Are the Media Fairly Reporting on Coal Phase-out in Alberta?

by Michelle Stirling, Communications Manager @August 2016

In the fall of 2015, two Edmonton media outlets ran articles about coal emissions that wildly exaggerated the source evidence they used. We objected to both media outlets. The Edmonton Journal refused to run our rebuttal statement. To be fair, they had recently published another article of ours on the topic headline as: “Opinion -Scare quality versus air quality.” however, we felt the errors in the “Hot spots” report (see links below) in question were so glaring, that either the Journal should write a retraction, or they should accept our rebuttal.

They did not. The editorial management at the time declined our rebuttal. We saw no retraction or correction.

We also sent a letter to the taxpayer-funded CBC Edmonton, which had similarly mis-reported the information. They said they would look at it and get back to us. They did not.

The Journal had also published a letter to the editor days after our first item which was headlined “Friends of Science don’t deserve ink.” and laden with unsubstantiated smears by a renewables activist (who apparently doesn’t know that all wind and solar devices are made from lots and lots of fossil fuels!)

As the coal phase-out discussion continues, we now publish our proposed rebuttal letter of the time as a matter of public interest.

Why Friends of Science Deserves Ink – Edmonton Media Misinforms Public on Environment Canada Report

By Michelle Stirling @2015

Two recent (Oct. 2015) Edmonton media stories took information from a spring workshop of the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring group and turned it on its head, to misinform the public.

The Edmonton Journal headline of Oct. 8, 2015, claimed: “Hot Spots depict how coal plants contribute to Edmonton pollution in new Environment Canada images.” In fact, the new Environment Canada data showed the coal-fired power plants as blue dots and indicated that there were significantly reduced emissions.

satellite measurements of Change

 

Research scientist in charge of this project, Heather Morrison of Environment Canada (EC), in her video presentation on the matter, states at 4:09 that there has been a decrease in sulfur dioxide concentrations from the coal-fired power plants “which aligns very nicely with the mitigation that has happened over that time period…” (2005 to 2013)

The Journal ran a colorful image of emissions with Alberta lit up as if as air polluted as Ontario. Scary!  But Heather Morrison said: “..what you can see is the measurements are sparse across the landscape and look disproportionately large because they had to make the dots big enough that you can see them.”

On the same day, CBC Edmonton ran a similar story on this headlined:  “Computer-generated video shows pollution spread across the Prairies” Oct 8, 2015.

Again, the reporter is overstating the case. The images are from a computer model, not real emissions. Outputs from models are not data. The real life empirical data shows a decrease of pollution, despite a population increase.

Alberta’s population grew from 3.256 million in 2006 to 4.120 million by 2014. If sulfur and nitrogen oxides – SOx and NOx – emissions are at about the same levels in 2014 as they were in 2006, that means in real terms a reduction of just over 26% per capita by industry.

The CASA Data Warehouse air quality monitoring records show no exceedances of NO2 or SO2 (the substances studied) during the time frames of the modeling study except occasional short-term exceedances at Redwater, far from coal-fired power plants.

Further, NOx and SOx are essential for a healthy eco-system. In 2011, Mother Nature’s wildfires in Alberta alone, emitted the equivalent of 448 million diesel truck emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), along with 30 million tons of SO4 (sulfates) and 16 million CO2e tons of nitrogen oxides.

It seems the misinformed media slant comes from the phase-out coal activists at Pembina Institute and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), whose representatives are quoted in the stories.

Pembina and CAPE are trying to foist more wind and solar on Albertans by demonizing coal. One has to question this blatant misrepresentation of the facts, especially as Pembina Institute is influentially represented on Alberta’s climate panel.

If Pembina Institute and CAPE are so keen to phase-out coal, maybe they should write the first estimated $11.1 billion compensation cheque, plus $11 billion to transition to natural gas, plus millions more for power grid interties and infrastructure. Maybe they should pick up the tab for you and I of the tripled power costs that would be the end result if they succeed in foisting renewables – wind and solar – upon us.

There is a federal coal plant retirement program in place. If we wait 10 years, most of the coal-fired power plants will retire on their own and it won’t cost taxpayers these billions, often presented as only “pennies a month.”

Google engineers have shown that wind and solar are not effective for power generation, they are ridiculously expensive, they mess up the grid, and they do not address climate change or air pollution.

Friends of Science, maligned by many, appear to be the only watchdog ferreting out the evidence over climate change ideology. That’s why we deserve ink – to clear the air of eco-smog.

– 30 –

RE: Edmonton Journal “Hot spots depict how coal plants contribute to Edmonton pollution in new Environment Canada images.” Oct. 8, 2015 http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/hot-spots-depict-how-coal-plants-contribute-to-edmonton-pollution-in-new-environment-canada-images

“Computer-generated video shows pollution spread across the Prairies” Oct 8, 2015 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/computer-generated-video-shows-pollution-spread-across-the-prairies-1.3261783

To read the full letters to both outlets, read this blog post.

LIES, MISINFORMATION, AND DEMAGOGUERY

Contributed by Robert Lyman @ August 2016 – Energy economist.

On Saturday, August 20, 2016, a coalition of environmental groups in Eastern Ontario will demonstrate in Ottawa to oppose Trans Canada Pipeline’s proposed Energy East Pipeline project. Like previous campaigns waged against the Keystone XL Pipeline and others in Canada, the information being disseminated and endlessly repeated by Ecology Ottawa and many of the other organizers is blatantly wrong and misleading, and the exercise itself represents an attempt to severely politicize a decision-making process that should be left to the National Energy Board.

It would take a book to adequately explain all that is wrong with the opponents’ objections to Energy East. Within Canada, the main substantive claims come down to two – that the construction and operation of the Energy East Pipeline will threaten the quality of water supplies and that building additional oil pipeline infrastructure will harm the global climate.

 

Alleged Threats to Water Quality

The effects of a pipeline on the water quality along its route will be determined by several factors, the most important of which include the route chosen, the design of the pipeline, the special precautions taken by the pipeline operator to avoid, detect and respond to any spill that might happen, the likely size of the spill, and the diligence of the regulators that approve the initial construction of the pipeline and regulate it throughout its operational life. It is extremely unlikely that any of the environmentalists who will demonstrate on August 20 have any expertise in these subjects. The National Energy Board is an independent, expert, quasi-judicial regulatory body that will review these facts and come to a recommendation for the federal Cabinet.

Are pipelines safe in general? There are hundreds of thousands of miles of oil pipelines now operating in Canada and the United States, most of which underlie rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands of all kinds and sizes, and have done so safely for many decades.

Opponents love to focus on the worst possible cases of potential oil spills and present these in their propaganda as the most likely cases. This is, of course, flagrantly dishonest, but they seldom get called out for doing it. In fact, oil pipelines are by far the safest way to transport oil and refined products. According to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, between 2002 and 2012, over 99.999% of oil transported by pipeline in Canada was delivered safely and without incident. During that period, 14 pipeline accidents occurred involving the release of crude oil. Of these, 57% involved the release of less than 6 barrels of oil; 14% between 6 and 160 barrels; 21% between 165 and 6,300 barrels, and 1% over 6,300 barrels.

Trans Canada Pipelines (TCPL) has committed that the pipeline will be designed, built and operated in ways that meet or exceed industry standards. In operation, it will be monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from TCPL’s operations control centre. It will use a leak detection strategy using multiple real-time leak detection methods including real-time transient modeling, pressure-flow monitoring, software-based line balance checks, in-line inspections, and periodic aerial and ground monitoring.

 

Alleged Effects on the Global Climate

If one accepts the thesis that catastrophic climate change may be caused by human-made GHG emissions, how much difference to the world’s emissions would be made if the Energy East pipeline were not built? This can be demonstrated in percentage terms. Canada produces 1.6 % of global GHGs. All current oil sands production accounts for 6.5% of Canadian emissions. The emissions associated with the oil that would be transported by Energy East would, at most, represent about 20% of the production from the oil sands. If you multiply those figures (i.e. 1.6 x .065 x .2), you can calculate that the production of oil for the Energy East project would contribute 0.02% of global emissions. In other words, it is one five thousandth of annual global emissions. That is much less than the rounding errors used for statistical analysis. So, in the worst case, the emissions that would be avoided by rejecting the Energy East project can hardly be measured.

What difference does one pipeline make in global terms? Despite the recent decline in oil prices, infrastructure investment is booming.  In 2015, 1,115 miles of new crude oil pipelines were constructed in the United States and 352 miles in Canada out of a global total of 1,886 miles. Crude oil pipelines under construction now that will be completed in future years total 3,885 miles in the United States and 2,968 miles in Canada out of a global total of 10,626 miles. Total onshore oil and natural gas pipeline construction worldwide in 2015 totaled more than $40 billion. The people of North America and the world are demonstrating that they want access to modern energy services and do not believe the radical environmentalists’ rhetoric.

The opponents of this one pipeline among the many others being built in the world today do not seem to realize that 85% of the emissions associated with the oil fuel cycle occur at the final consumption, or tailpipe, stage. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently projected world oil consumption to increase by 36% above 2010 levels through 2040, with demand growth strongest in the less developed countries, and especially in China and India. With lower oil prices, the demand increases may be even faster.

Energy East is a $15.7 billion investment, 100% privately financed. It would create thousands of person-years of employment during the construction stage and billions of dollars in revenue for the federal and provincial governments over its operating life. It would reduce Canada’s oil imports by 566,000 barrels per day and increase our oil exports by almost as much, thus significantly improving our balance of payments. This means nothing to the pipeline’s opponents, but it should mean something to those who care about Canada’s people.

– 30 –

Alberta’s Climate Plan & Carbon Tax

A Burden with No Benefit

We recently offered an information evening where we assessed the Alberta Climate Plan and the proposed carbon tax – which we have determined will be “a burden with no benefit.”

alberta proposed carbon tax cover

Some aspects of carbon tax calculations are complex for the public to understand, therefore we offer a collection of  materials at different levels of complexity.

ab proposed CO2 tax cardThe first is this layman’s overview. Included is a short discussion of the coal phase-out and some of the significant unintended consequences.

LAYMAN Alberta’s Proposed Climate Plan w AUG 09 2016 NEAR FINAL REV

Here is a more complete and more complex powerpoint that was presented at our information night. “Alberta’s Climate Plan.” This presentation also includes climate data that disputes the claims of an increase in extreme weather events. As well, more details and references to the various economic models used to calculate the “Social Costs of Carbon” form part of this presentation.

There is a short written report version that is 8 pages long. Alberta Climate Plan report is  (8 pages)   more technical version with references

For analysts, an even more technical version with references.

McKitrick video clip

Dr. Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph, assisted Friends of Science in compiling a layman’s look at the Social Costs of Carbon.

McKitrick on Climate Change cover

He also did a series of short video clips that discuss costs, benefits, consequences, and perceptions of Social Costs of Carbon.

We hope you find these useful and informative. Please feel free to ask more questions, join our facebook conversation or tweet us!

-30 –

An Open Letter to Clients and Investors of NEI Investments

So you really think your investments are ethical, or for that matter, secure?

Albertans are rightfully concerned about 107. Submission_NEI Investments_ investor collaboration_Signatories made by NEI Investments to the Alberta Climate Panel and a supporting document Transitioning to a Low-carbon Energy System NEI [1] Your group has been identified in Submission 107 suggesting that, by proxy, your group is in agreement with the views presented in this submission.

Your group is influentially affecting the economy of Albertans and Canadians in what we believe to be damaging and unethical ways.

Examples:

It is our understanding that bodies dealing in securities and investments must employ continuous disclosure related to material evidence and must state uncertainties. We believe NEI to have failed in this regard on the issue of climate change and ‘carbon risk’ and other market factors.

  1. Outdated climate information: Are your investments at risk due to reliance on outdated scientific premise and extreme assessment of carbon risk? In the document “Transitioning…” NEI notes that since 2001 you have accepted a catastrophic view of human influence on climate and you relied on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims that Greenhouse Gases (especially carbon dioxide) must be reduced to prevent harmful consequences.
  2. 15-year hiatus in global warming, now 18+ years despite a rise in carbon dioxide By 2013 the IPCC reported there had been a 15-year pause (now 18+ years) in warming despite a significant rise in Greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide (CO2) which was thought to be the principle ‘knob’ controlling climate change;
  3. Natural influence on climate recognized as driver: In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change modified its definition of climate change to include natural or human factors as drivers of climate change
  4. Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity revised downward by IPCC: The IPCC revised the low end of the  “Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity” (ECS) likely range downward by half a degree in the AR5 (2013) report,2 meaning that in their opinion warming might only reach 1.5 °C due to a doubling of CO2 concentrations.[2] The climate sensitivity based on observational evidence using the latest estimates of greenhouse and aerosol changes and including long-term natural warming since the Little Ice Age and urban warming is 1.0 ºC, which is a third of that reported by the United Nation’s climate panel. The climate model warming trend from 1980 of the bulk atmosphere is 2.5 times greater than the warming measured by weather balloons and satellites. The climate models are wrong. Judith Curry discusses these uncertainties in climate forecasting in her US Senate Testimony of 2014.[3]
  5. Consensus – In “Transitioning…” you reference ‘consensus’ on climate change. This misleads investors, politicians, and the public. There is only a consensus that warming has occurred since ca. 1850, leaving the cold climate cycle of the Little Ice Age.[4] There is no consensus[5] on the cause of the Current Warm Period (human or natural) which appears to be in the range of the Medieval Warm Period of (800-1250AD). There is no consensus on the ratio of causation, nor on effective mitigation if any, nor cost-benefit of same. Richard Tol, economist and lead author of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment (AR5) Impacts and Mitigations notes that he and many other economic experts agree that “..a century of climate change is not worse than losing a decade of economic growth.” [6] Numerous qualified climate scientists dispute catastrophic claims; your documents should rightly reflect these uncertainties.
  6. Carbon risk: The US Office of Management and Budget recommends using a range of discount rates from 3% to 7%. The Alberta Climate panel quotes social cost of carbon (SCC) values using a 2.5% discount rate. The FUND model estimates the SCC in 2010 drops from US$29.69 using climate model simulated climate sensitivity to CO2 emissions and a 2.5% discount rate to -US$0.87 using climate sensitivity from the recent peer-reviewed paper Lewis & Curry (2015) and a 5% discount rate. The negative value indicates that CO2 emissions are net beneficial. Taking into account a new 2016 estimates of aerosol forcing, natural warming from the Little Ice Age and urban warming, the SCC drops to about -$15 at a 5% discount rate.
  7. Market Manipulation and Interference in Fair, Efficient, and Open Competition Regulations for power generation in Alberta. NEI investment organization has become a political activist. According to your “Transitioning…” document you have materially affected Alberta and Canadian government policy, based on your reliance on this out-of-date information.
  8. This may put your existing investments in various companies and banks at risk as the measures being imposed due to your advocacy and influence, are detrimental to industry, consumers and the overall economy. The cost of phase-out of coal is estimated to be more than $22 Billion.[7]
  9. It may also put your group at risk for meddling in power generation markets, specifically in Alberta. Your document Getting Real About The Energy Transition ETHICAL INVEST PART OF NEI  [8] you state “Furthermore, denouncing one industry has the potential to reinforce political divisions and stifle rather than advance change.”  Yet on the same page, you say of coal companies: “Coal is the most damaging fossil fuel and we have therefore set the highest expectations for this industry.” Clearly, you are creating discriminatory practices in the Alberta market where some 64% of our power generation (2015) comes from coal. (By contrast both ‘green’ Germany and Denmark operate on some >40% coal which Denmark must import at $60/t. Alberta has an abundant coal supply, a competitive advantage for local industry in terms of low-cost power generation.)
  10. Likewise, in accordance with Fair, Efficient, Open and Competitive (FEOC)[9] regulations in Alberta, it seems that you are distorting the markets with your undue influence, in possible violation of the spirit of FEOC if not the fact, particularly in light of your focus on pushing wind and solar, and carbon pricing, suggesting a Conflict of Interest.
  11. Your claims of being a socially responsible, ethical investor are contradicted by the fact that coal phase-out will result in the loss of at least 7,000 jobs and the destruction of 30 Alberta communities, not to mention burdensome rise in power prices for Alberta consumers and businesses. Similar policies in other jurisdictions have led to double and tripled power prices and wide-spread heat-or-eat poverty. How is this ethical or socially responsible?
  12. The IPCC does not make any recommendations;[10] does not provide supporting evidence for claims on decarbonization versus wide scale renewables. Recent peer-reviewed paper by Cambridge profession Michael J. Kelly illustrates that a ‘low-carbon’ economy will decimate society;[11] analysis by Vaclav Smil shows that all ‘low-carbon’ devices like wind and solar require massive amounts of fossil fuels in their production,[12] making the claim of a ‘low-carbon’ economy an oxymoron and inherently untrue.
  13. Future fossil fuel demand suggests there will be a shortfall in supply unless current investors step up and ensure future supply. [13]

In closing, we believe your investment organization is acting on unsupported ideological claims about climate science, carbon risk, and a non-existent low-carbon economy and your claims are not supported by the evidence or by authoritative bodies.

Further, by aggressively interfering in energy markets regarding the use of coal in Alberta, and by manipulating provincial and federal climate and carbon policies through your investment influence, you put the nation of Canada and your own investments, at risk of economic decline overall.

The current drop in solar activity suggests an imminent solar minimum,[14] which historically has led to unstable weather extremes and a significant drop in regional and even global temperatures.  There is significant uncertainty about climate science predictions and society should be prepared for the possibility of warming or cooling.  In the event of cooling, fossil fuels will be the most valuable stocks.

In our opinion, the market interference by NEI Investments puts the nation’s economy and energy security at risk by an unelected, unaccountable body.  We do not believe this to be in the interests of your investors or the electorate.  We do not believe this to be in keeping with due process, due diligence related to investment offerings, or democratic principles.

FRIENDS OF SCIENCE SOCIETY

About

Friends of Science has spent a decade reviewing a broad spectrum of literature on climate change and have concluded the sun is the main driver of climate change, not carbon dioxide (CO2). Friends of Science is made up of a growing group of earth, atmospheric and solar scientists, engineers, and citizens.

Friends of Science Society
P.O. Box 23167, Mission P.O.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada T2S 3B1
Toll-free Telephone: 1-888-789-9597
Web: friendsofscience.org
E-mail: contact(at)friendsofscience(dot)org

 

[1] https://www.neiinvestments.com/documents/Marketing/Transitioning%20to%20a%20Low-carbon%20Energy%20System.pdf

[2] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ipcc-revises-climate-sensitivity/

[3] https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/curry-senatetestimony-2014-final.pdf

[4] https://youtu.be/BSKVqQK-7pE “warming from 1979-1998”..” only in 19 of last 65 years, 30% has there been CO2 associated with warming” Note: On geologic timescales, CO2 does not correlate with warming, it is rather a consequence of natural warming, only nominally a cause.

[5] http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/97_Consensus_Myth.pdf

[6] http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/news/the-economic-impacts-of-climate-change-richard-tol/

[7] >$11 Billion to build new natural gas equivalent capacity based on 8 x 800MW power plants similar to Calgary’s new Shepard Energy Centre (Cost $1.4 Billion); Source of estimate – Evan Bahry, Independent Power Producers Society of Alberta

>$11 Billion compensation for stranded assets. Calculation based on published figures and compiled by independent market consultant Gary Reynolds, former CEO of Alberta’s Balancing Pool.

[8] https://www.neiinvestments.com/documents/Marketing/EthicalFunds/Getting%20Real%20About%20The%20Energy%20Transition.pdf

[9] http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Regs/2009_159.pdf

[10] https://friendsofsciencecalgary.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/a-matter-of-public-interest-on-the-ipcc-does-it-recommend-or-not-recommend-that-is-the-question/

[11] http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10333234&fulltextType=RV&fileId=S2329222916000039

[12] http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/to-get-wind-power-you-need-oil

[13] http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/peter-tertzakian-markets-fixating-on-high-oil-storage-levels-but-idle-rigs-tell-the-real-story-of-dwindling-supply

[14] https://astronomynow.com/2015/07/17/diminishing-solar-activity-may-bring-new-ice-age-by-2030/

On appointing a social justice lawyer to a science portfolio

AFJ from tiff

By Albert Jacobs,   Geol.Drs,  P.Geo. 

Albert Jacobs is one of the co-founders of Friends of Science Society.  

Albert Jacobs is one of the co-founders of Friends of Science Society.  Until very recently he was editor/publisher of Friends of Science Society’s very popular “Cli=Sci” climate science bi-weekly round-up of recent academic papers offered to members.

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as our new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, has been in the news. Politicians like that, as long as the news is good. But the Minister has been under fire on the social networks. Two items drew our attention in the past weeks. In one Twitter encounter, she reportedly called someone a climate “denier” and advised them to get another hobby.

mckenna denier tweet

 

I know of no scientist who “denies” that the earth climate varies; it also does not behove a Minister of the Crown to use expressions related to the Holocaust.  By her using the expression, I must also conclude that social justice lawyer McKenna has no idea of how science works. However, if she does, then it is she who is the denier.

In addition, she advertised a job opening for a “climate change communication Special Assistant”, bilingual, with an English or journalism degree and experience in writing communication material on public policy matters. Those qualifications are exactly what she does not need.

mckenna job posting

(See full text of ad below)

As a Professional Geologist and – consequently – a student of climates past, present  and future, I can claim some knowledge of the science related to changes in climate, which have been happening on all time scales during the existence of our planet. Yes, in essence, climatology is part of the earth sciences, a fact the IPCC has barely acknowledged. In fact, astronomy and solar physics are also playing a dominant role in those changes, a fact recognised in the science literature by researchers as much as a century ago.

IPCC has been created by the UN and its meteorological body (WMO) to focus on the perceived influence of increasing human-contributed carbon-dioxide (CO2 or “carbon” as they call it because that is conveniently dirty and black) and the effect of industry and power usage on warming of the atmosphere. CO2 occurs in the atmosphere as four molecules in ten thousand. It is being exhaled by homo sapiens and his vertebrate friends at a rate of a hundred times as much. Seven billion human beings and untold numbers of animals do this day and night. Talk about anthropogenic causes.

Well, it’s of course part of the life cycle of CO2, one of the most useful non-polluting gases in our atmosphere. Life depends on it.

We are told we have to cut down on CO2 because of a perceived relationship between CO2 levels in the atmosphere and increasing  Global Mean Temperature (GMT).  I will not go into the never-ending discussions about the minutiae of happenings in our atmosphere, except for a few main points:

  • The actual GMT is an elusive beast. Density of observation stations and accuracy of measurements vary wildly and 70% of the surface is ocean. Its assumed values are the result of multiple, rather subjective statistical adjustments and manipulations as brought to light by the published evidence from ClimateGate.
  • In this aspect ,the variations of decimal portions of a degree Celsius are near irrelevant. They’re in the error band of statistics.
  • Accuracy of sea levels and water temperatures measurements are equally low and there is a great discrepancy between satellite readings and coastal gauges, probably due mostly due water movement.
  • A causal basis of the relationship between CO2 and Temperature only exists in that CO2 follows changes in global temperature on all scales of geologic time. Not the other way around.
  • The earth’ climate changes over time, due to multiple natural forces in the planet itself and in the solar system. While this has been recognised by scientists for a long time, the IPCC deliberately ignores or trivialises these forces and depends only on atmospheric physics to prove its political point.
  • Those forces are orbital and magnetic in character and mostly cyclic in nature; they influence each other and set up a near-chaotic dynamic system that the linear equations of the IPCC’s computer programs cannot deal with.
  • The result has been a wide divergence between the IPCC’s projected temperature increase and the reality of empirical data, the observed temperatures of the last twenty years. The computer simulations don’t come close to reality.

This goes to prove that climate science is not an open and shut case.

Obviously, “The Science Is [Not] Settled”.  But the computer projections are taken as “proof” and we are now building a worldwide trillion dollar carbon tax/subsidy scheme on what is an unproven hypothesis.

Scientists are educated to reason and to question. The research scientist posts a hypothesis or a theory and expects critique. He discusses with his critics. The critics try to falsify his theory. If they succeed, the theory is no more.  The word denier is absent from this process.

The IPCC does not even engage in such a process. It does not accept criticism and it does not discuss.

However, there is ample material to draw from.  While the IPCC has been accused of having the main science periodicals in its pocket, there are dozens of other journals (not to speak of internet blogs) that have published critical papers, “peer-reviewed” and all.

Even the IPCC’s own publications are a fertile ground for doubt. In the thousands of pages of the Working Group I (“The Physical Science”) reports one can find many expressions of doubt and uncertainty by the actual scientists it depends on for its work. Their doubt and uncertainties never make it into the “Summary for Policy Makers”, which publications are distributed to politicians and media. Scientists have been known to resign because of the distortions.

Now to Minister McKenna.

She is a lawyer and an economist, specialised in social justice, human rights and international trade. She has had a great career so far and is undoubtedly a clever lady.  But why is she so terribly miscast in her cabinet position?

She has no science in her background to speak of.  She has lived her life on one side of C.P. Snow’s dividing line in his “The Two Cultures”.

Has she read any of the critical summaries on her assigned file? The independent NIPCC reports come to mind. Does she understand that this is still a politics-burdened, scientifically uncertain project that she is on? Very uncertain? With billions of citizen’s dollars at stake?

Does she feel comfortable having to depend solely on the advice of her own civil servants for decisions of this magnitude in a field with which she is unfamiliar?

If she labels scientists-opponents to her pre-conceived ideas about climate change with the obnoxious label “deniers”, it’s high time she gets herself educated on this file from the other side of Snow’s cultural divide.  I know a few professors in Ottawa who may be pleased to put her straight.

That brings me to the other item mentioned above: Her job opening for a Special Communication Assistant. I can’t see that the requirements for such a job should be anything less than that of a B.Sc. who can write well. With the slump in the resources industry, there must be many candidates to choose from.

What we do not need is more pablum for the masses.

-30 –

Full text of ad from Minister McKenna’s facebook page:

Job Posting for The Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Position: Special Assistant, Communications

Are you passionate about our environment and tackling climate change?

Are you a talented writer that is able to communicate complex issues to a broad audience? Can you write compelling speeches and other communications products?

Do you thrive in a vibrant work environment, juggling many competing priorities?

Do you want to join a talented and committed team?

My office at Environment and Climate Change Canada is seeking a talented individual with demonstrated writing skills for a broad public audience. This is a full time position with an annual salary in the range of $50,000 to $55,000 plus benefits.

If you are interested (or know someone who might be perfect for the job), please send us your resume as well as a compelling sample of your writing skills: a thousand word speech written in my plain-spoken voice, intended to convince a group of senior citizens concerned about the costs associated with climate change of the need to take action on climate change and turn the challenge into an opportunity to grow Canada’s economy and create new jobs.

The ideal candidate will have a degree in English or journalism, be bilingual, and have experience writing communication materials – including speeches – on public policy issues.

Please submit your application to Chris Moraes at chris.moraes@canada.ca (with “Job posting” in the subject line). Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Only successful applicants will be contacted.

 

The 2016 U.S. Democratic Party Platform

Contributed by Robert Lyman ©  July 2016

I don’t know whether you have read the 2016 Democratic Party Platform setting out what Hillary Clinton and her party are pledged to do if she is elected President. I am sure that 99% of Americans have not.

The platform is full of promises to expand the social entitlements system, including offers to have taxpayers pay all the cost of university and college tuition, expand health care insurance, guarantee against any reductions in current programs, and implement new programs to benefit women, visible minorities and LGBT individuals. There is a promise to move towards legalizing marijuana, to expand public funding for abortions, to close private prisons and privately-operated schools, to close the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, to abolish the death penalty, to increase gun controls, and a host of other liberal-favoured causes. The Democrats would refuse to sign the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership, and take a skeptical approach to all future trade agreements. They would impose even more stringent controls on banks and other financial institutions, sharply raise corporate taxes (U.S. corporate taxes are already among the highest in the world) and place high surtaxes on anyone who earns more than $1 million per year. Overall, there is no doubt that the effect would be to increase spending far more than revenues, and thus to increase U.S. indebtedness.

It is the areas of energy and the environment that the platform is especially striking. It states that a Democratic Party Administration would (1) meet 50% of U.S. electricity generation by renewable energy sources within a decade; (2) phase down or end hydrocarbon drilling on federal lands and in the offshore areas; (3) force a 40 to 45% reduction in methane emissions from oil and gas production and transportation; (4) severely restrict the construction of new oil and gas pipelines, possibly by subjecting them to a “climate change test” to ensure that they do not add to net emissions; (5) institute federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing; and (6) most significantly, reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 2005 levels by 2050, just 34 years from now. The platform guarantees massive federal funding to promote wind, solar energy, and electrified transportation systems.

Bernie Sanders was quoted as saying that he was pleased with the platform, as it contains 80% of what he wanted in every area. In the field of energy, Sanders was mainly disappointed that the platform did not commit to end all hydraulic fracturing and shale gas production. I suspect that he hopes this can be achieved by regulatory means.

Many political commentators are shocked by the promises made by Donald Trump. I don’t think I have seen any Trump promises that are as dangerous as the ones contained in the Democratic Party Platform. The commitment to reduce GHG emissions by 80% would mean the virtual ending of coal use, even for metallurgical steel, and the drastic reduction of oil and gas production and use to levels equivalent to those now in countries like Afghanistan. One wonders how environmental extremists could so achieve control of a major political party that it would formally embrace the ruin of a nation’s economy. However, the Bernie Sanders supporters who now control the Democratic Party agenda are deadly serious. They believe that replacing the 85% of U.S. energy now supplied by hydrocarbons with wind, solar and other green energy sources can all be done and funded by the taxpayer.

The platform does not state how much global temperatures will be reduced as a result of the proposed measures.  Bjorn Lomborg, an environmental policy expert and statistician, recently published a peer-reviewed article in which he calculated the effects of the emission reduction commitments made at COP21. The U.S. commitment, he estimates, could reduce global temperatures by somewhere between 0.008 and 0.031 degrees Celsius by 2100. Reducing emissions by 80% might actually decrease global temperatures by a larger amount, but it would be unlikely to exceed 0.1 degree. Meanwhile, by 2030, China’s emissions will be four times those of the U.S., and global emissions will continue to rise inexorably regardless of what the United States does. It is all for naught.

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THE “END OF HYDROCARBONS’ – HOW’S THAT WORKING OUT?

Contributed by Robert Lyman @ July 2016

For those who believe the theory that humans are causing catastrophic global warming, a central tenet is that the world is quickly moving away from the use of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal) and, within a few decades, will be completely converted to non-nuclear renewable energy sources. Global energy markets indeed are undergoing major transformations, but are they really changing in the way environmentalists claim? To find out, I checked the most recent reports from the two most authoritative sources of data and analysis on world energy supply and demand, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Overview

The trends in energy supply and demand are closely related to the changes occurring in the world economy. Since 2000, the world economy has experienced a period of modest growth, followed by the financial crisis and economic recession starting in 2008, and a period of uncertain recovery during which the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have experienced slow growth rates while several developing countries, notably in Asia, have experienced quite rapid growth rates. Environmentalists’ concerns have increasingly shaped the policies of governments, so that many OECD countries have embarked on programs to replace fossil-fuel-based electricity generation by wind, solar and biomass energy generation and some countries have shut down nuclear power plants in reaction to the tsunami that disabled the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.

These developments have coincided with major changes in energy markets. Technological advances made possible the widespread development of new oil and natural gas supplies in non-OPEC areas, especially in the United States; in their efforts to regain market share, OPEC countries over-supplied the petroleum liquids markets and drove prices down to levels that, while welcome for consumers, threatened the viability of new higher-cost production. The general decline in economic activity reduced demand for all energy sources. At the same time, government policies promoted increased energy intensity and used regulations or ratepayer and taxpayer-funded subsidies to increase the use of more expensive renewable energy sources to back out coal-fired power generation.  In 2015, the prices of oil, natural gas and coal all declined significantly.

In December 2015 at the COP21 Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention in Paris, several countries committed to introduce action plans with a goal of limiting the increase in average global temperatures. Subsequently, some governments stated that this entailed virtually eliminating the use of fossil fuels by 2050.

Given these developments, are global energy consumers following the environmentalist script? Let us examine the most recent trends.

 

Oil

World oil demand grew from 89 million barrels per day (mmb/d) in the first quarter of 2011 to 96 mmb/d in the second quarter of 2016. Both EIA and IEA expect 2016 oil demand to grow by 1.4 mmb/d. The IEA foresees a further growth of 1.3 mmb/d in 2017, while EIA foresees a 1.5 mmb/d increase. Most of this growth is taking place in non-OECD countries.

OPEC crude oil production averaged 31.8 mmb/d in 2015, an increase of 0.8 mmb/d over 2014. Another 0.8 mmb/d increase is expected in 2016. The increases are coming from Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Non-OPEC production appears likely to fall by 0.9 mmb/d in 2016, before staging a modest recovery in 2017.

Oil supply is not constrained by resource limitations, but by demand and competition from lower-cost OPEC sources of supply.

 

Natural Gas

World demand for natural gas grew for most of the post-2000 period at the rate of 2.2% per year. Since 2012, growth has slowed to 1.0% per year. The IEA projects total demand to increase at a faster rate of 1.5% per year to 2021, and to reach 3.9 trillion cubic metres per year then.

Within the United States, gas prices are unlikely to fall much further from the very low level of 2015. This largely exhausts the potential for economically motivated switching from coal to gas for electricity generation. Thus, increases in gas-fired generation from 2015 levels will probably be limited to the need to replace some of the coal-fired capacity that retires.

In China, gas demand growth averaged 15% per year between 2009 and 2014, but slowed to 4% in 2015. This is due to lower economic activity. Over the longer term, natural gas demand is expected to grow sharply (in the range if 9% annually) if the Chinese carry though with their announced intentions to reduce coal consumption for air quality reasons.

The IEA projects that gas demand in India will grow at 6% per year into the early 2020’s.

The IEA foresees a period of global gas oversupply extending into the early 2020’s. This is largely due to the expansion of global LNG export capacity, forecast to be 45% between 2015 and 2021, 90% of which will originate from the United States and Australia. A substantial amount of capital has already been allocated for these projects; the investment decisions have been made.

 

Coal

Coal remains the second-largest energy source used worldwide – behind only petroleum liquids – and, according to the EIA, this will remain the case until at least 2030.

The EIA projects world coal consumption to increase from 2012 to 2040 at an average rate of 0.6% per year, from 153 quadrillion BTU in 2012 to 169 quadrillion BTU in2020 and 180 quadrillion BTU in 2040. Ninety per cent or more of this increase will occur in the non-OECD countries.

Over the period to 2040, EIA projects that China, the United States and India will represent 70% of world coal use. India’s coal use will surpass that of the United States somewhere around 2030.

This does not take account of the possible effects of the Obama Administration’s proposed “Clean Power Plan”, which would significantly reduce coal-fired electricity generation. Early in 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a “stay” on the enforcement of the Clean Power Plan regulations until the courts have dealt with the many lawsuits against them. Even if this plan were to proceed, however, it would only reduce U.S. coal consumption by 3 quadrillion BTU in 2040, so that global coal-related energy use would only rise to 177 quadrillion BTU instead of 180 quadrillion BTU.

 

Conclusion

According to the most authoritative energy forecasting organizations in the world, the demand for oil, natural gas and coal will continue to increase beyond the end of their projection periods. These projections are based upon realistic assessments of the likely changes in the global energy marketplace as a result of current government policies, including those intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through subsidies, mandates and regulations.

There is a profound difference between the future as projected by these experts and those prescribed by advocates of dramatic and costly actions to reduce GHG emissions. The latter demand a virtual 100% reduction in fossil fuel use by 2050; the former foresee continuing increases in emissions driven largely by the aspirations of people in the developing countries for a higher standard of living and greater energy security. Whom do you believe?

 

Sources

U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, July 12, 2016.

International Energy Agency, Oil Market Report, July 13, 2016.

International Energy Agency, Medium-Term Gas Market Report, 2016.

U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook, 2016, Chapter 4. Coal, May 11, 2016.