Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized Elizabeth May on Wednesday for suggesting that the Fort McMurray fires should be linked to global warming.
Responding to comments made earlier, Trudeau said May’s suggestion that the disaster was “very related to the global climate crisis” was neither helpful, nor accurate. But he agreed with part of May’s message.
“It’s well known that one of the consequences of climate change will be a greater prevalence of extreme weather events around the planet,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference.
“However, any time we try to make a political argument on one particular disaster, I think it’s a bit of shortcut that can sometimes not have the desired outcome. There have always been fires. There have always been floods.
Pointing at any one incident and saying: ‘This is because of that,’ is neither helpful, nor entirely accurate. We need to separate a pattern over time from any one event. What we are focused on right now on is giving the people of Fort McMurray and the rest of Alberta the kind of support that they need right now and in the months and indeed the years to come.”
May had told reporters that the devastating destruction caused by the wildfires in Fort McMurray was a sign of worse things to come if the planet doesn’t scale back its consumption of fossil fuels.
Prompted by questions from reporters at a separate news conference, May said that scientists cannot link specific events to climate change. But she noted that the disaster was following a pattern.
“The fact that the forest fire season has arrived so early in northern Alberta is very likely a climate event – very likely related to extreme high temperatures and very low humidity, very low precipitation and it is, as we saw in the quote from one of the firefighters – it’s a firestorm,” she said. “It jumped a highway, it jumped a river. It’s a devastating tragedy right now and I think our focus is always on the right now: to think for the firefighters, for first responders, for people who are losing their homes. It’s a disaster. But it’s a disaster that is very related to the global climate crisis.”
May’s comments drew a vicious backlash after they were reported on social media websites from critics who accused her of exploiting the tragedy to advance a political agenda. (Source: National Observer)
Letter to the Editor, May 11, 2016 – Environmentalists are offended
RE: Fort McMurray cartoon (May 6)
The cartoon showing environmentalists clapping at the terrible tragedy in Fort McMurray is outrageous libel. Forestry experts say the majority of wild fires are caused by humans. If the environment was taken seriously instead of those concerned being called tree huggers by irresponsible smart alecks, chances are this tragedy would never have happened. To claim those who care about this planet are happy that their fellow citizens have suffered horribly is disgusting. – Bill Prestwich, Dundas
Prestwich is correct in one sense, the Fort McMurray victims could have avoided the fires but not by listening to the advocates of anthropogenic climate change. Instead, the town planners should never have built homes so close to the forests or should have cleared a wide swath of trees to prevent naturally occurring fires from jumping. I accept that Prestwich is not laughing at the victims of the fire but when he claims that the fires might have been avoided had people listened to “concerned” environmentalists presumably like him, I sense a very conceited man who feels vindicated by the fires. That’s almost as bad as pointing a finger and laughing. – Steve
Letter to the Editor, May 9, 2016 – Cartoon unfair to environmentalists
RE: Fort McMurray fire disaster cartoon (May 5)
Your editorial cartoon depicting environmental advocates making fun of Fort McMurray was unfair. We do not laugh at the people who are victims of the fire. But we do recognize that their activities are part of the reason our planet is in such trouble due to climate change. It is unfortunate these people were victims of the changing environment, but it is a situation they helped create. – C. Farmer, Hamilton
C. Farmer, those people are no more to blame for the fire than you are. That’s the problem with fanatics. – Pat