Rex Murphy: The U of A isn’t ‘brave’ for honouring Suzuki. Just the opposite


To award one of the knights of the warm table a degree is not controversial; it is joining the herd to moo in timid unison
Anti-pipeline protesters march in Burnaby, B.C., on March 10, 2018.Darryl Dyck/CP

At the deep centre of conventional wisdom no concept is more hallowed, more warmly cradled in the blanket-robes of political correctness than the Green dogma of global warming. For millions upon millions it is grant-subsidized Holy Writ.

Governments fatten its evangelists with unheralded largesse. Its advocate-missionaries are legion, gathering in ritual conclave every year in rich, well-lit capitals to renew their fervour and refresh their zeal. Rio, Geneva, Copenhagen, Rome are their jet-set Stations of the Cross, the United Nations their cathedral home, its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change a new curia stuffed with failed weathermen, cranky researchers, the blazing-eyed mystics of Gaia, all duly attended by a docile, uninquisitive, co-opted press corps.

Honours drop on its prophet-priests as do “the gentle rains from heaven.”


“Honours drop on global-warming prophet-priests as do “the gentle rains from heaven”


From tiny tots in the sandbox to the web Gatsbys of Davos, the support and acclamation is universal. The stream of awards and hosannas flows to the littlest Greenies and the very pin-prick peak of the planet’s one-percenters. Al Gore was bestowed the Nobel Prize and an Academy Award. Less prestigious perhaps, a Canadian hierarch in the same creed has accumulated 25 honorary sheepskins for his vapourings on the same cause (stitched together, enough to shelter a family of 10 over a long winter). This would be David Suzuki, lord of the carbon offsets.

The celebrity appeal of the prime minister of our thrice-blessed country, Justin Trudeau, owes more than a little to the general understanding that global warming occupies the deepest chambers of his wonderfully capacious social-justice heart, outranking there even his devout commitments to those cherished oxymorons, male feminism and gender analytics.

Therefore, to read the awarding of an honorary degree to an extremely prominent Galahad of global warming is “controversial” is to put the word on its head, hammer it into the ground, and dance on its lexical grave. Which is how the University of Alberta is constructing its defence of attaching Mr. Suzuki’s name to its long scroll of honorees. And further that the university’s reputation for “standing up bravely for freedom of inquiry, academic integrity, and independence — depends on it (awarding him the degree).”

Environmentalist David Suzuki shares a laugh with Justin Trudeau on Nov. 3, 2013. Adam Scotti/Liberal Party of Canada

Really? That’s a very small nail for a very laden academic garment.

There is no more anodyne, innocuous, vapid, stale and bland gesture for any university than to drape an honorific hood over a head that has surrendered its faculties to the projected terrors of apocalyptic global warming. An honorary degree to a global-warming gospeller has all the controversy of a Boy Scout merit badge. It’s the 21st century’s equivalent of the old convent school’s good-conduct medal, or the gold star on the spelling test.

The controversy here is not the degree itself, but the lack of tact exhibited by its coming from an Alberta university during the most fraught moment in the pipeline crisis, largely brought on by a two-decade campaign of vilification from the global-warming sodality against Alberta’s jobs and economy. The tormenting and derogation of Alberta’s central industry has been the near-exclusive and bitter focus of the whole frenzied archipelago of the Green movement, and Mr. Suzuki one of its most intemperate, inelegant (“Trudeau is a liar”) Jeremiahs.


“The tormenting and derogation of Alberta’s central industry has been the near-exclusive and bitter focus of the whole frenzied archipelago of the Green movement”


But go to any other university in the Western World, and an honorary degree for a global-warming activist will be seen as a dance of virtue, right thinking, an apple pie on the windowsill of politically correct signalling. In such context its requires zero courage. The opposite. It is a beacon symbol of the willingness to fuel up the bandwagon and leap to a conspicuous seat on it.

As for the claim that this degree is standing up for free inquiry: Here we enter regions of balderdash rarely surveyed. Is there any huge public policy issue that is more “consensus” riddled, more resistant to substantive criticism or revision, more hostile to challenges on the party line, more aggressive and dismissive of legitimate criticism and critics, than global warming? What science seeks to shepherd its key data, labels questioners “deniers,” sues its critics and calls for “jail” for those who oppose its dogmas? What science operates like a cartel and a gatekeeper of what it sees as “its” subject? What science is riddled with failed projections, deploys scare scenarios as part of its “inquiry,” erases the distinction between activism and truth, and through conferences, television shows, campaigns and summits constantly evangelizes the “one true” perspective on its discipline? Global warming. So to award one of the knights of the warm table a degree is not controversial; it is joining the herd to moo in timid unison.

Supporters of the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion rally in Vancouver on March 10, 2018. Darryl Dyck/CP

The university can honour whom it likes and prizes. Give Mr. Suzuki two degrees and name a chair for him if that would emphasize what it sees as the worthy grounds of its choice. But please let it be for communication, not science. As an activist/communicator, he is superb. In the art of leveraging science as a pedestal for activism, he’s in a league with Bill Nye, and far superior, though less impactful, than boring Al Gore. Nonetheless, science and advocacy are in different armies. Activists fight for victory; their methods are protest and propaganda. Science is allergic to causes, all save fact and truth. It cannot be a servant of activism without abandoning its principles, its method and its soul.


“I’d like to suggest three or four other names for a U of A honorary citation”


But on the point of a university being a setting for controversy, I’d like to suggest three or four other names for a U of A honorary citation. How about Canadians Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, for exploding the fraudulent “hockey stick” graph? These two have been indomitable in trying to force just a little debate and high-value analysis into the web of consensus. How about the master physicist Freeman Dyson, a Nobel Prize winner himself and a friend of the great scientists of the past 60 years, who declaims against the consensus and the debasement of science that has flourished under the iron strictures of climate-warming debate? How about Dr. Judith Curry, a woman of preeminent credentials, exquisite manners, and a specialist in this very field – whose argued reservations about the “science,” scrupulous attention to quality research, and humility in the face of the overwhelming rigours of the scientific method, makes her a singular voice in our contentious time.

These degrees would be genuinely controversial, not a matter of place, but of the discipline itself. They would alarm the alarmists. They would signal the science is not settled. (Real science never is.) A degree to any or all of them would set a blaze of fury within the house of accepted opinion and politically correct attitudinizing. And restore some credibility to the University of Alberta’s feeble claim that it is the site of contradiction and controversy it ludicrously claims — by awarding the consensus-conformist Suzuki a degree — to be.


Source: Rex Murphy / National Post

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