Earlier this month I blogged about Dr. Francis Zwiers – a climate modeler who lives on Canada’s west coast – testifying before a committee in Washington, DC.

Zwiers is no ordinary scientist. He is, in fact, the only Canadian among the 31 members of the bureau of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Bureau members select IPCC authors and oversee the report-writing process.

Following my earlier blog post, I sent some questions to a media relations person at the University of Victoria, where Zwiers is employed. Zwiers himself replied to these questions and has consented to my reproducing this Q&A:

Q1. Who invited Dr. Zwiers to testify?

The US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Q2. Why was this invitation extended to a non-American? (he was the only person out of seven not based in the US)

This is a question that would be better posed to Congressman Waxman, the Ranking Member of the Committee, but our understanding is that the Committee wished to have testimony heard on some very recently published science relating to the possible impact of changing atmospheric composition on extreme climate and weather events. My colleagues and I recently published a paper in Nature on this topic.

Q3. Why did he accept this invitation?

I accepted because scientists have a responsibility to communicate their findings not just to their peers, but also to the larger public.

Q4. Is this testimony connected in any way to his IPCC duties?

No, there is no connection.

Q5. How much did this trip cost (including but not limited to airfare, airport limos, airport parking, hotel and meals)?

The approximate cost, including incremental airfare and airline change fees, hotel, local transportation and meals was $1470 US. These were incremental costs that were incurred as a result of being able to combine this trip with a previously planned trip to eastern Canada.

Q6. Who paid for this trip?

The US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Q7. How does this trip benefit Canadian taxpayers?

I am an employee of the University of Victoria, and thus the more appropriate question would be How does this trip benefit UVic and the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium?. The University’s objective is to advance and communicate knowledge in its areas of specialization, which at UVic includes climate science and its application. Scientists have a responsibility both to conduct research and to communicate its results to potential users. Climate is an international concern, and thus it would only make sense that I would accept an invitation to communicate some of the findings of climate science to a House Committee.

Q8. Did he purchase carbon offsets, or take any other action to reduce the carbon emissions associated with this trip?

No, I did not. I minimized the impact of my trip to Washington by combining it with another, previously planned trip to eastern Canada, thereby substantially reducing the incremental time and distance travelled in order to testify. Note that House rules require that testimony be given in person.

I was, therefore, in error when I previously alleged that Zwiers had flown 2,500 miles solely to provide this testimony.


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