Barnes said he made the decision to fund John Robson’s project, The Environment: A True Story, after attending a conference on the topic last weekend. Robson is a columnist with the National Post and an invited professor at the University of Ottawa.
In his latest documentary, he argues the science behind man-made climate change is shaky and that scientists need to take more stock in the past when predicting the future of the planet.
Barnes told Global News he believes in the science behind climate change but is also a staunch supporter of freedom of speech.
“I’m a believer that Albertans are entitled to as much information as possible about the things that affect our lives,” he said.
Barnes said the Alberta NDP were also invited to the conference but chose not to go. He questioned why the party is scared to “have a conversation on climate change.”
On Thursday, after John Robson tweeted a message thanking Barnes for his support, the NDP caucus put out their own tweet. It appeared to suggest the Wildrose MLA was a climate denier.
“Drew Barnes, he is the Wildrose energy critic and Mr. Trudeau made it very clear that the two pipelines that we recently got approved—which provide a great many jobs for Calgarians—a big part of that was because we took action on climate change because we believe it’s real,” said Brian Malkinson, MLA for Calgary-Currie.
“Mr. Barnes, by supporting this movie, puts that at risk.”
Robson told News Talk 770’s Danielle Smith Friday the assertions put forward about climate change and carbon dioxide levels are “incompatible with what we know about the Earth’s past.”
“They would have us believe that in 1970, nature handed us the baton and said, ‘Now, you go turn up that control knob that carbon dioxide thermostat control.’ That’s preposterously bad science; the effect continues, but the cause suddenly inexplicably changed.”
Robson pointed to other times in Earth’s history, including the Minoan warm period and the Medieval warm period, when the planet was warmer than it is today.
But Catherine Abreu, executive director of the Climate Action Network Canada, told News Talk 770 that global temperatures during those periods warmed less than half a degree Celsius.
According to the most recent data from organizations like the World Meteorological Association, she said average temperatures in recent decades have warmed on average by about 1 C.
“Perhaps we have seen changes in global temperatures in the past. But, have we seen them at the pace at which they’re unfolding today? The answer is no,” she added. “So, not only are we talking about risks to our way of life, but we’re talking about a pace of change at a scale we just can’t keep up with.”
Abreu said the longer we deny the effects of climate change, the harder it will be to adapt.
“What we’re talking about here that sometimes gets lost, is our ability as a species to continue to function on the planet in ways that we’ve grown used to. And that’s what is at risk.”
Barnes told Global News that at no time has he ever denied climate change, but said he is interested to learn what policy options Robson might propose.
“When I go around Cypress-Medicine Hat, many people say to me that they’d like to know more about the science behind climate change. They’d like to know how big an impact man’s having on it. They’d like to know why some of these other predictions haven’t come true,” he said.
“It’s absolutely about making sure the environment is 100 per cent protected, but it’s also about making sure that our policies are the best ones and it’s also about making sure Albertans have full information on both sides of the argument.”