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

Ferry connecting Port Hardy and Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

BC Parks Student Ranger Program accepting applications for 2019 season

12 crews of four student rangers will work in regions throughout the province including Bella Coola.

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

REPLAY: B.C’s best videos this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

Most Read