In the July 2004 edition of The PEGG I responded to certain
statements made by Dave Kachorowski, P.Eng., in his letter
to the editor entitled Process Flawed.
The survey in question was conducted to get a better reading
from a statistically relevant sampling of APEGGA members
on the creation of a new category of membership. It was sent
to 2,500 members.
Mr. Kachorowski forwarded an e-mail encouraging his colleagues
to respond to the survey. This was interpreted by us as undermining
a legitimate method of collecting reliable information for
To have suggested in a public forum that Mr. Kachorowski
exhibited "unacceptable conduct" was improper
and for that I apologize to him.
Both Council and staff continue to work together toward making
the engineering, geological and geophysical professions better,
to add value for members and to be responsive to the needs
of the public. It is sobering to realize that some members
feel that we have hidden agendas that may not match these
We recognize that we have to do a better job of communicating
the issues of importance to our members in a clear, concise,
transparent and time-sensitive way and we are taking steps
to correct that.
Neil Windsor, P.Eng.
APEGGA Executive Director & Registrar
Contained Factual Errors
Re: Executive Director’s Note, Readers’ Forum,
The PEGG, July 2004.
There were a few factual errors in this rebuttal to my letter
(Process Flawed, Readers’ Forum, The PEGG, July 2004).
1) I did not receive an invitation to participate in the
2) I received the URL for the survey in a two- or three-generation
e-mail from a fellow member.
3) The survey was “compromised” before I participated.
The URL was known to the membership before I was informed
of the existence of the survey.
4) It’s implied that I was a ringleader of some organized
campaign to bias the survey. I merely participated.
In the rebuttal, it was acknowledged that many members voiced
their opinion by answering the survey without having being
sent it by APEGGA. It was alleged that to do so was interfering
with legitimate business of APEGGA.
Clearly, many who were made aware of the survey felt it was their business
to participate and make others aware that they also could voice an opinion.
The executive director implies that when members take an active part
in an important issue, that the APEGGA administration considers that
interference. Many members may beg to differ.
Uninvited participants of the survey were exercising a basic
right we have in Canada - fee speech. And the survey URL
was disseminated freely amongst the membership. I am not
aware of any attempt to only make pro or con members privy
to the survey's existence.
Hence, the randomness of the survey should be preserved.
The APEGGA administration provided the forum for the members to exercise
their free speech rights. The rebuttal contains an implied threat that
this exercising of free speech could be taken to be unprofessional conduct.
I request an apology from the executive director. The facts
should have been investigated and confirmed before publication.
A quick phone call or e-mail could have established these
facts before he made statements to the membership.
Dave Kachorowski, P.Eng.
Re: Executive Director’s Notes, Readers’ Forum,
The PEGG, June 2004 and July 2004.
The note following my June letter said that “the suggestion of
a ‘hidden agenda’ is an incorrect and unwarranted innuendo,
not worthy of a professional member.” The July note, following
a letter from Dave Kachorowski, P.Eng., said, “This represents
a deliberate attempt by Mr. Kachorowski to interfere with the legitimate
business of APEGGA and is unacceptable conduct on the part of a professional
The Association’s executive director wears two hats. The executive
director is the senior administrator and, by statute, must also be a
professional member. I am not aware that the ED has any right or responsibility
to adjudicate what constitutes unprofessional conduct by any member.
In publishing judgmental and potentially prejudicial statements to the
effect that a professional member's actions are unprofessional, the executive
director has overstepped the authority of the senior administrator role.
There are formal mechanisms within the Association for making a determination
of unprofessional conduct and the ED has no direct role in the investigation
and discipline processes.
As a professional member, the executive director can make a formal complaint
through these processes in the same way as any other member. When the
executive director speaks as a professional member, such response should
appear in the next edition of The PEGG, after being submitted as a letter
to the editor, not as a note following a member's letter.
In general-audience newspapers, such editorial insertions appear rarely
and are restricted to corrections in fact.
Dr. K. C. Porteous, P.Eng.
Let’s Work Together On Software Challenges
Re: Feud Goes On With Computer Science, Dr.
Steven Knudsen, P.Eng., Readers’ Forum, The PEGG, September
This is not about who gets good marks in class, nor is
it about "one size fits all.”
I understand that computer science is an integral part of
engineering undergraduate education because, in my case at
the University of Alberta, the Computing Science
Department delivers most of that education, just like the Math and Stats
Department delivers theirs.
Professional engineering groups have adopted postures similar
to those of traditional trade unions. I believe their public
awareness campaigns are at least as much about the fear of
losing ground in membership and influence as they are about
protecting the public.
As all APEGGA readers can confirm, the issue of making decisions on who
can practice is much broader than just the issues with computer science.
I think Dr. Knudsen is right that there are many situations
where engineers and scientists work together for the common
good. In fact, I would like to invite him to talk to me directly,
as I expect he would find my experience with engineering
and technology companies is extensive. Maybe the two of us
could find some common ground.
That is what computer scientists are eager for. We're tired
of having professional engineering groups tell us what we
know and what we can do. The whole rest of the world knows
that software engineering expertise is challenging and elusive.
Dr. Knudsen's references to various publications on software engineering
acknowledge the challenge of such a new field. It is more likely that
progress in both the science and engineering of software will be served
well when good scientists and engineers work together and without the
political meddling of engineering associations.
Dr. Randy Goebel
Professor and Chair
University of Alberta
What Real Software Engineers Know
Re: Stop Bullying, Dr. Randy Goebel, Readers’ Forum,
The PEGG, July 2004.
Dr. 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
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
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.
Joseph M. Green, P.Eng., M.Eng.
Aura of Reliability
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 implementations 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
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
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.
Computer Science Department
University of Calgary
Too Much Read Into Examination Stats
Re: Rating Alberta Examinees, The PEGG, September
Congratulations to the 111 writers of the U.S. Fundamentals
of Engineering exam. Your hard work certainly paid off – a
near 100 per cent pass rate is a significant accomplishment.
Unfortunately, the article goes astray by using this statistic
to generalize that the standard engineering training in Alberta
meets or exceeds the FE standard. In fact, it's impossible
to generalize about any non-random sample.
These 111 students self-selected to take the exam. A selection bias cannot
be corrected by any statistical technique.
All anyone can really say is that the candidates who elected
to take the FE exam in Alberta had a higher pass rate than
those candidates who elected to take the FE outside of Alberta.
It may seem like an unimportant distinction. However, we
are engineers: it behooves us to be rigorous.
Samir Kayande, P.Eng.
Universities Are the Experts In Judging Foreign
Re: Enforcing High Standards is What We’re Here
For, Dr. Roger Toogood, P.Eng., Readers’ Forum, The
PEGG, September 2004.
Of the two requirements for gaining APEGGA’s membership
(academic qualifications and professional experience), the
Board of Examiners should only be mandated to assess professional
experience and references. APEGGA should have no business
assessing engineering degrees issued by foreign universities.
This authority should rest exclusively with Canadian accredited universities.
I am sure that the University of Alberta would not grant the graduates
of the long distance learning programs Dr. Toogood refers to the status
of its own graduates.
It is not clear why Dr. Toogood claims that a full acceptance by an accredited
Canadian university of a foreign engineering degree is not relevant to
professional licensure. APEGGA is not an academic institution. It does
not issue engineering degrees in Canada, and as such it should not be
allowed to evaluate foreign degrees.
While the University of Alberta gave my foreign engineering
degree “category A,” which puts it on the same
level of its own graduates, APEGGA requested 10 confirmatory
exams. Hence, I suspect that the policy to impose “confirmatory
exams” (a minimum of three and often more) on foreign
graduates is an act of protectionism.
One should not forget that some time before the mid-1970s
many foreign engineering graduates from around the world
could join APEGGA with only the professional references from
their peers. I know of no statistics that could prove that
the quality of professional practice then was lower than
Perhaps what precipitated the change in registration policy
was the oil crash of the late 1970s and massive layoffs among
APEGGA members. But we must remember that Canada was built
by immigrants’ skills.
The lack of government control due to the self-regulating
nature of APEGGA has only added to the problem. That is why
the government is trying to step in, rectify this and protect
the public interest at large – not only in engineering,
but also in other self-regulating professions.
Dr. Nesa Ilich, P.Eng.
Edmonton CSChE Issues Position Paper On Inclusivity
The Edmonton Section of the Canadian Society for Chemical
Engineering issued a position paper on APEGGA’s Inclusivity
Initiative in early September, after requesting input from
CSChE members in Alberta. The national CSChE has not yet
developed a position on this issue but has been asked to
consider this at its meeting and AGM in Calgary, Oct. 3-6.
However, the Edmonton local section executive felt that we would proceed
quickly on this important issue. The basic position taken is that the
inclusivity initiative is based on an unrealistic and insupportable broad
interpretation of the definition of the practice of engineering, in the
We propose that APEGGA collaborate with the Canadian Council of Professional
Engineers and other engineering associations to develop a more descriptive
and accurate definition of professional practice. That revised definition
should then be made official through a change in the EGGP Act.
The revised definition should clarify that the act only applies to situations
where a statute, code, regulation, standard, contract or other specification
for an activity requires that the individual doing the work is a P.Eng.,
or P.Geol., P.Geoph., R.P.T. or some other professional designation defined
in the act.
The position paper includes a four-page discussion to support our position
and finishes with the recommendation that APEGGA Council cancel any plans
to vote on proposed new categories of membership.
Our paper states: “The definition of the practice of engineering
need only be clarified and made more concise to better reflect a reasonable
definition acceptable to its members, the provincial government and other
Bruce Peachey, P.Eng.
VIEW FULL PAPER
TO PROVIDE FEEBACK
E-mail Bruce Peachey, P.Eng.
Little Insight Offered
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 that was done to work "out the details of
how to do it."
For a year's work, Council could not tell us how or even why.
I did a search on the APEGGA website, thinking there would be minutes
recorded from the meetings of the inclusivity committee. I found minutes,
but there were no more details in them than those printed in The PEGG.
In July 2004 APEGGA President Linda Van Gastel, P.Eng.,
told 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 the Alberta Society of Engineering
Technologists deal with them.
Constructive comments or criticism are welcomed, APEGGA’s leadership
tells us. When have you gotten anything but? Or is it just when members
Council and will not do as they are told that comments become non-constructive?
Deny that the e-mail survey was secret, but the optics aren’t
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.
I strongly suggest that the minutes of the committee meetings
be visibly posted, as well as the methodologies and the processes
that will be used. I would like to see numbers that back
up whatever you discover and then, of course, the final report.
Just like any other engineering feasibility study.
I would also like to know the opinions of the Board of Examiners.
And 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.
Assumptions Glossed Over
Re: APEGGA and Others Address the Future of Our Professions,
President’s Notebook, The PEGG, July 2004.
Even though some very thoughtful objections have been presented
to the new inclusivity proposal, Linda Van Gastel, P.Eng.,
talks about how associations must evolve to the dropping
percentage of licensure from graduating classes and to other
I believe, however, that a glossing over of the basic assumptions is
what irritates many of the professional members, who want to see the
step-by-step logic from the stated "problem" to the "solution."
This is tremendously important and boils down to questions
of not only what APEGGA's role should be, but what value
others – both employers and members – see in
APEGGA. If we still disagree on how APEGGA should respond
to these outside factors, we may have suffered from some
shallow thinking and must return to this and get it right.
There are complex educational, economic and ethical issues involved that
all bear on the numbers. Some are definitely counter-intuitive.
For example, we are talking like a political organization instead of
an engineering association, when we refer to the "rights" of
a broad spectrum of practitioners.
What rights would they be exactly? APEGGA is not a charitable organization
and has a duty to discriminate against incompetent practitioners. It
must do this with vigour and often to maintain professional integrity.
It is very important where we place the bar and that we
do this honestly and with consistency. But the higher the
bar, the better for APEGGA. Any members of Council that don't
support this concept should explain to the members what they
do believe in.
If this is a non-starter of an idea, it should be tossed in the bin.
We aren't perfect and we should be able to admit it and move on.
W.G. Whitney, P.Eng.
Let’s Make Better Use Of International Registers
Wouldn’t the use and adoption of the APEC and international
registers solve some of our inclusivity problems?
In Ireland, where I am currently working, to obtain chartered engineer
status, all I have to do is demonstrate that I am on the international
register. This is no requirement for one year of Irish experience.
Why do we have this requirement in Canada? Is gravity so different? Is
water compressible in other countries?
If someone has professional experience as an engineer, he or she has
professional experience as an engineer, period.
Adding a new category and undermining the P.Eng., P.Geol. and P.Geoph.
titles does not solve the problem – it creates new ones.
Council needs to become much more proactive in the use and application
of the APEC and international registers of professional engineers. Both
these vehicles could go very far in solving the problem of foreign-trained
engineers trying to obtain licensure in Canada.
Andrew Gower, P.Eng.
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 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
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
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
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 email@example.com, or visit www.sciencehotline.ca.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. ASLA is a provincial organization that coordinates
the five science outreach networks in Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie,
Medicine Hat and Red Deer.
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., April 2004.
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.
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 is then boiled down and put into layman's language to make
the summary for policymakers. It is in this process that "political
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.”
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?
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
Mr. Mathison says “another review by non-experts
is unnecessary.” That was never suggested. There
is a long list of professors and PhDs in climatology, geoscience,
meteorology, oceanography, astrophysics, mathematics and
other sciences in Canada. Most, if not all, have peer-reviewed
papers on the subject.
Mr. Mathison puts great reliance on the IPCC reports, as well as the
number of climate scientists backing it.
We are not impressed with the validity of the IPCC’s report or
the number count. There’s no question as to 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 a
summary report put together by representatives (not always scientists)
from different countries.
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 the IPCC and the summary report as sources for climate
science in Canada. However, the following shows why it is unreliable
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.”
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 taxpayer 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 make it an ideal body to address
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 dramatically many times
in its 4-billion-odd years. Salt deposits in Nova Scotia,
Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories
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 of 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.
There is ample evidence that the ebb-and-flow of glaciers has repeated
numerous times. Bear in mind that fluctuations are at least as dependent
on precipitation as on temperature.
Research from the universities of Calgary and Western Ontario shows that
8,000 years ago glaciers in the Rockies and west had receded far above
their present limits, and that since then they have advanced and are
now receding again.
During the Medieval Warm, from 1000 AD to 1350 AD, the world
was warmer by about two-to-four degrees C than it is now.
About 1350 AD the world started to cool and the Little Ice Age set in.
The Thames froze in London. I have a copy of a 1706 painting of people
skating on frozen canals in Venice.
We are currently emerging from the 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. Then they started to rise again.
Many interpreted the drop in temperatures from 1945 to 1975 as the start
of another ice age. Many of the scientists who now foretell catastrophe
from global warming in the 1970s predicted disaster from global cooling.
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.
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
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Wind Power Is No Panacea
Editor’s Note: The following letter
is condensed from a letter that first appeared in the February/March
2004 edition of Professional Edge, the news magazine of the
Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of
Wind power cannot be justified, either as a source of electricity
or as a significant alleviator of CO2 emissions. Professional
engineering associations whose mission is to protect the
public from bad engineering need to examine the public benefit
of using these installations to reduce CO2 emissions.
Wind farms can only generate electricity some of the time,
so any city or plant using it as a source of electricity
requires back-up. In fact when frigid arctic highs move in
and electricity demand is at a maximum, usually there is
Costs are three to four times those of conventional sources,
when 100 per cent backup is included in the calculation.
Engineers should advise the public of this.
“Green” governments try to overcome this cost
disadvantage by providing subsidies. These hurt the economy
because they distort private sector investment by directing
capital to projects with little wealth-creating merit, all
at taxpayers’ expense. Burying wind power costs in
the overall power costs amounts to the same thing.
Winds are gusty, requiring back-up systems to be kept on-line
at all times, which substantially reduces the amount of carbon
The whole Kyoto Protocol revolves about the notion that CO2 generated
by human activity is the fundamental cause of the global warming seen
in the late 20th century. As the ongoing debate in The PEGG attests,
the “scientific” basis for this is far from certain.
If people want to reduce CO2 emissions regardless of the
need, engineers should promote ways that impose the least
additional economic burden. For electricity, conservation
would be much more effective than windmills, and would reduce
the cost to the consumer – instead of increasing it
like wind power does.
Dr. Fred Langford, P.Eng.