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Climate Change News Comment from 2004

December 2 - Shifting the Kyoto Target

Articles  which  mention the Kyoto Protocol  erroneously indicate  Canada will be required to  meet Kyoto "by 2012". An unpublished letter to the Financial Post indicates the task actually starts in 2008, and wonders if our politicians are more comfortable if they feel it can be put off till 2012. (DRP 04/12/28)

November 24 - Kyoto Protocol commits Canada to impossible task

Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol seemed to generate little media interest.  Russia's signature established the United Nations conditions required to implement it.  The Lethbridge Herald of 04/11/24 printed my letter, under the above title, pointing out that this commitment actually starts in 2008 and is thus only three years away. The challenge posed to Canada is essentially impossible to meet. (DRP 04/12/28)

September 24 - Know your emissions

An editorial in the Red Deer Advocate, repeated in the Lethbridge Herald, discussed potential benefits to Alberta industry from ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The editorial said industry could be paid for reducing emissions, but did not say who would make the payments. My letters to the two newspapers pointed out that ordinary Albertans would likely be asked to pay the bill, possibly through charges on fossil fuels. The letter suggested readers could learn how their emissions would be determined by checking this web site under the menu item "GHG Emissions" at the left.

The Lethbridge Herald published the letter on September 24th under the title above. (DRP 04/10/17)

July 30 - Imagine a world of tiny people

A column by David Suzuki caught my attention on July 12. He lamented that efficiency improvements in cars and electricity production did not match the improvements made in computer technology. Funny, I recall promoters of electricity deregulation drawing similar analogies a few years ago as an argument favoring privatization and competition within the industry. We were told we could expect lower prices as a result of deregulation. That dream has not been realized yet in Alberta. The reasons are similar to those which prevent functional and efficiency improvements in automotive technology comparable to those in the telephones and computers.

Dr. Suzuki's silly analogy warranted a silly response. I provided it in a letter to the Herald. I believe it illustrates quite well that  simplistic approaches to reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases often promulgated by environmental organizations  are unworkable and irrelevant. It was published on July 30 under the above title. (DRP 04/07/30)

July 11 - We could clean the air and build soil at the same time

I found a conference at the University of Georgia on the potential use of charcoal as a soil amendment and carbon sink fascinating. Dr. Suzuki provided an  opportunity to comment.  The letter was published on 04/07/11. (DRP 04/07/30)

June 23 - Climate change charades

Twin articles in the National Post focus on problems with Canada's approach to climate change and greenhouse gas management. My letter suggests a Conservative majority is needed to reverse Kyoto ratification. On second thought, that may not be the case. Apparently Canada's Prime Minister actually has the power to enter into international agreements at his sole discretion. Prime Minister Chretien cited this aspect of his power when he ratified Kyoto, although he did obtain a consenting vote from cabinet. Presumably another Prime Minister could de-ratify Kyoto just as easily. (DRP 04/06/24)

June 22 - Science based carbon management

Alan Johnson, Managing Director of the ZECA Corporation (formerly Zero Emission Coal Alliance) and Alyssa Marshall both wrote letters to the Calgary Herald supporting Stephen Harper's pledge to scrap Kyoto. Alyssa suggested "science will find a better way to reduce greenhouse gases". My letter suggests that a better way may be developing based on the use of charcoal in agriculture. (DRP 04/06/24)  My letter was published under the title "Charcoal solution" on June 28. (DRP 04/07/30)

June 07 - Nuclear association member in city

Gwynne Dyer's column in the Lethbridge Herald echoed James Lovelock's endorsement of nuclear energy as a means to greenhouse gas free energy. I thought  a letter of appreciation to the Herald was warranted. (DRP 04/06/23)

June 03 - Wind energy transmission line requirements

Several editorials and articles published in the Lethbridge Herald commented on the need for additional transmission lines to bring the electricity from wind turbines to consumers. Public hearings are to be held. Energy companies EnCana and BP are seeking representation at the hearings arousing speculation on their motives. Both published letters in the Herald assuring all they are simply defending the public interest. My politically incorrect letter pointed out that the transmission lines will be another expensive facility idled when the wind is not blowing. (DRP 04/06/23)

May 30 - Twisting and shifting science

A David Suzuki column of May 30 in the Lethbridge Herald provided an interesting example of the way stories are changed in the retelling. The column indicated that locally high levels of carbon dioxide near cities significantly increase  warming (the heat island effect) there through the greenhouse effect. I wrote a letter to the Herald expressing my surprise and doubt about that claim. The Herald published my letter, after contacting the David Suzuki Foundation, adding a comment that the information had been taken from an article in the Globe and Mail. That information led me to an article by Alanna Mitchell, warranting a second  letter of explanation. (Note: The Herald published this letter on September 21 under the title "Thanks for clearing up mistake in Suzuki column" after a delay of 3 1/2 months. It is still timely though. (DRP 04/10/17))

It turned out that scientists measured high atmospheric CO2 concentration in cities and asked if it contributed significantly to the heat island effect. Their answer was no. After the information passed through the Globe and Mail and the David Suzuki Foundation the answer was yes. Much of the information we read on climate change has been subjected to similar distortion and exaggeration in the retelling.

I do appreciate the extra effort the Lethbridge Herald took to uncover the source of the erroneous information in the David Suzuki column. (DRP  04/06/23)

May 29 - Canada leads the world from the greenhouse poorhouse

Professor Michael Byers, from Duke University, published an article in the Calgary Herald so ingenuously supportive of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that it could be taken as satire. My commentary is based on the assumption it is. Professor Byers article was published. My letter was not. Editors make mistakes. (DRP 04/06/23)

May 25 - Educating voters on Kyoto

Dr. Tim Ball, a retired professor of climatology, wrote a letter to the National Post urging that Kyoto be an election issue so that voters could come to understand it. My letter suggests another month would not go far in educating the public on the intricacies of the climate change issue. Subsequently, Kyoto has become an issue, with the Conservative party vowing to back away from Kyoto and all other parties at least nominally supporting it. The issue seems to arouse little passion with the public, contrary to polls from 2002 indicating that about 80% of Canadians are in favor of Kyoto. Perhaps those polls asked the wrong question - or Canadians have since changed their minds. (DRP 04/06/24)

May 12 -  Kyoto fading and nearly forgotten in Canada

Several Canadian newspapers published  summaries of a report published by the C.D. Howe Institute. They commented on Canada's ratification of Kyoto and the need for a better implementation plan. Such commentary would have been timely early in 2003. My letter to the Financial Post was published under the title; "Life after Kyoto" on 04/05/18. Sadly, the editors left out the two lines intended as a small advertisement for Computare. (DRP 04/06/23)

May 8 - Land fill bank-wagon

Terence Corcoran, the editor of the Financial Post section of the National Post, commented scathingly on a forthcoming conference in Toronto. It is  the Conference of the Reducers. Mr. Corcoran says the conference is attempting to breathe new life into the Kyoto Accord.  Mr. Corcoran rarely minces words. He did when he commented on the issue of greenhouse gas reduction kudos for capturing methane at landfills.  He indicated that most of million tonnes of claimed greenhouse gas reduction came from capturing landfill gases from garbage landfill sites "where nobody ever counted emissions before". Collecting credits for landfill gases could be much more outrageous than that. My letter to the editor elaborates.  (DRP 04/05/08)

April 23 - Hydrogen smoke screen

A second article in the National Post from a promoter of the hydrogen economy intended  to counter the one mentioned below seemed to add to the confusion.  Another letter from me to the editor sought to straighten the issue out. This one was published in the Financial Post under the title "Hydrogen's mobility" on 04/05/10. Readers interested in a long and comprehensive article on the promises and problems of hydrogen as an energy medium might read an article in the May 2004 Scientific American. It is titled "Questions about a hydrogen economy" by Matthew L. Wald, on pages 64-73. It includes useful data figures on energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions from various fuel trains. (Updated DRP 04/05/14)

April 09 - Hydrogen is an Energy Carrier that can be carried

An article in the National Post, "Hydrogen's non-future", suggests hydrogen fuel cells are unlikely to solve any energy problems in the next 25 or even 100 years. A letter to the editor notes  that the author  seems to miss the major point that hydrogen is touted  to be a replacement for the liquid fossil fuels we now use. The letter was not published. Perhaps the fine distinction between and energy carrier and a fuel that can be carried creates a quick rationale for rejection. (DRP 04/05/08)

March 31 - GHG challenge begins at home

Minister Anderson's perseverance in promoting Canada's commitment to meet the Kyoto constraints on greenhouse gas is noteworthy. While his colleagues are seemingly backing away from it he "wages war on climate change" according to a Canadian Press article in the Lethbridge Herald on March 27. A picture shows him signing up for the One-Tonne Challenge program. Results from a commitment to the program can't be demonstrated, unless a baseline is established to show emissions prior to the commitment. My letter to the editor and Minister Anderson challenges him to publish his baseline as I have. The letter was published by the Lethbridge Herald on 04/03/31 under the above title. I've yet to receive acknowledgement and thanks from Minister Anderson. (DRP 04/04/04)

March 24 - Canada and the Kyoto Protocol - Budget 2004

Canada's 2004 budget does not mention the Kyoto protocol.  This suggests Canada may be backing away from the commitment to it implied by ratification in 2002. A letter to the Lethbridge Herald reflects on some implications. It was published on 04/04/13. (DRP 04/05/08)

March 1 - Reading between the lines of the Speech from the Throne on Kyoto

Environment Minister Anderson has been elaborating on Kyoto recently in the context of the Speech from the Throne. His speeches are posted on the Environment Canada website. His speech of February 27 was modified significantly from one given on February 23. I thought his staff might have  taken my commentary on the Speech from the Throne into account. My letter  to the Lethbridge Herald explains this possibility. On the other hand, it is possible the two speeches were just tailored to suit Eastern and Western Canada audiences. The Lethbridge Herald  published the letter on March 9 under the title "Feds may be backing off Kyoto". A similar letter to the National Post, referencing a Claudia Cattaneo article, was published on March 8 under the title "Klein and Kyoto". (Updated DRP 04/04/03)

February 19 - Dyer outlook more dire than it need be

A column by Gwynne Dyer published in the Lethbridge Herald suggested more action should be taken to protect humans from some quite unlikely events such as impact by asteroids and massive landslides - as well as global warming. There was little news on global warming that week to excite me. Perhaps Dr. Dyer felt similarly indisposed when he wrote the article. In any case the suggestion we should be funding action to guard against every possible disaster our imaginations can conceive seemed to warrant a comment. My letter was published on February 19 under the above apt title. Friends suggested to my wife at lunch that day that  Dr. Dyer was being sarcastic, as he is often is, and that I had missed it. Possibly, but I had triple  checked the story for clues to sarcasm and concluded he was being serious. Unfortunately, many statements  on climate change and other environmental issues can all too easily be misinterpreted as sarcasm by those on the other side of the issue. My apologies to Dr. Dyer if my straight thinking mind missed some sarcasm. (DRP 04/03/03)

February 4 - Throne Speech Kyoto stance old news

A column by Peter Foster on the Speech from the Throne, in the National Post,  indicated he had fallen behind the times on  some aspects related to climate change. I sent a short letter to the editor pointing out that the "one tonne challenge" to Canadians to reduce their personal emissions by that amount was old news. Peter Foster kindly acknowledged his oversight but the National Post did not publish my corrective letter. (DRP 04/03/03)

January 22 - Making money by sinking trash

An informative article in the National  Post discussed the rising municipal expenses associated with recycling trash. The author suggests injecting incentives  into the system to encourage private recycling companies. He missed the potential for incentives which might come from programs to control greenhouse gases. My letter to the editor points out the potential. It has not been published. (DRP 04/02/02)

January 18 - Nuclear Positives

Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is undertaking a public review of alternatives for the management of used nuclear fuel waste. The study is to be completed and a report to the federal government prepared by late 2005. Quite a bit of background information has been prepared. The NWMO is using the Internet to gather public input. An article discussing positive aspects of nuclear technology in the Lethbridge Herald prompted me to write a letter urging readers to participate in the public discussion and debate. The letter was published by the Lethbridge Herald under the title "Wee need to understand nuclear issue" on 04/01/30. Computare will be reviewing the background information  and submitting comments to the NWMO website in the general context of the climate change issue. (DRP 04/02/02)


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