By Eric Fung
On Wed., Sept. 25, the Rosza Centre was filled as the University of Calgary kicked off its series of five public lectures examining the issues surrounding the Kyoto Protocol.
Former Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Design and current TransAlta Vice-President of Sustainable Development Dr. Robert Page gave the inaugural talk, “The Origins of our Dilemma,” by describing the source of the agreement and its surrounding issues.
“I believe there is no more controversial issue to Albertans,” he began. “I want the public to have a proper sense of the issue.”
Page cited numerous events leading up to the current understanding of Kyoto, beginning with the original scientific data showing patterns of climate change in the early 1980s through the 1992 Rio conference, where nations made a voluntary commitment to see progress.
“The goal of Kyoto was to develop an international general political agreement,” Page said. “Canada agreed to its conditions on the basis of Rio’s goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas levels.”
Ultimately, however, Page named science as the source of both the Kyoto Protocol and its controversy.
“There has been a downplay of science in the development of these commitments,” he explained.
“Human activity has been a factor in climate change and this has been documented in a variety of sources.
“However, we should not fall into hubris; the clouds and the oceans are hard to model. I don’t think that the public knows enough to decide about Kyoto; they have so little basis on which to judge comments,” he continued.
While Page did not offer solutions, he did suggest a route Alberta might take to further examine the issues.
“Alberta has some of the best minds,” he said. “The formation of a private sector-university establishment would be a powerful tool. Give us time, and we will make the connections.”
The next lecture will be held on Oct. 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the Red and White Club.