Enforcing High Standards Is What We’re Here For

Re: Foreign Acceptance Unevenly Applied, Dr. Nesa Ilich, P.Eng., Readers’ Forum, July 2004 PEGG.

What do the University of Ravenhurst (The Netherlands), Greenwich University (Australia), and Kennedy-Western University (U.S.A.) have in common? Before answering that, as an academic examiner on the Board of Examiners, I would like to respond to the letter cited above.

We are all rightly concerned about the situation of foreign-trained professionals performing minimum wage jobs in Canada. This is an affront to the individuals concerned, not to mention a loss to society. However, the solution is not "to relax the current registration policy."

I do not think any of the professions need to apologize for having or enforcing high standards, nor do I think this is discriminatory. There are undoubtedly many Canadian holders of university degrees in some state of "under-employment," so the situation is not unique to new Canadians.

The problems faced by newcomers are under intensive study by numerous groups. Leading the way in this regard is a program entitled From Consideration to Integration, which is an initiative of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE), with full funding from the federal government. Visit to learn more.

Mr. Ilich suggests that APEGGA should undertake "due diligence" in examining foreign
credentials. Let me assure him, and other members. That is exactly the case. All applicants to APEGGA must supply original transcripts and degree certificates for any degree claimed.

Certified translations are obtained by APEGGA as required. Frequently, and most often when considering waiving of some exams, the board requests complete course descriptions.

Foreign degrees are reviewed by the Canadian Engineering Qualifications Board (CEQB), an organ of the CCPE. These degree evaluations are relied upon heavily by APEGGA. This is necessary both for consistency across the country and to prevent the work of the Board of Examiners from grinding to a halt.

The evaluation of foreign programs has been carried out by CCPE since 1959. CEQB took over this duty and since 1986 has maintained a list of foreign institutions that have legitimate degree-granting programs based on a number of criteria. Space precludes listing the full set of requirements.

More recently, the CCPE has entered into official mutual recognition agreements with off-
shore organizations (for example, the signatories to the Washington Accord mentioned by Mr. Ilich) The CCPE also offers substantial equivalency status to off-shore programs outside of the Washington accord based on equivalent criteria and visits used to accredit programs.

Interested readers can consult the CCPE website mentioned earlier and check out the link under International Mobility. The important point is that by relying on the careful work done by CEQB, the board is able to reduce an exam assessment for many new applicants from 24 exams (the full syllabus) to only three or four confirmatory exams, usually chosen by the applicant. In fact, in my experience a full assessment has been applied only a few times, and these were cases where the applicant had no degree at all.

The criteria used by Canadian universities for admitting students (foreign or Canadian) into graduate programs are not relevant to professional licensure. The two situations are clearly different, so why should it be expected that the requirements should be the same?

The most obvious difference is that universities evaluate performance and grant degrees on exit from their programs (after requiring students to write and pass exams), while APEGGA must evaluate credentials on entry to the profession. Some graduate engineering programs do not even require that applicants have previous undergraduate engineering degrees.

As for certain countries supplying more than their share of top students in graduate schools, my experience is that nationality has little to do with excellence and that good students can come from anywhere. Considering that , in my department at the University of Alberta, fewer than five per cent of applicants are admitted to our graduate program, it is not surprising that these are the top students available.

As for the three "universities" mentioned above, all have been identified as Internet diploma mills that often offer degrees based on "life experience" and some form of distance learning. Credentials from each of these have been used by applicants to APEGGA.

None are accredited by any responsible organization. In one case, students writing "exams" must supply their own paper and proctors. There are literally hundreds of these sites on the web (go to and do a search for "Ravenhurst").
Members can be assured that due diligence is practiced in every case coming before the board, which is committed to a rigorous but fair and consistent evaluation of all applicants.

Dr. Roger Toogood, P.Eng.

Feud Goes On With Computer Science

Re: Stop Bullying, Randy Goebel, Readers’ Forum, July 2004 PEGG.

I was amused to learn that in the 20-plus years since computer engineering began at the University of Alberta, the old feud between it and computer science is still going strong. Back then, our response to computer scientists complaining that engineers had no place in their courses was to point out that we always seemed to walk away with the top third of the course marks.

Rather than make sweeping generalizations about computer scientists, computer engineers and professional engineers, I'd like to comment on some of the less subjective items in Dr. Goebel's letter.

As all engineers appreciate, the path to becoming a P.Eng. consists of two main phases. To quote the APEGGA website, "The road to a P.Eng. begins with the right education." Engineering education is delivered via university programs that have been accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board.

The result is a consistency in the knowledge and background of new graduates in their respective disciplines across Canada. This is not a "one size fits all" process, as all disciplines are distinct.

In the second phase, experience in the practice of engineering is provided via the member-in-training program. Part of that training is common to all professional engineers, in that it relates to legal and ethical training. This is ultimately realized and proved through a common examination administered by the provincial association.

In the public at large, Dr. Goebel is not alone in not fully understanding the contract between educational institutions (on behalf of the government), the public sector, and the professional associations to train an engineer. Since computer science is an integral part of all engineering programs, I would suggest he try to better appreciate it.

I would have appreciated an explanation by Dr. Goebel of how the public can be assured that a computer scientist, and computer science in general, can be relied upon to provide "software engineering" services that safely and effectively serve the public. I am aware of organizations like the Software Engineering Institute and the IEEE, and appreciate the very good work that they do in developing software processes and standards.

However, if software fails, to whom does the public turn? What guarantee is there that one computer scientist is as well qualified as another? In the July 2004 issue of the IEEE’s computer magazine, an article discusses liability for insecure systems, and reflects the debate over these and other related questions within the computer industry.

In the past 20 years I have worked in one way or another as a software developer. So have most of my classmates. Invariably, the work we do is a part of a larger electronic or mechanical system. In all cases, such systems serve the public.

My obligation as an engineer requires that my co-engineers and I try our best to ensure the benefit to and safety of the public. We are usually registered with APEGGA as responsible engineers as part of the permit to practice requirements.

Frequently we work with computer scientists and other technically trained personnel. I believe that they too are obligated to treat their work with respect to the public. The real question – and my main point – is, why is computer science (software engineering) not a regulated engineering discipline and served by a body like APEGGA, if not APEGGA itself?

I suggest that Dr. Goebel go to work in any of Canada's engineering or technology companies and see for himself that software development is truly engineering, as defined in the EGGP Act. It's high time this was recognized by the professional associations and, just as importantly, by other technical people and the public.

Dr. Steven Knudsen, P.Eng.
Bragg Creek

What Alberta Needs Is True Grassroots Support

Re: High-End Exploration, The Keyser File, July 2004 PEGG.

As a professional geologist specializing in oil and gas exploration, I am deeply concerned about the state of the profession. And I have serious concerns about this article, which I consider to be misleading and to contain serious inaccuracies.

The high standard of living Alberta enjoys flows directly from the grassroots exploratory efforts that have resulted in the discovery of the major oil and gas fields of Western Canada. Currently, despite the high prevailing oil and gas commodity prices, most of the major oil and gas production companies operating in Canada have severely curtailed exploration, to the point that rank wildcat exploratory wells
are almost non-existent in Western Canada.

Driven partly by the pressures of the capital markets that value a company based on cash flow rather than underlying reserves, major companies are attempting to manufacture these commodities rather than explore for them. By this I refer the rise in coal bed methane, tight gas development drilling, horizontal drilling in depleted fields, and of course oilsands development.

Huge amounts of capital are funnelled into these projects, all of which suffer from marginal economics because the cost of development closely approximates or exceeds the selling price of the derived commodity. At the same time true exploration of the type that can result in the discovery of fields with an order of magnitude lower production costs, such as Ladyfern, is almost non-existent.

In my opinion this trend seriously threatens our prosperity and the profession has a responsibility to speak out.

The article refers to Suncor's Prospect Generation Services group and to Suncor's appetite for natural gas. The reader is left with the impression that, with the aid of Tom Boreen, P.Geol., this group is working to explore on behalf of Suncor for new gas reserves.

This is not the case. As Roger Smith, P.Geol., noted, the group is working up prospects and selling them to the street to drill. Mr. Smith does not mention what "the street" is. If Suncor itself, with the enormous capital resources it has at its
disposal, is unwilling to fund the drilling of these exploration prospects, who is?

The reality is that this group is a form of divestiture of exploration properties. Simply put, Suncor, like many of its peers, does not have the courage to drill exploration wells.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Boreen have been put in the position of exclusively selling, on behalf of a major company, exploration prospects to junior oil companies for overriding royalties. An exploration team without any meaningful drilling budget
simply cannot be characterized as aggressive.

The divestiture work Dr. Boreen is conducting on behalf of Suncor cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as "high-end exploration.” It is the struggle of
a major company to generate a return on next month's quarterly statements. To characterize it any other way is a disservice to our profession.

Dr. Boreen is quoted as believing that there are many more big discoveries, like Ladyfern, to be made. I fully agree with this assessment.

But in order to transform this vision to reality, a sea-change is required in the attitude of the capital markets and the management of major companies, like Suncor, towards grassroots exploration.

APEGGA, as one voice of the profession, has a responsibility to, at a high intellectual level, put forward accurately and with insight the state of exploration in Canada. Our future prosperity depends upon it.

Robert Maxwell, P.Geol.

Nominee Views Are Not Discussed

Re: Membership Views Not Reflected, Karl Miller, P.Eng., Readers’ Forum, July 2004 PEGG.

Mr. Miller accuses the Nominating Committee of “selecting nominees that universally do not reflect the views of APEGGA membership on an important issue (inclusivity)” and further says that the Nominating Committee “owes a public apology.”

Mr. Miller, you are the one who should make a public apology. I have served three times on the Nominating Committee, and at no time have the views of any potential nominee been brought before any of the meetings. The Nominating Committee goes to great lengths to make sure the slate of nominees takes into consideration the demographics of the overall APEGGA membership.

If you would read the terms of reference of the Nominating Committee, you would see what restrictions we work under. Nowhere does it mention anything about the nominee’s views – only their eligibility criteria for nomination. We work hard to find a minimum of seven suitable candidates for election to Council and three to the Executive Committee.

You cast aspersions at Tom Greenwood-Madsen, P.Eng., in saying that his letter “leaves one pondering how members of the Nominating Committee are selected, and what instructions they are given.” We are elected by the membership at the AGM (did you attend?) and our terms of reference are public. Before you go around making accusations, you would be well advised to get your facts straight.

John R. Wood, P.Eng.
APEGGA President 1995-1996
Member, Nominating Committee

Debate Has Just Begun

Re: Climate Change Causes Have Had a Hearing, J. Edward Mathison, P.Geol., Readers’ Forum, July 2004 PEGG, and Climate Change Science Actually is Important, David Barss, P.Geol., April 2004.

The general tenor of Mr. Mathison’s comments appears to be designed to convince the reader that the debate on the cause of global warming is over. Any objection to the theory underlying the Kyoto Protocol is dismissed as the position of fringe groups lacking in scientific credentials.

One may ask if the more than 17,000 scientists (of whom some 2,500 are involved in earth and atmospheric sciences) who signed the Oregon Petition in 1998 are to be thus dismissed.

It is somewhat ironic that within a few days of the publication of Mr. Mathison’s letter we learn from press reports of the imminent demise of the famous hockey stick graph, which has played such a prominent role in underpinning Kyoto science. The original authors of this graph have been ordered by the editors of Nature Magazine to publish a correction after being proved wrong by two Canadian scientists.

At the same time we learn of the role that scientific bureaucrats played in trying to disrupt both the agenda and proceedings of a conference sponsored by the Russian Academy of Science, the purpose of which was to discuss climate science – by forcing the hosts to ban presentations from researchers opposed to their views.

No, the debate is only just starting. My opinion is that history will come to regard this debate as being on a par with other great contests between true science and politicized “science.”

John P. Leeson, P.Geol.

APEGGA’s Name Will Lose Appropriateness

Re: Inclusivity

If the currently proposed "inclusiveness" (in the interest of clarity, let's try using a word that is part of the English language) initiative is eventually accepted, acceptance will have to be accompanied by a change in the name of the Association. After all, not all of the members will be professionals.

Michael Doty, P.Geoph.

Editor’s Note: Not to dismiss the main point of Mr. Doty’s letter, we must mention that we’ve been receiving many assertions that “inclusivity” is not a word. Although standard dictionaries do not yet include “inclusivity,” the word’s usage was well established before APEGGA adopted it. A Google search, in fact, turns up 59,000-plus citations. Also, an Oxford University dictionary called New Words says it means an official policy of inclusion, which distinguishes it from the word “inclusiveness.”

The Nature of Exclusion

I write as a member of the B.C., Alberta, and Washington State professional engineering associations.

Let us get one thing straight. Professional associations are exclusive by nature. Membership in these associations is meant to convey to the public the fact that members credential have been examined, and that all are qualified to practice their chosen profession.

You are either a doctor, lawyer, accountant or professional engineer, or you are not. There is no such thing as an almost doctor or lawyer. We do on see para-doctors with licences to practice some medicine.

The current drive to give partial engineering licences to technologists and technicians is not only plain nonsense. It represents and abdication of our responsibility to the public.

Let’s get something else straight. Technologists are very good at what they do. They can produce good work, form companies, hire anyone they wish and be successful. This is good.

What a technologist or technician cannot be, pretend to be, or be permitted to act as, is a professional engineer.

There is more. There is no need to licence technologists or technicians. They cannot practice professional engineering. They cannot, and should not be able to, take professional engineering responsibility of their work.

The promotion of “inclusivity” in our profession is cruel folly and must be curtailed immediately.

R.G. Fraser, P.Eng.
Vancouver, B.C.

Fewer Inclusivity Restraints Needed

I express my concerns about inclusivity because I am an example of a person who would not be considered eligible to become a P.Eng. under this new proposal. My area of expertise was as an electrical engineer with specific expertise in microwave engineering. I gained this expertise while doing research in physics for a PhD degree.
Indeed, I was one of very few persons with such expertise in Alberta for many years prior to my registration. My lack of registration created a problem since I could not offer my services despite my expertise. It took the concerted efforts of some enlightened engineering educators to help me obtain my registration.

It is not necessary to restrict the area of practice of those persons with legitimate expertise in an area of engineering and frequently more comprehensive and in greater depth than most engineers would have, just because they lack an undergraduate engineering degree. No registered engineer attempts to consult or offer services outside his/her area of expertise, as that would contravene APEGGA licence regulations as well as professional responsibility and ethics.

The fact that one holds an undergraduate degree in some branch of engineering does not guarantee that the person is an expert in any particular area. Every engineer develops narrow areas of expertise and this is usually gained through practice and experience. Indeed, this is the strength of the profession.

Today, there are few if any engineers who have a comprehensive understanding of the entire field of, say, chemical or electrical engineering. The knowledge base is far too large. It is, therefore, not necessary to impose the restrictions on the practice of those registered who lack an engineering undergraduate degree and to impose on them a different professional designation.

Globally, engineering is now practiced by many professionals who do not have an engineering education because of the degree of specialization now necessary to provide first-class, up-to-date information to clients is not always available via the engineering education route. A professional in any field of endeavour is one who has expertise in that field and this can be gained in other ways than through university education in that field.

APEGGA should stop trying to turn the clock back and move forward into the 21st century. It should introduce flexible regulations to encourage trained scientific professionals to be included in the eligible membership of APEGGA without the proposed constraints.

Failure to do this will only encourage the misuse of the term "engineer" by those who may not be adequately trained and not have the expertise to offer such services to the public.

H. A. Buckmaster, P.Eng., P.Geoph., PhD, P.Phys.
Victoria, B.C.

Government Agents?
Dr. Ken Porteous, P.Eng., has expressed in Readers’ Forum the frustration many of us have in seeking to understand the inclusivity issue. We have made similar speculations.

It appears the answers many of us are seeking are in the later pages of the June PEGG, CCPE Announces Integration Ideas. The article states that Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has been funding CCPE for a program called From Consideration to Integration, or FC2I, which is tackling the difficulties of licensing and employing international graduates.

The idea is that barriers to professional licensure of overseas engineering graduates must be reduced or even eliminated so that foreign-trained technical practitioners may enter the professions more easily than in the past.

The big picture? Canada is in a global competition to attract highly skilled professionals and the previous barriers to entry into many professions (these include medical practitioners, among others) are no longer serving their purpose and need to be re-evaluated.

Of course, this begs many questions, not least of which is whether the CCPE and APEGGA are acting as agents of government or as representatives of their membership in how they have brought the FC2I initiative to the membership. It appears to be the former, unfortunately.

Let's hope that President Linda Van Gastel, P.Eng., takes the opportunity to implement her promise to better communicate and consult with the membership in a more comprehensive and forthright manner than her predecessor.

This should bring a different quality of discussion to the table and hopefully more illuminating answers than we have received to date. As professional members, we are due direct, meaningful communication and data from our Association, including Human Resources and Skills Development Canada projections on the number of new technical registrants, financial impacts, professional reciprocity and the impact on professional status.

I, for one, will be listening with avid interest.

John Aumuller, P.Eng.

Why Not Refocus Mandate?

Several years ago APEGGA hired KPMG Consulting in part to determine what proportion of Alberta-based geoscientists are licensed members of APEGGA. The consultants determined that 59 per cent of practicing Alberta geoscientists qualified for registration with APEGGA are actually registered.

That means that over 40 per cent of geoscientists were not registered. Has this number changed? By how much?

APEGGA's mission is restricted to "the practice of the professions of engineering, geology and geophysics." Why does APEGGA insist on expending its finite resources on creating a new groups to register through inclusivity when it is hard-pressed to fulfill its current mandate?

Is it possible that my dues are financing a dysfunctional organization that has strayed from its mission statement?

Jim Letourneau, P.Geol.

Editor’s Note: The letters below did not appear in the print version of the September 2004 PEGG. They are slated for the October print PEGG.

What Real Software Engineers Know

Re: Stop Bullying, Dr Randy Goebel, Readers’ Forum, July 2004 PEGG.

I must correct a number of serious misrepresentations and allegations made by Prof. Goebel, related to professional engineers. Mr. Goebel is unhappy with recent court events that have sharply curtailed the ability of those without the proper qualifications to present themselves to the public as "software engineers.”

Microsoft is very clear in its legal prohibitions when it says it will not be responsible for any loss of life, damages or other calamities as a result of people depending upon the use of its software. In fact Microsoft limits its liability absolutely to the full refund of the software purchase.

Real software engineers know that Microsoft software is entirely unsuitable for mission-critical, real-time applications. As professional engineers, we must be particularly aware of what can happen when software charlatans are let loose upon an unsuspecting public.

A number of years ago, APEGGA's Enforcement Review Committee was confronted with a case in which someone decided it would be a grand idea to replace an engineered and approved cathodic protection system with an Apple computer and a custom "made in Alberta" program. The program emulated the cathodic protection system – at least while it ran, and while there were no power failures.

But in the real world, non-computer events such as power failures do happen. In this case, a long pipeline sat in the ground for months without proper corrosion protection after a late summer lightning storm caused a power outage. Not only was the public endangered because an unprotected pipeline is a potential killer, but the pipeline operator and insurance companies had to pay for repairs caused by this "cost-effective" design.

In my view, any and all real time software designs are engineering designs of the first magnitude.

In another example, an Air Canada pilot was landing a new Airbus airliner a number of years ago, heavily laden with passengers and cargo. The flaps were fully extended with the landing gear fully deployed, and the jet was sinking faster than normal. The pilot discovered, on final approach, that a computer was in an eight-second CPU reset sequence, and that the power to the engines could not come to full power, which he required to ensure a safe landing.

Many "fly by wire" aircraft are very well engineered, but this is no place for quacks. It’s no place for wannabe software engineers, who have not actually graduated with a degree in engineering and software design.

Prof. Goebel should have a much closer look at what the people who populate the software companies have achieved: the bubble and bust; endless viruses and endless time wasted getting rid of them; programs that do not perform as advertised, accurately or in a certifiable manner; mysterious and endless crashes, followed by an endless set of updates because the products lack robustness, security and integrity.

Some people want the status of real engineers but are unwilling to master the body of knowledge required to practice the science and art of engineering, including software engineering.

APEGGA serves and protects the public with the assured quality and skill of its membership. It does that by constantly emphasizing professional responsibility and judgment by its members.

Remember, APEGGA members have the privilege and responsibility of self regulating their work. No one will stop engineers from designing a bridge or modifying a ship, save their own judgment and integrity. Engineers are expected by their professional peers to know their own skills and knowledge, and to be guided accordingly. That is why today, with over 40,000 members, APEGGA receives fewer than 100 complaints from the public related to unprofessional practice each year.

Just think back to the software that a couple of hundred souls and two very desperate pilots were riding on for eight seconds before touchdown, while a computer's software was performing a CPU reset.

I think I have made my point without getting into another software problem, the one with the infamous Air Canada Gimli Glider.

Joseph M. Green P.Eng., M.Eng.

Misusing Title Gives Aura of Reliability

It was with growing disbelief that I read my fellow academic's letter
supporting the use of the term "software engineer," especially when it is
used by Microsoft, as in Microsoft Certified Software Engineer.

Coupling the vague term "software" with the specific designation "engineer"
suggests that software is subject to the same kind of well-understood physical
and mathematical underpinnings as the branches of engineering normally accepted
by professional engineering associations.

Unfortunately, despite worthwhile advances in software design and implementation such as object-oriented design, and in software project management, the deterministic laws and mathematical models needed to make software development an engineering discipline simply have not been discovered yet. It’s possible they may never be discovered.

If software development were an engineering discipline, we should not be
plagued with the multitudinous security and related problems at all levels that
threaten to destroy the value of the systems that play such an important part
in our lives.

Those developing software – from large organizations to individual entrepreneurs and consultants – should cease trying to attract an inappropriate aura of reliability for their offerings by using the terms " engineer" and "engineering," and instead designate themselves as Registered Professional Software Developers, or some similar title, as do the other disciplines, such as biology and psychology, that need professional recognition and regulation but are not in the more precise fields of engineering.

Perhaps such people should also consider more aggressively and successfully addressing problems such as unreliable software, insecure software, spam, security management, unusable software, and the like – instead of adding all those gratuitous bells and whistles that seem designed only to try to obtain a market edge and render last year's offerings obsolete.

I have been in the computer field for more than 40 years in both industry and
academia. I have managed the development of significant software but I have
never considered calling myself or anyone else a "software engineer."

The term is an oxymoron. Software development is about managing human error in both development and use, not about implementing useful artifacts according to the physical laws of the universe.

The issue is not the skill of the person doing the work, but the nature and
understanding of the task being performed.

David Hill, P.Eng.
Professor Emeritus
Computer Science Department
University of Calgary

Little Insight Offered

Re: Inclusivity

Since the letter I wrote for the April 2004 PEGG, I have read every edition and have made some observations. I have not gained anymore insight about why inclusivity is important except that a very small number of people (in Council) think it is.

The official line from APEGGA Council has gone from telling the membership what a wonderful idea inclusivity is to getting the work done to make a proper assessment. Yet back in February, Mike Smyth, P.Eng., then APEGGA’s president, talked about all the work that was done to work "out the details of how to do it."

For a year's work, Council could not tell us how, not even why. Instead we got fluffy reasoning.

I did a search on the APEGGA website, thinking that surely there would be minutes recorded from the meetings that the inclusivity committee held. I found minutes, but sadly there were no more details in them than in what was being printed in The PEGG.

Fast forward to July 2004 and APEGGA President Linda Van Gastel, P.Eng., tells us that "another working group of Council will be reviewing and clarifying the case for
change, including consideration of alternate models, pros, and cons, costs and benefits." Council has even decided to involve the Board of
Examiners this time.

You have decided not to use the words, "engineer, geologist, or geophysicist" in the new title. That is good. However I do not think you need to do any further study. Industry long ago called these people technologists. Let ASET deal with them.

Constructive comments or criticism are welcomed, APEGGA’s leadership tells us, but nothing else. And when in the last few issues, have you gotten anything but
constructive criticism? Or is it just when someone disagrees with Council and will not do as they are told that comments become non-constructive (or unprofessional)?

Ms. Van Gastel wants people to forget about the original proposal. Think about the optics –- some members do not trust Council.

Deny the premise of the "secret" e-mail survey, but you have to admit that the optics do not look good. I participated in an APEGGA survey a few years ago and it was advertised and everyone was invited to participate.

A PEGG readership survey just ended and, again, the entire membership was invited to participate. Council could have done the same thing with the inclusivity e-mail survey.

APEGGA’s leadership wants better communication. Here are my suggestions.

I strongly suggest that the minutes of the committee meetings be visibly
posted, as well as the methodologies and the processes that will be

I would like to see numbers backing up whatever you discover and
then, of course, the final report. Just like any other engineering feasibility study. I would also like to know what the opinions of the Board of Examiners were.

That is all I require –- that is, value for my annual fee.

As a further suggestion, I think it would be refreshing if the opposing
side could get on the front page of The PEGG. I would think that
Council would want balanced reporting.

Joanny Liu, P.Eng.

Drive to Dilution

The drive towards inclusivity, like the issuing of more shares in a company, always results in a rendering down and dilution of the standards and values of the original material.

This is the bedrock of the discussion.

The proposals are for international applicants, for those with academic backgrounds that do not match APEGGA’s established syllabi, and for those from assorted sciences and who would probably be better advised to set up their own association to deal with their specific talents.

In each instance standards are the issue.

Surely APEGGA, while maintaining its own high standards, could liaise with other organizations which, although slightly different in composition, such as the assorted scientists mentioned in The PEGG articles, also maintain a specialist faculty which values high standards in its own ranks.

While one can sympathize with the second group, that is no good reason to lower the standards of APEGGA. Life is not fair, but to deliberately subordinate the qualifications of the majority in favour of a minority seems to be grossly unfair.

“Internationally trained practitioners” are coming to Canada to partake in the Canadian quality of life, which was developed and built on Canadian values, Canadian standards, Canadian blood, Canadian sweat, Canadian examinations, Canadian financial resources, Canadian tradition, Canadian heritage and Canadian tears. While it should not be the aim to “exclude” deserving practitioners who desire to embrace all that Canadians are, one should be careful to avoid the trap of “including” a minority who wish the majority to bend to their demands and requirements for inclusion into a system they did not found, build, develop or finance, but wish to exploit for their own personal gain.

Despite the noble sounding rhetoric emanating from politicians and people in leadership positions, Canada’s high standards and values are being diluted insidiously. It would be sad to see APEGGA follow suit. The empirical evidence of history proves that once lost, it is extremely difficult to rebuild standards, values and morality in any society.

L. MacKenzie
(Spouse of a Life Member)
South Africa

Volunteer Opportunity

The Edmonton Science Outreach Network invites scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians to help us engage students in science and technology. Volunteering with ESON gives you the opportunity to:

  • Encourage student participation in science
  • Share their knowledge with students
  • Provide information to students on careers in science.

ESON volunteers may visit classrooms and share their passion for science and technology through hands-on presentations. The majority of our requests are from elementary schools.

You can provide curriculum support on topics including rocks and minerals, testing materials and designs, waste and our world, plant growth and changes, electricity and magnetism, weather watch, sky science, and heat and temperature.

Students benefit from personal, interactive contact with people working in diverse scientific fields. Following a classroom visit from our volunteers, students report being increasingly aware of science and technology in their lives. They learned from ideas “being explained in a different way,” say students.

“ Science isn’t just about taking notes,” they say. “Scientists can tell you so much more.”

Your members are also a vital resource for teachers. Feedback from teachers emphasizes the value of tactile learning and the positive response from the students.

Edmonton Science Outreach Network volunteers “bring the curriculum to life and in my opinion, reality beats virtual science,” said one teacher. “It amazed me how electric the atmosphere became, and how interested the kids were,” said another.
ESON volunteers also answer science and technology questions, facilitate field trips, guest lecture at conferences, and deliver teacher professional development workshops.

. ESON is committed to changing the way students think about science and scientists. A classroom visit from a volunteer can change the image of the “mad scientist” working in isolation in a cluttered, bubbling laboratory. In actuality, your members and others work in a dizzying array of fields. ESON volunteers represent the natural sciences, physics, chemistry, the petrochemicals industry, medicine, astronomy and space science, agriculture, construction, the mechanical trades, engineering and technology, geology, and meteorology.

Those examples are hardly exhaustive. Your members may also, for example, contribute expertise garnered from personal interests or hobbies such as bird watching or model building.

ESON is a non-profit organization that has connected volunteer scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians with teachers for 14 years. To volunteer with ESON or for more information contact Dr. Michael Caley at 780-448-0055, e-mail us at, or visit

Anyone interested in volunteering but who does not live in the Edmonton region, please contact the Alberta Science Literacy Association at 403-245-8942 or e-mail ASLA is a provincial organization that coordinates the five science outreach networks in: Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat and Red Dee.

Cathy Perraton
Edmonton Science Outreach Network

Let’s Spend on Real Pollution

Re: Climate Change Causes Have Had a Hearing, J. Edward Mathison, P.Geol., Readers’ Forum, July 2004 PEGG, and Climate Change Science Actually is Important, David Barss, P.Geol.,The PEGG, April 2004.

As an electrical engineer I admit to being a layman in certain sciences. I have, however, been paying attention to the current climate debate. I am and will be "directly affected.”

Government processes and tactics have caused grave doubts, disappointment and worry. A strong continuation of the debate is justified. It is in our best interests that it be thoroughgoing and enlightened.

I believe there are answers to Mr. Mathison's criticisms of Mr. Barss's letter . These have been previously stated by sources whom I trust but merit repetition for consideration by Mr. Mathison and other interested readers for their deliberations.

The flaws in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process need to be considered. The scientific assessment report of the IPCC was indeed authored by many and checked by more (actual figures: 124 authors, 397 expert reviewers and 15 review editors). It is an excellent scientific compilation. It is a weighty document but read by few and perhaps not even glanced at by the media and politicians.
This document, some 400 pages long, is then boiled down and put into layman's language to make the summary for policymakers. It is in this process of boiling down that "political corrections" appear.

For example, IPCC, 2001a p.97, reads: "The fact that the global mean temperature has increased since the late 19th Century and that other trends have been observed does not necessarily mean that the anthropogenic effect on the climate system has been identified. Climate has always varied on all time-scales, so the observed change may be natural.”

Yet in IPCC, 2001 TAR Working Group 1, p.774, the wording is: "In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

These and other comments have been "simplified" for policymakers to read: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities." (SPM IPCC, 2001b, p.10). Later on the same page: "Most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gasses.”

These are rather interesting "simplifications.” One cannot help but recall the words of Roger Bate, director of the environment unit at the Institute for Economic Affairs, London: “Much 'big science' requires vast sums of money, and competition for funding is intense. Having a high profile and apparent policy relevance help in the scramble for funds – climate change has both. Due to their success in capturing funding, many climate scientists' careers now depend on global warming.”

If you were one of these scientists, he asks, would you admit that the whole thing was nothing to worry about?

Mr. Mathison states the warming from 1900 to 1940 can be attributed to natural forcing but the rise since 1976 cannot plausibly be explained by natural forcing.

Satellite measurements of troposphere temperatures (confirmed by weather balloon measurements), however, show practically no warming in the period 1979 to 2002.
The so-called steep rise in temperatures since the ’70s just does not exist. It is the result of errors due to the heat island effect and giving credibility to computer projections.

The recent statements of Sir David King seem to be apocryphal at face value, requiring justification. The fact that 30,000 people died in Europe during last year's heat wave (not all by any means due to heat exhaustion) is hardly reason to blame man-induced global warming.

In July 1936 in Canada, during the admitted "natural" heat wave 1,100 people died of heat exhaustion. Comparing Canada's population in 1936 to that of Europe in 2003 makes the less than 30,000 sound less dramatic.

Many glaciers are receding at present and this must be of concern. This is part of a natural cycle, however. Research from the University of Calgary and the University of Western Ontario establishes that glaciers in the Cordillera had virtually disappeared 3,000 years ago. Glaciers have advanced and retreated a number of times since then.

To blame diminished stream flows on man-caused warming is to beg the question of why the South Saskatchewan River, for example, ran completely dry in 1856.

As Dr. Tim Patterson, a paleoclimatologist at Carleton University, states: "The only consistent thing about climate is change.”

Carbon dioxide is a natural gas and is essential to life on this planet. Its concentration in the atmosphere has a negligible effect on the natural cycles of climate. Rather than waste money trying to sequester CO2 we should be fighting true pollution – NOX, SOX and particulates.

Barry M. McVicar, P.Eng.
APEGGA Life Member

A Canadian Hearing

Re: Climate Change Causes Have Had a Hearing
J. Edward Mathison, P. Geol., Readers’ Forum, July 2004 PEGG

We are surprised at Mr. Mathison’s objection to a suggestion that Canada hold an independent, non-governmental, judicial-type hearing on the science of climate change. One would have thought that if individuals are very sure of the science, they would welcome an opportunity to present non-biased science information.

Mr. Mathison incorrectly mentions that “another review by non-experts is unnecessary.” That was never suggested. There is a long list of professors and PhDs in climatology, geosciences, meteorology, oceanography, astrophysics, mathematics and other sciences in Canada. Most, if not all, have peer-reviewed papers on the subject. Hopefully, Mr. Mathison does not consider these individuals as non-experts.

Mr. Mathison puts great reliance on the reports of the International Panel on Climate Change, apparently believing that there are no serious challenges or conflicting science to its conclusions on causes of change. That is very far from reality. As well, the number count of climate scientists seems important to him.

We are not impressed with either the validity of the IPCC’s report or the number count of scientists. There can be no question as the value and integrity of the work carried on by scientists in Working Group I of the IPCC.

However, the public’s knowledge of the IPCC comes mainly from its Summary Report for Policymakers, a document put together by representatives (not always scientists) from different countries.

Agreement on contentious issues is possible only by compromise on specific points. The public cannot possibly be aware of these problems or points that are challenged by reputable scientists.

With respect to the numbers of climate scientists, one must point out that science is not decided at the ballot box. If it were, then the IPCC would be big losers! The Oregon Petition with over 17,000 individuals (more than 2,500 scientists in atmospheric science), the Leipzig Declaration and the Heidelberg Appeal all questioned Kyoto climate science.

Mr. Mathison accepts without question the IPCC and the summary report as sources for climate science in Canada. However, the following brief comments clearly show why it is an unreliable document and why there is an urgent need for an independent hearing.

The late Dr. Roger Pocklington, an oceanographer for many years with Bedford Institute, was one of the Canadian representatives from the IPCC. He commented that the politicization of climate science by the IPCC is primarily responsible for the misunderstanding that human-caused CO2 emissions are a major contributor to global warming.

He went on to say: “The IPCC was established with the objective of associating climate change with fossil fuel emissions. That fossil fuels might have no significant effect on climate was effectively discounted from the very beginning by the IPCC’s mandate.”

Dr. Richard Lindzen is professor of meteorology at MIT and a member of a National Academy of Sciences. The NAS panel (2001) was requested to evaluate climate change and the IPCC Report. Prof. Lindzen said: “Within the confines of professional courtesy, the NAS panel essentially concluded that the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers does not provide suitable guidance for the U.S. government.”

One of the more thorough, detailed examinations of the IPCC 2001 Report ever carried out was by Dr. Chris de Freitas, professor at the School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Auckland , New Zealand. Mr. Mathison should be aware of this article, as it was published by The Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (The Reservoir, June 2002). It is recommended reading by anyone interested in the subject and in assessing the validity of the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers.

The above references are but a small sample of highly regarded scientists who question Kyoto-inspired climate science from the IPCC.

Mr. Mathison mentions a number of dire consequences of climate change – increased warming due to increase of anthropogenic gases since 1976; 30,000 deaths in Europe; glaciers receding, and so on. There are responses to these claims, but it is not the intent of this letter to argue specific points, but rather to argue for scientific testimony from highly qualified individuals.

For example, a hearing might like to summon Dr. Madhav Khandekar, a meteorologist and formerly research scientist for many years with Environment Canada. He is an expert on analyzing weather extremes and therefore, valuable to hear and weigh his evidence.

There is exciting evidence (old and new) on the sun’s influence on climate change. The pros and cons of the evidence need to be heard, evaluated and conclusions passed onto the public and critically to our ministers in Canadian government who are in the process of spending billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

We need to sort out the confusing and controversial statements that appear on climate change, in particular, the scary media comments on climate change – catastrophic warming, droughts, rivers running dry, deaths due to heat, and so on – and the best scientific advice on causes of climate change. The integrity and qualifications held by the scientists and engineers in APEGGA is an ideal body to address this issue.

William H. Hommel, P.Eng.

Albert F. Jacobs, P.Geol.

John I. P. Leeson, P.Geol.

Leonard F. Maier, P.Eng.

A Geological Engineer Looks at Climate Change

The climate of the Earth has varied from hot to cold many times over its 4-billion-odd-year existence. Salt deposits in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories all speak of hot, dry, Dead Sea-like conditions. Fossil glacial deposits tell us of cold conditions, coal of hot, humid “Mangrove-like” conditions, and fossil reefs (from which much of our oil is produced ) of warm tropical seas.

Twenty thousand years ago two-thirds of North America was covered by glaciers. The world has indeed warmed since then – and without the aid of coal-fired furnaces or diesel trucks.

We hear dreadful predictions that our glaciers are receding at an unprecedented rate, and that this is new and different. Research from the universities of Calgary and Western Ontario, however, shows that 8,000 years ago glaciers in the Rockies and the ranges west of the Rockies had receded far above their present limits, and that since then they have advanced and are now receding again.

There is ample evidence that the ebb and flow of glaciers has been repeated numerous times. Bear in mind that fluctuations in glaciers are at least as dependent on precipitation as on temperature.

During the period 1000 AD to 1350 AD, known as the Medieval Warm, the world was warmer by about two-to-four degrees C than it is now. The Danes settled colonies on Iceland and Greenland and the Norsemen started a settlement on Newfoundland. It was a period of good crops and relative peace.

About 1350 AD the world started to cool and what is known as the Little Ice Age set in. The colonies on Iceland and Greenland were isolated because of sea ice and almost perished. The Norsemen could no longer travel to Newfoundland.

In Europe crops failed, people were undernourished and the stage was set for the plagues of Europe and London. The Thames froze in London. I have a copy of a 1706 painting of people skating on the frozen canals in Venice.

We are currently emerging from this Little Ice Age. Temperatures started to rise about 1850 and rose fairly steadily until about 1945, when they began to drop again until about 1975 when they started to rise again.

The drop in temperatures from 1945 to 1975 is interesting as it was interpreted by many as being the start of another ice age. Rather amazing suggestions were made, including the spreading of carbon black on the Arctic ice cover in order to melt it! Many of the scientists who are now foretelling catastrophe from global warming were in the 1970s predicting disaster from global cooling.

Temperatures measured at urban and airport ground stations are often skewed as a result of the heat absorbed during the day by concrete and asphalt being given off during the night. This is known as the Urban Heat Island Effect and has caused warming to be exaggerated.

Global temperatures have been measured for the last 24 years by satellite. This gives much better coverage than land stations and results in a much more reliable measurement.

These measurements show that since 1989 there has been very little rise in the temperatures in the troposphere over the Northern Hemisphere and a very slight decline in the Southern Hemisphere. It appears we are in a period of stable global temperature.

The theory that CO2 was responsible for global warming immediately took hold and received prompt attention from the media and a “sky is falling” attitude prevailed. The UN body – the IPCC – was formed and the Kyoto Protocol proposed. The whole affair became very political and a number of very important facts got lost in the shuffle.

Among those lost facts: greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are 97-to-98-per-cent water vapour, the remainder is CO2, methane etc.; while CO2 is a “greenhouse” gas, its contribution to the “greenhouse” effect is minimal; CO2 is not a pollutant and is essential to life on Earth; it is impossible for CO2 to cause one particle of smog.

And there are more lost facts. Analysis of ice cores from the Russian Antarctic Vostok station show that CO2 levels in the atmosphere rose hundreds of years after intra-glacial warmings had taken place – a cause cannot be an effect. Over 80 per cent of the recent warming as we came out of the Little Ice Age took place before there was a significant rise in the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

There has not been a recent increase in violent weather. The so-called data used to predict catastrophes from global warming all come from computer projections that have consistently proven to be wildly inaccurate. The current programs can’t even take water vapour into account.

If CO2 is not the main cause of Global climate change – what is?

In 1800 Herschel (the British astronomer who discovered the planet Uranus) noted that “there are copious emissions from the sun when it is highly spotted.” He correlated agriculture success and failure with the 11-year sun spot cycle.

In 1867 James Croll noted variations in the energy received from the sun due to orbital variations of the Earth around the sun. This work was expanded by Milankovitch in 1920 and these variations became known as the Milankovitch Cycles. Correlations were made with the advances and retreats of European glaciers.

Most recently Dr. S. Baliunas and W. Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Dr. Tim Patterson of Carleton University have shown close correlations between global temperatures and the various solar cycles.

Dr. J. Viezer of the University of Ottawa has recently published a paper further establishing the fact that in very large part past climate changes are the result of variations in the amount of Solar energy received on the Earth.

CO2 is a minor player in climate fluctuations. Reduction in CO2 emissions and the sequestering of CO2 as envisioned in the Kyoto Protocol are not only ineffective but very costly. This money could so much better be spent in reducing true pollution – chemical pollutants and of course particulate emissions. These do damage health and the environment.
Kyoto chases the wrong culprit. Climate change is and always has been a natural phenomenon. We can no more stop global climate change than we can the tides.

A.M. Patterson BASc, P.Eng.
APEGGA Life Member

Report Layout Suggests Bias

I wish to echo references in Readers’ Forum, to indications of an apparent bias within the Nominating Committee. The cumulative impression arises that perhaps only selected individuals supportive of current APEGGA-insider thinking are being courted for office.

In the February 2004 PEGG the Report of the Nominating Committee was presented in large bold type, wherein seven names were entered under the heading 2004 Candidates for Council. This was followed by a second separate heading in equal sized type, Mail-in Nominations, introducing three other names.

All 10 names were subtly enclosed in a thin-lined box, so that one could surmise that all 10 were indeed candidates for Council. However, as the last three names were segregated from the others, I was left with the distinct impression that mailed-in nominations, names not selected by the Nominating Committee, were perhaps not as desirable, suitable, or appropriate - and one could wonder if these segregated candidates were perhaps not as malleable to a perceived cosy group of like-thinking people now running APEGGA.

The same clear differentiation and visual segregation also took place in the Nominating Committee's presentation of the Vice-President candidates. Again, by the presentation style, the overt suggestion is that the Nominating Committee's considered opinion (along with whatever back-room political wheeling-and-dealing may be involved in orchestrating the nomination slate) is a superior offering to APEGGA membership, and somehow preferable to the mailed-in nomination from a number of concerned individual members.

I put it to the membership that inclusivity should be practiced more diligently inside APEGGA, for instance with acceptance of the legitimate participatory actions of individual members (actions such as nominating a Council candidate by mail-in) without visually segregating such candidates from those that might now be perceived as the "mainstream conformist" candidates put forward by the Nominating Committee.

It is indeed useful to the voter to know which candidates were mailed-in nominations (by an asterisk, for instance, with all candidates presented together in alphabetical order), but please let us portray all legitimate candidates as equal.

When a number of individual members galvanize to put forward a candidate, I suspect this is an attempt to provide a voice to address a perceived serious concern, and such action should be openly encouraged if APEGGA wants to stay connected to its members.

As a member who has not been involved in a mail-in initiative, I tip my hat to those members who have in this way attempted to improve APEGGA from their perspectives, and especially to those who allow their names to go forward as candidates in such circumstances. I look forward to a more equitable portrayal of such initiatives in the future.

Tony Griffin, P.Eng.

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