Global warming ‘slowed by pollution’

Climate scientist Andrew Weaver says variations from climate predictions relate to the rise of Asia and its higher air pollution rates

Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver

The apparent slowing of global warming in recent years is likely due to effects of increased particulate and other conventional pollution, particularly from thermal coal use in Asia, says B.C. MLA and climate scientist Andrew Weaver.

Weaver was asked to respond to a report issued Thursday by University of Guelph environmental economist Ross McKitrick, a long-time critic of climate change models and a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. Reviewing temperature data used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, McKitrick notes that data for the last two decades have shown less warming than was predicted by most climate models.

McKitrick does not challenge the conclusion that human-generated carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. But he argues that the uncertain effect of rising emissions should cause policy-makers to wait for clarity before “making any irreversible climate policy commitments, in order to avoid making costly decisions that are revealed a short time later to have been unnecessary.”

Weaver questioned the accuracy of McKitrick’s report.

“To say that there’s no statistically significant change over the last 15 to 20 years, it’s just not true,” Weaver said. “2005 is the second warmest year on record, 2010 is the warmest, and we’re going to break the record in 2014 and set a new record.”

Weaver said climate models in the late 1990s estimated an amount of particulate and aerosol pollution in the world’s atmosphere that has been exceeded by growing thermal coal use in China and other emerging economies. That pollution has a cooling effect, and when air pollution is cleaned up it as it has been in North America, warming increases, he said.

“It doesn’t say anything about models or international policy,” Weaver said. “One thing we know is that China is going to clean up its air quality, because they have to.”

The issue is significant to B.C., where a carbon tax on fuels remains in place. Northeastern B.C.’s booming shale gas production, a cornerstone of the provincial government’s economic strategy, contains more CO2 than conventional gas, and it is extracted and vented to the atmosphere in processing for fuel or export.

Just Posted

25 years of Nite Trek for West Kootenay Scouts, Guides

Annual adventure hike is hosted by the 107th Baden Powell Guild

West Kootenay RCMP charge man with impaired driving in school zone

Sgt. Chad Badry reports on impaired drivers and other high risk offences

Company granted leave to appeal Lemon Creek charges

Executive Flight Centre won a decision in the BC Court of Appeal

Extensive smoke, heat damage to Castlegar home after fire on Friday

One occupant suffered burns after fleeing house with pet

Cyclist struck in Castlegar

Morning mishap at gas station on Columbia

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Sitting and sleeping on downtown sidewalks could net $100 fine in Penticton

The measure, which still requires final approval, would be enforced between May and Sept. 30

Survey finds 15% of Canadian cannabis users with a valid licence drive within two hours of using

Survey also finds middle-aged men are upping their usage following legalization

B.C. man killed in logging accident ‘would have done anything for anyone’

Wife remembers 43-year old Petr Koncek, father of two children

Ottawa spending $24.5M to research on health benefits, risks of pot use

$390,000 will fund two cannabis public awareness

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister

An independent report commissioned concluded $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. last year

Trudeau’s action plan on climate change brings B.C. politician out of retirement

Terry Lake, a former B.C. health minister, is running for federal office in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo

Most Read