Racing towards the finish

As a publicity stunt, the Harper Conservatives’ NASCAR sponsorship was a goodie. Never in the history of Canada has a sticker received more…

As a publicity stunt, the Harper Conservatives’ NASCAR sponsorship was a goodie.

Never in the history of Canada has a sticker received more media attention (including here).

The car is driven by internet news blogger Pierre Bourque, a guy with a reputation for poking fun at Liberals, and lauding Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his website.

Harper’s crew is not supportive of the Kyoto Protocol, which is supposed to help curb global warming.

Harper is an Albertan, fiercely supportive of the oil industry.

And, apparently, auto racing.

The two are linked.

NASCAR vehicles get about five miles per gallon.

And NASCAR is the Conservative Party’s latest promotional vehicle.

The Conservative Party’s appeal to the Canadian Tire crowd comes as a report was tabled in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, a UK science journal.

The journal is dense reading. Not something the Canadian Tire crowd is likely to browse.

It’s filled with sentences like this one: “The atmospheric composition of trace gases and aerosols is determined by the emission of compounds from the marine and terrestrial biospheres, anthropogenic sources and their chemistry and deposition processes.” (We promise not to do that to you again.)

It was written by six US scientists led by James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

He’s the guy who first warned the US Congress about global warming.

His team included other scientists from Goddard, the University of California and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The paper’s title, Critical Issues In Trace Gas Biogeochemistry And Global Change, is no barnstormer.

But, there are chunks of crystal clarity found amid the 29-page paper’s science jargon.

For example: “Both direct and indirect evidence points unequivocally to the fact that many trace gases are now present in the atmosphere in concentrations unprecedented during the last 650,000 years.”

Essentially, they challenge the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings.

The scientists suggest the UN group underestimated the scale of sea-level rises from melting glaciers and polar ice sheets.

They suggest sea levels will rise metres, not the 40 centimetres predicted by the UN group.

As glaciers and ice sheets melt, sunlight will be absorbed by the darker oceans at a much higher rate, hastening the melt.

Things are going to change sooner, rather than later, the scientists say.

Modern civilization has developed in an era of relative climatic calm. Its physical infrastructure reflects that calm, said Hansen in an article in the Independent.

As we saw in New Orleans, it cannot stand up to dramatic climatic changes.

Which leads the scientists to suggest urgent measures to reduce greenhouse gases, which, at this point, might have to include figuring out ways to suck the gases from the air. (The report is available at www.journals.royalsoc.ac.uk.)

It’s pretty scary stuff.

And a lot more difficult to comprehend than a Conservative logo emblazoned on a race car.

Nevertheless, the two are linked. (RM)

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