My Lords and Ladies, Ladies and
Thank you for the opportunity to set out my views
As I have stated publicly on many occasions, there is no
definitive scientific proof, through real-world observation,
that carbon dioxide is responsible for any of the slight warming
of the global climate that has occurred during the past 300
years, since the peak of the Little Ice Age.
If there were such a proof through
testing and replication it would have been written down for all
The contention that human emissions are now the dominant
influence on climate is simply a hypothesis, rather than a
universally accepted scientific theory. It is therefore correct,
indeed verging on compulsory in the scientific tradition, to be
skeptical of those who express certainty that "the science is
settled" and "the debate is over".
But there is certainty beyond any doubt that CO2
is the building block for all life on Earth and that without its
presence in the global atmosphere at a sufficient concentration
this would be a dead planet.
Yet today our children and our
publics are taught that CO2 is a toxic pollutant that will
destroy life and bring civilization to its knees.
Tonight I hope to turn this
dangerous human-caused propaganda on its head. Tonight I will
demonstrate that human emissions of CO2 have already saved life
on our planet from a very untimely end. That in the absence of
our emitting some of the carbon back into the atmosphere from
whence it came in the first place, most or perhaps all life on
Earth would begin to die less than two million years from today.
But first a bit of background.
I was born and raised in the tiny floating village of Winter
Harbour on the northwest tip of Vancouver Island, in the
rainforest by the Pacific. There was no road to my village so
for eight years myself and a few other children were taken by
boat each day to a one-room schoolhouse in the nearby fishing
I didn't realize how lucky I was playing on the tide
flats by the salmon-spawning streams in the rainforest, until I
was sent off to boarding school in Vancouver where I excelled in
science. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of
British Columbia, gravitating to the life sciences - biology,
biochemistry, genetics, and forestry - the environment and the
industry my family has been in for more than 100 years.
before the word was known to the general public, I discovered
the science of ecology, the science of how all living things are
inter-related, and how we are related to them.
At the height of
the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the threat of all-out nuclear war
and the newly emerging consciousness of the environment I was
transformed into a radical environmental activist. While doing
my PhD in ecology in 1971 I joined a group of activists who had
begun to meet in the basement of the Unitarian Church, to plan a
protest voyage against US hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska.
We proved that a somewhat rag-tag looking group of activists
could sail an old fishing boat across the north Pacific ocean
and help change the course of history. We created a focal point
for the media to report on public opposition to the tests.
When that H-bomb exploded in November 1971, it was the last
hydrogen bomb the United States ever detonated. Even though
there were four more tests planned in the series, President
Nixon canceled them due to the public opposition we had helped
That was the birth of Greenpeace.
Flushed with victory, on our way home from Alaska we were made
brothers of the Namgis Nation in their Big House at Alert Bay
near my northern Vancouver Island home.
For Greenpeace this
began the tradition of the Warriors of the Rainbow, after a Cree
Indian legend that predicted the coming together of all races
and creeds to save the Earth from destruction. We named our ship
the Rainbow Warrior and I spent the next fifteen years in the
top committee of Greenpeace, on the front lines of the
environmental movement as we evolved from that church basement
into the world's largest environmental activist organization.
Next we took on French atmospheric nuclear testing in the South
They proved a bit more difficult than the US nuclear
tests. It took years to eventually drive these tests underground
at Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia. In 1985, under direct
orders from President Mitterrand, French commandos bombed and
sank the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour, killing our
Those protests continued until long after I left
Greenpeace. It wasn't until the mid-1990s that nuclear testing
finally ended in the South Pacific, and it most other parts of
the world as well.
Going back to 1975, Greenpeace set out to save the whales from
extinction at the hands of huge factory whaling fleets. We
confronted the Soviet factory whaling fleet in the North
Pacific, putting ourselves in front of their harpoons in our
little rubber boats to protect the fleeing whales.
broadcast on television news around the world, bringing the Save
the Whales movement into everyone's living rooms for the first
time. After four years of voyages, in 1979 factory whaling was
finally banned in the North Pacific, and by 1981 in all the
In 1978 I sat on a baby seal off the East Coast of Canada to
protect it from the hunter's club. I was arrested and hauled off
to jail, the seal was clubbed and skinned, but a photo of me
being arrested while sitting on the baby seal appeared in more
than 3000 newspapers around the world the next morning.
the hearts and minds of millions of people who saw the baby seal
slaughter as outdated, cruel, and unnecessary.
Why then did I leave Greenpeace after 15 years in the
leadership? When Greenpeace began we had a strong humanitarian
orientation, to save civilization from destruction by all-out
Over the years the "peace" in Greenpeace was
gradually lost and my organization, along with much of the
environmental movement, drifted into a belief that humans are
the enemies of the earth. I believe in a humanitarian
environmentalism because we are part of nature, not separate
The first principle of ecology is that we are all part
of the same ecosystem, as Barbara Ward put it, "One human family
on spaceship Earth", and to preach otherwise teaches that the
world would be better off without us. As we shall see later in
the presentation there is very good reason to see humans as
essential to the survival of life on this planet.
In the mid 1980s I found myself the only director of Greenpeace
International with a formal education in science.
directors proposed a campaign to "ban chlorine worldwide",
naming it "The Devil's Element". I pointed out that
one of the elements in the Periodic Table, one of the building
blocks of the Universe and the 11th most common element in the
Earth's crust. I argued the fact that chlorine is the most
important element for public health and medicine.
chlorine to drinking water was the biggest advance in the
history of public health and the majority of our synthetic
medicines are based on chlorine chemistry. This fell on deaf
ears, and for me this was the final straw. I had to leave.
When I left Greenpeace I vowed to develop an environmental
policy that was based on science and logic rather than
sensationalism, misinformation, anti-humanism and
classic example, a recent protest led by Greenpeace in the
Philippines used the skull and crossbones to associate
Rice with death, when in fact Golden Rice has the potential to
help save 2 million children from death due to vitamin A
deficiency every year.
The Keeling curve of CO2 concentration in the Earth's atmosphere
since 1959 is the supposed smoking gun of catastrophic climate
change. We presume CO2 was at 280 ppm at the beginning of the
Industrial Revolution, before human activity could have caused a
I accept that most of the rise from 280 to
400 ppm is caused by human CO2 emissions with the possibility
that some of it is due to outgassing from warming of the oceans.
NASA tells us that "Carbon Dioxide Controls Earth's Temperature"
in child-like denial of the many other factors involved in
This is reminiscent of NASA's contention that
there might be life on Mars. Decades after it was demonstrated
there was 'no life' on Mars, NASA continues to use it as a
hook to raise public funding for more expeditions to the Red
The promulgation of fear of Climate Change now serves
the same purpose. As Bob Dylan prophetically pointed out, "Money
doesn't talk, it swears", even in one of the most admired
science organizations in the world.
On the political front the leaders of the G7 plan to "end
extreme poverty and hunger" by phasing out 85% of the world's
energy supply including 98% of the energy used to transport
people and goods, including food.
The Emperors of the world
appear clothed in the photo taken at the close of the meeting
but it was obviously Photo-shopped. They should be required to
stand naked for making such a foolish statement.
The world's top climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate change, is hopelessly conflicted by its makeup and it
mandate. The Panel is composed solely of the World
Meteorological Organization, weather forecasters, and the United
Nations Environment Program, environmentalists.
organizations are focused primarily on short-term timescales,
days to maybe a century or two. But the most significant
conflict is with the Panel's mandate from
They are required only to focus on,
"a change of climate which is
attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters
the composition of the atmosphere, and which is in addition to
natural climate variability."
So if the IPCC found that climate
change was not being affected by human alteration of the
atmosphere or that it is not "dangerous" there would be no need
for them to exist.
They are virtually mandated to find on the
side of apocalypse.
Scientific certainty, political pandering, a hopelessly
conflicted IPCC, and
now the Pope, spiritual leader of
Catholic Church, in a bold move to reinforce the concept of
original sin, says the Earth looks like "an immense pile of
filth" and we must go back to pre-industrial bliss, or is that
And then there is the actual immense pile of filth fed to us
more than three times daily by the green-media nexus, a seething
cauldron of imminent doom, like we are already condemned to
Damnation in Hell and there is little chance of Redemption. I
fear for the end of the Enlightenment. I fear an intellectual
Gulag with Greenpeace as my prison guards.
Let's begin with our knowledge of the long-term history of the
Earth's temperature and of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere. Our
best inference from various proxies back indicate that CO2 was
higher for the first 4 billion years of Earth's history than it
has been since the Cambrian Period until today.
I will focus on
the past 540 million years since modern life forms evolved.
is glaringly obvious that temperature and CO2 are in an inverse
correlation at least as often as they are in any semblance of
correlation. Two clear examples of reverse correlation occurred
150 million years and 50 million years ago.
At the end of the
Jurassic temperature fell dramatically while CO2 spiked. During
the Eocene Thermal Maximum, temperature was likely higher than
any time in the past 550 million years while CO2 had been on a
downward track for 100 million years.
This evidence alone
sufficient to warrant deep speculation of any claimed lock-step
causal relationship between CO2 and temperature.
The Devonian Period beginning 400 million years ago marked the
culmination of the invasion of life onto the land. Plants
evolved to produce lignin, which in combination with cellulose,
created wood which in turn for the first time allowed plants to
grow tall, in competition with each other for sunlight.
forests spread across the land living biomass increased by
orders of magnitude, pulling down carbon as CO2 from the
atmosphere to make wood. Lignin is very difficult to break down
and no decomposer species possessed the enzymes to digest it.
Trees died atop one another until they were 100
meters or more
in depth. This was the making of the great coal beds around the
world as this huge store of sequestered carbon continued to
build for 90 million years. Then, fortunately for the future of
life, white rot fungi evolved to produce the enzymes that can
digest lignin and coincident with that the coal-making era came
to an end.
There was no guarantee that fungi or any other decomposer
species would develop the complex of enzymes required to digest
lignin. If they had not, CO2, which had already been drawn down
for the first time in Earth's history to levels similar to
today's, would have continued to decline as trees continued to
grow and die.
That is until CO2 approached the threshold of 150
ppm below which plants begin first to starve, then stop growing
altogether, and then die.
Not just woody plants but all plants.
This would bring about the extinction of most, if not all,
terrestrial species, as animals, insects, and other
invertebrates starved for lack of food. And that would be that.
The human species would never have existed. This was only the
first time that there was a distinct possibility that life would
come close to extinguishing itself, due to a shortage of CO2,
which is essential for life on Earth.
A well-documented record of global temperature over the past 65
million years shows that we have been in a major cooling period
since the Eocene Thermal Maximum 50 million years ago.
was an average 16°C warmer then, with most of the increased
warmth at the higher latitudes. The entire planet, including the
Arctic and Antarctica were ice-free and the land there was
covered in forest. The ancestors of every species on Earth today
survived through what may have been the warmest time in the
history of life.
It makes one wonder about dire predictions that
even a 2°C rise in temperature from pre-industrial times would
cause mass extinctions and the destruction of civilization.
Glaciers began to form in Antarctica 30 million years ago and in
the northern hemisphere 3 million years ago. Today, even in this
interglacial period of the Pleistocene Ice Age, we are
experiencing one of the coldest climates in the Earth's history.
Coming closer to the present we have learned from Antarctic ice
cores that for the past 800,000 years there have been regular
periods of major glaciation followed by interglacial periods in
These cycles coincide with the
cycles that are tied to the eccentricity of the Earth's orbit
and its axial tilt. It is highly plausible that these cycles are
related to solar intensity and the seasonal distribution of
solar heat on the Earth's surface.
There is a strong correlation
between temperature and the level of atmospheric CO2 during
these successive glaciations, indicating a possible cause-effect
relationship between the two. CO2 lags temperature by an average
of 800 years during the most recent 400,000-year period,
indicating that temperature is the cause, as the cause never
comes after the effect.
Looking at the past 50,000 years of temperature and CO2 we can
see that changes in CO2 follow changes in temperature.
as one could expect, as the Milankovitch cycles are far more
likely to cause a change in temperature than a change in CO2.
And a change in the temperature is far more likely to cause a
change in CO2 due to outgassing of CO2 from the oceans during
warmer times and an ingassing (absorption) of CO2 during colder
Yet climate alarmists persist in insisting that CO2 is
causing the change in temperature, despite the illogical nature
of that assertion.
It is sobering to consider the magnitude of climate change
during the past 20,000 years, since the peak of the
last major glaciation. At that time there were 3.3
kilometers of ice on top
of what is today the city of Montreal, a city of more than 3
million people. 95% of Canada was covered in a sheet of ice.
Even as far south as Chicago there was nearly a
If the Milankovitch cycle continues to prevail, and there
is little reason aside from our CO2 emissions to think
otherwise, this will happen gradually again during the next
Will our CO2 emissions stave off another
glaciation as James Lovelock has suggested? There doesn't seem
to be much hope of that so far, as despite 1/3 of all our CO2
emissions being released during the past 18 years the UK Met
Office contends there has been no statistically significant
warming during this century.
At the height of the last glaciation the sea level was about 120
meters lower than it is today. By 7,000 years ago all the
low-altitude, mid-latitude glaciers had melted.
There is no
consensus about the variation in sea level since then although
many scientists have concluded that the sea level was higher
than today during the Holocene Thermal optimum from 9,000 to
5,000 years ago when the Sahara was green. The sea level may
also have been higher than today during the
Hundred of islands near the Equator in Papua, Indonesia, have
been undercut by the sea in a manner that gives credence to the
hypothesis that there has been little net change in sea level in
the past thousands of years. It takes a long time for so much
erosion to occur from gentle wave action in a tropical sea.
Coming back to the relationship between temperature and CO2 in
the modern era we can see that temperature has risen at a steady
slow rate in Central England since 1700 while human CO2
emissions were not relevant until 1850 and then began an
exponential rise after 1950.
This is not indicative of a direct
causal relationship between the two. After freezing over
regularly during the Little Ice Age the River Thames froze for
the last time in 1814, as the Earth moved into what might be
called the 'Modern Warm Period.'
The IPCC states it is "extremely likely" that human emissions
have been the dominant cause of global warming "since the
mid-20th century", that is since 1950. They claim that "extremely" means 95% certain, even though the number 95 was
simply plucked from the air like an act of magic.
is not a scientific word but rather indicative of a judgment,
another word for an opinion.
There was a 30-year period of warming from 1910-1940, then a
cooling from 1940 to 1970, just as CO2 emissions began to rise
exponentially, and then a 30-year warming from 1970-2000 that
was very similar in duration and temperature rise to the rise
One may then ask,
"what caused the increase in
temperature from 1910-1940 if it was not human emissions? And if
it was natural factors how do we know that the same natural
factors were not responsible for the rise between 1970-2000."
You don't need to go back millions of years to find
fallacy in the IPCC's certainty that we are the villains in the
Water is by far the most important greenhouse gas, and is the
only molecule that is present in the atmosphere in all three
states, gas, liquid, and solid. As a gas, water vapor is a
greenhouse gas, but as a liquid and solid it is not. As a liquid
water forms clouds, which send solar radiation back into space
during the day and hold heat in at night.
There is no
possibility that computer models can predict the net effect of
atmospheric water in a higher CO2 atmosphere.
postulate that higher CO2 will result in positive feedback from
water, thus magnifying the effect of CO2 alone by 2-3 times.
Other scientists believe that water may have a neutral or
negative feedback on CO2. The observational evidence from the
early years of this century tends to reinforce the latter
How many politicians or members of the media or the public are
aware of this statement about climate change from the IPCC in
"We should recognize that we are
dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and
therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate
states is not possible."
There is a graph showing that the climate models have grossly
exaggerated the rate of warming that confirms the IPCC
The only trends the computer models seem able to
predict accurately are ones that have already occurred.
Coming to the core of my presentation, CO2 is the currency of
life and the most important building block for all life on
Earth. All life is carbon-based, including our own. Surely the
carbon cycle and its central role in the creation of life should
be taught to our children rather than the demonization of CO2,
that "carbon" is a "pollutant" that threatens the continuation
We know for a fact that CO2 is essential for life and
that it must be at a certain level in the atmosphere for the
survival of plants, which are the primary food for all the other
species alive today.
Should we not encourage our citizens,
students, teachers, politicians, scientists, and other leaders
to celebrate CO2 as the giver of life that it is?
It is a proven fact that plants, including trees and all our
food crops, are capable of growing much faster at higher levels
of CO2 than present in the atmosphere today. Even at the today's
concentration of 400 ppm plants are relatively starved for
The optimum level of CO2 for plant growth is about
times higher, 2000 ppm, yet the alarmists warn it is already too
high. They must be challenged every day by every person who
knows the truth in this matter. CO2 is the giver of life and we
should celebrate CO2 rather than denigrate it as is the fashion
We are witnessing the "Greening of the Earth" as higher levels
of CO2, due to human emissions from the use of fossil fuels,
promote increased growth of plants around the world.
been confirmed by scientists with CSIRO in Australia, in
Germany, and in North America.
Only half of the CO2 we are
emitting from the use of fossil fuels is showing up in the
atmosphere. The balance is going somewhere else and the best
science says most of it is going into an increase in global
And what could be wrong with that, as forests and
agricultural crops become more productive?
All the CO2 in the atmosphere has been created by outgassing
from the Earth's core during massive volcanic eruptions. This
was much more prevalent in the early history of the Earth when
the core was hotter than it is today. During the past 150
million years there has not been enough addition of CO2 to the
atmosphere to offset the gradual losses due to burial in
Let's look at where all the carbon is in the world, and how it
is moving around.
Today, at just over 400 ppm, there are 850 billion tons of
carbon as CO2 in the atmosphere. By comparison, when modern
life-forms evolved over 500 million years ago there was nearly
15,000 billion tons of carbon in the atmosphere, 17 times
Plants and soils combined contain more than 2,000
billion tons of carbon, more that twice as much as the entire
global atmosphere. The oceans contain 38,000 billion tons of
carbon, as dissolved CO2, 45 times as much as in the atmosphere.
Fossil fuels, which are made from plants that pulled CO2 from
the atmosphere account for 5,000 - 10,000 billion tons of
carbon, 6 - 12 times as much carbon as is in the atmosphere.
But the truly stunning number is the amount of carbon that has
been sequestered from the atmosphere and turned into
carbonaceous rocks. 100,000,000 billion tons, that's one
quadrillion tons of carbon, have been turned into stone by
marine species that learned to make armor-plating for
themselves by combining calcium and carbon into calcium
Limestone, chalk, and marble are all of life origin
and amount to 99.9% of all the carbon ever present in the global
atmosphere. The white cliffs of Dover are made of the calcium
carbonate skeletons of coccolithophores, tiny marine
The vast majority of the carbon dioxide that originated in the
atmosphere has been sequestered and stored quite permanently in
carbonaceous rocks where it cannot be used as food by plants.
Beginning 540 million years ago at the beginning of the Cambrian
Period many marine species of invertebrates evolved the ability
to control calcification and to build armor plating to protect
their soft bodies.
Shellfish such as clams and snails, corals, coccolithofores (phytoplankton) and foraminifera (zooplankton)
began to combine carbon dioxide with calcium and thus to remove
carbon from the life cycle as the shells sank into sediments;
100,000,000 billion tons of carbonaceous sediment.
It is ironic
that life itself, by devising a protective suit of armor,
determined its own eventual demise by continuously removing CO2
from the atmosphere. This is carbon sequestration and storage
writ large. These are the carbonaceous sediments that form the
shale deposits from which we are fracking gas and oil today.
I add my support to those who say, "OK UK, get fracking".
The past 150 million years has seen a steady drawing down of CO2
from the atmosphere. There are many components to this but what
matters is the net effect, a removal on average of 37,000 tons
of carbon from the atmosphere every year for 150 million years.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was reduced by about 90%
during this period. This means that volcanic emissions of CO2
have been outweighed by the loss of carbon to calcium carbonate
sediments on a multi-million year basis.
If this trend continues CO2 will inevitably fall to levels that
threaten the survival of plants, which require a minimum of 150
ppm to survive. If plants die all the animals, insects, and
other invertebrates that depend on plants for their survival
will also die.
How long will it be at the present level of CO2 depletion until
most or all of life on Earth is threatened with extinction by
lack of CO2 in the atmosphere?
During this Pleistocene Ice Age, CO2 tends to reach a minimum
level when the successive glaciations reach their peak. During
the last glaciation, which peaked 18,000 years ago, CO2 bottomed
out at 180 ppm, extremely likely the lowest level CO2 has been
in the history of the Earth.
This is only 30 ppm above the level
that plants begin to die. Paleontological research has
demonstrated that even at 180 ppm there was a severe restriction
of growth as plants began to starve. With the onset of the
warmer interglacial period CO2 rebounded to 280 ppm.
today, with human emissions causing CO2 to reach 400 ppm plants
are still restricted in their growth rate, which would be much
higher if CO2 were at 1000-2000 ppm.
Here is the shocking news. If humans had not begun to unlock
some of the carbon stored as fossil fuels, all of which had been
in the atmosphere as CO2 before sequestration by plants and
animals, life on Earth would have soon been starved of this
essential nutrient and would begin to die.
Given the present
trends of glaciations and interglacial periods this would likely
have occurred less than 2 million years from today, a blink in
nature's eye, 0.05% of the 3.5 billion-year history of life.
No other species could have accomplished the task of putting
some of the carbon back into the atmosphere that was taken out
and locked in the Earth's crust by plants and animals over the
This is why I honor James Lovelock in my lecture
this evening. Jim was for many years of the belief that humans
are the one-and-only rogue species on Gaia, destined to cause
catastrophic global warming. I enjoy
the Gaia hypothesis but I
am not religious about it and for me this was too much like
original sin. It was as if humans were the only evil species on
But James Lovelock has seen the light and realized that humans
may be part of Gaia's plan, and he has good reason to do so. And
I honor him because it takes courage to change your mind after
investing so much of your reputation on the opposite opinion.
Rather than seeing humans as the enemies of Gaia, Lovelock now
sees that we may be working with Gaia to "stave of another ice
age", or major glaciation.
This is much more plausible than the
climate doom-and gloom scenario because our release of CO2 back
into the atmosphere has definitely reversed the steady downward
slide of this essential food for life, and hopefully may reduce
the chance that the climate will slide into another period of
We can be certain that higher levels of CO2
will result in increased plant growth and biomass.
don't know whether or not higher levels of CO2 will prevent or
reduce the eventual slide into another major glaciation.
Personally I am not hopeful for this because the long-term
history just doesn't support a strong correlation between CO2
It does boggle the mind in the face of our knowledge that the
level of CO2 has been steadily falling that human CO2 emissions
are not universally acclaimed as a miracle of salvation.
direct observation we already know that the extreme predictions
of CO2's impact on global temperature are highly unlikely given
that about one-third of all our CO2 emissions have been
discharged during the past 18 years and there has been no
statistically significant warming. And even if there were some
additional warming that would surely be preferable to the
extermination of all or most species on the planet.
You heard it here.
"Human emissions of carbon dioxide have
life on Earth from inevitable starvation and extinction due to
lack of CO2".
To use the analogy of the Atomic Clock, if the
Earth were 24 hours old we were at 38 seconds to midnight when
we reversed the trend towards the End Times.
If that isn't good
news I don't know what is. You don't get to stave off Armageddon
I issue a challenge to anyone to provide a compelling argument
that counters my analysis of the historical record and the
prediction of CO2 starvation based on the 150 million year
trend. Ad hominem arguments about "deniers" need not apply. I
submit that much of society has been collectively misled into
believing that global CO2 and temperature are too high when the
opposite is true for both.
Does anyone deny that below 150 ppm
CO2 that plants will die? Does anyone deny that the Earth has
been in a 50 million-year cooling period and that this
Pleistocene Ice Age is one of the coldest periods in the history
of the planet?
If we assume human emissions have to date added some 200 billion
tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, even if we ceased using fossil
fuels today we have already bought another 5 million years for
life on earth.
But we will not stop using fossil fuels to power
our civilization so it is likely that we can forestall plant
starvation for lack of CO2 by at least 65 million years. Even
when the fossil fuels have become scarce we have the quadrillion
tons of carbon in carbonaceous rocks, which we can transform
into lime and CO2 for the manufacture of cement. And we already
know how to do that with solar energy or nuclear energy.
alone, regardless of fossil fuel consumption, will more than
offset the loss of CO2 due to calcium carbonate burial in marine
Without a doubt the human species has made it
possible to prolong the survival of life on Earth for more than
100 million years. We are not the enemy of nature but its
As a postscript I would like to make a few comments about the
other side of the alleged dangerous climate change coin, our
energy policy, in particular the much maligned fossil fuels;
coal, oil, and natural gas.
Depending how it's tallied, fossil fuels account for between
85-88% of global energy consumption and more than 95% of energy
for the transport of people and goods, including our food.
Earlier this year the leaders of the G7 countries agreed that
fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100, a most bizarre
development to say the least. Of course no intelligent person
really believes this will happen but it is a testament to the
power of the elites that have converged around the catastrophic
human-caused climate change that so many alleged world leaders
must participate in the charade.
How might we convince them to
celebrate CO2 rather than to denigrate it?
A lot of nasty things are said about fossil fuels even though
they are largely responsible for our longevity, our prosperity,
and our comfortable lifestyles.
Hydrocarbons, the energy components of fossil fuels, are 100%
organic, as in organic chemistry. They were produced by solar
energy in ancient seas and forests. When they are burned for
energy the main products are water and CO2, the two most
essential foods for life. And fossil fuels are by far the
largest storage battery of direct solar energy on Earth.
else comes close except nuclear fuel, which is also solar in the
sense that it was produced in dying stars.
Today, Greenpeace protests Russian and American oil rigs with
3000 HP diesel-powered ships and uses 200 HP outboard motors to
board the rigs and hang anti-oil plastic banners made with
Then they issue a media release telling us we must
"end our addiction to oil".
I wouldn't mind so much if
Greenpeace rode bicycles to their sailing ships and rowed their
little boats into the rigs to hang organic cotton banners. We
didn't have an H-bomb on board the boat that sailed on the first
Greenpeace campaign against nuclear testing.
Some of the world's oil comes from my native country in the
Canadian oil sands of northern Alberta. I had never worked with
fossil fuel interests until I became incensed with the lies
being spread about my country's oil production in the capitals
of our allies around the world.
I visited the oil sands
operations to find out for myself what was happening there.
It is true it's not a pretty sight when the land is stripped
bare to get at the sand so the oil can be removed from it.
Canada is actually cleaning up the biggest natural oil spill in
history, and making a profit from it. The oil was brought to the
surface when the Rocky Mountains were thrust up by the colliding
When the sand is returned back to the land 99% of
the so-called "toxic oil" has been removed from it.
Anti-oil activists say the oil-sands operations are destroying
the boreal forest of Canada. Canada's boreal forest accounts for
10% of all the world's forests and the oil-sands area is like a
pimple on an elephant by comparison. By law, every square inch
of land disturbed by oil-sands extraction must be returned to
native boreal forest.
When will cities like London, Brussels,
and New York that have laid waste to the natural environment be
returned to their native ecosystems?
The art and science of ecological restoration, or
it is called in the mining industry, is a well-established
practice. The land is re-contoured, the original soil is put
back, and native species of plants and trees are established.
is possible, by creating depressions where the land was flat, to
increase biodiversity by making ponds and lakes where wetland
plants, insects, and waterfowl can become established in the
The tailings ponds where the cleaned sand is returned look ugly
for a few years but are eventually reclaimed into grasslands.
The Fort McKay First Nation is under contract to manage a herd
of bison on a reclaimed tailings pond. Every tailings pond will
be reclaimed in a similar manner when operations have been
As an ecologist and environmentalist for more than 45 years this
is good enough for me.
The land is disturbed for a blink of an
eye in geological time and is then returned to a sustainable
boreal forest ecosystem with cleaner sand. And as a bonus we get
the fuel to power our weed-eaters, scooters, motorcycles, cars,
trucks, buses, trains, and aircraft.
To conclude, carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the
stuff of life, the staff of life, the currency of life, indeed
the backbone of life on Earth.
I am honored to have been chosen to deliver your annual
Thank you for listening to me this evening.
I hope you have seen CO2 from a new perspective and will join
with me to Celebrate CO2!