The Chair: Good morning, everyone. Maybe I
should say good afternoon. Welcome. This is a regular meeting of the
Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.
We continue our study into the energy sector, with a view to developing a
strategic framework for a more sustainable, more efficient, cleaner and
greener future energy system in this country.
We have been at this for almost three years
now. The committee has just finished two weeks of travelling in the western
part of the country, continuing its dialogue with Canadians on these matters
of energy, the environment and the economy, all three of which are
inextricably intertwined. We are back here with our heads spinning with all
kinds of wonderful new data, information and things that we learned in
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the last two weeks.
This morning, colleagues, we will have a
slightly different perspective on the climate change issue. As you know, we
have all heard many things about climate change as it relates to and affects
the production and use of energy. We have heard many people say that we need
a price on carbon. We have had some lonely voices in the West saying that
maybe we should not have a price on carbon. This morning we have invited
four distinguished professors who have expertise in climate, in geology and
in paleontology. I hope you all have their biographies. I read them all last
You are all distinguished gentleman. Rather
than read all your bios, I will trust that my colleagues have had a look at
them. Perhaps when you are in the middle of your discussions, or before you
begin, you might want to elaborate on your backgrounds.
We senators, of course, never know whether we
will get home for Christmas or stay here to bring the coal over to Mr.
Justin Trudeau or any of his colleagues. However, we will try to keep the
four witnesses to 10 minutes each and then have questions. I am hoping we
will have 15 minutes at the end for an in camera session about our trip and
about the way forward.
Without further ado, I am Senator David Angus,
from the province of Quebec. I chair the committee. Here also are Senator
Grant Mitchell, the deputy chair, from Alberta; Marc LeBlanc and Sam Banks
from the parliamentary library, Senator Richard Neufeld, from British
Columbia; a guest with us today, a man who has been hovering on the edges of
our committee, a great guru from the northern part of Canada, Senator Dennis
Patterson; Senator Bert Brown, from Alberta, Canada's only elected senator
at present; our clerk, Lynne Gordon; my predecessor, Senator Tommy Banks,
from Alberta; Senator Rob Peterson, from Saskatchewan; the pit bull from
Whitehorse, Yukon, Senator Daniel Lang, who is well known to the committee
and who is also a welcome guest this morning; and Canada's female athlete of
the 20th century, Senator Greene Raine from B.C. She had a bit of a hand in
the program this morning, colleagues. She has been following our
deliberations and our issues with great interest, debating with me into the
wee hours of the morning on issues. I think she made the point that it is
good to hear both sides of the story, so that is what we will do. Last but
not least, we have, from New Brunswick, Senator John Wallace.
I believe you gentlemen will proceed one after
Ross McKitrick, Professor, Department of
Economics, University of Guelph, as an individual: My name is Ross
McKitrick. I am a full professor of economics at the University of Guelph,
where I specialize in environmental economics. I have published on both the
economics of climate change and statistical analysis in climatology. I was
an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fourth
Assessment Report, and, in 2006, I was one of 12 experts from around the
world asked to brief a panel of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences
examining paleo-climate reconstruction methodology.
The global warming issue is often described
with emphatic claims that the science is settled, the situation is urgent
and the necessary actions are obvious. The reality is that there are deep
disagreements about underlying scientific issues. There is reason to believe
the problem has been exaggerated, and most policy proposals simply do not
pass objective cost-benefit tests. Amidst the disputes and controversies of
the past few years, I believe two points have emerged with clarity.
First, the economics of climate change do not
favour Kyoto-type commitments. Under current and foreseeable technologies,
the greenhouse gas policies that we can afford to undertake would have such
small climatic impacts as to be pointless. The same kinds of models that are
used to forecast global warming predict that, if all the signatories to the
Kyoto Protocol complied with their commitments, the level of carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere that we would have observed by 2100 would instead have
been reached by about 2105, a trivial difference. Kyoto was too costly for
countries to reach. When a policy is proposed that is too costly to
implement and yields benefits that are too small to measure, you would
expect reasonable people to see it as a bad idea. Instead, we observed a
dogmatic elite consensus in support of Kyoto. In my mind, this never
validated Kyoto; it merely discredited the elite consensus and suggested to
me that the international political milieu in charge of the climate issue
was unduly susceptible to groupthink.
Unlike such air pollutants as sulphur dioxide
and particulates, which Canada has been very successful in reducing, CO2
is not easy to capture. Once captured, there is no obvious way to dispose of
it. There appears to be no way to cut CO2 emissions on a large
scale without cutting energy consumption and impeding economic activity.
Despite their enthusiasm for embracing targets,
policy-makers around the world have not been able to cut CO2
emissions while pursuing economic growth. Simply put, with regard to most
climate policy, the cure is worse than the disease.
Second, the official process for assessing
technical and scientific information on climate change for the purpose of
advising policy-makers has become untrustworthy due to bias and
partisanship. As a member of the expert review team for the last IPCC
report, I saw things take place that violated long-standing principles of
I documented some of them in various
publications since 2007, but the issues never received much attention until
the fall of 2009, when thousands of emails from top IPCC scientists were
leaked onto the Internet. The so-called Climategate emails confirmed the
reality of bias and cronyism in the IPCC process. You may not know, but
another 5,000 emails were leaked back in November. The news leaks last month
provided even more confirmation that climate scientists privately express
greater doubts and disagreement about climate science among themselves than
is reflected in IPCC reports.
Earlier this year I was asked by the
London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation to review IPCC procedures and
to make recommendations for reform. My report was published last month and
includes a foreword written by John Howard, the former Prime Minister of
Australia. I have included a copy with my submission. I mainly focus on how
the IPCC handled issues with which I have first-hand knowledge, as a
contributor to the peer-reviewed literature on the subject, and on the IPCC
text on which I worked closely in my capacity as an expert reviewer.
The IPCC is not a neutral observer of the
scientific process. Instead, it has a party line. It is controlled by a
relatively small bureau in Geneva, consisting of a small core surrounded by
a network of supportive academics and government officials. The oversight
body, called the IPCC Plenary Panel, is passive, inattentive and overly
deferential to the bureau. In effect, there is no oversight.
The bureau picks lead authors who share their
views. They are routinely placed in the position of reviewing their own work
and that of their critics and are free to rule in their own favour. Lead
authors are also free to reject reviewer comments, override review editors
and even rewrite text after the close of the peer-review process. The
combination of bureau control over the selection of lead authors and a
toothless peer-review process means that IPCC assessments are guaranteed
merely to repeat and reinforce a set of foregone conclusions that make up
the party line.
In my report I document some disturbing cases
where the IPCC violated proper peer-review practices. These include
manipulating prominent graphs so as to conceal known flaws in the
statistical basis of paleo-climate reconstructions and to exaggerate
evidence that modern climate change is historically exceptional — this is
the so-called "hide the decline" scandal; fabricating a statistical test
result to provide a rationale for dismissing published evidence of
urbanization-related contamination of the surface temperature record on
which key IPCC conclusions were based; waiting until the close of peer
review, then removing text that had initially and correctly cautioned
readers that the IPCC method of calculating warming trends likely
exaggerated their significance and replacing it with unsupported text saying
My report documents these and other incidents
that, in my view, suffice to discredit its claims to rigour and objectivity
and point to the need for procedural reform. In 2010, the InterAcademy
Council reviewed IPCC procedures and drew attention to many of the same
problems as my report does. Unfortunately, the IPCC's internal reform
process has gone nowhere. I discuss this problem in section 4 of my report.
At this point, we could simply muddle along for
another 20 years enacting more and more costly and wasteful schemes based on
the increasingly biased and unreliable guidance of the international climate
policy milieu. That would be the easiest course of action, but it would not
serve the public interest. The more difficult option would be to begin the
hard work of improving the decision-making process itself, starting with
reform of the IPCC.
My published research has led me to believe
that the IPCC has overstated the global warming issue. I have shown that the
spatial pattern of warming trends in the surface temperature record is
strongly correlated with the spatial pattern of industrialization, even
though this pattern is not predicted by climate models as a response to
greenhouse gases. This indicates that the standard climate data sets likely
have a warm bias due to their failure to correct for disturbances of the
land surface from urbanization, agriculture and so forth.
I have also shown that climate models predict
significantly more warming over the past 30 years in the tropical
troposphere than is observed in satellite or weather balloon records. This
is a key region for measuring the water vapour feedbacks that control the
magnitude of greenhouse warming. Despite this being the region that models
say should be warming fastest in response to greenhouse gases, the 50-year
balloon record actually shows no positive trend once the effect of ocean
circulation changes in the late 1970s are removed from the record. One of
the most telling emails in the so-called Climategate 2.0 archive that was
released last month involves one IPCC expert warning another that their
efforts to finesse this issue by deceptive trend analysis is "a fool's
Today you have a chance to hear from a number
of serious Canadian scientists about work that they and their colleagues
have done that also calls into question aspects of the IPCC party line. The
fact that you have learned little of what they are about to tell you does
not indicate any deficiencies in the research they or their colleagues have
done. Instead, it points to the deficiencies in the process that was
supposed to have brought this information to your attention long before now.
The Chair: Professor, thank you for your
candour. It was a well-presented outline of the issues without pulling any
punches. I want to ask you a question before I go to the next presenter. You
keep talking about these leaks and we keep reading about these leaks. I
chair a big hospital board, and every morning in Montreal I am reading in
the paper about stuff that happened in my board meetings. They say, "Oh,
well, it's a leak." Who are these leakers? Do you have any idea?
Mr. McKitrick: In the fall of 2009, I was
interviewed by the U.K. police because I was living in the U.K. at the time.
My conjecture at the time was that it was an accidental disclosure of an
archive by the university that had been prepared in response to a freedom of
information request. However, there has emerged an individual in the U.K.
who is anonymous, who has engineered the second leak and has also released
an archive of what looks like at least another 20,000 emails, but it is
encrypted. The individual has indicated he is not prepared to release the
decryption code. It appears to be a single individual with access to a
server at the University of East Anglia. The emails cover a span from the
late 1990s up to the fall of 2009. The person clearly understands the issues
because he or she has selected according to specific themes that are
relevant to climate research.
Just yesterday the U.K. police raided a few
bloggers and also issued retention orders to some American Internet
providers. They are trying to find out the identity of the person.
The Chair: We are trained to be cynical
here. When people like to remain anonymous the credibility is in question.
However, I just wanted to make that point because over in the U.K. is a
well-known international leak waiting to be extradited to Sweden. I think
his name is Assange.
Mr. McKitrick: Julian Assange. In this case
the emails are not anonymous and they have been validated by the people
involved that these were actually the emails.
The Chair: Are they all from that same
source at East Anglia University?
Mr. McKitrick: Yes.
The Chair: Our next presenter is Professor
Ian D. Clark, Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa.
Ian D. Clark, Professor, Department of Earth
Sciences, University of Ottawa, as an individual: Good morning,
senators. I want to thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to
talk about the science behind global warming. This is the first time that I
have tried to teach my paleo-climate course in 10 minutes, but I will give
it my best shot.
What I want to present today is global
temperature and CO2, the geological record. We will go back
through time, and we will start with the last 150 years. This period of time
is characterized by a cold spell that we refer to as the Little Ice Age. It
ended about 1900. This was a period when glaciers advanced globally.
Agriculture failures were common. The Greenland colonies failed. However, it
ended about 1900, and that started what we call the 20th century warming
We have had about 100 years of warming. This
warming trend is rather bimodal. We had warming up to the 1940s, cooling
again through the 1950s and 1960s to the mid-1970s, and then a second
warming trend through the 1980s and 1990s.
If we look at CO2 during that time,
CO2 was a steady baseline at about 280 ppm in the atmosphere.
During this warming trend, CO2 rose up to about 380 ppm today.
The warming trend that we are concerned with is really just this last bit,
because CO2 in the earlier part of the 20th century was too
minor, and the IPCC and most scientists agree that this was all a natural
warming trend here and that this is potentially the anthropogenic trend.
Here is the global CO2 anomaly. To
put it into perspective, we are looking at about a 35 per cent increase in
CO2, derived from ice cores and then dovetailed with air
measurements started in the 1950s in Hawaii.
If we look at the past 55 years, we see that
through the 1970s temperatures were quite low during that cold spell, and
then they started to rise through the 1980s and 1990s, up towards the last
decade. Examining the last decade shows that temperatures really have
flattened, so we have not really seen any global warming for the past 10
years, some say since the 1998 El Niño. This is in stark contrast with the
IPCC forecast of an increase of some 0.2 degrees per decade that should have
occurred during this period. What was going on at that time is quite
Is this 20th century warming unusual? We go
back to a thousand years before the present and we see a warm period, which
we call the Medieval Warm Period, which centred on a thousand years ago and
lasted about 200 years. It is well documented by agricultural records; the
Vikings settled in Greenland and came to Canada. There are lots of
documentation and proxy records for the Medieval Warm Period, followed by
the Little Ice Age and then 20th century warming.
During that period we did not see any effect of
CO2. CO2 was flat during this time, and so there is no
correlation with this greenhouse gas.
We go back further in time. Over the last
10,000 years, this is the Holocene interglacial period, following the past
glacial period when glaciers covered Canada. Here, the 20th century warming
is one of a series of climate optima. There is the Medieval Warming Period,
the Roman climate optimum during the time of Christ, and then we go back
further in the Holocene and we see various optima, warm periods of varying
intensity and duration. The current 20th century climate warming is one of a
series; there is nothing unusual.
Furthermore, throughout this period, CO2
was a relatively steady 280 ppm. CO2 had nothing to do with these
We will go back further in time, here looking
at the record from ice cores in Antarctica. These are very robust records of
climate. I am reading from present-day back 450,000 years — the records now
go back closer to a million years — documenting interglacial periods. Here
is the Holocene interglacial. There is the last glacial period when glaciers
covered Canada and many parts of Europe. We have these series. Clearly,
climate has been changing dramatically over this time period.
When we look at CO2, we see a very
strong correlation. CO2 increases during the interglacials,
decreases during the glacial maximum period, down to 180 ppm, back up into
this last interglacial, again up to 280 to 300 ppm. CO2 strongly
correlated with climate, apparently.
We have to look more closely at this
correlation. This is where the science becomes obfuscated, particularly by
Al Gore and other people promoting CO2 as a forcing agent. Here
we are looking at a detailed interface between a glacial period at 245,000
to 240,000, and an interglacial period. We have warming shown in red, and
that warming occurs about 800 years prior to the CO2 increase. CO2
is lagging temperature increase by about 800 years.
This has been demonstrated for all these
glacial and interglacial interfaces through time. We are always seeing a
lag. CO2 is not driving climate. CO2 is not acting as
a greenhouse gas over this very important period of strong climate change.
Now we will go back over the last 500 million
years of earth history. I am presenting research by Jan Veizer, my colleague
here. This record shows a decoupling of CO2 and climate over what
we call the Phanerozoic. During the Phanerozoic, what Professor Veizer has
shown is that we have had a series of ice houses and greenhouses. We have
had ice ages and hothouses, or warm periods, on a rather cyclical time scale
over this 500-million-year period. However, when we look at the correlation
with CO2, we see high CO2, and these are various
models of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. This is a log
scale. At number 1, we are looking at a tenfold increase of CO2
Back during our Ordovician glaciation, we had
very high CO2. Then it comes down. This is when we created all
these coal beds in North America, and CO2 went by sequestration.
Here is another Jurassic ice age, and CO2 is five to ten times
higher than today. Even over this time frame we do not see a correlation
with CO2. We do not see CO2 as a climate driver.
However, we do see this if we look at the model
projections going into the future. Here I am showing the IPCC model
projections from the year 2000 over the next hundred years. They all climb
by about two to three to four degrees Celsius. These are significant
increases in temperatures.
How do they model the greenhouse to achieve
these temperatures? CO2 is a very minor greenhouse gas. It is a
very minor constituent of the atmosphere. It is far from being a strong
greenhouse gas. The strongest by far is water vapour. Water vapour is used
in these models to drive climate warming. The concept or the model is based
on a little bit of CO2 warming, which would be insignificant,
amplified by water vapour, a two-to-four-time water vapour feedback, and
this feedback effect has never been documented or seen in the geological
record, so it remains an hypothesis that we have based all of our
predictions on, and this is the only reason we are predicting global
Do the models work?
The Chair: Can I interject? I apologize,
sir. As you know, we are being broadcast on the CPAC network and also on the
World Wide Web. These overheads you are referring to in your testimony
almost continually are not being shown, unfortunately, on the networks
because they are not bilingual. That is one of our inviolable rules here in
Mr. Clark: I understand.
The Chair: I think your narrative still
makes them understandable.
Mr. Clark: I have written testimony that
should be published as well.
The Chair: Again, we are not all scientists
here. Only one of us is, and not me. You keep talking about greenhouse
gases, and you say CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and then the H2O
factor. There is a colloquialism in the world that has become part of our
regular vocabulary — greenhouse gases. I do not think anyone really knows
what they mean when they say it. Could you give a definition?
Mr. Clark: These are the slides I cut from
my talk. The planet, without what we call greenhouse gases, with just a
transparent atmosphere of nitrogen and oxygen, would be about 32 degrees
colder than today. We would have a planet which would be unlivable. It would
Thanks to one greenhouse gas, which is water
vapour, our planet is about 32 degrees warmer. What water vapour does in the
atmosphere is absorb the outgoing radiation. When we warm the planet with
solar radiation during the day, it emits that radiation throughout the day
and during the night, so the planet cools. If we trap that outgoing
radiation, what we call "long wave radiation," or "infrared radiation," like
what you see on the hot plates in fast-food restaurants, the heat is
retained in the atmosphere and warms the earth's surface. We retain a planet
that is now 14 degrees above 0, and habitable.
CO2 represents a couple of per cent
of that greenhouse gas effect. It is a very minor greenhouse gas. Water does
all the work.
When we talk about the accumulating greenhouse
gases in the atmosphere and we focus on CO2, we are being
deceptive because CO2 cannot give us the warming that has been
projected. To project warming, if we feel we have to account for the past
century's warming and project that into the future with CO2, we
are obliged to amplify that with water vapour. My graph with the little
arrow of CO2 is making the water vapour cycle work. It is
preposterous. CO2 is a very minor greenhouse gas, and we are
attributing to it all the power in the world to move water vapour around as
it will. Preposterous.
The models predict, as Mr. McKitrick pointed
out, a hot spot. This is the classic response of our planet — it should be —
to an enhanced greenhouse effect where we have between the latitudes of 30
north and 30 south at about 12 kilometres in the troposphere a thumbprint of
warming. This is our thumbprint of greenhouse warming, according to the
numerical models we are told to believe. If we look at the radiosonde
measures, balloon-based temperature readings, there is no hot spot. In fact,
we have cooling. We might suggest that the models are incorrect. We can ask
what the people who run the models say.
Here is what they say, and these are the famous
leaked emails where we get an insight into the thinking of the people who
are warning us about catastrophic global warming. Thorne from the Met Office
with the Climate Research Unit says, " . . ." Phil Jones keeps the
Phil Jones responds: "Basic problem is that all
models are wrong — not got enough middle and low level clouds." That is,
they cannot model water vapour and cloud formation.
Then Wilson pipes in: "What if climate change
appears to be just mainly a multi-decadal natural fluctuation? They’ll kill
These people have great uncertainty in their
work, but we do not see that when they present it in the IPCC documents.
What is driving global warming? Well, we have
to look at the sun, and we have, unlike CO2, very good
correlations between various measures of solar activity and temperature.
Here, again, in the Arctic, Arctic temperatures — and there is all our
melting in the Arctic — are correlating with solar activity, but not with CO2.
I will show one last bit of research done by
Solanki, published in Nature, where he points out that during the
recent decades the sun's activity has been greater compared to the last
11,000 years. Here is his graph showing a proxy of solar activity over
11,000 years, and it has peaked in the past 20th century, when we see this
20th century warming. Let us zero in on that little bit, and here is the
last thousand years, and here is a bona fide record from the Greenland ice
core, a very robust temperature record in blue, and it correlates very well
with our solar activity. We have a reason that our climate is warming. It is
If I can just summarize, we find that there is
no geological evidence that CO2 has behaved in the past as a
significant forcing mechanism. CO2 remains at the lowest range
today than observed over geological time. I would like to add that it is
more than a benign gas. It is an essential nutrient for life and with only
beneficial effects. Our efforts to limit the use of fossil carbon-based
energy have solved no environmental problems. It has created many more,
including the accelerated production of ethanol and the conversion of
tropical rain forest to tropical palm oil production. It is time to turn our
attention to real, tangible environmental problems.
The Chair: That is another very candid
explanation for us. The next presenter is Professor Jan Veizer,
Professor Emeritus, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa.
Jan Veizer, Professor Emeritus, Department of
Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa, as an individual: Prior to my
retirement for the last 15 or 20 years, I was a professor both in Germany
and at the University of Ottawa. I was also for 20 years the director of the
Earth System Evolution Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced
Research. I am supposedly retired since 1974. That is my attitude —
retirement is like dying. As Woody Allen said, he is not afraid of dying,
but he does not want to be there when it happens.
Mr. Chair and committee members, many people
think the science of climate change is settled. It is not. The issue is not
whether there has been an over warming during the past century. There has.
Also, it was not uniform, and none was observed during the past decade. The
geological record provides us with abundant evidence for such perpetual
natural climate variability, from ice caps reaching the equator, to none at
all, even at the poles.
The climate debate is in reality not about
carbon dioxide, but about 1.6 watts per square meter — a discrepancy of this
kind of uncertainty — in the poorly known planetary energy balance. This is
an absolute fundamental statement to start with.
Let me explain. Without our atmosphere, the
planet would be a frozen ice ball. Natural greenhouse warming is warming it
up by 33 degrees Celsius. Two thirds of this warming or more, up to perhaps
even 95 per cent of this warming, is due to water vapour, not to CO2.
Water vapour, not carbon dioxide, is by far the most important greenhouse
gas, yet the models treat the water cycle as just being there, relegating it
to a passive agent in the climate system. The energy that is required to
drive the water cycle must, therefore, come from somewhere else: the sun,
which drives the water cycle; the water cycle then generates climate, and
climate decides how much jungle, how much tundra and so on we will have, and
therefore drives around the carbon cycle.
That would be the top-down model, that
means driving in through the sun, or it can be the way the IPCC does it. It
says, no, it is being driven bottom-up; the carbon cycle is putting energy
into the water cycle. There it generates more activity, and then it
generates even more activity. It is like saying that Puerto Rico is driving
the world economy by positive feedback from the United States because when
Puerto Rico increases its GDP by 10 per cent, then some of it will come into
the United States; there will be more economic activity, therefore, more
finances, more economic activity, more finances, more economic activity
until you get a boom and then you get a world economy in boom.
The point is that Puerto Rico is piggy-backing
on the United States. They are subsidized by the United States, not driving
it. Therefore, you get a top-down not a bottom-up situation.
The energy required to drive the water cycle
must therefore come either from here or from any possible combination of the
above. Note that because of the overwhelming importance of water vapour to
the greenhouse effect, existing climate models are not diagnostic. To water
cycle energy is just that, energy, regardless of where it comes from. The
water cycle does not know; it is all energy for it.
It has been documented by previous speakers
that the past climate record does indeed resemble the trend in solar output.
However, because three decades of satellite data show only limited solar
viability, solar output would have to be somewhat amplified to explain the
magnitude of centennial warming. The IPCC argues that because no amplifier
is known, which is an invalid assertion, man-made greenhouse gases must be
responsible for most of the energy imbalance. In other words, they say that
the sun is seen more as a constant; therefore, it must go bottom-up. That is
what it says.
However, this is an assumption, an attribution
by default. There is no actual empirical or experimental proof that carbon
dioxide is a driver, yet such attribution is then taken in all subsequent
complex model calibrations of climate as a fact. That is what is called
If an amplifier to solar output does exist, and
empirical observations detailed in the submitted article I put up here argue
for its existence, the need to attribute the energy to greenhouse gases
would diminish accordingly. How realistic is the basic model assumption that
the tiny biologically controlled carbon cycle drives the climate via the
passively responding huge water cycle? How realistic is it that Puerto Rico
is driving the world economy by pushing around the U.S.?
Nature tells us that, in fact, it is the other
way around. Surely, the blossoming of plants in the spring is the outcome,
not the cause of the warming sun and abundant rain. Our atmosphere contains
about 730 billion tonnes of carbon. Each year, about 120 billion tonnes are
cycled via plants on land and about 90 billion tonnes through the oceans. It
is absolutely dominant. Human emissions account for less than 5 per cent of
the annual carbon cycle.
The Chair: Less than how much?
Mr. Veizer: Five per cent. From the point
of view of interaction of water and carbon cycles, however, it is important
to realize that we are supposed to plant trees to lower CO2, but
for every single molecule of CO2 that a plant captures it must
transpire into the atmosphere water from the soil, from the roots, a
thousand molecules of water, for every single CO2 molecule.
There is a huge amount of energy required to
lift the water from the canopy back into the atmosphere. The actual reaction
is one CO2 molecule to one water molecule to generate
transpiration, or photosynthesis. All of this energy is not needed for
photosynthesis; it is needed to drive the water up to the atmosphere and to
drive the water conveyor belt. Why is that? Because this is what delivers
your food. This is the conveyor belt that delivers your nutrients. No food,
no life, no carbon cycle.
In other words, the required huge energy source
is the sun. Solar energy drives the water cycle, generating warm air and a
wetter climate and invigorating the biological carbon cycle. The sun also
warms the oceans that emit CO2 into the atmosphere. Atmospheric
CO2 is thus the product and not the cause of the climate, as
demonstrated by past records where temperature changes always precede
changes in atmospheric CO2. With ice cores, as Mr. Clark showed
you, the same thing happened after Mt. Pinatubo that then started CO2
flux changes. It happens also every spring. The sun shines first and then
What might be the complementary source of
energy that could account for the disputed 1.6 watts? Clouds. Clouds are the
mirror that reflects solar radiation back into space. The amount of solar
energy reflected by the earth is about 77 watts, and the difference between
cloudy and cloudless skies is almost 30 watts. The change of few per cent in
cloudiness can easily account for 1.6 watts, which is being disputed.
Clouds are an integral part of the water cycle,
but formation of water droplets requires seeding. That is why in Beijing
they had to shoot into the clouds. Empirical and experimental results
suggest that cosmic rays hitting the atmosphere may generate such initial
seeds. While the actual mechanism is still being debated, the correlations
between cloudiness and cosmic rays have been published. These are
The amplifying connection to the sun probably
comes via its electromagnetic envelope, called heliosphere, and a similar
envelope around the earth called the magnetosphere. These act as shields to
cosmic rays reaching our planet. A less active sun is not only colder, but
its heliospheric shield shrinks, more cosmic rays come through, they seed
more clouds and they also produce cosmogenic nuclides, beryllium-10 and
carbon-14, which we can then measure in trees, rocks and so on. This is a
measure of the activity of the sun. When there is weaker sun, we have more
of those cosmogenic nuclides.
If you look for such a record in the past
10,000 years, what you see here, the blue is a record of climate over the
last 10,000 years, and this is the record of carbon-14. These are the
cosmogenic nuclides I was talking about that are due to cosmic rays that
reflect the activity of the sun.
On the next slide, if you look at the CO2,
it was flat all the time — and this is the climate — at about 280 parts per
million, exactly at the so-called pre-industrial level.
The science of climate change continues to
evolve, and regardless of the outcome of the climate debate, observational
data suggests that we may be served well by basing our climate agenda
scientifically and economically on a broader perspective than that of the
IPCC-outlined scenarios. This is one scenario, but there is more to it than
just IPCC. Our pollution statement and energy diversification goals could
then be formulated and likely implemented with less pain.
The Chair: I congratulate you; you were
exactly 10 minutes. That was scientific and well presented. Thank you very
Our fourth presenter this morning is Professor
Timothy Patterson, Professor of Geology, Department of Earth Sciences,
Carleton University. You have the floor.
Timothy Patterson, Professor of Geology,
Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, as an individual: Mr.
Chair, committee members, thank you for the opportunity to testify this
My interest in the climate change debate was
triggered in 1998, when I was funded by an NSERC strategic project grant and
subsequently by major funding from the Canadian Foundation for Climate and
Atmospheric Sciences to determine if there were regular cycles in fish
productivity on the Canadian West Coast. Although climate was expected to
play a significant role in productivity, accurate fishing and temperature
records have only been kept in that region for about 70 years, and we needed
indicators of fish productivity over thousands of years to see what
recurring cycles, populations and phenomenon might be driving these changes.
My research team collected and analyzed core
samples from the bottom of deep coastal British Columbia fiords, and we
collected 5,000 years’ worth of annually deposited mud layers from these
basins, which gave us one of the highest-quality climate records available
anywhere today. In it, we see confirmation that natural climate causes can
be quite dramatic.
As an example, in the middle of a 62-year slice
of the record about 4,400 years ago, there was a shift in climate in only a
couple of seasons from very warm, dry and sunny conditions to mostly cold
and rainy conditions, and that persisted for several decades. You might
imagine the impact that would have had on Amerindian populations that were
dependent on fish. It would have changed their life completely.
In that record we discovered repeated cycles of
marine productivity that correlate very well with cycles in the brightness
of the sun, and this was not unique. Hundreds of other studies have shown
exactly the same thing, that the sun, and not variations in carbon dioxide,
the gas that is most targeted by Canada's national climate change campaigns,
appears to be the most important driver of climate change.
Solar scientists predict that by later in this
decade the sun will be starting into its weakest solar cycle of the past two
centuries, and this will likely lead to unusually cool conditions on earth,
which may persist for decades. Planning for adaptation to such a cool period
should be the primary position for governments. It is global cooling, not
warming, that is the major climate threat to the world. This is particularly
true for Canada, such a high latitude nation that is right at the edge of
where agriculture can be carried out.
Through another NSERC strategic project grant
that I currently head up, my research team is studying climate variability
in Northern Canada in order to advise government and industry about the
long-term viability of the strategically important Tibbitt to Contwoyto
winter ice road. This seasonal road is critical to the economy of the region
as it is the only overland route that services the diamond mines and
exploration camps in the central Northwest Territories and Southern Nunavut.
Beginning 70 kilometres north of Yellowknife,
this world-renowned ice superhighway, which you may have seen on the Ice
Road Truckers television series, traverses 600 kilometres, and 88 per
cent of it is built over frozen lakes with little portages in between.
The Chair: Senator Patterson, this would be
familiar territory for you?
Senator Patterson: I have driven the road
The Chair: It does exist?
Senator Patterson: I have hunted caribou on
Mr. Patterson: During the 70-day season,
more than $500 million in equipment and supplies are carried to the camps,
and the economic activity associated with the operation of the ice road
contributes over $1 billion to the economy of the Northwest Territories
every year. For remote Northern Canadian communities, similar ice roads are
critical supply links.
In our research conducted every year in the
latter part of March when activity on the ice road is starting to diminish
and we have access to the camps along the way, we collect core samples from
lakes along the route. By comparing lake sediment from the past 3,500 years,
we are able to recognize cycles and trends impacting climate change, and
from that we can predict possible future trends in climate ice cover and
things like fire hazard. We can recognize past intervals that were warmer,
drier and so on.
It is a particularly challenging task in this
region as the short thermometer record extends only back to about 1950 and
in the central Northwest Territories includes records from only four very
widely spaced meteorological stations.
Preliminary results from our research indicate
that considerable climate variability has existed through the last few
thousand years, with winter and summer temperatures often becoming
decoupled. A multi-decadal weather phenomenon, known as the Pacific Decadal
Oscillation, which is a huge driver of climate very similar to the shorter
but better known El Niño phenomenon but only discovered in 1996, which shows
how climate research has changed over the last 20 years or so, seems to have
contributed to the step-wise temperature changes as these phenomena vary
between positive and negative phases.
There is also a correspondence between solar
cycles and seasonal climate variability during negative Pacific Decadal
Oscillation phases with solar cycle troughs corresponding to colder winters.
As we are about to head into a series of very
weak solar cycles that will persist for several decades, and since the
Pacific Decadal Oscillation has just shifted to negative, we project a
period spanning several decades where conditions will remain suitable for
continued extensive use of the ice road.
As I am sure you have concluded from our
testimonies today, the field of climate science is vast and rapidly
evolving. Many things that we thought we knew about climate systems just a
few years ago are now proving to be highly uncertain or quite mistaken. It
is no exaggeration to say that in the period since the Kyoto Protocol was
introduced there has been a revolution in climate science. If back in the
mid-1990s we had known what we know about climate change today, there would
have been no Kyoto Protocol because it would have been considered
In some fields the science is indeed settled,
but the science of global climate change is still in its infancy with many
thousands of papers published every year.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members. I
look forward to answering any questions you may have.
The Chair: Thank you, that was fascinating.
Colleagues, we have presentations from each of
these witnesses which had to be sent to translation. When they are ready,
they will be posted on our committee's website, as will the transcripts.
Senator Lang: Thank you for coming. Your
views are very interesting. They are not ones we have heard much of, in view
of the political spin that has been put on climate change over the last
number of decades.
I have a question for Mr. McKitrick because of
his vast experience and involvement with the IPCC.
I believe that the concern the world should
have, including Canadians, is that there has been an intention to bring
forward just one scientific political message to the world. It is my
understanding that there is much question about how much merit it has, if
any. I know that in many of what are considered to be bona fide science
publications, information that has been provided through the United Nations
is in some cases accepted as gospel and as peer reviewed, although it has
not necessarily been peer reviewed. What must be done to change that so that
there is a legitimate public debate based on valid information, so that
citizens of the world can understand what is taking place?
Mr. McKitrick: I will refer to the report
that I submitted, which includes a list of recommendations for changes to
the IPCC process. Something like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change is necessary because we do need some way of bridging this enormous
scientific field and presenting information in a usable format to
policy-makers. The danger is that when you create an organization like that,
and then it takes upon itself the role of speaking on behalf of a very large
scientific community and you do not have a chance to examine the process
that they are using, that gives them a lot of power without proper
accountability. The reforms that I have proposed would work to get the IPCC
operating more in the way that people assume it does, which is quite a long
way from how it in fact operates.
The difficulty is that the IPCC is controlled
by a plenary of 195 country delegates. A review of the records from some of
the recent meetings shows that most of those delegates do not appear even to
read the briefing papers, put in any comments or participate in any active
way. Most countries did not submit any review comments on the last
assessment report. Of the comments that were received, half of them came
from only two countries, the United States and Australia, which are also the
countries that refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
That is a body that requires some oversight,
and Canada has a voice in that plenary panel. Canada sends delegates to it.
During the last reform process, Canada was one of the only countries that
tried to toughen up the procedures of the IPCC. I do not think they got
anywhere because there just was not the interest on the part of other
Where I would begin would be to find out who is
Canada's focal point for the IPCC and to get a group of countries interested
in beginning the process of reform. If you had a group of countries in the
plenary who sat down and talked it through and realized, if we are going to
have an IPCC, let us at least make it work properly, and then, as a group,
take it to the plenary, I do think you could get some reforms in place. If
that failed, then I would say that Canada and some other countries should
just set up their own advisory process and leave the IPCC aside.
Senator Raine: You said there were 100
delegates from 100 different countries. I presume these are scientists
appointed because of their expertise in climate science.
Mr. McKitrick: No, these are government
bureaucrats. Some of them might have a scientific background. These are
bureaucratic delegates to a plenary panel. It is 195 member countries. The
scientists who write the reports are a separate group. Those are the working
groups. Those are the lead authors that I mentioned. They are selected by
the bureau in Geneva. One of the most prominent criticisms in my report but
also from the InterAcademy Council was that there are no procedures stated
for selecting lead authors. Every few years, the IPCC just publishes a list.
No one is quite sure how they come up with it. They just announce that these
are the lead authors for the next report. They have complete control over
who they select. As far as I know, although Canada can make suggestions,
like any other country, we do not have any direct say over that decision.
The lead authors are in what are called the working groups. The plenary
panel, which is supposed to be the group that has the oversight, are not
Senator Lang: Dr. Patterson, you spoke
about the situation in the Northwest Territories. Contrary to what we have
been led to believe, that we are looking forever and a day at global warming
in view of the man-made emissions of CO2 and greenhouse gases,
you stated that we will be going into a long period of cooling. That has to
be a major concern to Canada, if that is the case, and we have to plan
accordingly. Could you expand on that and perhaps give us some indication of
what we should be doing as a country, planning for that, if we accept that
Mr. Patterson: Certainly. Basically, my
research in the Northwest Territories is funded by NSERC, basically in
partnership with the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road, the North Slave Metis
Alliance and various other groups with an interest in long-term viability,
so we do not really have a particular axe to grind. We are doing it from an
applied perspective, trying to understand the nature of climate,
particularly with the diamond mines that need to transport their materials
out and equipment north. There is now talk of more mines trying to bring
massive sulfides down the ice road and so on, so we really need to know.
Building a fixed link across this region is very expensive. This is why we
are doing the research we have been able to do.
We were able to collect cores and analyze the
record at the highest resolution that has ever been done. A new technology
was developed whereby we can actually look at annual resolution changes in
climate change in the Northwest Territories, which has not been done before.
Very little research has been done. We basically have been breaking new
We can recognize that there has been enormous
climate variability in this region over the last few thousand years. There
is a big reason why our project only looks at the last 3,500 years. If we
went further back in time, it was considerably warmer than it is today, so
it is not very useful if you are trying to figure out the current climate
situation to go deeper in time.
Our projections are based on trying to
understand these cycles. What we now know from some of the groundbreaking
research that has been done by Mr. Veizer and so on in the last few years
has really changed our understanding of the dynamics between solar force and
carbon dioxide and water vapour and so on and trying to understand what will
From the perspective of where we might be
going, this is something of great concern to Canada. Everyone is always
talking about warming and so on, but because we are at the north end of
agriculture in Canada, there is not a lot of wheat production going on in
the Northwest Territories at the present time; if things start to cool off,
it starts to threaten your production in Western Canada and so on. If it is
happening to us, it is happening to places in Eastern Europe, which would be
worse and so on if the world is starting to cool down.
We have to really think about various sorts of
adaptation strategies, not just warming, but you have to think about what
might be happening if things start to cool down from the social unrest
perspective and everything else that goes along with it. We are a big
country, and we could probably adapt to lots of changes. Our farmers are
efficient and can adapt to changes on a dime. If things warm up, they can
adapt their agriculture probably very quickly, but if things cool down, you
just cannot make things grow if the seasons are too short.
All we ask is that people start to look at what
the possibility might be. My reports going forward now for the ice road are
that we project that, through the next few decades, it will probably be
pretty good conditions for the continued use of this road.
The Chair: At this time last week, some of
the members of the committee were in Regina, Saskatchewan, holding hearings.
It was 28 below zero with the wind chill. That is warming to me.
Mr. Patterson: It was minus 36 when I was
in Yellowknife a few weeks ago.
The Chair: Senator Brown has been giggling
away. He has the floor, our resident denier.
Senator Brown: I felt like it is kind of an
insult to be a denier for a long time. It feels pretty good this morning.
I have read a lot about different things in
climate change ever since I came to the Senate. One was from a book by a
geologist who says that we have been having climate change for 18,000 years,
and that is only because the cores they could find were 18,000 years old. It
must have been changing ever since the dinosaurs, I guess.
I have always thought the sun was the biggest
driver of whatever happens in the world. I did read some place that there is
an elliptical ride around the planets that revolve around the sun. Every so
often, they kind of line up a little bit closer to a line next to the sun,
and that is supposedly causing different changes in the temperature that the
earth gets, because it pulls it into an ellipse instead of a perfect circle
around the sun. Is there any scientific research behind that, or would you
just say that it is not possible?
Mr. Clark: Absolutely, there is terrific
scientific background for that. These are called the Milankovitch Cycles.
Milutin Milankovitch worked these out mathematically by studying the
geometries of our entire solar system, the planetary orbits around the sun
and their impacts on the gravitational pull with respect to the earth and
the earth-sun system. There are three effects. You quite correctly point out
that our orbit around the sun goes from an ellipse to a more circular orbit.
In addition to that, we are like a top that is starting to process, and so
our pole, which currently points towards the North Pole, the North Star
today, did not 11,000 years ago. It was off axis with that North Pole
because we are tilting.
Why would that affect anything? Whether we are
pointed towards the sun, when we are in an elliptical orbit, so we are now
far away from the sun or close to the sun, and where our pole faces, that
will define how much energy we receive on a seasonal basis. These are very
important processes. It comes back to the sun. It comes back to how much
solar insolation we receive. We see variability in its distribution with
latitude. At some times, we are close to the sun, what we call the
perihelion, when we are pointed towards the sun, so we have our hot summers
in the northern hemisphere and cold winters, and that will switch after
another 11,000 years so we have mild summers and mild winters. These have a
terrific impact, and we find very good correlations. These are the effects
that really define the ice ages. It is solar radiation, but it is the
variability or the evolution of solar radiation with respect to latitude.
These are well documented, and we see these
cycles appearing in many terrestrial records. It comes back to how much
solar radiation we receive at different latitudes and at different times of
the year. You are absolutely correct; there is very strong science behind
Senator Brown: I forgot to ask about the
tipping of the polar axis that could make it warmer in the North Pole, at
one time, and colder in the South Pole. It can reverse when it straightens
Mr. Clark: There are actually three cycles.
You brought up the one that I overlooked, which is the inclination, or
obliquity. Our earth's axis, its rotational axis, in addition to wobbling
like a top, goes over more and comes back up more, so that we are more
oblique and the pole is closer and more directly pointed towards the sun.
This is actually a 41,000-year cycle. We have three processes working in
concert, which makes it very complicated. The graph that I showed of the ice
core temperature record is pretty erratic, with all these cycles coming into
Senator Brown: Thank you very much to all
four of you. I appreciate it.
The Chair: We will call you the senator
from Milankovitch next.
Senator Massicotte: Thank you for being
with us today. Obviously, our self-interest as parliamentarians in Canada
means that we would love to believe that what you are saying is accurate.
However, I am sure you can appreciate that this is highly technical and that
we are not very good judges of whether you are right or wrong. What is very
good and healthy is this debate. Scientists should be debating and
contesting each other constantly. That is what allows the cream to rise to
the top. Science is an issue of probabilities. Let us hope you cause this to
be heard and continue your good debate. As you can appreciate, we, as
non-experts, must rely on the preponderance of evidence and of scientists’
opinions. All we can do is encourage debate and see what the result is when
your ideas are contested with other scientists in the world.
Having said that, I am sure you acknowledge
that the great majority of scientists do not agree with your conclusions.
They probably appreciate some of your data, but they do not agree. That is
the only observation we can make, because we are not able to decipher all of
What audience have you received? You have made
public your ideas. What audience are you getting? Are you making progress?
Why is it that you have not convinced the great majority of other scientists
of your views? What is the process, and are you pleased with that process? I
am not sure who wants to make a comment.
Mr. McKitrick: One of the issues you heard
about was the water vapour feedback effect. The water vapour feedback
effect, in the models, gets concentrated in the troposphere over the
Tropics. There are not a lot of papers on that topic in the literature, but
there are two identifiable groups that have been disputing it.
A study that I was a co-author on that was
published last year used proper statistical methods to look at the data sets
and the climate models. This was published in a good atmospheric science
journal. We were able to show that the discrepancy between models and
observations is real and that the models significantly over-predict the
warming going on there.
It was interesting, in the new batch of climate
science emails, to read some from some of the people on the other team who,
although they will not say it in public, are acknowledging in private that
this is a problem for them and that there is no warming. One of them even
pointed out that, if anything, it is a cooling in that record. As I
mentioned, one of them described it as living in a fool's paradise. They use
the phrase, "It is dangerous" that we are trying to carry on with this
I can completely understand your position as a
decision maker. What do you make of the fact that you have this institution
like the IPCC and its various satellite organizations telling you one thing,
and then you keep hearing rumours of other relevant points of view?
That is why I would like to shift the
discussion a little bit onto getting people to understand more what the IPCC
actually is. I do not think it is as representative of scientific opinion as
it has been made out to be. Also, in terms of what you should listen to, at
the end of the day, what matters is not the authority of a scientist or of
anyone here; it is really the data. What are you supposed to be measuring?
If we were talking about inflation or interest rates, we could say whatever
you like, but you know you can look up the numbers and see for yourself. I
think that is a question you can put to the scientists that you see: What
are you predicting? How do we measure it, and what do those measurements
show? That is what should be speaking the loudest.
Senator Massicotte: I appreciate that. Even
for inflation, there is a constant debate on the basket of goods included.
Nothing is certain, as you know. You get the long argument.
We would love to agree with you. Human nature
is such that some of us will quickly agree with you because that is what we
would love to hear. Most countries, including our own, are spending a lot of
money because of the preponderance of the evidence that they heard. Our own
Minister of the Environment recently said the scientists within our own
government agree with climate change being man-made and a critical issue.
However, you seem to be saying that there is, as you mentioned, an elitist
bias and momentum towards this common agreement. However, I think many
people have the opposite bias. They would love to agree with you and find
that what you are doing is right to say that we could save these billions of
dollars. Why is it that even the bureaucrat, who does not have a bias, will
not come out and say, "We agree with you that this is all wrong?
Mr. McKitrick: I cannot speak for
individual bureaucrats, but between the academic community and the
government science community, there is a lot less freedom for government
scientists to speak. I do not put a lot of stock in someone saying that all
of these experts agree with a certain point of view when, basically, the
person who is signing their paycheque is the one telling you that. How much
freedom do they have to really speak out?
I am more familiar with the academic world,
where people have quite a bit more freedom to speak out. I can say that,
among my colleagues, there is lively discussion and a wide range of
perspectives. Within people's own area of expertise, they still have lots of
questions about what is going on.
Senator Massicotte: It is a tough one. I
appreciate that. Many people will dispute it. In fact, I think the most
reasoned minds will say, "You are right; we are not a hundred per cent sure
that this is occurring." No one is a hundred per cent sure. However, in many
decisions in life we deal with high probabilities. I cross the street, look
both ways and think I will not get hit. Maybe I should look three or four
times. Nothing is certain.
Many people's attitude, one that best
summarizes my own opinion, is that economists say we are not a hundred per
cent sure there is climate change, but it will cost us 1.7 per cent of GDP
if we take the measures. If we do not do it, it will probably cost 5 to 10
per cent. Maybe we are wasting 1.7 or 1.9 per cent, but it is like an
insurance policy. They seem to acknowledge the uncertainty of the event, but
feel that it is money well spent. What if we are wrong? It is a huge impact.
Do you want to make a comment on that reasoning?
Mr. Veizer: What if we are wrong the other
way? How much will it cost us?
Senator Massicotte: It will cost 1.7 per
Mr. McKitrick: That 1.7 per cent does not
mean 1.7 per cent of GDP to eliminate the threat of climate change. That is
1.7 per cent of GDP to reach the Kyoto target. What would that buy you? If
the models are right, it only slows the process down by 5 per cent. If you
want to do it on a cost-benefit test, you need to be careful to make the
comparison of what it is that you are actually buying with the policy.
Senator Lang: Talking about certainty, it
would seem to me that one thing is certain. We wake up in the morning with a
thermometer and know how cold or warm it is. We have 365 days a year that
that thermometer is registered. Surely at the end of the year we can say
whether the world is cooling or not cooling.
Mr. Clark: That is a very difficult
problem. I think Mr. McKitrick is the best person to talk about that. It is
a very difficult measurement. What is the global temperature measurement?
Mr. McKitrick: There are several different
key databases. One is the land surface temperature record, which has the
biggest quality problems but is the one that is most prominently displayed.
Better quality data sets come from weather satellites. Weather balloons are
another source. Canada was also a big supporter of something called the Argo
network, which is a network of 3,000 robotic floats that now travel the
world's oceans, taking constant temperature readings down to a depth of
about 900 metres all the way up to the surface. That is a better-quality
ocean temperature data set than was available, but that only goes back to
I have worked mostly with the satellite data
sets because I think they are the best-quality temperature data sets we
have. They measure the region of the atmosphere where the greenhouse gases
mix and the effects should be most evident.
The big controversy has been the fact that
there seems to be more warming at the surface than in the weather satellite
data sets, and the models do not predict that that discrepancy should be
In terms of what we monitor, more attention is
being paid to the weather satellite data, and it is updated monthly. That is
where you begin to get the idea that, to the extent there is warming, it
does not seem to be on the scale of what the models have predicted.
Senator Banks: As the exchange between
Senator Massicotte and Professor McKitrick showed, we are not experts. We
have the privilege of listening to experts, and we have been doing that for
two and a half years, and longer than that in some cases.
It will fall to us to make a decision of some
kind. We have to base our decisions on the evidence that we have heard from
experts, from people who either know or who purport to know, that we find
the most compelling.
One of the things that I think we would all
agree upon, and you have demonstrated it, is that there is climate change.
The question with respect to Mr. Gore and others like him boils down to the
extent to which, and how much, if any, we are contributing to it. Some of
the evidence we have heard is that there is an exponential difference
between what we are doing and what we are emitting that has occurred in
about the last 100 or 150 years that has to some degree skewed the question
of how much we are having an effect on it.
We have learned that all predictions are wrong.
All models are wrong. The slightest deviation from them at the beginning
becomes a very wide deviation when you go out sometimes weeks, sometimes
decades, sometimes centuries.
I personally believe in the precautionary
principle to which Senator Massicotte referred. If I see that train coming
down the road 90 miles an hour at me, and no one can absolutely prove that
it will hit me, I will nonetheless probably take some evasive action,
despite the fact that there is no proof that it will hit me.
There are four basic scenarios, based on the
extremes, that might help us decide what we will do. One is that we do
nothing — I am talking about extremes — by way of mitigation. At the same
extreme, nothing happens; everything is okay; there is no bad effect from
climate change, or at least nothing that we can affect. If we place that
bet, that is a big winner. We win all around.
The second scenario is that we do nothing and
the worst happens and we have, as a result, an unlivable world. We leave our
great-grandchildren in a situation in which they will be, at the very least,
a lot less comfortable and perhaps in some difficulty. That is a big loser
The third possibility is that we do everything.
We spend ourselves into the poorhouse by trying to mitigate — remember we
are talking about extremes — and nothing happens. We spend all that money
and it is a complete waste of money because we did not have anything to do
with it in the first place and whatever will happen. That is a big loser.
The fourth scenario is that we spend ourselves
into the poorhouse trying to mitigate, and as a result we save the world
from what would otherwise have been a terrible disaster. That is a big win.
We have economic chaos at the extreme, because
we will have spent ourselves into the poorhouse, but we will have saved the
world. The two bets that are good ones are that we do nothing, and nothing
happens that is bad. That is a good bet. The other one is that we do
everything, spend ourselves crazy and ruin our economies, but as a result we
save the world for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren from ecological
Where would we place our bet?
Mr. McKitrick: You have outlined what makes
this a really impossible decision. I completely understand that you would
throw up your hands and say you do not like any of the above. What I have
proposed, from an economic point of view, is maybe just a thought
experiment, but you could actually do it. Suppose that you put a small
carbon tax in place and then you tied the value of that carbon tax to the
atmospheric temperature measurements we get from weather satellites. People
will have to start forecasting what will happen to that tax. If they believe
what you have heard today, people will say that tax will not go up, it might
even go down, so we will not worry about it. If they believe what the other
group of scientists says, they will think it will start trending up steeply
in the next few years so we had better start changing our investment plans.
You would in effect force people to decide what
is the most credible story and build that into their decision-making
starting today, but you would not have had to commit one way or the other as
to who is right. Basically, you would be making a choice that at the end of
the day you were right, however it comes out. If after 20 years the tax has
not gone up, you can say we did not waste a lot of money on a non-problem.
If the tax did go up and people had to scale back their energy consumption,
you can say, "We got that one right, did we not?"
Senator Banks: Being right, whatever the
outcome is, is very attractive to politicians.
Mr. Patterson: What if it gets colder? That
is another scenario that we need to think about.
Senator Banks: We have been careful to talk
about climate change, not global warming.
Mr. Patterson: From my research, climate
change can occur very rapidly; it can warm and cool very rapidly. We should
consider developing robust adaptation strategies to deal with whatever
Mother Nature might throw at us to be able to deal with droughts, for
For example, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
was only discovered in 1996. It is closely linked to something called the
Palmer Drought Severity Index, which impacts agriculture in the West. You
have drier and wetter intervals. You have to adapt our policies to deal with
these situations when they come about. We need to think about dealing with
whatever changes might be occurring, whether warming or cooling, because
climate does change. It can change rapidly and we have to appreciate that,
based on what we know from the geologic record.
The Chair: Those are four interesting bets,
Senator Neufeld: I am on the same page as
Senator Massicotte. When we were in Alberta we heard from some scientists
with all the correct documentation behind their names. It is so simple; it
is happening. We go from one extreme to the other, for us, from one side to
the other side.
I am definitely not a scientist. I depend on
people like you who have gone to university and have done the things that
you have done in your lives to do whatever you are doing. I want to tell you
that, for me, I am not sold either way. I am still wondering. I have been
involved with it quite a bit over the last decade or so. If you think about
Fred and Martha, the people, in their busy lives, they are likely not, in
most cases, thinking about it too much because it is so controversial.
I would like to ask how many scientists such as
yourselves would be on the same kind of wavelength you are in your thought
processes. I am not disputing your though processes. I am just asking, are
there a lot of them? Are they just quiet? Do they never say anything? If
they are quiet, why the heck are they? The other side of the fence is very
I am not talking about Al Gore, because to me
Al Gore is just another politician who is travelling around the world in all
kinds of vehicles that consume huge amounts of fossil fuels and telling
everybody else they should not use them. I am not talking about Al Gore. I
am talking about scientists. I am talking about the people who have the
training to speak as you have.
The Chair: I hope you will forgive me,
Senator Neufeld. Both Senator Massicotte and Senator Neufeld are basically
saying that we are hearing much more from the other side, the other point of
view than the one you guys are expressing. Why is it?
Mr. Veizer: I can only answer from my
experience. First of all, I once read somewhere that when the bandwagon is
rolling, one has only two options: to be part of the engine or to be part of
the road. A bandwagon is rolling. I grew up in Czechoslovakia, in a
communist system, and I know things were like that, and you just had to go
with the bandwagon.
In this situation, I have been a very senior
and well-supported scientist both in Europe and here. I have no complaints.
I believed in it, and I started working on the whole issue because I wanted
to find the so-called missing sink for carbon dioxide because Canada would
get the credits for it. Eventually, I turned around, after several years,
and the point is that all those things that I am telling you about the
cosmogenic nuclides, the role of the sun, there were many publications. You
are going to IPCC, and the whole issue is essentially dismissed in two
sentences, and it does not exist.
What we are showing you is data — not models,
but data. Are we having the science where good correlations mean nothing and
no correlation is proof of CO2? We showed you the correlations.
Those are known. These papers, including mine, were published in Nature.
Not a word. In fact, there were even personal threats and attacks and
defamation actions being organized against people who talked about the sun.
It is changing now. Slowly, it is changing.
Science is not a democracy. If the data does
not fit what the models are saying, then it is not the data that has to be
changed but the models.
Mr. Clark: I could add to that from the
perspective that we see climate warming has become a very big industry, not
only in the political realm but in the scientific realm as well. A week ago,
I was in Calgary and had a public debate with a person who is a research
chair in climate change. His research money comes from the fact that we are
warming up the planet catastrophically. Privately, we had a lot of
discussion about this, and he said what people would say scientifically in
private and in public are two different things. He says he agreed with the
science, and then in the debate he agreed with many of my points. In fact,
he agreed with all my points, but he would still come back and say, "But we
are putting CO2 in the air; it is a greenhouse gas; it must be
having some effect."
What people say publicly and what scientists
perhaps think can be two different things. We have to be very careful in
buying into the conclusions of scientists who are fully funded to a great
extent far more than the skeptical community, if I can say it, are funded.
To a certain extent, they will stick with their party line.
Senator Neufeld: As far as warming up goes,
I live in Northern British Columbia, so I have worked in the North a good
part of my life in the oil and gas industry. I have spent a lot of time
outside. That is why I do not like the cold anymore. I am not very old when
you are talking about the world and all that, but where I live, it is
warming up. To me, there is no absolutely no doubt about it. I know it is
much warmer, and I do not get nearly as much snow as what we used to, and
people cannot go to work in the bush on the soft ground until way later than
they used to. It is general that it is warming up. That is one thing that I
relate to. I can relate to that in my own lifetime.
I have heard a lot of talk about the North from
scientists, both those who are maybe thinking it is not warming up and those
who think it is, usually talking about the North and the glaciers and the
very North. I have never heard people talk about the South Pole. In fact, I
do not think I heard anything, unless I missed it, this morning from you
folks about the South Pole. What is happening in the South Pole as compared
to the North? Why do we just talk about the North Pole? Help me a little bit
with that, please.
Mr. Veizer: First, no one is arguing that
there is not a warming trend. We all agree. That is not an issue. The
question is really what is the cause. It would be warming wherever the
energy is coming from.
Second, concerning the South Pole, what you
hear in the media and everywhere is about the so-called peninsula, which is
a very small portion of Antarctica, about 3 per cent or so. That is where it
is warming, yes, but the other 97 per cent of Antarctica, if anything, the
ice cover is either stable or growing.
Mr. Clark: I would also comment about the
Arctic because I work in the Arctic. In fact, one of the major research
areas I am involved in is the impact of warming up there. We have seen 100
years of warming over the past century, and so permafrost temperatures are
higher, and we have triggering events and we study these mud slumps and thaw
slumps, which are very impressive features. We see this evidence of warming
up there. We have to put that in perspective with 100 years of warming, most
of which, even the IPCC agrees, seems to have been natural warming, and this
has warmed up in the Arctic.
Recent research shows that the current warming
trends observed in the Arctic are not due to greenhouse gases and the
greenhouse effect but is due to a change in air and ocean circulations and
the patterns that Mr. Patterson was talking such as the Pacific Decadal
Oscillation and the North Atlantic. These are mechanisms of warming in the
Arctic that are not predicted by global warming models. They are quite
different from that. Yes, we have this warming, but it is unrelated to
Senator Neufeld: I have more of a statement
than a question. I read recently that it takes numbers of billions of light
years for light to traverse from one side of the Milky Way to the other. I
think to myself, here we are just a speck on the earth and we think we can
do something to change what is happening in the whole unbelievable universe
that we have out there. That is just a statement.
Senator Wallace: Thank you, gentlemen. The
discussion ultimately comes down to solutions, and that is where the
disagreements have been occurring, what solutions should be implemented. I
guess the solutions will depend on what the problem is. In fact, is there a
climate change problem?
When I listen to what each of you has said,
evidence is presented on temperature changes over thousands of years, and we
see patterns of warming and cooling. The earth is always evolving, it is
never static, and that continues today.
The question I would have, before we talk about
solutions, is do each of you believe there is a climate change problem that
we should even be attempting to address, or is it one that is beyond the
ability of humans to affect in any event?
Mr. Patterson: For many years I have taught
a climate change course at Carleton University, which, much to my chagrin,
grew up to about 800 students before I escaped from it for a little while.
One of the things I would try to get across to the students is the only
constant about climate is change. This is something we have talked about
already today. Climate change is perpetual and, as all of our research has
shown, sometimes changes can be quite dramatic.
It is not that there is not a climate change
issue. There is always a drought or warming going on somewhere in the world.
The big things we have to think about are how we can adapt to this and get
resources from one part of the country or world to the place that is having
The thing we should be really thinking about is
how we will adapt to the climate changes that we know will occur and that
can occur at very rapid time scales at times. That is my perspective.
Senator Wallace: Your conclusion would be
that as humans we cannot alter that change in climate, all we can do is
adapt to it, and that is where we should focus our resources? That would be
Mr. Patterson: My opinion, and for the
other issues, people are always talking about pollution and so on, well,
deal with it. Develop cleaner technologies to deal with the real issues, the
NOx and SOx that are creating air pollution. That is where we should be
putting our money.
We live in a great city here in Ottawa, for
example. It is a wonderful, clean place. I visited China and Jakarta, and I
would never want to live there, no way, because the air quality is so
terrible. We want to deal with these real air pollution issues. Climate
change is not something that we will change.
I read about this magical two degrees Celsius
all the time. What is so magical about two degrees Celsius? There is much
more variability, even in the last 10,000 years, than two degrees Celsius.
We have to adapt ourselves to whatever will
Mr. Veizer: I personally believe there are
both. There is sun and there is some contribution from CO2. It is
there, but it is not that 90 per cent is human, CO2, and the sun
is practically non-existent. If anything, it is the other way around.
If there is any impact, there is pollution. You
can also argue that when we burn we pollute. It can be used as a measure of
activity somehow to calibrate our pollution, but not by claiming two degrees
or four degrees or six degrees, because the models are simply not there.
Senator Wallace: Your conclusion was that
the major influencing factors in climate change are water vapour and what
you referred to as electromagnetic envelopes around the sun and the earth?
Mr. Veizer: No, this is one of the ways.
The major problem is the clouds. No one knows how to make clouds. You have
to seed them. You have probably heard about the big experiment that just
happened in Geneva, the so-called CLOUD experiment. That confirmed what the
others were saying, like Svensmark and myself, for years now, that, yes, you
generate small particles that can serve as nuclides for those clouds. There
was data showing there are correlations, but the problem is how to make
those very tiny particles into big aerosols that can be useful in the
formation of droplets. They say because of that it has no meaning. Yet, this
all fits into the situation, into the model of the sun.
That problem, how to make clouds, is exactly
the same problem that is in CO2. They do not know how to make
clouds. Why, in one case, does it dismiss the entire theory and in another
case it is no problem? They are exactly the same problem. I told you that
the change between cloudy and cloudless skies is 30 watts. We are arguing
about 1.6 watts.
You just know it yourself. When the sun shines,
it is warm. When it is cloudy, it is cold. That is how it is. If you can
make the clouds, and neither theory knows how to do it, and the clouds are
being put into the model as plus 0.6 watts or something like that, yet
the variation is 30 watts. How can you do that? That 1.6 watts is the number
taken from huge numbers, positive and negative ones, which by themselves
have a bigger error than 1.6, or at least the same. This is the whole issue.
There are many experiments now going on, so why is one theory dismissed and
the other okay?
The Chair: We are running out of time and I
want to save time for Senator Mitchell. I have still Senator Patterson and
Senator Patterson: I would like to ask
Professor McKitrick a question from the economic point of view. We have
heard that carbon is a very small factor in climate change, that the real
influence is the sun and water vapour. You talked about the danger of us
muddling for another 20 years.
I would like to ask you specifically, the
Government of Canada has committed to reducing Canada's total greenhouse gas
emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020 through a sector-by-sector
approach. I think what that is directed at is carbon dioxide. Would you say,
in light of what we have heard today, which I found very compelling, that
this approach is misplaced and that it would be another way of muddling for
another 20 years?
Mr. McKitrick: Actually, even if you took
the IPCC view on the effect of greenhouse gases, what the Government of
Canada has proposed would have such a small effect, even if our major
trading partners agreed to the same target.
This is the point I made about the Kyoto
Protocol earlier: We had enormous difficulties trying to reach that target,
yet the same models that said you have a problem say you need something 30
times larger than Kyoto to even start showing up in the numbers in terms of
actually arresting the process.
There is a scale problem here. If they are
going to go, whether it is sector by sector or carbon tax or anything like
that, you are still entitled to ask what exactly that buys us in terms of
the underlying issue. I think, if you ask that question, they would come
back and say it actually would not change the global warming story at all,
almost regardless of whose view on the science you take.
That being the case, I would say the current
technology makes it very difficult to know what to do with CO2.
It is not like sulphur where you can capture it, it becomes a solid and you
can dispose of it. If you capture CO2 it is still a gas and you
have to put it somewhere. It is not efficient, compared to particulates in
Under our current technology, I have
considerable doubts they can even achieve a 17 per cent reduction, without
having to end up imposing significant costs on major sectors. If you ask
what that buys us, on anyone's view of the underlying science, it does not
buy us anything. I would like to see that target debated much more robustly
than it has been.
Senator Patterson: The efforts you
mentioned on particulates and sulphur dioxide, which you said seem to have
been effective on Canada's part, from your point of view as an economist, do
they produce economic benefits?
Mr. McKitrick: Yes. Back in the early
1970s, Toronto’s particulate levels were over 100 micrograms per cubic
metre. Today they are about 30 micrograms on a bad day. Sulphur dioxide
would have been about 140 parts per billion. In almost every city in Ontario
now it is between one and five parts per billion. It is not even measured
most places any longer because it is gone. In those cases, you had fairly
inexpensive technologies that pulled the stuff out of the smokestacks, and
catalytic converters on automobiles got rid of about 97 per cent of what
used to be emitted in the 1960s from automobiles. There you have low-cost
technologies that actually give you a huge benefit.
We are dealing with the opposite with CO2.
You have high-cost options that give you little benefit. Again, on anyone's
view of the science, on the economic side, the numbers keep coming out
unfavourably toward these Kyoto-type or more recent efforts to impose
targets. The numbers just do not add up for them.
Senator Peterson: We keep reading that we
are moving quickly towards a break point at which time the situation will be
irreversible. I would like your comment on that, because if we are still
studying issues at that time, it would be too late for any adaptations.
Mr. Clark: These break points are based on
speculated feedbacks that the Earth will behave in a predictable and
measurable way. What we have shown today, I hope, is that the Earth is very
unpredictable and it has a lot of mechanisms in the climate system. The
climate system is incredibly complicated. It is almost chaotic, although we
find there are cycles and events over geological time and over recent
decades. These can then be taken and projected into the future with some
relative certainty. What Mr. Patterson has been talking about with things
like the ice roads work and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation shows there is
some prediction that can be made.
We hear words like "catastrophic." Alarmist
calls that the only habitable place on Earth in a hundred years will
Antarctica came from the scientific adviser to the British government. These
are nothing more than alarmist comments. The idea of tipping points, that we
will go into irreversible climate feedback and a warming planet that will be
uninhabitable, is wild speculation on what scientists might be saying, and
certainly the politicians and advocates who pick up on these comments. It is
absolutely ludicrous. We do not see this in the geological record. We see a
balanced system that restores its equilibrium after a period of 100 years or
Much of this science has been documented in a
very good publication, Climate Change Reconsidered, by two groups, CO2
Science and the Science & Environmental Policy Project, which I believe is
available to you all. I have a hard copy here. The science behind this that
we are trying to present today is well documented here in the literature.
Senator Mitchell: I want to begin by saying
that I do not doubt the sincerity of our witnesses. I think that that
sincerity is all that much more underlined by virtue of the fact that they
sustain their position and their work in the face of literally thousands
upon thousands of scientists and economists who are independent and are
spread out throughout academic institutions and other institutions across
the world, and who answer and overwhelm the points that have been made here
with devastating consensus and with devastating frequency. I want to say
that I do not doubt your sincerity.
It is not just the IPCC. That is a straw man
that has been raised here. Scientists who take the position against which
these gentlemen are opposed are not just IPCC scientists. These are
independent scientists, literally, all over the world. In a way, to believe
these arguments is to believe some kind of strange conspiracy theory, that
with these independent scientists we have to question their integrity and
their motivation; we have to assume an ability to conspire across the world,
in a magnitude that is almost incomprehensible. Their scientific acumen has
to be questioned over and over again.
When I think of a conspiracy theory, one
statement that was made today that really underlines that thinking in these
presentations is the one that said that somehow the Harper government is
clamping down on scientists to enforce elite climate change consensus.
The Harper government, of all people, would
enforce their scientists to support the idea that climate change is
occurring and that people are creating it? Of course, they would be the last
government that would force their scientists to do that. In fact, if you
read the documents that come out of the environment department, and somehow
they squeak out, they all underline the urgency of climate change and that
it is occurring.
I am left with the impression of the woman who
once said while watching her young son march in the military parade,
"Everyone is out of step but my Johnny." Everyone is out of step; the
thousands upon thousands upon thousands, the 99 per cent of scientists are
out of step.
The difficulty, of course, in this, and I
appreciate your presentations, is that point by point by point, there has
been devastating science that confronts and overwhelms what you are saying.
Maybe we have to bring in other testimony, but I think we probably do not,
because I think in the end this will settle this.
David Keith, just to get this on the record, is
a renowned leader in this area, a physicist who is hugely well respected.
One last thing that made me smile in response to testimony that we have
heard here is this idea that we do not know how much impact humans are
having on CO2. David Keith said: