Month: July 2009

Canada's Greatest Scientist

Is apparently someone called Rex Murphy who writes political and social columns for Canada’s premier newspaper, who has done what thousands of scientists all over the world could not do: Solve the issue of global warming by pointing out that Toronto is having a very cool July.

So where’s that global cooling alert? – The Globe and Mail

Now, however, Toronto in July is cool and I am waiting in vain for the lips of just one forecaster to ask how can this be. Waiting just once to hear the familiar phrase “global warming” in a sentence that even hints that the theory behind it is so much more tentative than we have been urged with such fervour to believe.

It was so easy, the solution was in front of us all this time, why did no other scientist not use the obvious connecting equation: Weather (in one’s hometown in July) = Climate?? Damn, there goes my Nobel. Sometimes, it is that easy!

Next week on the Globe and Mail: Isee Flaturtha stands on top of a hill, looks all around, can see nothing but flat land for miles and miles, publishes an opinion piece proving that the Earth is flat and excoriating the so called “Round Earth” scientists.

I am glad that Canada’s best newspaper is open to such great scientific writing. Clearly, Canada’s future is bright.

Climate Talks Sputter

China, India and the other developing nations are upset that commitments to provide financial and technological help made during a U.N. conference in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007 have not translated into anything more tangible.

Mr. Meyer estimated that the United States, Europe and other industrial nations need to come up with $150 billion a year in assistance by 2020 to help develop clean energy technology for developing countries, reduce deforestation that contributes to rising temperatures, and help vulnerable nations adapt to changes attributed to greenhouse gases.

G-8 Nations Fail to Agree on Climate Change Plan –

Yes, it is true, North America and Europe are responsible for a bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions currently in the atmosphere and need to do the bulk of the work. But it would also behoove India and China to make the right noises. There is no sense that we’re in this together, that we will all be affected, and India and China even more so

Leadership is lacking, the US needs to take a first big step and start things of.


The G8 has agreed to sign on to a limit on warming of 2°C rise in global temperature. Well, how do you get there without reducing CO2 in the atmosphere, which we apparently can’t agree to do? It’s like saying you need to go a 100km more on a road trip, but refusing to agree to fill gas.

There is a chicken and egg problem here. The famously resistant to change US system is working through a climate bill. The world is waiting to see what will happen, but the version of the bill passed by Congress is not strong enough to avert a 2°C rise unless China and India are as aggressive and there is massive technological shift away from fossil fuels. The US system is waiting for signals from the world, reasoning they don’t want to act first and unilaterally. It’s all nice game theory for people watching from the sidelines, but life’s a little more serious…

BC and Carbon

As BC’s Carbon Tax enters the terrible twos, and is the subject of stupid headlines in the CBC trumpeting a 1.5c/L increase in gasoline price (smaller than the price difference between a pump in the Saanich Peninsula and outside), it is worthwhile to see what the rest of the province’s carbon strategy is, or isn’t doing.

Metro – B.C. looks to carbon capture to balance clean-air targets with energy revenues

Economic realities and environmental promises are creating an explosive mixture for the recession-fighting B.C. government as it juggles expansion in its oil and gas industry with the need to cut greenhouse gases.

Massive untapped gas fields in northeastern British Columbia hold billions in potential revenues, but environmentalists are watching to see if Premier Gordon Campbell will stick to his promise to fight global warming by cutting emissions by one-third by 2020.

This is one of the issues with relying solely on a carbon tax to reduce GHG emissions, it is inadequate. A carbon tax is a consumption tax levied at the point of sale, not at the point of production. The BC government has gotten a lot of positive press for the carbon tax, but it is reliant on natural gas and oil to bring in some revenue. After all, the lumber industry is dying with the US housing bust, and something needs to get the province out of deficit as the BC government will not countenance any tax increases whatsoever.

The weakness of the province’s carbon plan is best typified by quotes from a couple of fossil fuel executives/government officials:

“The question is, if I were to make this big investment, who’s going to pay me to do that so I can generate a return for my shareholders? Weilinger asks.

Horne agrees there is no business case for oil and gas companies to justify carbon capture projects to shareholders, but says industry needs to support greenhouse gas reductions.

The notion that industry will somehow support reductions is hilariously disingenuous. Carbon capture and storage is an untested and expensive technology even when it comes to sources where all the CO2 comes out of one tailpipe, like a power plant. The notion that it can be used in an activity as widespread and diffuse as oil/gas drilling is laughable. The best way for these companies can be forced to make their mining more GHG emission friendly is to price their actions according to their GHG production footprint, something a differently designed carbon price would do.

BC’s carbon tax, in my book, was a shrewdly designed political maneuver to undercut traditional environmentalist support for the opposition NDP, which very “smartly” took the bait and campaigned against it in a recent election earning howls of disgust from the mainstream environmental movement.

When it actually comes to cleaning up and taking actions that will actually reduce the province’s GHG footprint, the government is found wanting, as expected.