The Pope, Andrea Reimer, Climate Change, and Brian Williams

CO2 concentrations 1960-2014

CO2 concentration in atmosphere at Mauna Loa (Wikipedia)

By Jon Petrie

Devising effective action to stem greenhouse gas emissions is highly dependent on accurate information about what is included and not included in government provided green house gas numbers. For the Pope climate change is a pressing moral issue.  And for this writer (and presumably the Pope) any bearing of false witness about greenhouse gas emissions is a significant moral crime.   

Andrea Reimer, lead councillor for Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan and deputy Mayor, bore false witness four times within two minutes re Vancouver’s greenhouse gas emission numbers at an April 2015 SFU sponsored event.  The quotes from Reimer — a thru c below — can be readily accessed on the web. (1)  

a) “We [Vancouver City] have been audited [re greenhouse gas numbers] externally over and over and over again …”

Vancouver’s greenhouse gas numbers have never been audited externally. (Statement paraphrased from a private email by a highly placed civil servant within Vancouver’s government.  From that email: “I do not know of any city that has undertaken an external audit of its community scale emissions figures.”)

b) “The airport in Richmond is not included but the airport in Vancouver is.”

Reimer here is referencing the float plane airport in Burrard Inlet and presumably emissions by planes flying from that airport. However per my contact within the Vancouver City bureaucracy: “The City calculates its emissions based on a jurisdictional boundary not a geographical one. Aviation is a Federal jurisdiction.”  (2)

c) “The ports within the borders of Vancouver and there is quite a few port facilities within the City of Vancouver. Those are included [in Vancouver’s greenhouse gas emissions].”

Again quoting the well placed Vancouver City employee: “No port emissions are included for the same reasons as presented [above].”

d) “There are two cement plants that are included that are in Vancouver and included.”

Disingenuous at best: No cement is manufactured within Vancouver, batch plants within Vancouver do mix cement with water and aggregate to make concrete.  Batch plants produce trivial amounts of greenhouse gases compared to actual cement manufacture.  The two largest point source CO2 emitters within Metro Vancouver are Leheigh’s Delta cement manufacturing plant (727,000 tonnes of CO2 in a recent year) and La Farge’s Richmond cement plant (503,000 tonnes). (Data is from the Tyee interactive carbon map — no cement plants are shown within Vancouver city limits on that map, see http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/07/04/CarbonFootprint/  )

NBC anchor, Brian Williams’s misstatements about a 2003 helicopter ride in Iraq were front page news for most of a week in American media in February 2015. Williams was suspended from NBC. American media had no hesitation using the words “lies” and “lying” when describing Williams’s statements. (3) 

I wrote six journalists detailing Reimer’s bearing of false witness.  Three journalists acknowledged my emails, three did not.  Reimer’s bearing of false witness has not been reported in the Canadian media. (4)

Contrast US media treatment of Williams’s bearing of false witness with the treatment of Reimer’s false statements and draw your own conclusions. 

And ask yourselves whether Mayor Robertson would have been invited to confer with the Pope on climate change if Canadian media had reported widely in 2015 that Robertson’s deputy mayor at a university sponsored conference misrepresented how Vancouver’s CO2e emissions are calculated and also made a baseless claim that Vancouver’s CO2e numbers have been repeatedly externally audited. 

[Many readers will recognize my “bearing false witness” phrase employed repeatedly above as a reference to the ninth commandment (or eighth in the Catholic and Lutheran traditions).  A lesser known biblical injunction: “If a person sins because he does not speak up when he hears a public charge to testify regarding something he has seen or learned about, he will be held responsible.” (Leviticus 5:1)]

NOTES

1)  The Reimer quotes are transcribed from the first two minutes of a Reimer verbal presentation on April 2, 2015 in a SFU forum titled “Can Vancouver Play in the Big Leagues of Renewable Cities?”:  https://www.sfu.ca/publicsquare/upcoming-events/city-conversations/2015/Apr-02-2015.html  —  press listen and after the audio commences go to 44:00 for Reimer.  

2)  I wrote Reimer asking her to provide evidence for her airport statement — no answer.  For another of Reimer’s failures to respond after bearing false witness see my piece ‘Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus’

3) Google > Brian Williams, helicopter, February 2015 < and the result is more than two million hits.  One representative article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/brian-williams-begins-apology-tour-exaggerations-were-my-ego-getting-the-better-of-me/2015/06/19/3d6177a0-1679-11e5-89f3-61410da94eb1_story.html

In my essay above, deferential to over-polite Canadian sensibilities, I have avoided the words “lie” and similar.  Other cultures are less inhibited. Two well written 2015 articles on lies, liars, and lying that readers interested in reporting styles might peruse: 

Gov. Chris Christie’s Phony Truth-Telling, New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/01/opinion/gov-christies-phony-truth-telling.html?emc=edit_th_20150701&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=46086053&_r=0

Myths about Ireland as Europe’s best behaved state are not harmless lies, Irish Times:  http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/who-will-dare-say-out-loud-emperor-has-no-clothes-1.2267032?__vfz=c_pages%3D11000002670848

4) Peter Ladner, Barbara Yaffe, and Don Cayo responded to my emails. Stephen Hume, Jeff Lee, and Gordon Clark did not. I provided my email correspondence with the well placed Vancouver civil servant to all the journalists above.

*****

If you would like to contact Jon Petrie, please e-mail CityHallWatch (citizenYVR@gmail.com) and we will forward any queries to him.

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