In our opinion, the Association of Science Communicators of Quebec (ASCQ) ran a billboard in Montreal, Quebec about November/December of 2014 that is in violation of Ad Standards Council Code, sections:
1. Accuracy and Clarity (a)”Advertisements must not contain inaccurate, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims, statements, illustrations or representations, either direct or implied”
(a)”Advertisements must not contain inaccurate, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims, statements, illustrations or representations, either direct or implied”
(b) Advertisements must not omit relevant information in a manner that, in the result, is deceptive.
and (e) claims must be supportable Both in principle and practice, all advertising claims and representations must be supportable.
8. Scientific claims
Professional or Scientific Claims
Advertisements must not distort the true meaning of statements made by professionals or scientific authorities. Advertising claims must not imply that they have a scientific basis that they do not truly possess. Any scientific, professional or authoritative claims or statements must be applicable to the Canadian context, unless otherwise clearly stated.
This ad, in French, says “What science REALLY says: The climate is changing. Because of us.” (or could also be read “Climate change. It’s because of us.”
However, this misstates the scientific definition of climate change (see detail below) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which in both French and English says “Climate change in IPCC usage refers to… any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.”
Thus, this billboard substantially overstates the claim about climate change by lumping all kinds of natural and human-caused climate change under one big layer of guilt – “It’s all our fault.” (i.e. YOUR fault)
That’s absurd…not scientific, and not even the IPCC/GIEC climate folks make such a statement.
This plays upon the (Section 11) superstitions and fears of people. That’s not right!
Especially from a group claiming to be expert science communicators!
Omitted from this billboard is the relevant information that climate changes all the time. See this? In the chart below, you can see that there have been many warm and cool periods over the thousands of years that had nothing to do with humans. During the Roman Optimum, Hannibal crossed the Alps on elephants – we didn’t melt that snow! We also did not cause the Dark Cold Age when much of human history and civilization simply….vanished. Nor did we cause the Medieval Warm Period when all the cathedrals and castles were built in Europe – a time of warm, stable weather and very abundant crops. We did not cause the Little Ice Age that followed – a time of terrible weather extreme, wet and cold seasons that led to crop failures, famines, and civil unrest. And did we cause the present warming? (at the far right side of the graph)? Well, some scientists think so – but others do not and some think we only contributed to it nominally.
And did we alone cause the present warming? (at the far right side of the graph)
Well, some scientists think so – but others do not and some think we only contributed to it nominally.
Some scientists note that there was very little volcanic activity from 1912 to 1963, as you can see in the black graph above – and that this might have been responsible for about 0.5 degree C of warming (meaning humans perhaps contributed only 0.3 degrees C of warming – not everyone agrees we contributed that much either).
Likewise, let’s have a look at that industrial stack in the ASCQ ad with stuff pouring out of it.
A common method of climate change activists, to make people feel like bad and dirty emissions are coming from plants, is to show an unidentified stack that is backlit.
Today, certainly in Canada, most ‘soot’ emissions of black carbon (the stuff that makes wildfire smoke all black and that is really bad for your health) are highly regulated. Most stacks emit steam but when backlit – this looks black. Since the stack is not identified, the viewer cannot know if this is a ‘dirty’ stack – or just steam. This seems very misrepresentative.
You can see online at YourEnvironment.ca that in most cities in Canada, air quality has dramatically improved since the 1970’s.
Furthermore – it’s not just greenhouse gas or carbon dioxide emissions that are defined as human factors contributing to climate change – the IPCC and most scientists agree that many human factors can affect climate and regional weather – such as deforestation, the Urban Heat Island effect, black carbon from transportation or wildfires (most of which are caused by humans), land disturbance (like farming/agriculture), and changing water bodies (like draining wetlands, building dams and reservoirs, diverting natural streams and tributaries….and more.
To visually suggest that only emissions from human industrial activity are the cause of climate change is to greatly overstate the case and leaves out valuable information.
As of course, the biggest natural factor (shouldn’t this be included too?…at least mentioned) is missing on this billboard …
Here’s our point by point review.
If you think it is wrong of a group of expert science communicators to mislead the public like this in their advertising, you know what to do. Complain to Ad Standards.
Nous ne faisions pas ce ‘climat change’ – ni ces changements climatiques! Trompeuses!
Simplement, ce n’est pas vrai. Pas de tout.