While scientists and environmentalists criticize him for doing little to fight climate change, Environment Minister Peter Kent also has been questioned by his Conservative party colleagues, including the prime minister, about whether the scientific evidence is real and requires a government response.
A series of letters signed by Kent have revealed he has faced many questions from colleagues in recent months about whether Canada needs to take action to reduce consumption of fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline that produce heat-trapping pollution and other toxic emissions in the atmosphere.
But in each of the letters, released through access to information legislation, Kent defended scientific evidence, while dismissing myths such as a suggestion from one Conservative that volcanoes were a major contributor to global warming.
“Even major volcanic eruptions emit only a very small fraction of carbon dioxide compared to annual human emissions,” Kent wrote in a Sept. 6, 2011 letter to one colleague that noted volcanic ash can cause short-term cooling in the atmosphere, lasting up to three years. “Volcanoes, in short, are not a major contributor to global warming.
Although Environment Canada’s access to information office removed the name of this “colleague” who wrote to Kent about volcanoes after receiving an article from a constituent, the letters revealed the names of other MPs who had asked the environment minister to respond to similar questions from constituents casting doubts about scientific research on climate change.
They included Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ontario MPs Barry Devolin and Terence Young and B.C. MP David Wilks — who recently sparked controversy for suggesting he didn’t fully support the government’s budget legislation. Read more …