It was in 1824 that scientist Joseph Fourier described the Earth’s natural “greenhouse effect.”
In 1958, systematic measurements of atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa in Hawaii and in Antarctica provided the first unequivocal proof that CO2 concentrations are rising.
In 1965 a U.S. President’s Advisory Committee panel warned the greenhouse effect is a matter of “real concern.”
In 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed to collate and assess evidence on climate change. Their first report in 1990 concluded the earth was warming and that further emissions of greenhouse gases would cause it to continue to warm.
At this point scientists probably thought they had done their job. They had identified a danger and explained it to those who would take action. Nope.
We’ve had famous environmentalists (David Suzuki) and politicians (Al Gore, Elizabeth May) try to motivate people to take the action that would be required to avert at least the most devastating effects of a warmer planet, but the change achieved has been modest and it has been slow.
And now in Canada we have the loud argument that a price on pollution is just a tax grab.
In 2018 two economists won the Nobel Prize for showing that harnessing market mechanisms (carbon taxes) would be the most effective and lowest cost way to reduce greenhouse gases. One might think that “effective and low cost” would appeal to fiscally responsible politicians, and yet we hear a growing chorus chanting that this is just a “job-killing tax on everything.”
Peter Schwarzhoff is a retired Environment Canada atmospheric scientist and is the moderator of the Philosophers’ Café. He understands the science of climate change and is trying to understand the politics and the psychology. He argues that scientists, politicians and environmental activists have all failed to unite the people in what should be a common cause. In fact intelligent, well-meaning people have unwittingly created conditions where tackling this issue has become harder, not easier.
Join Peter Schwarzhoff at the Philosophers’ Café as we try to sort out why there is a divide on the issue of reducing the effects of climate change and discuss ideas on what might be done to reduce that divide.
Once a month a speaker will introduce a theme to the Café, and then all who attend can join in respectful, non-partisan conversation, or just sit back and listen. You are welcome to propose topics and introduce them at future Cafés. Themes should be of broad interest and national significance, and have an element of controversy to them.
As with each Café, Schwarzhoff will have 10 minutes to introduce the topic, and then the floor is open for 50 minutes of discussion.