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
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 www.ccpe.ca 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
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 www.michigan.gov 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
What Alberta Needs Is True Grassroots
Re: High-End Exploration, The Keyser File, July 2004 PEGG.
As a professional geologist specializing in oil and gas
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
discovery of the major oil and gas fields of Western Canada.
despite the high prevailing oil and gas commodity prices,
most of the
major oil and gas production companies operating in Canada
curtailed exploration, to the point that rank wildcat exploratory
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
Huge amounts of capital are funnelled into these projects,
which suffer from marginal economics because the cost of
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Will Lose Appropriateness
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 dot.com 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
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
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
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
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
suggests that software is subject to the same kind of well-understood
and mathematical underpinnings as the branches of engineering
by professional engineering associations.
Unfortunately, despite worthwhile advances in software design
implementation such as object-oriented design, and in software
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
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
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
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
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
Little Insight Offered
Since the letter I wrote for the April 2004 PEGG, I have
edition and have made some observations. I have not gained
insight about why inclusivity is important except that a
number of people (in Council) think it is.
The official line from APEGGA Council has gone from telling
membership what a wonderful idea inclusivity is to getting
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
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,
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
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
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
Think about the optics –- some members do not trust
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
a few years ago and it was advertised and everyone was invited
A PEGG readership survey just ended and, again, the
entire membership was invited to participate. Council could
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
posted, as well as the methodologies and the processes that
I would like to see numbers backing up whatever you discover
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
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
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
“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.
(Spouse of a Life Member)
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
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
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
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 Dee.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.