Climate change: is it science or religion?

How can one believe in the safety of genetically modified foods and not fully believe in man-made climate change? As a supporter of science, how can you support the former while still having qualms about the latter?

For me, it’s because the science has to mesh with personal observations and experience. Otherwise, I’m left with doubts.

With GM foods, no credible studies show any hint of safety issues. Billions of meals have been consumed over a span of decades. While GM opponents misinterpret statistics and claim the adoption of herbicide resistant crops has meant the use of more herbicides, I know from personal experience that isn’t the case.

But when it comes to climate change and more particularly the role of human activity in climate change, personal observations don’t so neatly align with what the majority of scientists are saying.

During a spell of very hot weather with forest fire smoke hanging in the air, it’s easier to convince the general public. However, as farmers we’ve seen it all before. This growing season has certainly been drier and hotter than normal in much of Western Canada, but it’s been dry and hot before.

It was back in the late 1980s that global warming theory first became headline news and in the terrible drought that hit much of the Prairies in 1988 it was easy to imagine agriculture going to hell in a handbasket.

We’ve had widespread droughts since then such as the one in 2002 and we’ve had other years where crops have dried out in certain regions, but we’ve also had some great years along with years where too much moisture was the biggest limiting factor for crop production.

Climate change scientists generate long-range models showing how much the Earth will warm in 10, 20 and 30 years unless CO2 emissions have kept below specific levels.

The climate has always been changing, but scientists are pretty sure that these changes are driven by human activity. While all the complex modelling purports to be accurate for decades yet to come, science can’t tell us with any certainty what the weather will be like next month or next year.

While some say you shouldn’t confuse short-term weather with long-term climate considerations, it should be noted that the federal department is no longer Environment Canada. It’s officially Environment and Climate Change Canada.

If you don’t subscribe without reservation to climate change theory and the urgent need to curb emissions of one of the natural elements of life, you’re branded as a climate change denier.

We’re told that Canada accounts for 1.6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. We could shut down all of our agriculture along with all economic activity and on a global scale it wouldn’t matter a damn.

Of course, we should work to decrease fossil fuel use and cut emissions. But climate change activists have been emboldened to oppose everything related to fossil fuel. We can’t even build pipelines in this country to get our oil to export markets.

Climate change has become more of a religion than a science.

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