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Misunderstandings in the “Climate Resiliency Community Dialogues” Held in Ottawa in May and June 2023


The group leading the dialogues say that they:


“are informed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Assessment Reports on the global state of climate change…We are not here to discuss the validity of the IPCC scientific and governmental consensus on the climate emergency.”


This is problematic, of course, since much of the IPCC science has been shown to be

wrong, leading many participating scientists to resign from the body. See here for quotes

from numerous scientists who quit the IPCC for this reason. As documented by the

Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, there are thousands of

scientists across the world publishing in leading peer reviewed journals who show that

much of what the IPCC conclude is incorrect. Consequently, basing the city’s climate

and energy policy only on what the IPCC say would be irresponsible, even reckless.


Regardless, the introductory presentation given at the start of one of the dialogues

(May 17 in Barrhaven) includes a number of claims that do not match IPCC conclusions.

Here are samples of mistakes where what was said does not correlate well with what is actually in the most recent IPCC reports:


What was said:


What does climate change look like in Ottawa, the presenter asked, and then showed slides of the Ottawa River flooding, washing out the bottom of the Chaudière Bridge.


What the IPCC really says:


IPCC finds no trends in flooding globally.


Specifically, the IPCC write:

“In summary there is low confidence in the human influence on the changes in high river flows on the global scale. In general, there is low confidence in attributing changes in the probability or magnitude of flood events to human influence because of a limited number of studies, differences in the results of these studies and large modelling uncertainties.”

Similarly, in the Fifth Assessment Report the IPCC wrote:


“There continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.”  


Next, the presenter gave a list of events that she implied were caused by anthropogenic climate change:


1 - Lots of heat waves


What the IPCC really says:


IPCC indicates low confidence (~20%) for the detection of trends in extreme heat and the attribution of such trends to human causes for both central and eastern North America.


2 - The derecho a year ago. A slide was shown of the damaged Merivale power station.

What the IPCC really says:


Concerning extreme winds (between 60S and 60N), the IPCC says:


“the observed intensity of extreme winds is becoming less severe in the lower

to mid-latitudes, while becoming more severe in higher latitudes poleward of

60 degrees (low confidence)”


The IPCC also shows no upwards trends in landfalling hurricanes, including

the strongest storms.

3 - The mini-ice storm in Ottawa in May that caused a lot of damage on mature trees

What the IPCC really says:


The IPCC says, concerning winter storms:


“There is low confidence in observed recent changes in the total number of extratropical cyclones over both hemispheres. There is also low confidence in past-century trends in the number and intensity of the strongest extratropical cyclones over the Northern Hemisphere…”


4 - More intense rainfall


What the IPCC really says:


“Attributing changes in heavy precipitation to anthropogenic activities (Section 11.4.4) cannot be readily translated to attributing changes in floods to human activities, because precipitation is only one of the multiple factors, albeit an important one, that affect floods.”


5 - More extreme weather events are now happening differently to how they were a decade ago


What the IPCC really says:


“observational trends in tornadoes, hail, and lightning associated with severe convective storms are not robustly detected due to insufficient coverage of the long-term observations”


6 - More forest fires caused by climate change. 


What the IPCC really says:


The IPCC are not very confident about this. They write:


“There is medium confidence [in contrast to ‘high’ or ‘very high’

confidence] that weather conditions that promote wildfires (fire weather)

have become more probable in southern Europe, northern Eurasia, the

US, and Australia over the last century.”

Interestingly, the Royal Society wrote in a 2020 blog post:


“Fire activity is on the rise in some regions, but when considering the total area burned at the ground level, we are not seeing an increase an overall increase.”


The organizers seem to not know that climate is a 30-year average of weather. The fact that the Rideau Canal was not open for skating last winter is merely a sign of unusual weather. Yet they implied it was caused by climate change. This would have to happen over and over for many years before it could possibly be attributed to climate change.


It should be noted that the terms 'climate emergency' or 'climate crisis' are only mentioned once in the latest IPCC assessment reports, specifically in the Physical Sciences report, and that is merely with regards to media coverage, not what the IPCC actually says:


“Also, some media outlets have recently adopted and promoted terms and phrases stronger than the more neutral ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’, including ‘climate crisis’, ‘global heating’, and ‘climate emergency’ (Zeldin-O’Neill, 2019).”


Furthermore, the extreme emissions scenario (RCP8.5) that was identified in the second to last IPCC report as our most likely future, is now identified in their latest report as “low likelihood” “in light of recent developments in the energy sector.” Yet the City of Ottawa projections that underpin its Climate Change Master Plan that the public dialogues are based on is the extreme emissions scenario (RCP8.5) which does not match the most recent IPCC report.


There is clearly a need for public dialogues to be held across Ottawa by a neutral party more familiar with the actual state of climate science.

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