After receiving backlash from the provincial NDP, local MLA Garth Rowswell has responded to criticism of his member’s statement in late October in which he questioned climate change predictions.
He said he would not debate that the climate does change, but questions the causes and what humans–and government–can do about it.
The UCP MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright spoke at the Legislature on Oct. 28 and referenced how 500 scientists and experts wrote to the UN Security-General saying there is no climate change emergency.
Rowswell added that access to fossil fuels has been a great thing for the human race.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley quickly responded in a release, saying the science on climate change is settled and that these comments hurt future investment.
“In 2001, the Government of Canada produced a pamphlet making several predictions from sea level increases to prairie crop yield devastation…It’s been 20 years and virtually all of these catastrophic predictions have proven not to be true. In fact, across the province, we are reporting above-average or record high yields,” said Rowswell at the Legislature.
“What has become more and more apparent, is that there has been an attempt from extremist agitators and malcontents, who stand against capitalism and free markets, to undermine our oil and gas industry with fallacious claims.”
‘You’re not even allowed to even ask’
When asked about the reasoning for making the statement, Rowswell told Lakeland Connect he had been preparing to speak about climate change for awhile.
“I wouldn’t debate that the climate doesn’t change. I believe it does and I wouldn’t debate that. What I think is open for debate is what causes it, the consequences of it, and what to do about it. And the concern I’ve had is that you’re not allowed to even ask those questions,” said Rowswell.
“The other part is you talk about the predictions. They have been wrong. So at what time are we going to hold them to account? The most recent one is the world’s going to end in 12 years. And no one challenged them on it. You know, okay, what’s your methodology?
“What assumptions did you make from a scientific perspective to make a prediction like that? Now, that’s only 10 years away. So in 10 years, if the world doesn’t end, what are they going to come up with next? Are we just going to accept it? So I want to have the right to ask questions.”
This 10-year benchmark began drawing attention in 2018, when the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report describing what it would take to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, a goal of the Paris climate agreement.
To reach that goal of keeping warming under 1.5 degrees, the report said countries will have to cut global CO2 emissions 45 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by around 2050.
This led to a push by American Democratic Presidential nominee Bernie Sanders, among others, saying in 2018 how the next 18 months were critical before the effects of climate change couldn’t be reversed.
Rowswell said he would debate those who wanted to argue with him about these forecasts.
“I knew the response I was going to. I got called names. There was condescension with regards while you’re not a scientist and those typical reflexive type of responses, and so what I’ve offered up as well, let’s have a scientific conversation about this. I’m willing to have that debate, are you? And no one’s taken me up on it yet,” he said.
“I just don’t think shutting down the oil industry is going to stop the climate from changing because it’s changed five times since the last Ice Age started to recede. So there’s a lot of things that impact climate, I just don’t think carbon dioxide is the major contributor to climate change. That’s my personal opinion. And I’m willing–am absolutely willing–to have a debate scientifically, with anybody on that issue.”