Truck News


No need for apologies

It's not often that I find myself strongly disagreeing with my colleague at our sister publication, Truck News. In fact, this is the first occasion I can recall in some time. But John Curran's recent ...

It’s not often that I find myself strongly disagreeing with my colleague at our sister publication, Truck News. In fact, this is the first occasion I can recall in some time. But John Curran’s recent editorial about global warming (May issue of Truck News) deserves a response.

In his editorial John took the liberty of apologizing to the trucking industry “on behalf of journalists everywhere” for what he considers the media’s failure to get the story straight on global warming, also known as the Greenhouse Effect theory.

It appears John was moved to pen the editorial after listening to the arguments of climatologist Dr. Tim Ball, who recently addressed the Manitoba Trucking Association. According to Dr. Ball, there is no proof emissions are actually changing the climate. He says the Greenhouse Effect was originally on a list with about 40 other possible theories relating to pollution and the climate. Yet a handful of journalists latched on to the idea and Presto! — a few stories later the Greenhouse Effect “achieves fact status without any research to back it up,” as John put it in his column. Then special interest groups — Friends of the Earth is the one John singles out — jump onboard and suddenly our federal government is under pressure to reduce emissions to avoid global warming, squeezing the trucking industry in the process.

What the journalists and special interest groups forgot, according to Dr. Ball, was that as temperature increases you end up with evaporation, which results in clouds. And evaporation and clouds lead to cooling. Sounds plausible. But since I don’t have a scientific degree attached to my name, I don’t feel qualified to debate climatic change with Dr. Ball.

However, as an experienced journalist with a lifetime interest in science I do feel qualified to make the following observations:

First, science is not made by the media or special interest groups. Scientific theories, particularly ones with global economic and environmental ramifications, are thoroughly, often viciously, debated within the scientific community. Scientists have a lot riding on their professional reputations and don’t tend to support new theories unless they feel secure in the science behind them. From the scientists I know personally, I’ve observed that they are neither swayed by the media, which they tend to distrust, or by fringe activist groups such as Friends of the Earth. After years of debate, scientists from many disciplines have decided there is enough merit in the science behind the Greenhouse Effect theory that they are willing to support it. In fact, leading scientists, including Nobel Prize winners, have put their names to petitions asking world leaders and the United Nations to address the issue.

Second, based on experience, I also know that no matter what the issue or how strong the evidence, you can find a dissenting voice in the scientific community. There are still scientists who claim cigarette smoke is not linked to cancer. I well recall during the 80s when Canada raised its concerns about the disastrous effects of acid rain produced by US factories on our lakes and rivers, then president Ronald Reagan trotting out a scientist who claimed seagull droppings were the real threat to our water ecosystems.

All this, of course, doesn’t mean there is no chance Dr. Ball won’t be proven correct in the long run. But with an issue such as global warming, which stands to cause irreparable damage to our environment if we don’t take immediate action, I believe the intelligent choice is to side with the majority of the scientific community.

So, John, with all due respect, limit your apologies to your own actions. This journalist, who has in the past called on our industry to do its part to reduce emissions, feels very comfortable in the logic behind his convictions.

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