November 2007 Issue


Forum Letter ‘Jumps to Illogical Conclusions’


We welcome Readers’ Forum letters of interest to the professions. Send them to PEGG Managing Editor George Lee, glee@apegga.org. Although we will run longer letters at our discretion, please try to keep them under 300 words. Letters represent the opinions and not necessarily the expertise of writers. The PEGG reserves the right to reject letters. Letters are edited for style, clarity, length, taste and legality.


Re: Real Pollution is an Issue — Carbon Dioxide Isn’t, by Norm Kalmanovitch, P.Geoph., Readers’ Forum, The PEGG, September 2007.

I’m not a climate change scientist, but it is obvious to me that the letter has some serious scientific errors. APEGGA has reduced its credibility on climate change by publishing this letter.

Wrote Mr. Kalmanovitch: “Thermal radiation from ice sheets can only warm the atmosphere to below freezing temperatures, so it is not possible for greenhouse gases, regardless of the source, to cause any melting. Any observed melting can only result from changes to the amount of solar energy reaching the ice sheet.”

While Mr. Kalmanovitch may have made some other valid and informed points on the subject, this complete lapse in logic undermines all of his other arguments. If you put an ice cube and a hot baked potato under a layer of insulation, the baked potato will cause the ice cube to melt faster than if both objects were not insulated. The ice cube is the polar ice cap and the baked potato is the deserts and the tropics and the warm places on Earth.

The warmer the potato is and the better the insulation is, the faster the ice cube will melt. The mechanisms for the baked potato to warm the ice cube are all covered by basic heat transfer theory.

Mr. Kalmanovitch chooses to disregard any science that opposes his theories. He also misleads the reader by presenting good facts and then jumping to illogical conclusions. This is a dangerous, but easily discredited, example of the kind of “science” that got us into the confusing, politicized situation that we are now in concerning climate change.

The rest of the world will see APEGGA as a heavily biased association of engineers, geologists and geophysicists and will take everything that comes from us with considerable scepticism. APEGGA has to work harder to gain international credibility on climate change than other scientific communities do.

If APEGGA can gain this credibility the world will listen. If APEGGA chooses to pander to its members, it will become (some would say remain) irrelevant.

For this reason, APEGGA must adhere to the highest possible levels of professionalism and accuracy in anything to do with petroleum product consumption and climate change. Mr. Kalmanovitch’s letter doesn’t even come close to that standard and therefore should not have been published.

To maintain (or regain) credibility, APEGGA must be careful not to publish articles, opinion or otherwise, that can’t withstand a reasonable amount of scientific scrutiny. My Association must not be seen to be a biased obstacle to appropriate action.

David Box, P.Eng.

Editor’s Note: Much like letters pages in mainstream newspapers, Readers’ Forum does not reflect the stance of the publication or its “owner,” in this case APEGGA.


Marathoner Urges Member Support of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
In October 2006, I completed my second marathon. I was part of a group called Team in Training, an initiative of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.

My marathon experience was very intense, both physically and emotionally. During the Team in Training pre-race supper, we listened to a speech by a man who had just lost his wife to leukemia. She was in her early 30s and the couple had two small children.

The man had decided to run the marathon in honour of his wife, and just weeks before the race, he found out that he would have to run in memory of her. His story and his strength touched each one of the 2,500 Team in Training participants, coaches and staff in the room.

The next day, I awoke at 5 a.m., excited — yet anxious — about the 42.2 kilometres I knew awaited me. The marathon itself progressed as I expected, and by the halfway point, I resigned to walking. I injured my knee while running down one of the many hills in San Francisco, but was determined to finish the race. My pain was nothing compared to that of someone battling cancer.

Last year, I raised just over $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

I have set my sights on another endurance event. I will participate in the 2008 Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January with Team in Training, and was asked to be a mentor for this event. This is a huge honour for me. My fundraising goal for this event is ambitious — $7,000.

Every day, 38 Canadians are diagnosed with a blood cancer — leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma. Leukemia remains the leading cancer for Canadian youth and is the leading cause of death by disease for Canadian children. Since 1960, five-year survival rates for leukemia have risen from just 10 per cent to 47 per cent.

Clearly, research is saving lives!

I would like to thank you in advance for your support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I hope I have inspired you to help make a difference in the lives of those living with blood cancers. 

Please visit my fundraising homepage at www.active.com/donate/tntcan/ AmberRunsDisneyWorld2008.

You get your tax receipt immediately, and a copy is sent to your e-mail account. If you prefer to make an offline donation, contact me at amber.newton@gmail.com.

Amber Newton, E.I.T.


That’s Exactly Why We Need Aboriginal Awareness
Re: Aboriginal Columns Don’t Belong, by Wendy Dolynny, P.Eng., Readers’ Forum, The PEGG, September 2007.

I would like to thank the writer for her opinions on the Aboriginal Awareness columns Robert Laboucane has written for The PEGG. Her letter outlines the exact reasoning why The PEGG should be drawing attention to this issue: ignorance.

Ignorance is mostly taken as a negative descriptor, but the definition of ignorant is a lack of knowledge, education or awareness. Among APEGGA’s goals are to share knowledge with its members, provide opportunities for education and bring awareness to issues. I would hope this applies in all areas of learning — not just technically based.

Ms. Dolynny doesn’t agree with The PEGG publishing articles about Aboriginal awareness because “APEGGA members have no control over what happened to Aboriginals in Canada ... nor are we responsible.” I’ll agree that we were not electing governments at the turn of the century when the injustice began towards Aboriginal peoples; however, we elect our governments of today, which are still involved with the issues that were created from past governments and are now trying to resolve.

So yes, we as Canadians are responsible for electing representatives into our governments who are educated about the issues and will work at resolving past errors instead of dismissing them.

Another statement from Ms. Dolynny is that she hopes “The PEGG restricts its articles to those pertinent” to our professions.

I am unaware of the area of work that Ms. Dolynny focuses on; however, I work for a company where acquiring land and access is a daily task. This does have a direct correlation to Aboriginal awareness, as educating ourselves about Aboriginal communities will allow us to work better with these communities, which is a positive outcome for all involved.

Even if a professional within APEGGA never works on a project that includes Aboriginal communities or issues, aren’t we, as professionals, supposed to work towards being rounded individuals, with education and awareness of a number of worldly issues, not just technical?

The viewpoints of Ms. Dolynny make me wonder why she feels so strongly against bringing awareness to Aboriginal history and culture. My initial thoughts are that her beliefs are based on incorrect or biased information, causing her to be closed-minded on these issues.

I would suggest that she take the quiz that Mr. Laboucane included in the September 2007 issue of The PEGG (without the help of previous articles). I would hope her opinions change once she realizes how little she may know about Aboriginal people.

Kirsten Kae Merle, P.Eng.
(Métis Member)


Responses to Letter About Royalty Review

Editor’s Note: The following letters were received in response to an Oct. 12 letter on the royalty review, written by APEGGA President John McLeod, P.Eng., and sent to the government. It was distributed to members electronically.

Although many more responses were received, we’ve chosen four to print. More than half the responses were strongly against the letter, but only about one in 10 were strongly in favour. Note that these responses came in before the government’s announcement of how it will change the royalty structure.

Mr. McLeod’s letter is a great disappointment at best. At worst it seems totally inappropriate coming from our President.

At first reading the letter appears to say nothing, which is bad enough, but under more careful scrutiny it reveals itself as a document that is partisan to the oil and gas industry.

Whereas the mandate of APEGGA is, as stated in the letter, to protect the public and the environment, the mandate is not to protect and promote any particular segment of the economy. The public and the environment will be much better protected if the Alberta Government increases resource royalties to slow down the overheated economy, which is causing many business sectors to suffer from lack of employees and spiraling costs.

The environment will be best protected if the additional revenue gained from higher royalties is invested in the development of renewable technologies and conservation with the objective to eventually wean the public from the wasteful consumption of fossil fuels. The oil and gas that exists under the lands in Alberta will remain there and the investment to produce these resources will happen in due course, even if it occurs somewhat later, at a time when the prices of fossil fuels increase with dwindling supplies. Delaying the investment so that it proceeds at a more measured pace would be a boon to many sectors of society.

Laszlo Jamniczky, P.Eng.

I for one do not agree with the “non-comment” comments. To tell the government to weigh in or consider all the different cases and to make judgment as to what is best for the long haul for Albertans is to be condescending.

Do you think that the government would intentionally choose not to consider all the different scenarios and decide for the worse for Albertans? If you do not think that, then what is the purpose of your comment?

I personally do not believe that one can look at royalties in a glass bowl and I am certain that the government will look at royalties from other countries. If the oil companies (which represent the shareholders and definitely not Albertans) do not like what they see, they can always invest somewhere else. The oilsands and other resources will be there and are not going away. The economy in Alberta needs cooling off and this is a good time as any.

I believe APEGGA has exceeded its representation. APEGGA seems to represent the voice of corporations rather than that of individual members in its “no comment” comments.

Norman Law, P.Eng.
Sherwood Park

Thank you for speaking to the Alberta Government on this issue. The great flaw in their study is that it promotes the incremental royalties that “would have been collected if the [higher royalty rate] had been in place [throughout 2006].”

The study assumes the capital investment would have been unchanged and fails to recognize that if the higher roy-alty rate had been in place, the investment would have been drastically reduced. Anyone who was around for the National Energy Program should know this.
Kim J. Head , P.Geoph.
Katy, Tex.

Thanks you for the voice from APEGGA.
This is also the voice from my heart!

Chengmai Guo, P.Eng.
Fort McMurray