Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry
Issue 8 - Evidence, February 18, 2003
OTTAWA, Tuesday, February 18, 2003
The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry met this day at 5:36 p.m. to examine the impact of
climate change on Canada's agriculture, forests and rural communities and the potential adaptation options focusing
on primary production, practices, technologies, ecosystems and other related areas.
Senator Donald H. Oliver (Chairman) in the Chair
The Chairman: Honourable senators and guests, welcome. Today we will continue our examination of the impact of
climate change on Canada's agriculture, forests and rural communities.
First of all, I would like to welcome a new member of the committee, Senator Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais. She is a
former provincial and federal member for New Brunswick. She distinguished herself particularly by becoming the first
French-speaking woman in New Brunswick to be elected to the Legislative Assembly. Since 1997, she was manager of
the International Trade Development Unit of Canada Post.
On behalf of all the senators, I welcome you in our Committee; your experience in business and in industrial
relations will help you a lot.
As a New Brunswicker, I am particularly happy to see another of my neighbours sit on this committee.
Honourable senators, we will hear from Dr. Nigel Roulet, Professor of Geography, McGill University and Director
of the Centre for Climate and Global Change Research. We will also hear from Dr. Gordon McBean, Chair of the
Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, Policy Chair for the Institute for Catastrophic Loss
Reduction and a Professor of Geography, University of Western Ontario. Accompanying Mr. McBean is Ms. Dawn
Conway, Executive Director of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.
Mr. McBean, please proceed.
Mr. Gordon McBean, Chair, Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences: Honourable senators, I am
pleased to be here to speak to you this evening because this is an important topic. As noted, Ms. Dawn Conway has
accompanied me today.
I am here wearing several hats. I am the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Foundation for
Climate and Atmospheric Sciences. I am also a professor at the University of Western Ontario and I am involved with
a number of other activities of this kind. We all think that the issue of climate change is an important topic for
Canadians and for Canada. I am pleased that the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry has taken
up the challenge and the opportunity of dealing with the issue of adaptation to climate change.
I have been working on climate change for, basically, all of my adult life. Before I became a professor where I am
now, I was an Assistant Deputy Minister at Environment Canada, responsible for climate change science; before that, I
was a Professor of Ocean Sciences at the University of British Columbia, UBC; and before that, I worked for the
Canadian Climate Centre. I first went to sea in the late 1960s to begin studying the atmosphere/ocean interactions as
part of our climate change study. I have been at this for a long time.
I wanted to speak to you at a somewhat different level from some of the testimony you have heard. I have had the
opportunity to go through the testimony that has appeared on the Web site. I believe you have heard some excellent
presentations. Honourable senators, I am also impressed with the questions you asked.
I will take a somewhat different approach than perhaps the details of those kinds of things. The presentation by Mr.
Roulet will complement what I am speaking about in one specific area.
I am talking about climate change from a very broad point of view. At this stage you hardly need to be told this, but
we really are looking at economic and social development paths in Canada and around the world in the future, how
they will result in greenhouse gas emissions, how they will change the climate, how those climate changes will impact
on human and natural systems. That is where your concern is, the impact on human and natural systems as they relate
to agriculture and forestry.
There have been occasional comments before your committee and some questions from members regarding the
strength of the scientific arguments on climate change. I should like to reinforce the presentations of Mr. Henry
Hengeveld and others who spoke to you and said the science is very clear. We do not have all the details but we have a
clear statement of the science. I would like to quote from Professor Robert Watson, who was Chairman of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaking at the Sixth Conference of Parties to the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change:
The overwhelming majority of scientific experts, whilst recognizing that scientific uncertainties exist,
nonetheless believe that human-induced climate change is inevitable ... the frequency and magnitude of these type
of events: heat waves, floods, droughts, fires and extreme weather events leading to significant economic losses
and loss of life, are predicted to increase in a warmer world.
Those are the kind of things we need to worry about for our adaptation strategies. The science, as we will return to,
is clear in its general direction and sense but the details still need to be resolved.
Looking at the issue of the projections to the future — from the small change we have seen to date to the projections
of climate change over the next 100 years — you can see that there is an envelope of uncertainty, ranging from as low
as 1.5 degrees Celsius warming to as high as 6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. To put that in context, as I
think Dr. Hengeveld said earlier, the difference between an ice age that we had 20,000 years ago and the present is
about 5 degrees Celsius. We have warmed from an ice age to the present by 5 degrees, and it took us several thousand
years to make that transition. We now are talking about possibly warming a similar amount in approximately 100
years. When we had an ice age, we had two or three kilometres of ice stacked up over Ottawa. I am sure that would
have dampened the debates, even in the House of Commons today.
One of the things we are trying to convey on this diagram is the sense of risk. That is how we must deal with climate
change; it is a risk, not a certainty, but it is a very high risk. The increasing shades of red as we move up the diagram on
the right-hand side of this slide are indicative of that. For example, we can look at the risks to ecosystems, which is the
first item, and the risk of extreme weather events. The more climate change we see in the next century, the higher the
risks for each of these various categories of events may be.
The envelope, the difference between 1.4 and almost 6 degrees Celsius, is due to two factors. First, we do not know
what humans will continue to do in terms of their greenhouse gas emissions. There are various emission scenarios for
the future and the scientific community is not the one to determine those; that is the role of governments through the
Kyoto Protocol and other things. That takes up half of the range. The other half is the uncertainty in our global
predictions — that for any given emission scenario, we still have an uncertainty as to how much the global climate will
I come from the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, one of my affiliations that, I should note, is actually
funded by the Canadian insurance companies. They are concerned about the increasing intensity of severe weather-
related events in Canada and how those events will affect people and, quite frankly, the insurance companies' bottom
line. They have created this institute and they pay my salary indirectly through funding to the university. However,
they do not influence what I do on a day-to-day basis.
What we really need to do is look at how we can bring in strategies of adaptation to reduce vulnerability. How can
we make our systems, farms and forestry operations less vulnerable to the kind of events we are having now; and how
can we build into that the change we will see over the decades to come in order to lower the vulnerability, deal with this
question of risk and also look for opportunities? A warming climate is not all bad for all of Canada. Certainly, some
parts of it right now would very much like to see a warming climate.
I wish to stress the question of extreme events. We tend to talk about the average temperature change. Clearly, there
will be more hot days and fewer cold days. One of the things the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change pointed
out is that we will have more intense precipitation events. These are the kind of events that lead to quick flash floods,
the erosion of agricultural soils and the inability to work in forested areas. For example, an intense precipitation event
could be an ice storm, or it could be a major deluge of precipitation or hail. We know that hailstorms on the Canadian
Prairies have caused $200 to $300 million worth of damages in one single swath.
The scientists from around the world who put the report together were 90 per cent to 99 per cent confident of more
intense precipitation events over many areas. If you look into the details of the report,
"many areas'' is most of
At the same time, the same group said that we would see more droughts. We will see more on the extremes of the
spectrum of possibilities. The probability of drought, particularly in central interiors of continents — that is, the
Canadian Prairies — will happen more frequently in the future. They were somewhat less confident on that — 66 per
cent to 90 per cent — but for scientists, that is still a pretty strong statement.
One of the things we need to do is to understand and refine these risks so we can factor them into our planning
processes and understand vulnerability and how that is impacting us.
We already are being impacted by extreme weather events in a global context. I could give you Canadian numbers.
Interestingly, if we look at the global number of extreme events that are weather-related — droughts, hurricanes,
floods, severe winter storms, and so forth — they are increasing from about 13 per decade to over 70 per decade. The
annual cost of these events to society, including insurance companies, is almost $40 billion U.S. per year. Effectively,
that means these sums are paid out by you and me, the people who contribute to insurance plans; and, to a very large
extent, by governments. This is a huge loss. We think we could better use our money elsewhere by making ourselves
This returns to the point I was commenting on earlier. We should be making ourselves less vulnerable to the things
that are already happening, and build that in as a strategy of change to make ourselves continually less vulnerable as
the climate changes in the decades to come.
Returning to the slide I began with, the first point I wanted to comment on is that adaptation is to reduce impacts,
but also to gain benefits. We need to look at the issue from both sides of the question. I have a cousin who has a farm
in the Peace River country. A longer growing season is an opportunity for him. I have other relatives who farm in
Southern Ontario, but increased storms and droughts will not benefit their agricultural production.
In the forestry sector and changing climate, as we look to the end of this century, we will see the forestry regimes of
Canada displaced quite significantly from where they are now. That does not necessarily mean the forests will move
and will not be there; it just means the forest where we have them now will be more vulnerable, more susceptible to
disease, more influenced by wildfire and less productive.
The question that I know honourable senators have been dealing with is, what is the correct balance of expenditure
between adaptation and mitigation? We will require adaptation expenses. Who should pay for them? Is this the role of
government or individuals?
We have just heard the budget statement of the Minister of Finance, and we will be spending a lot of money on
climate change. I think he said $2 billion, if I caught it right in his announcement. Much of that will be focused on
mitigation, meeting our Kyoto commitments, which is a valid and important thing to do. However, what should be the
right balance in budgets of the future in terms of the kind of activities that are needed to support Canadians to adapt to
climate change that, unfortunately, is inevitable?
Around the world, the question of adaptation is also becoming more highlighted. The last conference of the parties
to the ministerial declaration on climate change convention in Delhi, India, included the statement that adaptation to
the adverse effects of climate change is a high priority for all countries, particularly noting the concerns of the
vulnerable developing countries.
We know a significant amount about climate change. We know, with great confidence, the increasing greenhouse
gas emissions on a global scale. Mr. Roulet will talk about some of the uncertainties there, but relatively speaking, we
know the significance of future climate change. In that sense, we have more than enough information to justify the
kinds of things that are raised in the Kyoto Protocol: moving in the direction of emissions reductions; recognizing that
Kyoto is an important but small step in the direction of the longer-term objective, which must be over 50 per cent
reduction in emissions in order to stabilize climate.
On the question of adaptation, we must get down to the details. We must get down to the details at the farming,
forestry, consumer and local government levels. This is where we are still rather weak in our ability to provide
definitive forecasts. We can provide probabilities and ideas, but we need a much better knowledge of things like the
change in regional rainfall patterns, the detailed characteristics of local change and the local impacts. These are needed
in order to adapt to them and to come up with proper strategies.
I would like to talk about the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, which was established
in 2000 by the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. We have some brochures and information that
we can make available to those senators who would like to pursue this further. In the 2000 Budget, the then Minister of
Finance awarded a one-time, $60 million grant to the foundation to be dispersed over a six-year period. We are not
quite half-way through that period. We have the objective to foster scientific research on the climate system, climate
change, extreme weather, air quality and marine environmental prediction. We are trying to provide the science that
will make a difference in terms of government policy decisions at all levels, primarily at the federal government level.
We are doing science to help better service to Canadians through things like better weather and air quality predictions.
Although we talk about climate change, it is really weather that matters to people. The mean statistics are interesting
and important, but on a day-to-day basis, the concern is what will happen in the next day, month or year. We need to
look at weather and climate as a continuum and think about them that way. We can talk about, for example, tornados,
hail, lightning and flash floods, which are local kinds of issues. We can discuss drought, which tends to be of longer
duration, through to El Niño, which we know influences our climate from year to year, and beyond to climate change
on decadal scales. If we think of this as a strategy of dealing with weather and climate, it is really informing Canadians
what the weather will be like tomorrow, next week, next summer or 10 years from now, in a fully integrated way.
The foundation has been working with many parts of government, the Meteorological Service of Canada at
Environment Canada being one example, to create a Canadian weather research program. We have a series of
foundation-funded activities dealing with weather. How can we actually tell the farmer or the forestry operator, with
greater confidence, what the rainfall will be like this afternoon, this evening or tomorrow? For example, we have work
funded at McGill University, involving professors literally coast to coast in that area of dealing with the forecasting of
precipitation as the critical weather element.
We have work dealing with what we call climate models and analysis dealing with how El Niño affects Canada.
How will we look at natural and human-caused changes over the centuries to come? There is a project called CLIVAR,
which focuses on climate variability. We have projects dealing with greenhouse gases that Mr. Roulet will talk about.
He leads research on climate and carbon modeling that will allow us to, in a climate model, project how the carbon
cycle will change in decades to come. In Mr. Roulet's case, this would involve putting in the active vegetation features
that matter to climate predictions. I will let him speak about that further.
I wish to stress that we have this scope of activities funded by the foundation, including one that we are particularly
proud of called Fluxnet-Canada. . .The project is resulting in a series of networks in the Canadian forest — primarily
the boreal forest — that will have in place scientists from universities including Laval, U.B.C. and the University of
Alberta, as well as Mr. Roulet at McGill and people in Atlantic Canada. They will be able to tell us with much more
confidence in the years to come how much the climate affects our forests, how are the greenhouse gases changing, and
how we can manage that adaptation. That is a big project. We are committing over $1 million a year to that project. It
will need to go on, not for the three years that we are funding it, but for many years beyond that.
A strategy for adaptation to climate change must be based on understanding our present relationships. We need to
work with people, understand our communities and understand what matters from the farmer or forester's point of
view, rather than that of a scientist. We need to understand those present relationships and the vulnerabilities we have
now. We need to understand how we can project those in the future. How will the climate change in terms of degree-
days, frost-free days, precipitation events and those kinds of things in the decades to come?
To do that, we need a strong observational base. We need to know what our climate is now. Actually, we do not
know it very well in some places. We need to work together with governmental agencies at all levels, but most
importantly with the federal government, to build that science of climate and weather prediction.
I wish to comment on our capability to observe our climate. I refer to the map showing basic observing networks.
We do not do too badly in southern Canada. However, as we go north into the boreal forest and into the higher lands
of Canada, we get an amazing sparsity of observations. We do not know as well as we should what our climate is in the
The foundation is sponsoring a workshop on the Arctic climate, which will be held at the Chateau Laurier on
Thursday and Friday, February 20-21, 2003. Minister Anderson will make an opening presentation, and Premier
Okalik from Nunavut will be the other opening speaker.
The entire question of dealing with what we know about the climate is part of the difficulty, because we do not have
a good observation system over Canada, and, unfortunately, some parts are getting worse. We are closing stations
rather than opening them.
We have also seen decisions that were important in terms of balancing governments' budgets. The capacity of
government agencies over the years has been reduced. The budgets of the major organizations such as the
Meteorological Service are more than one-third smaller than they were roughly 10 years ago.
As I noted earlier, the foundation has received $60 million, but we have committed two-thirds of that. We must
spend it all by our agreement with the government by 2007. I flag this because concern is that we are now supporting
numerous professors and many graduate students. We have increased the level of activity in science in the country and
I am concerned about what will happen when this funding stops, as it must, under the present agreement in 2007.
I am also proud that with the effective work of Ms. Conway and her staff, we are managing a $60 million pot of
money with a staff of three. We will generate more interest on that money and therefore will give out more than $60
million in research funding to Canadian universities. About half of this money supports students and other staff so it is
helping to develop our scientific capacity for the future. The funds are being matched more than one to one by grants
and contributions from other organizations from which we have leveraged up funds.
We need a longer-term investment. Whereas the other chamber may have shorter-term views, the Senate by its
nature has a longer-term view. I think that is right and proper. We need a climate change strategy that deals with
emission reductions. We also need an adaptation strategy where we are investing to directly help Canadians
individually to overcome the vulnerabilities they have now and will have in the future. We need to protect Canadians
from the harm of violent storms, et cetera about which insurance companies are concerned. Twenty-eight Canadians
died in the ice storm. Twelve died in the Pine Lake the summer before last when a tornado swept through a
We need information to maximize economic efficiency. Every big snowstorm shuts down our transportation
facilities. If you run a just-in-time delivery manufacturing operation, you need to know that a storm is coming to
complete some work before the snow closes operation down, such as the entire eastern United States, which is closed
We need better predictions from now to decades ahead — not only in respect of climate change, but also through the
entire system. We need the support of government and agencies to build that science base. We need a system of
informing and, where appropriate, warning Canadians about the future so that can make better decisions. They need
that information to plan ahead.
The Chairman: Thank you very much for a most excellent report.
Senator Wiebe: We have heard the same thing before, as you said, from other presenters, but you have put it in a
way that probably helps many of us on the committee to understand it a bit better. I thank you for that.
You made a comment in regard to the budget coming up with so many dollars for climate change or how we adapt
to Kyoto. That reflects the mood of the thinking of many people in Canada today.
Everyone now has some sense about the need for Kyoto. People are willing to make some of the changes that are
required. However, I find in talking to farm organizations, farmers and other individuals is that everyone feels that,
I become more fuel-efficient, and if I build a better heat house, I am contributing to the solution, and I do not have to
worry about anything else.''
However, according to Dr. Watson's comment here, basically the damage has been done. No one is talking about
how we adapt. So far, trying to get farmers and individuals to talk about adaptation has been a losing battle.
How do we get the urgent message across that, irregardless of how we deal with Kyoto, it will still be necessary to
deal with adaptation? Is that a fair question to ask you?
Mr. McBean: It is certainly a fair question. You have hit the nail on the head; we will have to adapt and we do need
to get people thinking beyond Kyoto. I suppose the general thinking is that climate change became an issue, Kyoto is
now ratified and we can move on. The reality is that we have not solved that one, and we cannot move on.
I was pleased when your clerk asked me to appear before you because this is a real opportunity for the Senate to
take a role on this adaptation question. I have met with numbers of farmers in various meetings. I understand that
Professor Barry Smith from the University of Guelph, who is in the lead on an agricultural network, will be appearing
before this committee in March. He will have additional ideas on this question.
We have dealt with some of the farming communities. They want to have a little more confidence in some of our
projections of how things will change. Farmers are naturally an adaptive community; they adapt to many things every
We are putting before them a set of scenarios of the future that are different from what they have adapted to in the
past. We want to be able to help them with that. It is a communications necessity to try to convey that important
Senator LaPierre: I am pleased about the budget. It demonstrates how valuable the Liberal government is to the
I was struck by your answer to Senator Wiebe, although one part was missing. Do we adapt to
"what is,'' namely,
the danger we now face; or do we put that aside and adapt to "what will be''? Obviously, at the end of the day, it will
take a long time to achieve whatever it is we need to achieve to restabilize the planet.
If we adapt to "what is,'' what is it that we have got?
Mr. McBean: I think that we must adapt better to "what is'' because we are clearly already a vulnerable society. As I
showed in one of my slides — I should have used a Canadian example — we are already seeing huge impacts of
weather-related events on Canadians in terms of economic and social costs.
The future will not be dramatically different the day after tomorrow. It will gradually change over time, with
oscillations. We will still have cold winters and warm winters; we will just have more warm ones and fewer cold ones in
We need to understand the time scales of adaptation. When farmers do their cropping strategy, they make decisions
every winter and implements them through that spring or summer. If they are making investments in major equipment,
they invest on the assumption that there will be a return on that investment over five or ten years. If they are making
investments by changing to a new system, for example, putting in a huge irrigation system, they expect the investments
to be made over longer periods.
As we look at each of these kinds of adaptation strategies, we can evolve each of them as we move along. You factor
into the decision that you put your investments for irrigation into those areas where, over 30 years, we will see a
significant climate change. We try to evolve that part so that we are adapting to some combination of what is now, but
of particular importance, what will be.
Senator LaPierre: As we adapt, must we try to reverse it?
Mr. McBean: Reverse climate change, you mean?
Senator LaPierre: Yes.
Mr. McBean: Yes.
Senator LaPierre: We have to cool the climate instead of warm the climate.
Mr. McBean: To be honest with you, we will not cool the climate in less than 200 or 300 years. The reality is that we
have set in motion a climate change. We have put enough greenhouse gas into the atmosphere now to drive the climate
to at least a couple of degrees warming over the next 100 years, and it will continue to warm even if we turn off all the
emissions now. This is like a huge inertial wheel. The ocean takes 1,000 years to fully come to adjustment. It is way
behind where we are in the atmosphere. The atmosphere takes months to a year to adjust; the ocean takes longer. We
have started the ball rolling.
Through Kyoto and Kyoto-type commitments in the future, we can end up not being in the top of that diagram, in
the six-degree warming, but in the middle somewhere. However, from the point of view of adaptation, we will never get
back in any reasonable period of time to the climate we had 10 years ago. We are on an upward trajectory, in my
personal view and in the view of most scientists.
Senator LaPierre: Many people say that nature is in a rage or the planet is in a rage. However, the planet has always
been in a rage. There has always been drought, fire and snowstorms. That is the way life is on the planet Earth.
Consequently, there seems to be a credibility gap that impedes the capacity of governments and scientists like you,
social scientists and others, to galvanize public opinion to action. Do you think that assessment has some validity?
Mr. McBean: Yes.
Senator LaPierre: Therefore, we must proceed not only to develop the scientific tools, but also to develop the kind of
community reality, as you and your predecessors have said, in order to be able to change the mindset that now seems to
Mr. McBean: Yes. Although my Ph.D. is in physics, I am actually appointed as a political science professor.
Senator LaPierre: Very sound. The best political scientist is a physicist.
Mr. McBean: Yes, I think so myself, but not all my colleagues agree. Climate change is a socio-political issue as
much as it is a scientific issue.
The foundation that Dawn Conway and I are representing is mandated only to deal with the natural sciences. We
would be quite happy if the government wished to change our mandate to fund social sciences. One of the challenges of
dealing with climate change, even in the academic community, is that we have a segmentation of funding agencies. We
have proposals to natural sciences over here and social sciences over here and health sciences over there. In reality, it is
a full melange of this whole thing. We need to be able to bring those teams together. Universities are not the best at
doing these things either, but we need some way of building across these linkages.
Senator LaPierre: We have heard this before. One of the recommendations that will be made by this committee is to
bring all of these people together in order to have it complete.
Senator Fairbairn: I wish to follow along the same lines as my colleagues. We are about to travel in Western Canada
next week. Do you have anything on next week? Perhaps you might like to join our group.
From listening to my colleagues and listening to you, with all the science and even the current knowledge that has
been developed, largely because of the activity around Kyoto, I am wondering if one of our immediate problems is
really a communications challenge.
I think Canadians have become agitated and aware because of Kyoto. There was the back and forth and the fire and
brimstone surrounding that, and others were saying, "No, that is not right.'' People see it as emissions up in the air. We
in this committee are pledged to bring it down to the ground, literally, and to understand better ourselves and perhaps
make suggestions and encourage people like yourselves to keep talking about it the way you have been talking about it
tonight. It must be made to seem real to people. This is not just an idea that will go along the line 50 years from now. It
is real today.
Having said that, your brief says that one of the key things is to inform and warn Canadians about the future so
they can make better decisions. Hand in hand with that is the question of options. I wonder whether we have enough of
a grip on this yet that when it comes time for us to write a report, will it be possible — through the brilliance of
yourselves and others — to suggest options to farmers, other than suggesting they pay closer attention to their
meteorologist, who we hope will be better than in the past? Do you think that will be possible?
Mr. McBean: I do not think that you will see a dramatic change in terms of the level of scientific detail we can give
you in the space of the next few months or year of your study.
Perhaps your report could make recommendations on how to better communicate what we do know and how to
involve the communities about these issues in terms of what the options are.
I do not feel comfortable in trying to inform farmers what their options should be. I do feel comfortable trying to
work with them to understand how things will change — that is, by talking to them. We are working on another
project in my Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, where we are going into the communities and interviewing
people. This has more to do with tornadoes, but they are very much a tragic event that hits farms as well as others. We
sit down in community groups and talk to the leaders of communities and small towns. Pine Lake, Alberta, is an
example. North Dumfries, Ontario, is another one we have chosen, for a variety of reasons. This kind of outreach and
connectivity with things is an important thing. Encouraging that kind of communication is important.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to join you on the Prairies next week. I am going to Paris on Friday night. One of
the members of our foundation's Board of Trustees, Dr. Elaine Wheaton, a scientist in weather, climate and
agriculture on the Saskatchewan Research Council, University of Saskatchewan, is in Saskatoon. I am sure she would
be willing to come to Regina. She is a good communicator. She has written a book entitled But It's a Dry Cold! She is
good at communicating.
Senator Fairbairn: As a final observation, you are absolutely right and it does our hearts collectively good to hear
this. There is a fear on my part and others on the committee that as we go along in this debate, which at some point
must cease being a debate and become an action, that we are not just talking about what is happening to the land and
the air and all of the difficulties that brings. We must address the loss of our communities themselves as this progresses,
if we do not or cannot communicate and provide them with the options.
At this point in time, you are getting out to smaller places and making this available to the people who actually must
deal with this. We are not the ones who have to deal with this, except for Senator Wiebe, who is a farmer. The trick will
be to be convincing and then to be proactive with the individuals where they live. They are the greatest adaptors.
However, at the moment I think everyone is in a quandary of how to adapt and whether this is real. What you have
said to us tonight in this presentation is very helpful along the communications line. Thank you for your presentation.
The Chairman: Professor McBean, we are not through with you yet, but Mr. Roulet has his presentation ready. I
have several questions to put to you, Professor McBean. Do not go away.
Mr. McBean: I will not.
Professor Nigel Roulet, Department of Geography, McGill University: I should like to thank the committee for
inviting me to talk to you. I was quite surprised when I got the invitation and was not quite sure why I got it, but I
think it has to do with an article written by Professor McBean, myself and another professor, Andrew Weaver, from
University of Victoria.
One thing I should correct is that I am no longer the director for the Centre for Climate and Global Change
Research at McGill University. I gave up that position September 1. I had done my six-year tour of duty and someone
else is in that position.
There was mention of a project that was funded by the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric
Sciences, Fluxnet-Canada. If this committee would like, the research that I am doing on that project is taking place 10
kilometers east of here on the Mer Bleue peatland. It is the only peatland in the world that now has a continuous
measurement site for doing carbon exchange, even though they represents only one-third or one-quarter of the
terrestrial carbon. It is just down the road here. We do some public education there.
The Chairman: You are doing measurements of it, are you?
Mr. Roulet: As we speak, every tenth of a second we are measuring the carbon exchange and the greenhouse gas
exchange from that peatland. We do it 365 days of the year when the instruments are working, and when we are not
calibrating the system. We are on our fifth year of measurements there. We are starting to understand some of the
processes that are important about this issue.
Senator Wiebe: I am hoping that our clerk is making note of that, in terms of address and location.
Mr. Roulet: I would be more than happy to take the committee down there and show it how these things are done.
Senator Wiebe: Perhaps two or three of us would like to go down.
Mr. Roulet: I would be happy to do so.
I will be talking today about one particular aspect of how we are trying to deal with some of the uncertainty. It is
very relevant particularly to Canada's forests and ecosystems because we contain such a large amount of carbon.
A number of the scientific issues that are relevant to this topic have been raised, for example, by Henry Hengeveld in
his review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and some of the things that Mr. McBean referred to just
I should like to draw your attention to the third diagram that I have provided you. This diagram shows the increase
in carbon dioxide over the past 20 years. The oscillations that you see in that curve are a six parts per million up and
down on an annual basis. That comes from the northern ecosystems — their role in taking carbon dioxide out of the
atmosphere when they photosynthesize and returning carbon dioxide when those plants decompose over the winter.
This is evidence that there is a profound effect that the natural ecosystems have on the global carbon cycle.
The second thing I should like you to note is that the lower box shows the growth rate of the concentration of
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The line wiggles between about one part per million to three parts per million,
depending on the year at which we are looking. It is all above zero, which means that the concentration of CO2 is
continuing to increase. We can also see that there is large variability from one year to another. That gives you an
indication that the global carbon cycle is sensitive to climate and connected to climate. As the oceans vary from year to
year, and as the climate varies from year to year, how the ecosystems and the oceans take up carbon or release carbon
is altered. That is one of the problems that we need to deal with. I will show you in a minute why that is so important.
I have inserted this diagram showing methane because there is much despair about climate change and carbon
dioxide increasing. This graph is particularly important. If you look at the period between 1996 and 2001, the top box
shows that the red line, which is the average concentration of methane, is beginning to flatten out. Again, we see
wiggles around that red line, which has to do with how this gas is produced and how it chemically reacts. The fact that
that red line goes flat means that the concentration of methane — at least in the last decade — is no longer increasing.
It is quite instructive to think about why it is not increasing and why carbon dioxide is still increasing. This goes
back to some of the points that were raised in the first presentation.
Methane, unlike carbon dioxide, is a very short-lived gas in the atmosphere. It has an average lifetime of about 11
years. The atmosphere is quite efficient at chemically removing methane from the atmosphere. There is no equivalent
chemical process for removing carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is only removed from the atmosphere by the oceans
and the terrestrial biosphere. There is a chemical reaction that goes on in the atmosphere that removes the methane.
This shows that the emissions of methane into the atmosphere are now equal to the rate at which the atmosphere
can remove the methane. That is why we have reached what we call a steady state. We have reached equilibrium. That
gives us some hope because it shows that if there is a reduction or stabilization in emissions for a gas that has a short
lifetime in the atmosphere, we can reach a steady state. We would like to do this with carbon dioxide but because
carbon dioxide has a much longer lifetime, the problem is a much longer one that we have to deal with in terms of
hundreds of years rather than decades.
I should point out that methane has stabilized largely because of the stabilization of emissions from rice patties.
Globally, rice patties are no longer increasing in area to a significant extent and many of the other anthropogenic
conditions have been capped at a certain level. It is not through any active role people have tried to do. It is just in the
processes that create this gas. There is hope that we can do these types of things, and methane provides a good
illustration of that.
The next diagram shows the crux of the problem: the global carbon cycle. There are several things I should like to
point out. First, the black lines indicate the natural rates of exchange of carbon between the oceans, the terrestrial
biosphere and the atmosphere. In the boxes is the mass of carbon contained in the atmosphere, in the oceans and on
the land. We use this bizarre unit called a "petagram'' of carbon. When I teach, no one can relate to what a petagram
is. It is ten raised to the power of 15 grams, 1015 g. I am sure that gives you no help in understanding it at all. I teach at
McGill, which is in Montreal, and I ask my students to go down to the Champlain Bridge. I ask them to stare at the
river going by for somewhere between 100 and 150 days, and what they would see is one petagram of water go by. That
is to give you an idea of the mass that you are dealing with. The numbers here are in petagrams. When it says there are
590 petagrams in the atmosphere — that is indicated in black on the diagram — that would mean you have to stand on
the Champlain Bridge for 150 days times 590, and that will give you the mass that we are dealing with.
The units in red are the changes that have occurred in the carbon cycle over the last 100 to 200 years, to our best
guesstimates, of what has changed due to the activities of humans. There are two major activities that have affected the
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. One is the emissions of fossil fuels that you see indicated here as a number of about
5.4. It is now upwards around 6.5 petagrams. Also, we are altering the ecosystems on the surface of the earth by
replacing forests, for example, with agricultural systems, and that ends up being a net reduction in the uptake of
carbon by those ecosystems.
A previous witness attempted to explain why that happens. It is basically because much more carbon is stored in
large forest trees than in an agricultural crop in any one year, and you turn over agricultural crop every single year
whereas you do not do that with forests when they remain intact.
The Chairman: Is the trend not now to move away from a lot of agriculture, particularly on poor agricultural land,
and planting trees, so that the reverse stands true?
Mr. Roulet: That is true. If you did plant on abandoned agricultural land, you would end up storing more carbon in
the biosphere and reversing that. You are absolutely correct.
The numbers showing on this diagram are very large. If you add up the black numbers and the red numbers, come
out to about 90 petagrams of carbon being exchanged back and forth between the atmosphere and the ocean. If you
add up the numbers on the terrestrial side, around 60 petagrams are being exchanged back and forth.
Therefore, about 150 petagrams of carbon go from the natural oceans and terrestrial biosphere into the atmosphere
and back each year. The emissions and changes that we are doing to land use result in somewhere between 7 and 8
petagrams. Hence, the natural systems exchange far more carbon than do the human activities that are going on. We
are very lucky that that is the case. It moderates the system considerably.
This is such a big, long-term problem for us. When we have take carbon from the geologic sources and put it into the
atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, we have taken carbon that is on a very long time scale of millions to hundreds of
millions of years and put it into fast portion of the carbon cycle, which is the exchange with atmosphere, oceans and
Ultimately, the only sink to get carbon out of that cycle is this little number at the bottom of the diagram that you
look at, which is 0.2 petagrams per year. It is the line that goes from the intermediate and deep ocean into surface
sediments. If you divide that number into the amount that we have put in the atmosphere and that has stayed in the
atmosphere — which is that red number of 161 — you will see that it will take about 800 years for us to completely
remove the CO2 that we have put into the atmosphere. Most of that would come out in the first 100 to 200 years, but
the entire problem would take that long. The longer we put carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the bigger the problem
and the longer the time period to get out.
That is why it is with us for a long period of time. That is why even if we could mitigate all CO2 emissions — which
is totally impossible — we still have to deal with the problem of this excess carbon. It will be in the atmosphere for a
long period of time. All indications are that it will result in some change in climate or is resulting in some change in
climate at the present time. Therefore, even if we were successful at mitigation we will have to have some strategies for
The next slide gives us a sense of why the oceans and terrestrial biosphere are important. It adds up the imbalance
that is giving us the growth rate of CO2 in the atmosphere at the present time. Approximately half of the carbon that
we emit through land use change and fossil fuels remains in the atmosphere. That is about 3.3 petagrams, which gives
us the 1 to 3 parts per million increase in CO2 year in, year out. We are fortunate that the land and the oceans are
taking up the other 50 per cent of the carbon we put into the atmosphere. They are presently sinks for carbon dioxide.
This is illustrated in the next graph.
This graph has a red line, a green area, and a blue area. The blue area we know extremely well. It represents the
amount of carbon that ends up and stays in the atmosphere. We know that well because we can measure it directly.
There are about 67 sites throughout the world now where we are doing continuous measurements of carbon dioxide.
That number we know well.
The other line on there that we know reasonably well is the fossil fuel emissions. The reason we know these
emissions reasonably well is because there is an economic aspect tied to this and we know the consumption rate, at
least, of fossil fuels. If you make some assumptions about efficiency and so forth, you can get the estimates of the
carbon that ends up in the atmosphere.
The Chairman: It is not an actual measurement, then.
Mr. Roulet: It is not a direct measurement. It is a calculation that one does.
The green area in between represents the levels of carbon that has to be taken up by the oceans and by the land. It is
done by difference. We know that there has to be a sink in these various different areas. I will explain in a few minutes
why ocean sinks occur and why they are important.
Why should a committee that is concerned about adaptation and impacts be interested in the global carbon cycle? It
seems like an esoteric subject in quite a bit of scientific detail. When you do an assessment of the impacts, or try to
develop strategies for adaptation, you must have some idea of what you are attempting to do: either reduce the impacts
or adapt to them. Part of adaptation requires good estimates of future climates.
There is no question that climate change itself will alter the exchanges that I just mentioned. That 150 petagrams will
be altered to some extent by climate change, and you will see in a minute why that will be the case. The key question is
by how much and in what direction? There could be a situation that arises where the direction is good, in the sense that
it helps us out, which is the present case. There could be a situation in the future where climate change may lead to a
reduction of the sinks that the ocean and the terrestrial biosphere do, which means more of the carbon dioxide we are
emitting actually remains in the atmosphere. That means that the problem actually accelerates. This is what we call the
carbon cycle climate feedback. That is really important to be able to assess.
On this slide, I have used the term "gigatonne,'' which is exactly the same as a petagram. This is a slip on my part. I
should not have done that; I should have kept the same units. Currently we emit, through land use change and through
fossil fuels, about 8 petagrams of carbon, or gigatonnes of carbon. Fifty per cent stays in the atmosphere, 50 per cent
goes into the oceans and into the land. Just for a frame of reference: if we were to change the natural exchanges only 5
per cent, that would be equivalent to what the current anthropogenic emissions are to the atmosphere. A 5 per cent
change in the natural exchanges would result in the same emissions or uptake of carbon that is equivalent to our
anthropogenic emissions. Any aspect of change in climate that happens could decrease or increase the ocean and
terrestrial carbon sinks, results in a direct increase or decrease in a concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. That is
why the connection through the climate.
The perspective for Canada that is important on this issue, is that we are actually custodians of a large portion of the
terrestrial carbon pool by the size of the land that we have, by the continental mass that we have in our country. We
also have a number of ecosystems that are particularly large stores of carbon. The boreal forest and the temperate
forest have a large amount of mass of carbon in the living portions of the plants, but also in the soils. The Arctic has a
large amount of carbon stored in the soils that have been stored over thousands of years. Plus 14 per cent of Canada is
covered with wetlands, of which the bulk of them are what are called peatlands, just like Mer Bleue that is just east of
here. Peatlands contain about 25 per cent of the world's soil carbon. It is a substantial store of carbon that Canada has
stored. Globally, about 10 per cent of all living and soil carbon is stored in Canada.
The terrestrial exchange from Canadian ecosystems to the atmosphere, back and forth, is about 10 times or more
what our emissions are. Our natural exchanges back and forth are much larger. Currently, it is believed that the
Canadian land mass is a sink for carbon dioxide. I say currently, and I have a question mark beside that because that is
actually a very difficult thing to determine. The jury is still out in the scientific community in that regard.
The second thing is that Canada is — though we tend not to think of this — a marine nation. We are surrounded by
three oceans. We are also surrounded by the cold portions of oceans that tend to be sinks for carbon dioxide. The
warm portions of the oceans tend to be sources, the cold portions of the oceans tend to be sinks.
Should we expect changes in the atmosphere, ocean and terrestrial exchange with climate change or climate
variability? The answer is yes. I do not think there is any question about this. Past records have indicated that and
many of the processes that are involved in the exchange are directly linked to climate. I will give you a couple of
examples of that.
If we look at the oceans, for example, what controls the uptake of carbon in the ocean is the difference in
concentration between the carbon dioxide that is in the ocean and the carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere. The
atmosphere tends to have more carbon dioxide in it than the surface of the ocean, particularly in the colder portions of
the ocean, and that is why the net exchange — meaning the sink — is from the atmosphere into the ocean, while the
ocean takes up carbon dioxide. What happens to that carbon dioxide and the strength of that sink depends on ocean
chemistry and how productive the oceans are in terms of biological activity. Those two aspects of the ocean are
connected to climate through primarily ocean temperatures. If we increase ocean temperatures, we actually decrease
the ability of the ocean to take up carbon dioxide. An increasing temperature decreases the ability of the oceans to take
up carbon dioxide.
Alteration in the ocean climate alters the currents that are in the ocean and what we call the oceanic overturning.
The oceanic overturning is one of the major reasons why the oceans are net sinks for carbon dioxide. It takes the
surface water and buries it deep into the ocean, and that takes CO2 out of immediate contact with the atmosphere.
What happens with climate change and the ocean currents and that carbon sink is a large question.
On the land, the only uptake that is significant for carbon dioxide is through the photosynthesis by the vegetation
that is on the surface. Carbon dioxide is returned to the atmosphere through plant and soil respiration. Plants respire
when they grow their leaves when they build woody biomass, and their dead material, when it goes through
decomposition, returns CO2 to the atmosphere. If the net photosynthesis is greater than the deposition side, then the
terrestrial biosphere is a sink. If decomposition and mortality of the plants is greater than the photosynthesis, then the
land ecosystems will be a source to the atmosphere.
How is this connected to climate? There are myriad climate variables that control photosynthesis and the rate of
decomposition in these ecosystems. Light is the primary example for photosynthesis, but temperature, humidity, soil
moisture and soil temperature control the balance between the net uptake of carbon dioxide and the net release of
The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere itself affects how plants can take up carbon dioxide. We all know this.
The tomatoes that you buy at this time of year come from greenhouses. Most of those greenhouses actually have
elevated CO2 in them to help make the plants grow faster. We must also provide water and nutrients for them, which is
not what happens out in the real world outside the greenhouse.
We heard about the possibility of increased drought and extreme weather. They certainly have an impact on the
carbon cycle on terrestrial ecosystems. There is no question about that. At the same time, we are altering the nutrient
balances of terrestrial ecosystems. I will give you one example. We are emitting a lot of nitrogen to the atmosphere
inadvertently when we drive our automobiles around. That comes down as acid rain. It comes down in the form of
nitrate, but that is actually fertilizer for ecosystems. We could actually be inadvertently fertilizing forests at the present
time, and that may actually increase carbon uptake in those forests.
Can we estimate this climate carbon feedback? Until recently, almost all models have ignored this feedback. The
reason is it adds one level of complexity to the problem and the problem is complex enough as it is. Most still do not.
However, almost every major climate model and group in the world is attempting to develop — albeit crude — carbon
models for the terrestrial ecosystems and for the oceans to insert into the climate models.
Why do we need to do this? This is the important message that I want to communicate. There are two groups that
have done this. I borrowed this diagram from the U.K. Hadley Centre web page for their carbon cycle. This diagram
shows what has to be done to incorporate some of the issues I have been talking about into our projections for future
climate. A typical climate model would be what you see in the red box in the centre. In climate modelling we take the
emissions from anthropogenic activity and put them into a physical climate model. The U.K. Hadley Centre and the
French climate centre have now incorporated into their climate model a very simple land carbon cycle and a very
simple ocean carbon cycle.
The questions I have raised about the effect of temperature on the uptake of carbon dioxide in the oceans and the
effect of temperature and precipitation on land productivity are now incorporated in this model — very crudely, but
they are incorporated.
What is the impact of doing that? The next diagram shows the results from two of these modelling centres. The top
diagram comes from the Hadley Centre and the bottom one from the French climate centre. In that diagram you see a
partitioning of the carbon in the atmosphere, oceans and land in the two different model runs that have been done.
The diagrams themselves are instructive if one looks at the details, which I will not go into. The top diagram from
the Hadley Centre shows that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases substantially, the ocean
component flattens out, and the prediction in that climate model is the land, when it is green, was a sink for carbon
dioxide but after the year 2050 becomes a source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
In the lower diagram from the French model you see that both the land and the ocean remain carbon sinks.
However, although you cannot tell this from the diagram, their ability to take up carbon diminishes over time.
When the U.K. Hadley Centre model is run purely as a climate model without the carbon cycle in it, there are 280
parts per million less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than when they couple the carbon cycle to it. That means that
by coupling the carbon cycle there is an additional amount of CO2 that goes into the atmosphere. This is 44 per cent
more CO2 in the atmosphere by coupling the feedback. In terms of the global temperature output from that model,
that is an additional 3 degrees increase in temperature.
I wish to caution you that this model has received a lot of criticism. It has been criticized by the very scientists who
developed the model, recognizing that there are huge uncertainties in it.
The French model did essentially the same thing, but because of different sensitivities in it, it produced a 19 per cent
higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, which was three times smaller than what the U.K. model showed.
However, they both go in the same direction.
I do not put this forward to tell you that this is what will happen. I put it forward to say that this is a very large
uncertainty that we need to come to grips with for doing future climate forecasts if we are going to be able to give
reasonable forecasts on which people can develop policy to assess impacts and adaptations.
What is happening in Canada? We are one of the countries that has a modelling team that is attempting to do this
same sort of thing. I am directing this along with a colleague, Ken Denman, from the Ocean Science Institute in
Victoria. It is called the Canadian Global Coupled Climate Carbon Model. We are the beneficiary of funds from the
Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences. Several other groups are working with different models
and levels of complexity. The work that is being done on Fluxnet-Canada is helping us derive data sets against which
we would be able to compare the models to see how well they are approximating reality and also to help us understand
the processes that are going on. There are several other projects listed there.
Canada is unique among countries in dealing with this problem. First, Canada has very large natural carbon stores
and exchanges. One might argue that there is a certain stewardship obligation and that Canada should deal with these
Second, we are using some of those natural carbon stores or, as was mentioned by the Chair, reforesting certain
areas to help offset some of our commitments to, for example, the Kyoto Protocol.
Canada's ecosystems are northern ecosystems. Most or all of our ecosystems are north of 45 degrees north. As one
gets further north, the estimate for climate change generally increases. This means that our land mass is in an area
where you would expect to have larger climate change than the average, which means that if there are these carbon
climate feedbacks, they would tend to be greater in Canadian ecosystems than more southern ecosystems.
Third, Canada has considerable expertise. Canada has one of the top climate models. It is very fortunate that 20
years ago Environment Canada made the decision to take this route. It is with those climate modellers that the
community is now attempting to do these steps with the global carbon cycle to incorporate it.
My last slide deals with where we need to go on this. Canada needs to continue to strengthen its efforts in the science
of coupled climate carbon modelling research. We are initiating this; it is on the road; it is a long-term project. In
Canada we need some long-term, multi-year to decadal studies where we actually measure what happens to these
ecosystems in terms of our carbon store. We do not have that at the present time. The two longest records for carbon
exchange that exist come from the BERMS site in Saskatchewan where work is being done on boreal forest ecosystems.
They have an eight- or nine-year record for carbon dioxide exchange. The Mer Bleue site, just east of here, now has a
five-year record. Five years is a very short period of time for looking at the effect of climate on carbon exchange. We
could actually be in an anomalous climate period and draw all our conclusions about what is going on from that.
With all due respect to my colleague sitting beside me here, the funding agencies deal in three- and five-year funding
cycles for research. The carbon cycle does not understand three or five years in terms of us being able to understand
these types of processes. We need to figure out a way to sustain a minimal number of these programs to continue on.
We also need to continue and increase the commitment to support the world-class climate modelling community
that we have here in Canada. We really do have something of which Canada should be extremely proud. We should
continue to support that or we will lose that expertise.
As Professor McBean mentioned, we need to move in the direction of more integrated modelling. We need to get the
social scientist working with the climate modelling and the carbon modelling community to try to get assessments of
the social economic impacts and also social economic aspects of how one might adapt and put these in the models and
see what the impacts are on these types of things.
Also, we need a significant investment in developing the next generation of what I call
"earth system'' and "social
scientists'' who are developing the skills to work in this field. You have mentioned the issue of communication.
Communication has never been more important in the sciences and the social sciences, and there are few of us who
actually know how to communicate with our colleagues across the other disciplines to be able to bring this information
You said that one of your recommendations might be to get people working together on these issues. I wholly
endorse that. We need to be educated by each other on how to communicate with each other about these problems. It
is not simple for someone like myself to discuss with an economist or a political scientist how to go about this. It is an
absolutely fascinating process and a huge investment in time to do it. It needs to be done but we need some mechanisms
to facilitate how to do this. It is not a natural process for us to come to the table, to talk to each other and to recognize
the importance of each other's subjects.
Senator Fairbairn: You need to do that so that you are able to talk to the folks on the ground. You must talk to each
Mr. Roulet: That is true.
The Chairman: Some of the people from C-CIARN have said that they are doing just that. They have researchers
working with scientists and others and would like to enlarge on that.
Thank you for a most excellent presentation. I am sorry that you do not have longer because it was fascinating.
I should like to ask Mr. McBean two questions.
Notwithstanding what we have learned about the Hadley Centre model, you said to us that although our subject is
climate change, most people want to hear about the weather. You said that, in your foundation, you are funding a
number of scientists who can provide a great deal of detail now about rainfall and projected rainfall. I am interested in
knowing how precise that is in terms of farmers who want to do long-term planning in respect of rainfall coming from
the weather and from these climatic conditions. How much certainty do the top scientists at your foundation actually
have when doing that? In other words, how much can farmers and farm groups depend on what you are predicting?
Mr. McBean: That is a tricky question.
The Chairman: It was not intended to be.
Mr. McBean: It is a tricky question to answer in full.
We are trying to fund activities. Professor Isztar Zawadzki is leading a group at McGill to try to figure out how we
can predict rain better, even in the next few hours, by using weather radar that the Meteorological Service at
Environment Canada has installed across the country. It will take time for the science to feed into the operational
programs of Environment Canada.
As I indicated, I was the head of the meteorological service from 1994 to 2000. So, until fairly recently, I was
technically the top weatherman in the country — in an administrative sense and not in the sense of being a good
forecaster — although I did work as a weather forecaster in my younger days. The weather service actually does a good
job. However it has been impacted by decisions to reduce its funding. You may have heard that they would close
another weather forecast centre — the Winnipeg office. In my time, I closed 56 weather offices.
The Chairman: Does that mean there is no longer any certainty? In terms of adaptation and what farmers and
people in forestry will be able to do, how much certainty is there in the forecasting of the weather and rainfall? How
much can they depend on it for their serious, economic planning for the future?
Mr. McBean: The predictions of today's and tomorrow's rainfall events are relatively accurate: It has a 70 per cent
to 80 per cent accuracy rate. To know whether it will rain in the morning and not in the afternoon is called a prediction
of an evolution of events — rain in the morning and not in the afternoon and rain on the third day thereafter.
Basically, there is no possibility, as shown, theoretically, of being able to get any prediction skill on that for beyond
about 10 days. That is the theoretical limit. Currently, we have some skill in the weather forecast up to about five or six
days. There are some groups in Europe that are actually better than that but the Canadian system is not too bad.
However, you can go beyond that and wonder about the probability of prediction. Will it be 10 per cent more rain
over the next month than is average or will it be 10 per cent less? We cannot tell you whether it will happen at the
beginning or at the end of the month, very well but that skill is improving. We can certainly show you that the skill of
predicting for the next three or four months is better than pulling out the average numbers. There is actually skill in
predicting that it will be a wetter summer than a dryer summer. It is not much though; it is still small. The world's
communities of scientists are working together to try to do that better.
The Chairman: There is not much hope for farmers who want to do long-term planning so that they are able to
adapt to changes.
Mr. McBean: If you superimpose on that, the next few months is primarily determined by what is happening in the
atmosphere right now. We measure the oceans and understand the overlying atmosphere so that we can project ahead
a few months. As you go further into the future, then you get into the sense of climate change. Mr. Roulet spoke about
the amount of CO2 and the uncertainties in that area, but some certain extra amount of CO2 will drive the climate
system to a wetter, or dryer, or less stormy status in certain areas. When we talk about adaptation, the farmer needs to
understand his or her capacity to adapt over the next season. In the longer term, it is the changes or the trend in the
average statistics, moving from something they have now or have had for the last few years, to something different in
the future? Again, it is not certain but we can tell you that certain types of changes are more likely than others.
I am afraid that is about as far as we can go at this time.
Senator Wiebe: You mentioned that, during your time, you had closed some 56 weather stations. Each time I hear
that, as a farmer, it is of great concern to me.
You also mentioned the non-announcement that applied to weather stations in Western Canada. Have we
developed the kind of technology that does not need human beings in certain areas to be able to detect what the
weather will be? Have we developed the technology and the equipment such that we can close an office, take the human
beings out of there, put them in a central location and still provide the same level of forecasting that we are now doing
with human beings in place?
Mr. McBean: I would have to say that the Canadian weather service, certainly in my time, had become the most
automated weather service in the world, for two reasons: First, the budget went down by $100 million per year. I had to
take a 38 per cent budget cut and lay off 900 people. We had to be more automated. Second, we put a great deal of
investment into people and resources to do it that way. I would not argue that we would need to go back to where we
were. There are certainly automated forecast systems and the actual location of the forecaster is now less important
than it was 30 years ago, when I was a weather forecaster.
With more and more machine-driven activities, there are fewer human eyes available to understand, at a level of
high, scientific judgement, when that forecast model would go astray. As we know, our weather forecasts are not
always right and that with the human role of intervening to say that the model does not have it right today, we will
adjust it a bit and say that it will actually be a little warmer or colder.
I should clarify that most of the 56 offices that I closed did not do weather forecasting. Rather, they were
community offices in my current hometown of London, Ontario and probably in Lethbridge, Alberta. The staff in
those offices were highly skilled technicians whose jobs were to observe the weather, to talk to the farmers, to be that
community outreach and to speak to the Boy Scout groups about climate change or weather, et cetera. Most of the
people whose jobs disappeared came from that category because, basically, the decision was that we could not afford
that kind of weather service.
Senator Wiebe: I asked that question because it partly relates to my livelihood as a farmer and partly to the unique
situation in which the West finds itself today. The problem with global warming is the rapidity and the extremes. We
used to get a nice, gentle, three-day rain, which did everyone a tremendous amount of good, and now we may get the
same amount of rain but it will come in an hour and a half.
I feel more comfortable with a human body looking at the weather in my province rather than some machine sitting
out in the field and some guy in Winnipeg looking at the TV screen. I would like a level of comfort that that extreme
will be noticed far enough in advance to provide some warning to me. As we go into the effects of climate change and
the increasing rapidity of the extreme events, that will make that human being more important in my province than he
or she is now.
Mr. McBean: In principle, I agree. We need more humans and more observing systems, which tend to be automated.
The investment in Doppler weather radar across the country is important. In the end, when Environment Canada
finishes that implementation, we will have 32 Doppler weather radars. The United States has 150 for essentially the
same geographical area. The distribution of population is different, of course. We have had reductions, however, and
we are losing the monitoring capacity.
Professor Roulet talked about the observing stations in Canada for carbon dioxide. The longest individual
observing station, not of the flux but of the actual measurement in the atmosphere, is at Alert, which is the
northernmost point in Canada. Ten or fifteen years ago, we actually had four such stations, one on the West Coast,
one on the East Coast, one in northern Ontario and one at Alert. The only one left is at Alert because, as his slide said,
"monitoring'' is a bad word. It requires that sustained investment of things.
We would not know that CO2 changing in the atmosphere was such an issue if we had not started, for scientific
reasons in the 1950s — the International Geophysical Year set it up through entirely scientific funding because of
scientific interest — a set of CO2 and ozone measurement stations. When the ozone hole suddenly happened in the
1980s, the scientists could actually show that it had not happened for the 30 years before that. We knew that it was not
something random. It is similar with CO2. This long-term sustained investment is something that is very hard to sustain
with the particular budget cycles that we go through.
Senator Wiebe: Thank you for your comments. They will help reinforce the argument that I will have with the
Minister of the Environment with regard to Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba weather stations.
Mr. McBean: I will be talking to him on Thursday, but do not tell him I told you.
Senator Fairbairn: Listening to Senator Wiebe, I thought of another question about the nature of the machine versus
the human being. I was thinking when you were talking earlier about how well a machine can spot a Chinook. I have a
92-year-old aunt in Lethbridge who can do a far better forecast on weather than almost anyone, probably because she
has been watching it for so long. This is such a visual thing. That is critical in terms of making farm decisions and so
Remember what happened a few years ago in the mountains near Pincher Creek when the ice cap went. People there
could see what was happening. People in Edmonton could not see what was happening. It was so fast even the animals
did not know.
We have this notion now of getting everything in one place because we have the technology to do it; however, when
it comes to farming and the land, I think someone must be there.
Mr. McBean: I will not disagree with you. We certainly need more eyes on the weather.
Senator Fairbairn: Not exclusively, but there.
Mr. McBean: Yes. Much of the observing side is and can be done with technology but, at the same time, we need the
visual observations. Our volunteer climate observing network, which used to have several thousand people in Canada
who reported monthly from their own backyard, has largely fallen into disarray because we have not been able to
The Chairman: Professor McBean, the second question I had for you dealt with one of your slides where you talked
about adaptation to reduce impacts and gain benefits. You actually asked a question in that form. I want to ask your
question to you and have you answer it. You said, "What should be the balance of expenditure between adaptation
and mitigation?'' What is your answer to that?
Mr. McBean: My own view is that we probably need to shift the balance towards more adaptation support. The
question of how far is not clear. It depends on definitions as to responsibility. My graduate class met this morning from
10 o'clock until noon, and I asked them that question. I have eight students in this class, and they did not come up with
any specific answer.
The general sense is that we need to shift the balance. I am curious to know what Minister Manley meant when he
talked about $2 billion for climate in this budget statement. I do not know. I guess eventually we will know the
distribution of those funds.
It is important that we meet our Kyoto commitments. I do not want in any way to downgrade that. However, as we
have been saying, the reality of climate change is such that we need to talk about adaptation. Perhaps I am getting into
political areas. The premiers have said repeatedly and, as first ministers, agreed that no part of the country should bear
an unreasonable burden in dealing with climate change. That has been interpreted as being dealing with the mitigation
On Thursday, we will have the Arctic workshop and the premier from Nunavut will be there along with Minister
Anderson to open this meeting. I am sure that he will note that the northern regions of our country are the ones that
are seeing the brunt of climate change. Already, adaptation strategies are important to them, but their mitigation
strategies are relatively unimportant. It is a relative mix of things.
The Chairman: Your advice for a parliamentary committee studying climate chance is that you would err on the side
of adaptation as opposed to mitigation. Is that where I hear you going?
Mr. McBean: Yes. It is not a dollar conversion. The big question is on the mitigation side. It is not so obvious to me
who pays for the adaptation. However, we need to put equal or more emphasis on stressing the importance of
adaptation and the needs for resolving scientific, technological and social questions that must be understood to provide
Canadians with that information. I think they will also be more likely to be willing to undertake mitigation strategies if
they understood that they will actually face the costs of adaptation.
Mr. Roulet: One must understand that even if we were 100 per cent successful with Kyoto and had every country in
the world buying into Kyoto, it is only a very small reduction in emissions. It is nowhere near obtaining a level of
stabilization, which is not what we need. We actually need very large reductions in emissions to below the levels at the
present time if we want to have a significant impact down the road on the climate.
The Chairman: It is more than 600 years down the road, as you said, because of the momentum.
Mr. Roulet: That is right. Even if, through some miracle, we figured out a way over the next 10 years to put in some
very serious mitigation measures, we will still have to adapt to a certain amount of climate change. The adaptation is
on the table. It is there because of the longevity of the problem.
Senator Hubley: When this committee began this study, we did not know there was so much information available
and so much work and research going on.
To relate to what Senator Fairbairn and other senators have said, the information must get down to the grassroots.
Our farming communities and the people in those communities will be most acutely affected. Their only avenue will be
through their adaptation strategies. Unless that is started shortly, it will be a continual catch-up for our farm
community. I use the phrase "farm community'' in a broad sense, because we have also discussed forestry as a form of
agriculture. I do not know if you have any further comments on that.
As we travel next week, we may be able to get a better sense of how this information and the uniqueness of Canada's
position in this is making its way down to the stakeholders and the people who will have to do the most to adapt. It
involves their livelihood, the production of our food, and so on. Do either of you have a comment on that?
I was also interested that you mentioned that the insurance industry has been funding some of this research. We
have not looked at other industries that might be interested in projecting their future through this knowledge. Are there
other industries that have shown an interest in the fact that we are experiencing climate change?
Mr. McBean: I agree with everything that you have been saying. In addition, it is important from an agricultural
point of view that farmers in Canada and the agricultural industry generally understand the impacts on Canada. It is
also important that we understand the impact on other countries, because we work in a global economy. We will expect
to see necessary adaptations and understand those in other countries. We are dealing with an issue in which we need to
go from the grassroots context of one farm in Canada right up to understanding the changes of certain foodstuff
production in a global context as it comes. Although we focus on Canada in our activities, we are part of that global
With regard to industries, the insurance companies are concerned. As Senator Wiebe may know, back in the 1970s
and 1980s, the Alberta Research Council and the weather service and others ran a hail modification program in
Western Canada. The objective was to protect the agricultural investment in wheat and other crops that would be
destroyed by hail by trying to actually modify those hail events. That proved to be unsuccessful. In the end, there was
no great evidence that one could make much difference in that on a day-to-day basis. Interestingly, because of the hail
storms now in Calgary, where one event caused $370 million damage on one day and the insurance companies paid
that in terms of pulverized automobiles. They are now paying out of their own pockets. A couple of friends of mine are
running a company that is seeding hail storms to try to protect Calgary's automobiles to the tune of $1 million a year,
as I understand it. The insurance companies are concerned and they are putting their money into that investment.
We do have other industries that are involved in this. Professor Roulet mentioned this Fluxnet-Canada project,
which is one of the showpieces of our foundation's funding. One of the other partners in that is BIOCAP, which is a
short form of "biological capture of carbon.'' It is a consortium led out of Queen's University, that involves a number
of industrial partners, including TransAlta Utilities, some other oil companies, and some other smaller companies that
are looking at the biological capture of carbon and carbon sequestration approaches. They are not really working on
the adaptation side, but seeing how you would manage ecosystems or other systems in order to meet your mitigative
There are six or eight forestry companies that are providing in-kind contributions to our Fluxnet program in the
provision of access to forested lands and support in terms of their towers and other facilities; Abitibi Consolidated is
one, TimberWest, Al-Pac, Bowater, Weyerhaeuser, and others across the country. There are a number of companies
that are supporting our Fluxnet project.
Dr. Roulet talked about the ocean's role in carbon. Another project the foundation is funding is the Surface Ocean-
Lower Atmosphere Study, SOLAS, which is looking at how the ocean is changing and how it absorbs or emits
greenhouse gases. We have professors on both coasts working with federal government agencies to try to understand
how our near-shore oceans. They are not in the Arctic at this point; it is too covered in ice up there at this point.
There are a number of projects working on these things, which we hope in time will reduce these uncertainties.
Senator Chalifoux: I am not a scientist; however, myself and many other elders in my community have, for many
years, been observers of what is happening to our land.
You state that, "Canada's ecosystems are located in the North and therefore may experience greater climate
change.'' We have been watching it for a long time and we have been seeing the changes. My biggest concerns are the
clear-cutting of the forests, the urbanization of rural areas, and the destruction of the wetlands in the North as a result
of tourism and things like that.
I should like to hear your opinion on that. I know that Al-Pac and Weyerhaeuser help. However, I have watched
how organizations in that industry and the oil industry have destroyed a lot of the land. They claim that they are
reclaiming it, but they are planting trees that never grew in those areas before. They are clear-cutting, but they are not
planting the same type of trees. Some of it is working, but a lot of it is not.
When I fly across this country — all across the mid-Canada corridor — I see the vast amount of clearcutting, with
no consideration in regard to our ecosystems and about climate change. It is industry versus the ecosystems, in my
What do you have to say about what is happening? How can we encourage and insist that industry look at
reclaiming the land properly? In the North, oil spills are hardly ever cleaned up. They claim they are, but they are not.
The fish are killed and the animals are suffering. I should like to hear what you have to say about how we could force
them to adapt?
Mr. Roulet: You have raised a series of interesting and extremely important points. I think there is a dramatic
change afoot and I will give you some examples.
About four years ago, I was on the board of directors for the Tree Canada Foundation, an organization that plants
trees in urban environments. We planted something like 70 million trees over the last 10 years. It is a great success
story. Part of the funding that we got for that was to go to industry and ask them to support the Shell Canadas, the
TransCanada Pipelines and various different people that put a lot of money in. The director of that organization
arranged for me to go on a number of speaking tours in Alberta and other places. That was about five years ago. I
talked to a number of petroleum organizations from the industrial side. I felt I was lucky to get out of the room alive at
the end of those meetings. I have been doing that now for five years. There has been a huge shift in the kind of
reception that someone like me receives on these kinds of issues.
Once people in the industry are convinced that there is a real problem, moving in the direction of what one would
call "best management practices'' is much easier to do than it is if the industries do not perceive that there is a problem.
I am not so naive to think that if we do not keep hammering at this issue that those corporations will come to the table
on their own goodwill. We must be vigilant. It is important to put these things forward. It is incumbent upon the
scientific community, governments and industries to collaboratively develop these best management practices. We have
a much larger perspective on these things.
The issues that you have raised are large. I will give you one other example. In regard to the notion of how to
mitigate against climate change, for example, you are raising the issue of putting trees where they have not been before.
That is an important thing to think about. If one were to develop a strategy to maximize, as a corporation, the
reduction of greenhouse gas emission, you want to plant as many trees as possible and the fastest growing tree you can.
It may not be the right tree in the right place. Also, the strategy you take may actually work in the opposite direction of
another major issue we are trying to deal with in the environment, which is biodiversity.
Not only industry but also the scientific community is beginning to recognize that these are not one-dimensional
problems. They are connected. The United Nations is now dealing with what is called the Millennium Assessment
Project. For the first time, they are attempting to take a number of pieces of different protocols and so forth under
their umbrella to look at the issues of climate change, biodiversity and water collectively. Thus, we do not start trying
to solve one problem on the back of another problem. Looking at the landscape in that way is new. It is definitely the
route we must go.
Senator Chalifoux: Canada has one of the largest land masses in the world. We are caretakers of that. I am a
member of the Metis Paddle Prairie Settlement in Northern Alberta. We have some of the largest and best peat moss
deposits in North America. We are a resource country, what would happen if they started manufacturing?
Mr. Roulet: That is one of the areas in which we do research. We have not worked in Alberta, but we have been
working in Rivière-du-Loup and Shippagan, New Brunswick, with the peat companies.
The peat extraction industry takes carbon that is stored in a long-term reservoir, uses it through horticultural
practices and various things and puts it in an environment where it now decomposes when it was not decomposing.
There is a net loss of CO2 to the atmosphere.
On some time scale, a 500 to 1,000 or 2,000-year scale, it is a renewable resource. That is a good example of an
industry that is concerned about this issue. We are working with them because they have raised the question of what it
is we are doing and what could be a better practice to restore the peat lands.
We have done an analysis on the amount of carbon that that industry puts into the atmosphere. It is minuscule
compared with many other companies. However, there is no question that when peat mining is done, unless there is
active restoration on those peat lands, you do not get them back on the cycle that would recover the carbon over 500 or
1,000 years. They will end up degrading into a quagmire that may emit even more carbon dioxide or methane.
Senator Chalifoux: It is best to leave it alone; is that correct?
Mr. Roulet: There is somewhere between 300 and 400 petagrams of carbon, so one-third of the carbon in the world's
soil is in peat lands. Half of that, probably, is in Canadian peat lands. There is a huge reservoir of carbon, and that is
carbon that was in the atmosphere and it is now in peat lands.
Senator Wiebe: We have spent a significant amount of time this evening productively talking about the effects of
climate change. With respect to mitigation, we flirted for a while on the issue of adaptation. There is no doubt that this
is a long-term project.
What kinds of tools do you as scientists and we as policy-makers need to start developing adaptation strategies?
Mr. McBean: Let me say first that we are scientists. However, since both of us come from a mix of natural, physical
and social backgrounds, we recognize that this is very much an issue with which you must deal in a more inclusive way
than we have tended to. Further, Mr. Roulet referred to — as did a senator — the necessity of dealing with these things
not just as climate change. The agricultural community in all parts of Canada is dealing with huge issues under WTO
and agricultural subsidies. Those are drivers that will push one way and the other.
Somehow, we must be able to integrate the understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities of the probabilities of the
climate and its changes into the other factors in ways that, largely speaking, traditional approaches have not dealt with.
People probably do it themselves in their own way of dealing with them, but we in governments and universities still
tend to be segmented in our silos of dealing with climate as an environment issue over here, and even within that, we
deal with ozone and CO2 separately.
Therefore, the most important thing is to build tools to involve different people, to bring in different disciplines and
ideas and, to the extent that it is possible, deal with these issues of adaptation in that broader framework.
We are fighting against a generally short-term view in society.
In relation to the earlier comment about dealing with forests as we do agriculture, I can admit to having a brother-
in-law who was a vice-president in one of Canada's biggest forestry companies. When I tried to convince him, I said,
"Of anyone, you guys need to be worried about climate change and the kinds of trees you will plant because your trees
will come to maturity, even if you own the land.'' He said, "I know, but my shareholders want a return next year or this
We are dealing with very short-term views of these issues. It is only exceptional governments that can think beyond
the four-year election cycle to the multi-year things that would put in place sustained measures that would direct us in
this long-term way.
The other key challenge is the long-term view and the integration of all of these issues. Climate change is probably
not the biggest thing in most people's personal agendas. I am sure it is not. However, it must be one of the factors in
there with all of the other things. We are not yet good at putting all those factors together in a way that
comprehensively makes sense.
Mr. Roulet: Another important consideration is that this is also a different type of approach that science is really
used to dealing with. I can give you one good example. We are only dealing with a sample of one. We only have one
planet that we are dealing with in our experiment regarding climate change. Most scientists would never accept that as
an experimental design. They would want 150, 200, 1,000 replicas for this. However, we only have a sample of one.
We are also dealing with one of those tricky science problems in the sense that we are inadvertently doing an
experiment. The consequences of experiments where we do not really know where the results will go are unacceptable.
You do not see people advocating that the way to figure out the safety of nuclear reactors is to let a couple of nuclear
reactors melt down to see what the consequences are. That is not an acceptable scientific protocol. It is socially
unacceptable. This is a tricky issue dealing with the science in the way that we normally think. Normally, we would like
to see all the statistical evidence come in and then say, "Yes, we should act on this.''
Another aspect of this that is difficult enough for scientists, and even more difficult for lay people, is the issue of
complexity. There is no one single bullet or smoking gun over this. There are many small tendencies. Most of the
evidence is circumstantial. We must rely on the models to do it. How do we communicate that information out and
give people a sense of comfort in regard to the uncertainty with which we are dealing?
We always have a great line in the scientific community that we give to people like Mr. McBean:
"You give us more
money to do research that will reduce the uncertainty in the models.'' To be truthful, the experiment that we are doing
actually increases the uncertainty on climate changes rather than decreases it. However, it helps us bound that
uncertainty to say what might be the potential options. If we ignore those things, we are being naive in not accepting
Your argument about how to communicate is very important. We must facilitate movement in the direction of what
I call "integrated assessment,'' which involves bringing not only the scientists to the table, but also the social scientists
and the stakeholders. That way, we can address the key questions that are important to the people who use the
It is no longer an issue where it is purely the experts who should be informing people, but those people who are in
the farm community, the forestry industry, the fossil fuel industry, must be engaged in putting the questions on the
table for us to direct or try to tackle collectively. We are all in the same boat. It is not
"us against them;'' we are all on
the same planet. We have to try to figure out a way of working together. As I said, it does not come naturally for us to
do this kind of integrated approach.
The Chairman: A number of people have told us that trying to find out how people are to adapt, much more
research must be done by a whole group of people, before we can give specific advice to the forest industry and to
farmers on what crops to grow and so on.
You have alluded to several stakeholders: the government, universities, and industry. Do you have any final
suggestions for us in terms of a parliamentary committee studying this issue as to ways that we should look at trying to
integrate the government, industry, the other stakeholders, the universities, the scientists and so on so that you can
communicate with one another and pull together and work towards a solution to this huge climatic adaptation
Mr. Roulet: Many of my colleagues in the science community will not like the answer I will give you, but a number
of models are emerging right now. It used to be that the universities and government did not work very closely
together. We now have agencies such as Canadian Foundation of Climate and Atmospheric Science and others that
require in the funding mechanisms collaborations between the users. One way to facilitate people sitting at the table is
to make it one of the funding requirements for action-oriented research.
The Chairman: Would you suggest legislation for that? You are talking to a parliamentary committee. Are you
suggesting that there are ways to legislate that, or would you recommend that?
Mr. Roulet: I do not know how foundations and research agencies get their marching orders. I am also not
advocating that 100 per cent of all research moves in that direction. You need the basic individual scientist doing good
research and social scientists to support this kind of stuff. However, there are mechanisms to facilitate people sitting
down at the table.
I do not think it is necessarily a legislative thing, but it is something that the committees or whoever provides the
funds, for example, the Department of Science and Technology or the Department of Environment, might consider.
However, if it is within their mandate that a certain proportion of these things must be in the facilitation side, then
these things will start to happen.
The Chairman: Part of your conclusion is that we must move towards a more integrated assessment modelling and
that all of these models are integrated.
Mr. Roulet: That is the next stage. There are a few groups in the United States that are doing that. We have the
antecedent conditions in Canada to do this well. We have a great climate model here in Canada. We are moving in the
direction of the carbon cycle. We need to get the social scientists to support the human dimension of this. That is where
we could start doing something on the questions about mitigation and adaptation.
However, if we were to start now, maybe 10 years down the road we might be all looking at the same page and
producing something that would be useful.
Mr. McBean: I will hear a report on Thursday morning on a program evaluation. We developed our program
evaluation framework early on. We asked, "What are the criteria by which we would judge success?'' We are halfway
through, and we expect an interim report card later this week that we hope will be positive.
It seems that one of the most important things that your committee could address is how you, as a committee of the
Senate, can bring this adaptation more clearly into the focus of governments and, more importantly, to the general
public and the industrial view.
One of the most important things is to bring in the balance, long-term view that climate change is a multi-decadal
interest. We need to factor this view into all the other stressors that are on our society and our ecosystems today. This
should become one of the parameters in the long term.
I was recently working with someone in the industrial sector in Vancouver to push for the government to create a
Royal commission on climate change. This was not because we felt that royal commissions are the right way to address
these issues, but because we felt that the dialogue on climate change had been too focused on Kyoto-Yes or No, as
opposed to dealing with the issue in its totality. That is what we need to do.
We have had Senate committees, such as the recent one on health chaired by Senator Kirby, that have brought
issues very much to the front in ways that are authoritative and not as politically charged as in some other quarters.
The Chairman: That is what we hope this committee will be able to do for climate change.
Mr. McBean: If you can do that, it would be an exceedingly valuable contribution.
Mr. Roulet: I agree with Mr. McBean; we need the long view. This can be facilitated by committees such as yours
along with other groups comprising the people in the scientific community starting to look at that long view. I do think
Kyoto has really monopolized the discussion on this matter. That is one tiny piece of the big picture.
It is unfortunate that the only really serious debate where we have engaged the public in climate change has been
over Kyoto. We should have been having these types of public discussions over the last 10 years in that regard. Now
that we have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, my fear is that this level of discussion may drop off the radar screen. Rather,
we should continue to address these issues and elevate the discussion to the long view. We must think about it in the
immediate future, the next couple of decades to come, and what this will look like in 100 years. We need to have that
continuum type of view.
Senator Fairbairn: This is one of the sad issues of the past 20 years: These things have been happening on the ground
in a different way from how they had been happening over a period of time. There have been efforts to try to integrate.
Perhaps now it will be easier, but there has been almost this sense of rejection or disbelief that this was anything new;
that this was just the same old cycle. It is unfortunate because we probably could have leaned a great deal in the last
two decades had a wide group of scientific and other on-the-ground type of minds been collaborating together.
I can only speak for my own area in southwestern Alberta. I would think that a collaboration involving the water
institute that is developing within the University of Lethbridge, the research station there, and input from those in the
agricultural industry in the area would come up with some suggestions that are together useful. There has been a will
on the ground, but it has not happened.
The Chairman: On behalf of the committee, I wish to thank you both for two excellent presentations. Mr. Roulet, at
the beginning you said that you were not sure why you were invited, however, after we have heard you I can say that
your contribution has been very important. When we read the transcript, it will be useful. It will be helpful to receive
information on the sampling you are doing 10 kilometres from here that would be helpful, because we would like to
follow up on that suggestion.