This weekend I was catching up reading. One of the pieces that I missed last week was a news paper article about the cold weather of this spring. It was about some statements made by Wouter Van Besien, chairman of the Flemish green party (Groen!). It had the catchy title (translated from Dutch):
Bad weather is the fault of the Flemish and Federal Government
That got my attention. Some excerpts:
Many bad springs will follow from the policies of these governments […]
According to Van Besien, there is an obvious link that this cold weather is caused by climate change […]
Even though there are much bigger polluters such as the U.S. and China, Kris Peeters and Elio Di Rupo to that effect are partly responsible for global warming.
I had to pinch myself a couple time in the arm. He couldn’t actually said that, did he? Then I found more sources that confirmed his statements and it was mentioned on the website of the green party. Yep, he actually said that! On their website there is also a document with, ahem, evidence that support his statements. Probably more on this in a later post. Now back to the statements in the article.
To be clear: I have nothing against the Flemish green party or its chairman. I am a green person at heart and have been consistently voting green until about three years ago. To be honest, Van Besien was the person that made me doubt to maybe start vote green again, but other members of his party made me decide not to give my vote to his party anymore. Although I respect him as a politician, these statements don’t make much sense.
The article states that Elio Di Rupo (current Belgian prime minister) and Kris Peeters (current minister-president of the Flemish government) are “partly” responsible for global warming. Even if that is true, he is overstating their influence greatly. Assume for the sake of the argument that this is true, how much would that be? For all those visitors outside Western Europe that find Belgium on a world map without the use of a magnifying glass: congratulations! Flanders is a part of Belgium and somewhat less than half of that. For the record: Belgium is about 30,530 km2 or a whopping 0.02% of total land area. Even if we had relatively more emission than other countries, the influence would be insignificant on a global scale. Ironically, I found a link to this little gem on the same page as the article (translated from Dutch):
Belgium had the largest CO2 reduction across the EU in 2012
CO2 emissions from combustion of fossil fuels in Belgium dropped last year by 11.8 percent.
To compare: the EU had a 2.1% reduction. If reduction of the CO2 emissions is important in combating global warming, then last year our leaders did just fine. To be honest, in global terms that reduction would be also insignificant.
What also caught my attention was that in the article and the document on their website the three terms “Global warming”, “Climate change” and “Climate disruption” are used interchangeably. That is always a good wild card. Combine them all and there is nothing that can’t be explained.
He tries to present good weather as just a political decision. Could one get more disconnected from reality? One year doesn’t make a trend. Weather is not climate. Just last year there was a lot of commotion about the warmer than normal March and in 2011 we had a warm spring, both breathlessly attributed to global warming. But this year we have a cool spring and suddenly this is also considered a consequence of global warming…
This is what he said just in August last year, talking about nuclear energy and the melting of the Greenland icecap (translated from Dutch):
… global warming is accelerating and soon we will have no more winters anymore.
Just nine months ago he was still convinced that global warming means, well, warming. How did he get so quickly from global warming causes warming to and global warming causes cooling too? There seems to be one thing that stays consistent: the projections what global warming/climate change/climate disruption exactly would do to us change almost as fast as the weather itself.
We were warned several times about global warming in the past. In our country we would get soft winters and summers with relentless heat waves. Now we finally got what we were hoping for (colder winters and cooler summers) and yet they are freaking out once again…
All joking aside, I know global warming should be seen globally, not only in our tiny country. But if we can believe the satellite data (and other data sets alike) there wasn’t warming in the last 10+ years (some even say 15+ years). But in the end, I understand why he is saying this now. Next year is an important election year and as the chairman of an opposition party he needs strong statements to get mentioned in the media. Got that.