Posts Tagged ‘Carteret Islands’
On February 1, 2012 The School of Administrative Studies hosted Dr. Madhav Khandekar, a former research scientist with Environment Canada for a presentation of the controversial findings of ‘Climate Change Reconsidered’ a recent report by the ‘NIPCC‘ or Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change.
Over the course of more than an hour Dr. Khandekar presented his views on the Earth’s climate as well as his believe that the Earth may become colder in the decades to come. What follows are responses by faculty and students to the presentation by Dr. Khandekar.
“I am not a scientist and I make no claim to be a one. However, I would like to offer my reaction to the talk given by Madhav Khandekar at York University on Wednesday 1 February, 2012. Firstly, I am hoping that the organizers of the lecture by Dr. Khandekar will also see the benefit in inviting other climatologists and scientists to speak on the subject of climate change. It is only befitting that we hear both sides.
Dr. Khandekar is associated with the Heartland Institute and a member of the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change, two bodies who have taken it upon themselves to offer what they think to be the truth about climate change. This is my first issue with Khandekar. He claims that the NIPCC has “over 35” scientists who concur that “global warming” is caused by natural variability in the sun’s radiation. Not that the scientists associated with the NIPCC are not qualified, but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is populated by hundreds of scientists representing 194 countries. Several hundred versus 35; Khandekar did not want to go so far as to call the IPCC’s data a global conspiracy but it seems wiser to me to accept the evidence as provided by the IPCC. I doubt very much that so many scientists on the IPCC can agree to a conspiracy because if that were the case, those same 194 countries would have found it just as easy to address global climate change itself. It’s not that I don’t want to believe that conspiracies can exist, I just don’t think that 194 countries would buy into it. He noted that the IPCC data does not consider the effects of urbanization, solar variation, etc. However, the IPCC climate models do take into consideration these factors. It’s plain to see in the IPCC Assessment Report IV, 2007. I will leave that issue for my professors and actual climatologists to debunk further.
Secondly, Khandekar was perfectly fine in arguing that the earth average temperature is actually cooler than they were in the days of his youth. He used anecdotal evidence of the bitter cold winters he spent in Alberta in the 70’s and compared them to current Albertan winters and concluded that the earth is cooling not warming. Even more convincing if you’re so inclined; his friends are quite cold in India as I write this and that is enough to convince him that the global climate is indeed cooling. With all due respect, even the figures and graphs he was using indicated a general rise in average global temperatures. Why he ignores that general trend is beyond me. Further, the term is not “global warming”. Climate change is the correct term because it does mean that some areas may actually get colder and others warmer with an average warming trend overall. Therefore the cold spell in Europe is not reason enough to conclude that climate change is not occurring. As noted by Khandekar himself, weather and climate are not the same thing. The anecdotal evidence he presented would best be described as weather related change, not climate change. He ought to know that.
Khandekar explored regional oscillations like ENSO and the Arctic Oscillation to explain regional warming trends in particular localities. This is not how I ever understood ENSO to work, granted that this phenomenon is not completely understood. I was under the impression that regional oscillations were meso-scale atmospheric phenomena and climate was macro-scale. I solicit a learned opinion in this regard from another scientist. Dr. Kaz Higuchi explained in class recently that ENSO and like oscillations are expected to be exacerbated by climate change in terms of intensity and frequency not the other way around. Anyone care to debunk this further?
I had major issues with the sweeping generalizations made by Khandekar that were blatantly incorrect. He noted that human health does not suffer negatively from climate change, that plants and animals benefit from increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, that sea level rise has ‘stabilized’, that snow cover is not decreasing, that world grain production has increased. Whilst I can write an entire paper to provide evidence to disprove those claims, I would like to restate that which I stated on Wednesday and leave you to your thoughts. If sea level rise has stabilized, why do we have actual climate refugees from the Carteret Islands? The people of Tuvalu, Maldives and the many other nations facing this issue as we speak, are they imagining the sea encroaching their land and causing salt water intrusion into their potable water supplies? Khandekar could not answer my question, he claimed to not know of the situation and responded that this was a regional warming trend caused by regional factors and could be dealt with at the country level. Mr. Khandekar, if you did not know, this problem and most of the fallouts of climate change are affecting the poorest of the poor and even if you think this is ‘regional warming’, the poor cannot afford to adapt. That said wealthy countries like Canada itself are also beginning to feel the effects of climate change, notably in communities in Canada’s Arctic, where climate change is impacting biodiversity, transportation and essential infrastructure like ice-roads, etc.
Khandekar may argue that he is only concerned with the ‘science’ of climate change. But the consensus by scientists from close to 200 countries differs and as Professor Jose Etcheverry noted, it doesn’t matter how we twist the facts, since the industrial revolution to present, carbon dioxide has increased from 250ppm to approximately 392ppm. That is indisputable and thus the issue is now an ethical one. What are we going to do? What York University can do for my peers and I, is to facilitate a further debate on this matter. Personally, I think the York owes us the real story of climate change
Sindy Singh is a 1st year Masters of Environmental Studies international student at York University. I completed my Bachelor of Environmental Studies (Honours) in 2009 at York and returned to my native, Trinidad and Tobago, to work as an Environmental Policy Analyst at the Ministry of Environment. After attending the UNFCCC COP 16, Cancun, I decided that I needed to go back to school to further my studies on climate change in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with emphasis on policy making. I am interested in the economics of climate change in SIDS, the political economy of the Caribbean and how this shapes climate change policy while exploring the potential of renewable energy in Trinidad and Tobago, the most industrialized (and petroleum state) in the southern Caribbean.”