Climate change denial from PUB chair Andy Wells 'really scary,' says prof
An American professor and climate scientist says Andy Wells' denial of climate change is at "fundamental odds" with actual scientific fact, added deniers like Wells are spreading misinformation to mislead the public.
Michael Mann, a professor at Penn State University, said it is "really scary" that someone who sits on Newfoundland and Labrador's Public Utilities Board, continues to tout climate change as a myth.
Wells, chairman and CEO of the PUB, said in a letter to The Telegram last week that Mann's statistical analysis to showcase the changing climate was "corrupt, erroneous and false" and said climate change is a farce.
The letter to The Telegram was in response to a column by Peter Jackson published in the newspaper earlier in April that said Wells' assertions that climate change was a myth were uninformed and he was in denial.
Mann told CBC News Monday that Wells' assertions that scientific data from Mann and other climate scientists were incorrect is simply inaccurate.
The idea is if they can just repeat them often enough people will believe these myths, they'll believe these talking points, and that's unfortunate.- Michael Mann, on climate change deniers
"It is literally the consensus of the world's scientists that climate change is real, that it's caused by human activity and that it will continue to be a threat — an increasing threat — if we don't do something about it," he said in an interview to be carried on Here & Now.
"There's a worthy debate to be had about what to do about the problem, but there is not a worthy debate to be had about whether the problem exists."
According to Mann, the details provided by Wells in his letter aren't in line with scientific data and called the spreading of inaccurate facts a "massive disinformation effort" by climate change deniers.
"They continue to bury their heads in the sand and use manufactured talking points, various myths that are repeated, even though they have been refuted many times," said Mann.
"The idea is if they can just repeat them often enough people will believe these myths, they'll believe these talking points, and that's unfortunate."
While this winter may have seen distinctly cold temperatures in parts of Canada, Mann said, levels of Arctic sea ice were the lowest on record.
As chair, Wells plays a senior role in regulating petroleum prices, including gasoline, diesel and other fuels.
The PUB also plays a regulatory role in hydroelectric power, which the Newfoundland and Labrador government frequently markets as a "clean and green" alternative to fossil fuels.
According to Mann, tackling climate change will require shifting the world's dependence on fossil fuels.
"To have a climate change denier on the utilities board, on a board that is making critical decisions about our energy infrastructure at precisely a time when we need to change that infrastructure, that is just obviously antithetical to what needs to happen here."