B.C. Green Party leader talks climate change and politics at TRU

Andrew Weaver warns students of danger of disengaging media and misinformed skeptics

Andrew Weaver visited TRU as a guest lecturer for a second-year geography class. (Marcela Arévalo/The Omega)

Andrew Weaver visited TRU as a guest lecturer for a second-year geography class. (Marcela Arévalo/The Omega)

As part of his trip to Kamloops on Nov. 30, B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver visited TRU as a guest lecturer for a second-year geography class.

In his talk, titled Climate Change: Problems and Solutions, Weaver talked to a packed room of students and community members. Topics included the importance of properly communicating science to the media, using scientific evidence to inform public policy and that more has not been done to address climate change because its most substantial effects have yet to come.

“Science that is not effectively communicated is ineffective science,” Weaver said.

He also said that one of the reasons why some people may be skeptical about climate change is because of how the media looks for an opposing view to meet balancing requirements.

The politician and scientist expressed disdain for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent decision to approve the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion in B.C. and questioned the prime minister’s commitment to changing environmental policy.

Weaver also addressed politics in the United States, where several Republican politicians and the President-elect himself claim there is not sufficient evidence that climate change exists. Weaver responded by explaining that the metrics used to determine climate sensitivity, which have been in place since the 1970s, have not changed and have actively been used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment, a UN panel which he had previously been involved with.

“We know more of the same thing with greater certainty,” Weaver said.

When it came to recent commitments, such as the Paris Agreement in 2015, Weaver believes that the pact will end in “disappointment,” citing the gradual increase in Alberta’s carbon tax to $50 per tonne with the federal government meanwhile approving new pipelines.

“Politicians don’t know what they signed,” Weaver said. He also talked about how policy needs to be informed by science rather than science to be created by policy.

In an interview with The Omega after the lecture, Weaver said that he hoped his lecture had student scientists see the importance of their work and that students communicate their work with those around them.

“We as a society are not valuing, I would argue, our public education system the way we should,” Weaver said, mentioning how he believes that the lack of education is partly due to why “post-truth” politics are emerging in the United States and elsewhere, wherein people look for facts to support their position rather than the facts as a whole.

“The public must recognize what is science and what is not science, and that comes through education.”

When asked about combatting “post-truth” rhetoric with climate change messaging, Weaver thinks that there needs to be more focus on informing people of the solutions.

“People throw up resistance barriers when you start to talk about problems, they want to know about solutions. And they want to know about no-regrets solutions,” Weaver said, also saying there needs to be less emphasis on “doom and gloom” stories.

Weaver is the only Green Party MLA in the provincial legislature. He is also a professor in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria.