Climate Science Review Needed to Inform Pipeline Hearings Better: Real pipeline issues will be better handled with global warming concerns out of the way

Commentary, Climate, Tom Harris

Legitimate environmental concerns about the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline must be properly addressed through regulatory hearings. However, concerns about climate change are unsubstantiated.

“Climate campaigners oppose these pipelines because they are trying to stop oil sands development in general,” explained Brian Pratt, Professor of Geology at the University of Saskatchewan. “This is because they believe that dangerous global warming will occur as a result of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released during extraction, refining and later combustion of the hydrocarbon fuel derived from the oil sands.”

“But the geologic record does not show this to be the case.”

Nevertheless, worries about CO2 emissions have already been highlighted in the hearing. Mr. Norman Jacob of C.J. Peter Associates Engineering of Prince George, BC, told the Joint Review Panel on January 18 that, “it is known that the oil sands industry, due to increased energy spent in extraction, approximately doubles to triples the amount of CO2 released per barrel of petroleum used compared to conventional extraction”. Many will undoubtedly see this point as a strike against the oil sands and against the Northern Gateway pipeline as well.

Following their successful opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, climate activists made it clear that the Northern Gateway Project is their next target. The Canadian government should do what it can to undercut this red herring before the hearings really get underway so as to make it politically easier to restrict the number of witnesses who try to connect the project to unjustified climate fears.

The best way to do this would be immediately to conduct cross-Canada climate science and economics hearings similar to that which took place on December 15, 2011 before The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. At that hearing, a team of Canadian experts demonstrated that humanity’s CO2 emissions are not driving climate change. Appearing before the Committee were University of Guelph Professor of Economics Ross McKitrick, University of Ottawa Earth Sciences professors Ian D. Clark  and Jan Veizer, and Timothy Patterson, Professor of Geology at Carleton University.

Clark sums up the sentiments of the four witnesses: “CO2 has played no role in the dramatic climate change of the ice ages, or at any other time over the past 500 million years. Only in unverified computer models cited by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] does CO2 drive climate change. Yet, Canada and other countries base exorbitantly expensive policy decisions on these flawed models.”

International Climate Science Coalition Chief Science Advisor, Professor Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia agrees: “Unlike the Australian government, which is seriously damaging our economy because of their promotion of climate alarmism, the Canadian Government is right to contest ill-informed environmental activists. The Senate climate hearing was an important precedent and first step in the very necessary process of exposing the public to the truth about climate change science, one that I hope is replicated across Canada and indeed the world.”

Many leading Canadian experts could be called to testify in climate science hearings. A good example is applied mathematics professor Christopher Essex of the University of Western Ontario.

“The elephant in the room is presuming that, since classical physics is known, it is a simple matter to put it onto computers to predict the future. Many people, including people with PhDs, are very weak on this issue. They do not grasp what an enormous reach it is to integrate classical physics over decades or centuries using computers,” Essex explains. “A little known consequence is that no climate models anywhere are first-principle implementations of physics. They are instead all empirical in nature, despite our very best efforts, and fervent wishes, that they be otherwise.”

Essex emphasizes that “the big policy questions are beyond the best models we can currently make.  Climate is far from a simple solved scientific problem, despite rampant proclamations and simplistic analogies suggesting otherwise. Policymakers, not to mention academics, must come to terms with that."

So, in addition to climate models cited by the IPCC not working, except by coincidence or through manipulation, they cannot work because we do not fully understand the underlying science.

It is not just the Gateway pipeline hearings that would benefit from diminishing the disruptive impact of climate activists. All levels of government and thousands of Canadian corporations continue to pay homage to the climate scare, thereby wasting hundreds of billions of dollars and jeopardizing our future. The Harper government must now take steps to weaken extreme environmentalism’s signature crusade: the scientifically questionable climate crusade.