Having an endangered species on your land does not put you in “possession” of it. This applies to all wildlife. I do not own the deer that pass through my property.

If I was fortunate enough to have a Loggerhead Shrike stop on my land, I would not be found “in possession” and thrown in jail. This interpretation is absurd.

There are fewer than 200 badgers in Ontario, within a small range on the north shore of Lake Erie. They do not interfere with farming and are useful to farmers by preying on rodents that are pests. Their burrows do not require protection of “a distance of a half a mile” but a mere 5 meters. A small concession to make.

The historical record shows no fatal encounters between humans and cougars or wolverines in Ontario.

Wolverines are rarely even seen by humans and their range is the boreal forest of northwestern Ontario where there is no livestock for them to kill.

Farmers are compensated for livestock killed by predators. Dogs are often responsible.

COSEWIC is a committee of scientists and experienced field workers in wildlife management. On their website you can read their mandate, history and a list of current members and their qualifications.

Hardly “anonymous” as Mr. Hooker states.

His suggestion that they couldn’t even identify the species on the list is unfounded hyperbole.

The last paragraph of Mr. Hooker’s letter is the most revealing, a rant against the “regime” at Queen’s Park, demonstrating that his opinions are based not on facts but on ideology.

Before I am dismissed as an urban liberal elitist, I would point out that I reside in a rural area, own 2 rural properties, and that I am a farmer. I regularly volunteer for agriculture education in our area.

Mark van Trigt



Government hides climate change uncertainties

When local resident Dan Black brought up the uncertainty in the science backing the Wynne government’s plans for ‘carbon’ pricing at the March 11 climate change town hall in Ottawa, the reaction from activists in the audience was fierce.

It was as if Black had questioned a sacred religious belief.

The meeting moderator did not chide those yelling out for their bad behaviour. Instead, he ruled out further discussion of the validity of the science backing the government’s plans, explaining that such concerns were ‘outside the box’ of acceptable discourse that had been defined for the meeting.

This makes no sense. An appreciation of the degree of uncertainty of a perceived threat is key to rational public policy making.

If we knew with near certainty that our actions today will cause climate Armageddon for future generations, then the most sensible policy options would be very different to those selected if the likelihood is only medium or low. Focusing primarily on mitigation (i.e., trying to influence future climate states), as the Ontario government now does, is rational only if we have high confidence in our ability to accurately forecast the future and control climate through regulating emissions.

Otherwise, we should concentrate most of our resources on helping people prepare for and adapt to climate variability in the present, whatever the cause.

Yet, in an apparent effort to hide the scientific uncertainty from Ontarians, the government’s Web page summary of the Ottawa town hall omits all reference to the over 10 minutes of skeptical input from the public. Instead, they report only those comments which supported the government’s interpretation of the science, even highlighting the ludicrous demand that “temperature increase [be] kept at 1.5 degrees,” as if humanity could control global climate like a thermostat.

Given this whitewash, it is clear that we cannot trust the government to accurately reflect what happened in the 14 other town hall meetings held across Ontario either. Perhaps there was a lot of public push back against their plans to ‘stop climate change.’ We have no way of knowing.

Via a Web page form, the government encourages proposals from the public, “which respond to our key questions. Comments which are not related to these questions … may be removed.”

But the government’s “key questions” are based on the mistaken idea that their position on the science is the only one worth holding.  This leaves little opportunity for those who wish to debate the scientific foundation of Ontario’s climate plans.

While justifiably complaining about the high costs of ‘pricing carbon’, the Progressive Conservatives acquiesce to activists on the science.  Consequently, Ontarians who are not aware of the debate in the research community about climate change causes, and who see it as our responsibility to lead the world to solve important global problems, don’t take the PC’s opposition to Wynne’s plans seriously.

The Government of Ontario should now finally do what they should have done years ago: convene open, unbiased hearings into the current state of climate science, inviting experts from all reputable points of view to testify.

And the next time a member of the public brings up the uncertainty in climate forecasts at a town hall meeting, the government should welcome, and properly report on their input.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen any time soon. With the Liberals planning to present a carbon dioxide tax in the spring, the last thing the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change wants is for the public to find out what’s really happening in the science.

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition

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