The 2013 Annual General Meeting was held on 30 January 2013 at the Royal Yacht Club, Vancouver. The keynote speaker was Professor Andrew Weaver who provided an interesting illustrated talk on his take on the controversial subject of Climate Change and Global Warming.
Professor Weaver started by showing some tables which illustrated the bias relative to political preference in the USA, it seems that the Democrat supporters were more likely to believe that it was taking place whereas the Republican supporters, mainly in the southern states were much more likely to deny it was happening. All other divisions by sex or education were more balanced in the division of support or scepticism. Canada was more agreeable to the premise across the country. He also discussed with illustrations from newspaper clippings, the subtle influences that media reporting played in presenting scientific data and interpreting of data.
Prof Weaver illustrated the apparent indifference of young generation voters versus high participation by senior voters, a situation which causes concern when it comes to policy direction relating to climate. 70% of people aged >65 show up to vote; 35-40% of those 18-24 vote.
He also noted the Greenhouse Effect which is increased by the amount of CO2 and other ‘Greenhouse Gases’ such as methane and water vapour was noted as far back as the 1700's when Fourier noted that the sun’s energy entered the atmosphere quiet readily but the heat radiation from the ground could not radiate back out into space. Later scientists worked out that the longer infrared energy from the re-radiation was absorbed by the water vapour in the atmosphere. He also commented that the best way to control the CO2 is to have some kind of carbon tax similar to the one here in B.C. which he noted is cost neutral.
He also noted that atmospheric temperature readings by Climate Modelling studied around the world have consistently arrived at a 1.5 to 4.0C increase due to the CO2 increasing the in atmosphere over the next 40 years. The reduction in the summer ice coverage in the Arctic has been well documented and published in journals, magazines and the media. The winter ice is now so thin that the summer heat and increased albedo of the open water has increased the rate of melting so that ships can now transverse the arctic during the summer months especially the NE passage near Russia.
Prof. Weaver seemed to dispel the argument that the greenhouse effect is a consequence of natural recurring solar activity. He provided graphs of measured solar cycles which don’t support the ‘hockey stick’ phenomena of rapid temperature rise over the recent 3 decades.
He provided numerous tables and illustrations of the seriousness and need to act, however the Kyoto Accord may have been implemented to some extent in Europe, while North America has done very little. China’s rapid industrialization and massive building of electrical power generation plants, primarily coal has exacerbated the situation so that it is rapidly becoming the biggest source of greenhouse gases overtaking the USA. Europe has invested extensively in alternative electrical generation reducing its dependence on coal and using more natural gas and subsidizing solar and wind power generation.
The audience of some 40 members and guests had many questions and a lively discussion took place.
The speaker was thanked by David Harvey for his interesting and informative presentation.
Afterwards one of our members posed the following question to Prof Weaver:
‘…if climate change is a long-term effect measured in decades and therefore most likely to affect the upcoming generations, and it seems that this younger group is not particularly interested in participating in our electoral system through which they can influence the present for the benefit the future, then why at my age should I care?
Prof Weaver answered by email (he gave us permission):
‘Warming is fundamentally a question of intergeneration equity so why aren't the youth participating in our democratic systems?
To answer your question, I think we should all be deeply troubled by the lack of participation by youth in our democratic systems. This is very troubling for the long term stability of our democracy. Second, many people have children or grandchildren. And for this reason they might be concerned about global warming. Finally, some believe that they have an ethical responsibility to preserve our natural ecosystems; others believe that humans were tasked to be stewards of the Earth.