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Climate Change News Comment from 2008

December 28 - The answer's not wind

Alberta's government organizations are going ahead with the planning of extensive and  expensive new transmission lines - ostensibly to allow for the expansion of wind power here in southern Alberta.  One cold still morning this December an article in the Lethbridge Herald prompted me to  consider the wisdom of this policy and write a letter. At the time, the power output from all of Alberta's wind turbines (497 Mw capacity) was zero. My letter was published under the above title. A similar letter sent to the Calgary Herald apparently was not published.

Commendably, considerable information on wind power and other electricity providers is available on the Alberta Electric System Operator's (AESO) website. The AESO posts real time and weekly information on power output from all of Alberta's generating facilities. There is enough there for independent researchers to evaluate how well wind turbines really work. (DRP 09/01/04)

December 3 - There are alternatives to carbon capture

Alberta's government is planning to spend about $2 billion on some development projects related to carbon capture and storage. A local member of our legislative assembly provided an opportunity to comment on this. My letter in response suggested we we should not be rushing into such a project which has limited benefit aside from the dubious one of CO2 emission reduction. Instead, we  should focus on technology development which would yield broader benefits. The example suggested is to develop and evaluate "terra preta" techniques which may prove to be a way for humanity to use carbon dioxide emissions to improve the planet's soil and thus it's productivity. The letter was published on December 3 in the Lethbridge Herald, minus the references to popular science magazines in the second last paragraph. (DRP 09/01/03)

November 26 - Letter to Environment Minister Prentice

Since the closure of the National Climate Change Process (NCCP) website some time in 2006, I've been disturbed by the relegation of the information once displayed there to obscure government files. I'd written to Environment Ministers Ambrose and Baird on the topic and had gotten some response from the bureaucracy as a result. The response was inadequate and incomplete. Environment Ministers change portfolio too quickly to be able to  follow up. I did have an opportunity to speak to new Environment Minister Prentice at Conservative Convention 08 in Winnipeg and brought up this issue. I suggested it was pretty much water under the bridge by now, but Minister Prentice deemed that if I thought there was useful information which should be available to the public, I should update him with respect to my earlier letters. I do and I did.  My letter to him is here and includes hyperlinks to my  related letters to Ministers Ambrose and Baird.

It seems there is considerable renewed interest in the idea greenhouse gas emissions might be managed by a cap and trade system. We hear our government is headed that way along with the new administration in the US. In retrospect, there was a lot of interest in cap and trade during the period of the NCCP from 1997 till 2002. That interest died when the NCCP came forth with four alternative plans, one of which focused on cap and trade, for public review. Industry representatives, who had shown great interest and support of the concept, suddenly decided it was little more than a carbon tax and rejected that option. In fact of some eighty publicly posted reviews of the plans I recall only two supported the cap and trade option.  Of course many of the people involved with the process have now retired or moved on. It seems we have new actors coming up to speed and relearning the work already done and documented by the NCCP. Canada's taxpayers and industry, thanks to lack of continuity and possibly carelessness within our government and bureaucracies, are doomed to pay for this work at least twice - and likely many times.

There are real concerns with cap and trade schemes. Aldyen Donnelly, a Canadian pioneer in this field documented her concerns with respect to a "Cap and Trade" treaty with the US in a December 3, 2008 Financial Post article titled "Cap and Burn". I hope our leaders are listening. (DRP 08/12/23)

October 3 - Energy supply greater priority than climate: EVEN IF GLOBAL WARMING CAN   BE SLOWED BY GEO-ENGINEERING, IT WILL REQUIRE ENERGY

Gwynne Dyer's column of September 28 indicated geo-engineering might be needed to combat incipient global warming. I saw this as an opportunity to explain that energy will be needed to do this, and we should make sure we have access to the energy needed. The Herald published my letter under the nice double heading above.

Interestingly, Dr. Dyer, showed up at at the U of L campus on October 31 to promote his book "Climate Wars". I went with my wife. You could hear a pin drop on the carpeted floors of room PE250 as Dr.  Dyer regaled his rapt audience of about 150 with his opinions on climate change. These were garnered from two years of interviewing climate change “experts” around the world. Surely a quick study. It was a highly alarmist  presentation. He  told us climate change was occurring far more rapidly than predicted by the carbon dioxide driven models of the experts co-opted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change established by the United Nations. A large part of his example evidence  for this was the high degree of ice melting in the arctic in recent years. Rather than questioning the fundamental veracity of the unproven models he had just questioned, he still managed to leap to the conclusion that the melt is caused by carbon dioxide. Other more plausible possibilities, such as a change in ocean circulation were not even considered. He concluded that talk too, with the idea that geo-engineering might be needed. (DRP 08/12/22)

August 30 - OK to toil in oil

Peter Foster, an insightful columnist at the Financial Post, devoted his August 16 column to discussing the overuse of the word "sustainable".  Unfortunately Peter, himself, briefly fell prey to  and aped the extravagant language used by environmental organizations to describe water and land use in the oil sands region of northern Alberta. I was compelled to correct him on that. My letter was published on August 30 under the above title. (DRP 08/12/22)

July 12 - Nuclear power's upside

Terence Corcoran developed arguments in his column of July 3 to conclude nuclear power is not an economical means to produce electricity  - let alone be a solution to "a problem, climate change that may or may not exist as a global catastrophe".  My letter posits that the really good reason to develop nuclear power is as a source of energy. It was published under the title above on July 3. (DRP 08/12/22)

June 24 - No evidence of radiation effects at TMI

Another letter seemed warranted on the monster mutant plants allegedly found at TMI. More discussion under May 22, "Separating nuclear fact from fiction no easy task" below. It was published in the Lethbridge Herald under the title "No evidence of radiation effects at TMI" on June 24. (DRP 08/07/30)

June 14 - Oil roil makes public boil

Claudia Cattaneo had an article titled "Trees are good but oil is better" published in the National Post on 08/06/11. Claudia suggested the public mood is changing in favor of continuing oil sands development. She cited a poll that found 75% of Canadians and 68% of Americans considered oil sands development "a good thing" in response to the question "Generally speaking, do you think that future development of the oilsands is a good thing or a bad thing?  I found that encouraging in view of the steady diet of negativism we get from environmental groups and the media on the oil sands. It's nice to see the general public maintains a practical outlook. I found the Post's headlines wanting in an alarmist way and sent a letter.  It was published under the above headline on 08/06/14. (DRP 08/06/16)

May 22 - Separating nuclear fact from fiction no easy task

A letter from Joan Wierzba titled "Pro-nuclear panel's fix is in" published in the Lethbridge Herald stated the expert panel members appointed by Alberta Energy to study the role of nuclear in Alberta are all pro-nuclear and thus not appropriate to the task. She also indicated that radioactivity released from Three Mile Island (TMI) was the cause of plant  mutations in the surrounding environs. All of this without any citation as to how such conclusions were established! I had  worked on a review of TMI in the months following the accident and remembered no evidence of such environmental damage resulting from it. My letter of response was published under the title "Separating nuclear facts from fiction no easy task". Subsequently Ms. Wierzba submitted a second letter which was published with the title "Photos of mutant plants don't lie, but Three Mile Island owners did". Ms. Wierzba cites a 1986  article in the newspaper "The Village Voice" as proof. She kindly provided me with a copy of the article, and another on Chernobyl in the same issue via the Opinion Editor of the Lethbridge Herald. The articles  do support Ms. Wierzba's letters. However the speculative stories presented in them  have not been supported by science based evidence over the years. Evidence established  by US authorities and courts indicates the story has no credibility. Further discussion  (See "June 12 - Renaissance: Three Mile Island and the nuclear industry") of the articles is presented in the commentary section of this website. (DRP 08/06/17)

March 30 - Turning carbon emissions into an asset

Professor Dibble from the University of Lethbridge provided some more information on combustion of fuels in a partial response to my letter of March 6 above. He did confirm my assertion that the actual emissions from biofuels differ little from fossil fuels. I had some more to say on the topic of biomaterial use. I think I forgot to submit the letter as I see no evidence it was sent or published. (DRP 08/05/12)

March 6 - Biofuels make for biofools

Virgin Atlantic's  public relations chief doesn't seem to understand the basis for  claiming  biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions - as dubious a concept that may be. My  letter to the Lethbridge Herald was published under the above title on March 6, 2008. (DRP 08/04/12)

January 10 - National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

Commentary in the Toronto Star reminded me that our current government lost a lot of transparency on the climate change file when the website of the National Climate Change Process disappeared. I thought the Toronto Star might care.  Apparently not as I don't believe my letter was published.  (DRP 08/01/27)



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