Climate skeptic scheduled to speak at environmental conference in Regina fires back

Climate skeptic scheduled to speak at environmental conference in Regina fires back

Patrick Moore says it's "ridiculous" that there is an effort to have him removed as a speaker at an upcoming conference on environmental sustainability in Regina later this year.

Moore, who is chair of a group that says rising CO2 emissions "will be of great benefit to life on earth," claims human-caused emissions are not responsible for climate change.

Leading scientists in the field, looking at years of evidence for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have high confidence the opposite is true, and that human activities are causing the planet to warm above pre-industrial levels, and that increase is likely to cause long-lasting or irreversible impacts.

Regina was planning to pay Moore $10,000, plus expenses, for his talk at Reimagine Conference 2020: Roadmap to Sustainable Cities. That decision is now under review, given public outcry, the mayor's office announced earlier today.

"Clearly, this is much more controversial than I thought it was going to be in a way that I don't think I expected to happen," Mayor Michael Fougere said.

Moore has been encouraging his 100,000 Twitter followers to contact the mayor's office, complaining about the "alarmists in Regina."

"I'm actually going to say some things that aren't just a bunch of pap. I actually have something to say," Moore told CBC News on Monday over a Skype session from Mexico.

"I get standing ovations from audiences when I finish my presentation because they can see that I've given them a new perspective on this world and many of the aspects of it," Moore said.

Moore also said things like climate change, the decline of coral reefs and genetically modified organisms are being used as "scare stories."

"This is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, why would they not want me to come and speak? The people who choose me as a speaker chose me as a reason."

Moore is consultant, not expert, prof says

Bonnie Allen/CBC

Britt Hall, a biology professor at the University of Regina, said she has tried to find the source of Moore's scientific expertise without much success.

"He doesn't have any publications in any reputable science journals. He is not a practicing environmental scientist," Hall said.

Hall said Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom — the title of Moore's presentation — indicates that Moore does not think climate change is an emergency that needs to be mitigated.

Outcry and controversy prompts review

Fougere addressed the situation while at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association's annual convention.

"It is one thing to allow people who have different opinions to speak their mind — and that's part of what democracy is about — but I also know this has become very controversial."

The decision to book Moore was made by a committee chaired by councillors Joel Murray and Mike O'Donnell, Fougere said. The councillors are currently reviewing the decision and an update is expected in the near future, he added.

Moore was one of the early figures in the Greenpeace movement, serving as Canadian president for nine years and as a director of Greenpeace International for six before parting ways with the organization in the mid-1980s.

Marie-Christine Fiset, head of media at Greenpeace, says the company is glad to see the city is reviewing its decision. 

"Patrick Moore has been a paid spokesman for polluting industries for more than 30 years - for far longer than he ever worked for Greenpeace. He might use our name to gain legitimacy or earn a buck, but he does not represent Greenpeace Canada," Fiset said in an emailed statement to CBC News. "Cities are on the frontlines of climate change, dealing with costly floods, dangerous heatwaves and food insecurity. There is no time, or money, to waste on Mr. Moore's climate denial."

Fougere said that the city would not be organizing the conference, aimed at "defining what sustainability means for cities now and in the future," if it did not believe climate change was having an impact on the environment.

The city said Moore will be paid $10,000, plus expenses, to speak at the conference, double what the next-highest speaker is receiving. 

The conference Reimagine Conference 2020: Roadmap to Sustainable Cities runs May 20-21 in Regina.