Councillor Michael Van Holst’s purchase of controversial books about climate change is being questioned by environmentalists, after his expense report revealed they were paid for by taxpayers.
“Generally, I think that was a waste of money,” says environmental advocate Mike Bloxam about Van Holst’s purchase of several books that question the link between the burning of fossil fuels and climate change, “Science is not based on opinion, it is based on fact and observations by people trained in those fields.”
According to new expense disclosures, on Dec. 17 Van Holst purchased nine books on climate change:
- The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change
- Climate Change: A Wicked Problem
- On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal
- Climate Change
- The Great Global Warming Blunder
- The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened
- The Real Inconvenient Truth
- Rescue Mission: Plane Earth
- Dumb Energy
CTV News has not read the books, but based on descriptions provided on Amazon.ca, at least two support the link between human-based release of carbon into the atmosphere and climate change, including the New York Times bestseller ‘On Fire: The burning case for a Green New Deal.'
But questions are being raised about why taxpayers covered the cost of several of other – much more controversial books.
‘The Real Inconvenient Truth’ includes the subtitle ‘The case for human-caused global warming and climate change is based on lies, deceit, and manipulation.”
The book ‘The Great Global Warming Blunder’ includes the claim, “…burning of fossil fuels may actually be beneficial for life on earth.”
And ‘The Polar Bear Catastrophe that Never Happened’ is described as “a cautionary tale of scientific hubris and of scientific failure.”
“I think I owe it to my constituents to be well informed about both sides of the debate,” explains Van Holst. “I've read about four-and-a-half books so far - very interesting books. Climate science is very fascinating. There are many natural things that are very interesting drivers of climate change as well."
“The debate is done, the debate has been done for years,” asserts Bloxam.
“Councillors do have their discretionary budgets, if that's how he chooses to spend his money to gather research he'll have to answer to the voters in his ward about that.”
The total cost of all nine books was $134.58 according to Van Holst’s expense account.
Last April, city council declared a climate emergency. Van Holst was one of three councillors at the time who raised objections.
He tells CTV News that Londoners could turn to crowdfunding to cover the costs related to city hall’s climate emergency plan, and believes there is an alternative way to become carbon neutral before the plan’s 2050 target.
“The fastest way for London to get to net zero is to have everyone buy carbon offsets. Canadians use an average of 22 tonnes a year, at $20 dollars, that's $440 to be net zero.”
Van Holst isn’t concerned about possible criticism stemming from expensing the books, “As a city councillor we have to deal with controversy.”