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Richard Littlemore rips into Friends of Science's "dangerous" climate denial

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"You would have hoped that every media outlet in town would have jumped on this billboard and said, 'this is hilarious and stupid and a disservice to the people of Vancouver,' Littlemore said. "If we were having an honest, fact-checked conversation, that would have been done. But, inexcusably, many Canadian newspapers, including some in Vancouver, are still happy to make space for people who think this disinformation is defensible."

"When I was a reporter, I used to tell people that if you had to choose between media conspiracy and incompetence, you should always assume incompetence. Because the media weren’t competent to organize a conspiracy. Now, having researched the case on climate, I realize there are some really fabulous conspiracies going on out there, even if they’re not being run by the media. Regardless that some of the people caught up in this are naive or self-deluding, there is an evil underpinning here that is dangerous at a level never witnessed in  human history."

Friends of Science consists of about 300 people, many of them retired farmers, engineers, retired scientists and pensioners, Stirling said. She said it was a 'misperception' to say that the group has ties to industry today.

"People keep looking back at the issue early on in the organization,"  she said, referring to the fact that the one-time CEO of oil sands giant Talisman Energy was an early backer of the organization. 

Stirling argued that Friends of Sciences' position is founded on science. She said members of Friends of Science support environmental conservation, even if they don't agree with carbon reduction policies.

"We’re very much in favour of environmental protection. The countries with the strongest environmental protection also have the strongest economy," she said. "But we’re not in favour of carbon taxes and climate change carbon reduction schemes that devastate the economy and don’t do anything for environment."

She argued that countries like Germany (which set a record for renewable energy use) and the UK have been very negatively impacted by "expensive" wind and solar subsidies. Germany is the world's fourth largest economy in terms of nominal GDP, while other countries like Sweden and Denmark with strong climate and environmental policies also have the among the highest per capita income in the world. 

Although the existence of climate change is disputed by skeptics -- most who are funded by the fossil fuel industry -- 97 per cent of scientists now agree that climate warming trends over the past century are caused by human activity. Canada has been ranked the worst developed country for its downgraded environmental policies and pursuit of pollution-heavy oil and gas extraction, and is the only nation to have pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon just last week urged Canada to "stop stalling" on climate policy, saying it was a "global issue" already impacting millions. 



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