Environment Canada Needs to Get Back to Basics: Canadian climate scientists should return to research predating climate scare

Commentary, Climate, Frontier Centre

Environment Canada’s $1.07 billion budget in 2010 was cut to $854 million for 2011-12, a 20 percent reduction. While this is a good start, there’s need for further reduction and specific changes to legislation directing its role. It’s time to eliminate the potential for government employees to control policy as they have done since the 1970s.

As members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Environment Canada (EC) officials reduced data collection and diverted money to politically-driven climate change research.  Now the government must redefine the role of EC by precluding any research function or funding of research to avoid past transgressions. Eliminate state weather forecasting and the required expensive computers. Private agencies such as Piers Corbyn’s Weather Action or Accuweather do better weather forecasting. 

Maurice Strong set up the IPCC through the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), making it into an unelected administrative department radiating down to national weather departments. EC was deeply involved from the start; Assistant Deputy Minister of Meteorological Service of Canada, Gordon McBean, chaired the 1985 IPCC meeting in Austria.

EC funded only research attempting to prove the IPCC hypothesis and invested heavily in computers and computer model research that is inadequate for weather forecasting or climate models. Their models don’t work given that every prediction, projection, and scenario the IPCC and EC produced was wrong.

Funds for such investment came from the reduction of data collection and other services. Weather stations were closed, and some were replaced with Automatic Weather Observing Stations (AWOS) to the detriment of the record and safety concerns. Weather services declined.

Complaints forced an inquiry. It found “that policy is driving climate science in Canada, not the other way around,” and that Canada collects “less climate science data per-square-kilometer of any other major country.” This is a disgrace because without data no science, understanding, or planning is possible. Data collection was always inadequate but became worse in pursuit of a political agenda. A complete new strategy is required to restore balance.

Environment Canada should be restricted to maintaining a network of environmental data collection stations across Canada.  Computers should only store the data and make it widely available. Hubert Lamb, father of modern climatology, explained in his autobiography when he established the Climatic Research Unit (CRU): “the first and greatest need was to establish the facts of the past record of the natural climate in times before any side effects of human activities could well be important.” Since then a relentless global reduction in data collection has occurred. Canada should lead the world in redressing the problem.

Canada can also lead the world in reviving a project Environment Canada cut to divert funding to climate change research. It was a joint project with the National Museum of Canada, the Project on Climatic Change in Canada During the Past 20,000 Years. Its coordinator was C. R. Harington of the Paleobiology division. It involved a multitude of researchers representing the many areas required for climate reconstruction. Each year a specific topic was chosen and a conference with presentations, discussions, and workshops took place, which were subsequently published in the journal Syllogeus.

Canada should reconstitute the Project on Climatic Change on a permanent basis through the National Museum. Canada should also call for every country to establish similar Projects. Canada should become the centre for all their publications and host a global meeting on a global topic every three years, as the original project once did on the eruption of Tambora in 1815. The volume for that topic is little known but highly respected by researchers.

It’s time to shut down Environment Canada and replace it with an Environmental Data Collection Agency. Canada should create a Project on climate change through the National Museum of Canada to carry out pure climate research and extend this to every country. We must use the opportunity of failed past practices to set up a more valuable service through the proper role of government departments.