Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231

Vol. 14, No. 11, January 26, 2010
Honoured Reader Edition

This is the honoured reader edition of the Gallon Environment Letter and is distributed at no charge: send a note with Add GL or Delete GL in the subject line to Subscribers receive a more complete edition without subscription reminders and with extensive links to further information following almost every article. Organizational subscriptions are $184 plus GST nd provide additional benefits detailed on the web site. Individual subscriptions are only $30 (personal emails/funds only please) including GST. If you would like to subscribe please visit If you feel you should be receiving the paid subscriber edition or have other subscriber questions please contact us also at This current free edition is posted on the web site about a week or so after its issue at See also events of external organizations at Back free editions from January 2009 are also available.


Our editorial honours two members of the environment industry who are missing in Haiti. But we also use the tragedy to discuss risk and our attitude towards it. There are lots of things that can and should emerge from the wreckage of Port au Prince: most importantly, a sustainable future for the people of Haiti but also, perhaps, a new attitude towards the natural disaster risks that are faced around the world and even in Canada.

Gallon Environment Letter does not normally cover issues that are receiving significant coverage in the rest of the press but climate change, and the Copenhagen aftermath, is of such a magnitude that the time will never be that everything that can be said has been said. Hence, in this issue, and likely in issues to come, we have our say. Our focus, as always, is Canadian and global policy that has implications for Canadian business. Our keynote article, Jim Prentice on CBC the House, is a summary of an interview given by federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice. We hope that our analysis is helpful.

Many cities have been vying for the title of world’s greenest. So far there are few robust mechanisms for comparing the green credentials of various cities but it is pretty safe to say that others have so far achieved more than any city in Canada, including Vancouver, whose plan we also discuss.

As we explain in the article Climate Sceptics Try to Turn a Trick, the term " climategate" applied to the theft of emails from the University of East Anglia drives us nuts. We promise that this issue will be our last comment on it, unless, of course, something much more substantial is unearthed. We always invite Letters to the Editor (send to but "climategate" is one topic on which a writer would have to move the entire Watergate building to get us to publish!

This issue is mostly about climate change but there are some other topics included. Communicating Climate Science includes good advice that can be applied to other environmental areas, a Letter to the Editor from David Brooks on our local food coverage, ISO 31000 Risk Management Standard, and congratulations to HazMat magazine on its 20th anniversary round out this issue. Next issue we plan to feature Corporate and Organizational Social Responsibility initiatives. Meanwhile, enjoy this issue and keep those Letters to the Editor coming.


At the time of writing, two prominent members of the environment industry are missing in Haiti, both believed to be buried in the wreckage of the Hotel Montana in Port au Prince. It would not be surprising if other environmental experts are also missing in Haiti. The country was a major destination for all those involved in environmental infrastructure and development aid.

Katie Hadley is a young engineer with Franz Environmental in Ottawa. She was planning to stay in Haiti for just a couple of days to conduct a Phase 1 environmental site assessment of the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince. She arrived at the Hotel Montana less than one hour before the earthquake.

Walt Ratterman is an expert in installation and operation of renewable energy systems in remote parts of the world. He is CEO of Sun Energy Power International, a non-profit company with the tag Design, Train, Implement, that has developed light and power projects in many of the world's poorest areas. He works selflessly with many development NGOs including Canada's Light Up The World. He was in Haiti on a US Agency for International Development project to provide training and installation of renewable energy lighting for health care facilities in parts of the country without access to grid power.

The Haiti earthquake disaster reminds us at Gallon Environment Letter of our casual attitude towards natural disaster risk. In North America, major cities like Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles live with a significant earthquake risk. Even Toronto is close to a minor fault line under Lake Ontario. Throughout the Americas and around the world, major disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding and tsunamis are ever present risks. Yet we rarely think of those risks when making significant personal or business decisions for ourselves or our employees.

When we visit a city we rarely consider the risks of natural disaster. When choosing a hotel in which to stay we have no information about the ability of the building to withstand disaster. When buying a home or an older commercial or industrial building, we generally have no idea of the ability of that building to withstand natural disaster. Even the risk of flooding, perhaps just of the basement or of the lower part of the ground floor, may not be disclosed to potential purchasers of homes and buildings that have been flooded during past storm events.

When visiting Buenos Aires during project work and trade missions in Argentina, GL's editor used to stay in an older high rise suite hotel that had gas ranges and individually controlled gas heaters in every guest room. Either a deliberate act by an unruly guest or an accident caused by a gas burner becoming extinguished could, presumably, have blown that hotel and, perhaps, its immediate neighbours, to smithereens. Without knowing the actual extent of the risk, this editor was not aware of it the first time he booked into that hotel and chose to ignore it on subsequent stays. The fact that the hotel carried a major brand was comforting, though probably useless in addressing the risk. (The hotel is no longer part of the major chain, though it was still operating as a hotel last time we saw it.)

The US government took steps to address fire risk in hotels worldwide, though whether it has addressed other natural disasters in the same way is unknown. The US government was concerned about hotel fires and the risk they posed to guests, including travelling government officials. A few years ago it decreed that it would only pay for, or reimburse, hotel expenses for establishments that met US fire code requirements, primarily being the need for the hotel to have separate and self-contained fire escapes. The US government being a large user of hotel accommodation, all major new hotels worldwide have fire escapes which meet the code and many older ones have been retrofitted to comply. All guests at these hotels benefit from the safety requirement.

It is difficult for the lay person to know how concerned to be. We don't know when the next earthquake may occur in the region in which we live or that we are visiting. How many of us really know whether the building we are in could withstand the strength of earthquake that is predicted as a possibility for our location. Hurricanes usually give us a couple of days warning, but tornados often don’t. Even with that notice we have little or no idea of the ability of the building we are in to withstand extreme winds. Have we thought about the risk of flooding in our present location? Would we, or should we, evacuate if we do know the risks.

None of these are easy questions but perhaps they should be addressed more frequently, especially as risks arising from climate change loom. We are still building and staying on coastal flood plains. We are putting water consuming activities in areas where aquifers are declining. We are building waterfront activities on lakes whose future profile is far from certain. Is it human nature to ignore the information and to blindly face the risks? GL suggests that, as a first step or an absolute minimum, governments, agencies of all kinds and in fact, the businesses building or operating the facilities, should make readily available all of the information they have about the risk of natural disasters in all parts of the world. Pretending there are no risks may enhance the value of real estate but it puts people at a risk including company, ngo and government employees. They may choose to avoid these risks if they knew them to be present.

Colin Isaacs

Franz Environmental Inc. January 23, 2010.

SunEnergy Power International.


Some saw the Copenhagen talks as a do-or-die, a last ditch effort to save humanity on the planet but it would have been surprising if the Copenhagen 15th Conference of the Parties in December 7-14 2009 had reached a measurable and verifiable treaty given the level of mistrust and lack of agreement going into the meeting. In the end, a weak "political agreement", some describe more as a statement of intent to talk some more, was cobbled together by what are called BASIC countries (China, India, Brazil and South Africa representing the developing countries) and the US. The UN had previously said that nations should commit to 25-40 percent emissions cuts by 2020 if the earth's average temperature increase is to be kept to 2 deg. C. or less, a figure which many predict is now almost inevitably to be exceeded.

Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), emphasized that for temperature increase to be limited to between 2.0-2.4°C, global emissions must peak no later than 2015. The EU has committed to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 and said it would consider 30% if other countries made similar commitments.

Another Conference of the Parties meeting is scheduled in Mexico in November 2010 to turn the political statement into something real but GL wouldn't care to predict the success of that meeting unless citizens, including Canadians, show strong support for climate change action by not accepting anything less than that their political leaders negotiate a strong, measurable and verifiable commitment and action on the ground to cut GHG emissions.

January 31, 2010 is the date set for countries to commit to their own 2020 emissions reduction target with the UNFCCC. Canada is apparently one of the countries which has already agreed to accept the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, even though some of its provisions appear to run counter to previously stated positions of the present government of Canada.


The Conference "took note" of the Copenhagen Accord of 18 December. Some of the content was:
United Nations. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Advance unedited version. Decision -/CP.15. Copenhagen Accord of 18 December 2009.

International Institute for International Development IISD. Earth Negotiations Bulletin. Summary of the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Fifth Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP 15 and COP/MOP 5) 7-18 December 2009 | Copenhagen, Denmark.


India, Brazil, South Africa and China have said that they will communicate voluntary mitigation action to meet the January 31, 2010 deadline of the Copenhagen Accord. The industrialized countries are supposed to indicate their greenhouse gas emission targets. Although both Canada and Australia have "signed on", according to one of India’s newspaper The Hindu they have not yet provided the targets as they agreed to do by January 31. Although the UN Framework on the Climate Change Convention was to post the "accessions" ( a debatable term given the curious legal status of the Accord) neither the UNFCCC or Canada has yet posted a readily available list of targets. Most of the press is getting information by sending emails to the UNFCCC, whose Extranet was out of service January 25.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


The New Zealand government has been publically tracking its Kyoto liability and making provision in its financial accounts. Each year, as part of a whole-government process, a new position report is prepared for the Minister Responsible for Climate Change estimating the probable balance of emission units during the first commitment period of the Kyoto Period (2008-2010). An emission unit is equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide gas. The report is said to inform the Government of New Zealand's progress towards achieving the Kyoto Protocol. NZ committed to reducing its GHG emissions to 1990 levels or taking responsibility for the difference. The figures have varied over the years but as of 31 October 2009 the net position was reported as $NZ184 million net asset. The Kyoto Position is updated each time a new set of Financial Statements is published by the Treasury. The web page explains how the numbers are calculated including a provision for the size of the projected emission units position, the price of carbon and the exchange rate between NZ dollar and the Euro. The Audit Office reviews the figures. An independent company, AEA Technology, based in the UK, has reviewed various of the position reports over the years and Allen Consulting Group based in Australia reviews the adequacy of the carbon pricing estimate.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Each report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC adds to the knowledge and helps to outline the uncertainties of an astoundingly complex system, the earth. The last report was the Fourth Assessment Report AR4 in 2007. AR4 discussed more on aerosols such as black soot from burning fossil fuels, water vapour and mineral dust from cleared land in the atmosphere and what their effect is. New information on feedback systems in earth systems was also included. Feedback may slow climate change, for example the ability to ocean to absorb carbon dioxide, or speed climate change, e.g. higher temperaturs lead to drought which leads to forest fires and the loss of trees to store carbon. The Fifth Assessment Report AR5 is in preparation and is expected to be released in 2013. Because the data must be peer-reviewed, some say that the information isn't as current as needed. Some scientists say the result is that the IPCC reports are too conservative and may be underestimating the threat.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice posted a daily "On the Ground From Copenhagen" from December 12 to December 18 with earlier reporting down by Michael Martin, Chief Negotiator and Ambassador for Climate Change. At the closing of the conference on December 18, the postings included a statement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper who said:
The Minister's daily summary included a lot of "discussed" and "met with" without any content on what Canada was seeking. There were quite a number of positive sounding statements such as "Canada remains strongly supportive of the continuing efforts of the Presidency to build a consensus on a robust post-2012 climate change agreement." and Canada being a "constructive participant" but again not much on the Minister's view on what the consensus should be.

One surprise to some was December 13, 2010 where the Minister said that "as you know" Canada supports "a single legally binding post-2012 agreement". One observer comments that it was rather brazen when the same government refuses to acknowledge the binding agreement already in place, the Kyoto Protocol. However, GL thinks the Minister doesn't expect to have to present anything challenging to the Prime Minister any time soon.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


CBC host of The House, Kathleen Petty, interviewed Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister on the January 16 program about climate change. Her theme was Do we wait or do we act? Among some of the points GL took from the interview are:
GL notes that throughout the interview he stressed the constraints on the Canadian government by the US. While he said. "Our level of prosperity depends on our trading relationship with the US" he doesn't really explain how that requires that our environment and energy laws to be the same or nearly the same (if that is what harmonize means) as the US or why we have to wait for the Americans to act.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Cities account for only 2% of the world's land mass but 80% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Planning for climate change and new environmental initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is key to the goal of Seoul, capital city of the Republic of Korea, to become the world's greenest city.

The Mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon, writing in the latest UN magazine Urban World, discussed the measures and effort over the last three years to make this overpopulated megacity (population about 10 million) with many environmental problems into an eco-friendly city. Seoul's Eco-Friendly Declaration announced in 2007 set out goals to reduce energy use by 15%, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% and increase new or renewable energy use by 10% by 2020. Hosting the third C40 Large Cities Climate Summit held in May 2009 was additional motivation for the efforts. The Climate Positive Development Programme was announced at the Summit. The Clinton Climate Initiative CCI and the US Green Building Council USGBC joined with this programe "to create model, large-scale building projects that demonstrate how new urban developments around the world can become climate positive - reducing their net greenhouse gas emissions below zero. A total of 16 urban development projects, including the Magok development project in Seoul, will participate."

Among the Seoul actions are:
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson assembled the Greenest City Action Team in 2009 with a challenge for the next decade. In April, 2009 the Team presented a report with Quickstart Recommendations including 44 definitive actions, about two thirds of which are underway. There are ten long-term goals, some of which may take two or three decades to achieve, and each one has a measurable 2020 target. While a number of the goals, such as a green economy and green buildings, relate to climate change Goal 2 is specific "Climate Leadership: Eliminate Vancouver’s dependence on fossil fuels. 2020 Target: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 33 per cent from 2007 levels."

A brochure specifically on climate change and the greenest city states that Vancouver is on track to reducing greenhouse gas GHG emissions by 6% below 1990 levels by 2012 (setting a target for Vancouver comparable to what the Kyoto target is for Canada) despite a population increase of 27% and jobs increase of 18%. At 4.6 metric tonnes CO2 equiv per capita, Vancouver claims to have "the lowest per capita emissions of any major city in North America." A chart shows a comparison with two European cities with lower emissions, Copenhagen at 2.1 mt CO2e per capita and Stockholm at 4.0 and other cities with higher emissions, Tokyo 5.1, London 6.2, New York 6.4, Seattle 7.1, Montreal 7.2, Toronto 9.3, Portland 11.9 and Chicago 12.7.

The City of Vancouver is modelling the change and has reduced GHG emissions from municipal operations to 33% below 1990 levels and has committed to making operations carbon neutral by 2020. All new municipal buildings must achieve a LEED(TM) Gold rating. Fleet management includes use of compact and fuel efficient vehicles, bio-diesel fuel and community car sharing. All new houses and developments must provide charging points for electric vehicles. Investment in infrastructure is in walking. cycling and transit instead of new roads.

Members of the Greenest City Action Team include:
Gregor Robertson (Co-Chair). Mayor of Vancouver
David R. Boyd (Co-Chair), Environmental lawyer, author of Sustainability within a Generation
David Cadman, City Councilor, Chair Transportation and Traffic, President ICLEI
Linda Coady, Vice President, Sustainability, Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
Lindsay Cole, Director with Sustainability Solutions Group
Karen Cooling, National Staff Representative, Western Region of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada and Treasurer of Toxic Free Canada
Mike Harcourt, Former Premier of British Columbia, Mayor of Vancouver, Honorary Chair of the International Centre for Sustainable Cities
Cheeying Ho, Executive Director, Whistler Centre for Sustainability
Mark Holland, Principal, HB Lanarc Consultants
Alex Lau, Vice President of Golden Properties Ltd.
Linda Nowlan, Environmental lawyer and former Executive Director of West Coast Environmental Law
Gordon Price, Director, City Program, SFU and former Vancouver city councilor
Moura Quayle, Former Deputy Minister of Advanced Education
Andrea Reimer, City Councilor, Chair Planning and Environment
Robert Safrata, CEO, Novex Delivery Solutions
Dr. David Suzuki, Award-winning scientist, environmentalist, and broadcaster
Mossadiq S. Umedaly, Former CEO of Xantrex Technology
Tamara Vrooman, CEO, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


The steel industry is Canada has been able to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions for the industry comparable to the Kyoto Protocol targets for Canada and better according to a presentation made by the President of the Canadian Steel Producers Association to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Ron Watkins was speaking on December 1, 2009 on Bill C-311. which was the New Democrat Party's bill on climate change. The Bill like others died when Parliament was prorogued. He gives data for the CSPA which represents 10 members and which in 2008 produced 15 million tonnes of steel, earned revenues of $13.5 billion and directly employed 30,000 people.

He said that, "Since 1990, emissions are down over 20% in absolute terms and 25% in intensity. In other words, we grew throughout the period but still reduced below the Kyoto numbers. This betters the Kyoto target, and we are committed to continuous improvement with near-term technological and economic constraints." Watkins doesn't specify the year for which he is quoting these emission reductions although it would be reasonable for the committee members to think these numbers were from 2008, the same date as the economic data.

While some of the absolute emission reductions may be due to less raw steel production in one or more years since 1990, overall the steel industry has shown it can apply energy efficiency and improved technology to achieve GHG reductions in an energy intensive industry. GL is a little sceptical about the continuous improvement part since the two figures don't appear to have improved since the 2002 Progress Report on the Environment produced by the CSPA. Sylvie Boulanger, in a promotional issue of Advantage Steel (Canadian Institute of Steel Construction), writes about the 2002 report "Since 1990, Canadian steel producers have reduced CO2 emissions by 20% and reduced the amount of energy used to make a tonne of shipped steel by 25%."

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


The oil industry has a good summary of the "Accord" and again not surprisingly expresses satisfaction with the delay caused by the "Accord" at Copenhagen. A CAPP press release on December 21, 2009 said 'All things considered, the Accord is an effective step on a longer environmental, economic and political journey." There is an expression of responsibility on the part of the oil industry to do something about climate change but a view that "Canada's stated target of a 20% reduction from 2006 by 2020 is very ambitious given our economic dependence on resources." This means that Canada would reduce less than 3% below 1990 emissions by 2020 or less than half what Canada committed to achieve for Kyoto's commitment period by the end of 2012.

The CAPP website presents some lifecycle analysis of oil production and the focus of the industry on use of technology to reduce emissions. Examples include:
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Regular correspondent Albert Bartlett, Professor Emeritus of Physics at University of Colorado sends GL an article about which he writes, "Dear Friends, Here below is a strong attack on the Canadian government for the policies relating to the oil sands. I wondered if you were aware of this strong denunciation of the oil effort? " The attachment is an article in early December 2009 by George Monbiot about the environmental dangers posed by Canada's Tar Sands oil entitled "The Most Urgent Threat to World Peace Is . Canada" and beginning with "The harm this country could do in the next two weeks will outweigh all the good it has done in a century."

Monbiot makes a strong case against the Canadian government in terms of its lack of performance on the climate change file in the article and is not the only one to have done so. However, writing off a hundred years is on the extreme side. GL doesn't accept the extrapolation of climate sceptics who use some data about errors or uncertainties to discredit the entire science of climate change. It is really no better if a climate science supporter extrapolates too far. Canada's Lester B. Pearson may have saved the United Nations in the 1950s during the Suez Canal crisis and won a Nobel Peace Prize for his ability to negotiate to solve a problem for a world seen to be at the brink of disaster. It is the UN which today is leading nations of the world to commit to climate change. Although we too deplore Canada being at best a skin tag and at worst and most likely a deterrent to dealing with climate change, it will take more than that to wipe out Canada's contributions to the planet in the past. And the future isn't over yet.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Achim Stein, head of the UN Environment Program and very much an environmentalist, is a more diplomatic than Monbiot (see above) but even more scathing due to a more thoughtful approach in an interview by CBC's African correspondent, David McGuffin in Nairobi, on his way to Copenhagen. He said, "The world is looking at Canada somewhat perplexed as to its role as an enabler of an agreement." Canada has for decades been such an enabler. Among his comments were:
He doesn't accept that any single country including Canada can damage the talks because many countries come to talk and negotiate; no single country can be isolated. He said that it is essential to achieve 40% emissions cuts by 2020 in order to achieve 50% by 2050. They are computing numbers every day such as the voluntary reductions Brazil has made to cut 30% emissions due to deforestation in 10 to 20 years and the mandatory reductions made by industrial countries. Canada would be another major industrial country which fails to come through but he said, "We are not that far - we can reach a deal."

Five Canadian science societies have written to Parliamentarians saying that "At the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the eyes of the world will be on Canada. We, the leaders of the following Canadian scientific societies, urge the Government to negotiate an outcome that will rapidly and adequately address climate change." This letter was overwhelmingly endorsed by councils or members of the following organizations of scientists:
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS),
Canadian Geophysical Union (CGU),
Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP),
Canadian Society of Soil Science (CSSS) and
Canadian Society of Zoologists (CSZ)

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Conservative Party of Canada as Governing Party

Canada's Action on Climate Change: "The Government of Canada is committed to reducing Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020 and by 60 to 70 per cent by 2050. "

The Harper government has refused to accept the legal nature of Canada's commitment under the Kyoto Protocol which Canada ratified and committed to reduce by national greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent below 1990 levels to be achieved between 2008-2012.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 

Liberal Party of Canada
Promises to use 1990 as the base not 2006.
Sets no target.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 
(1) Other selections from the 2 page plan are:
New Democratic Party of Canada.

The New Democrat Climate Change Accountability Act (C-311) was returned to the House Environment Committee but died due the cessation of Parliament until March 2010. If it were to pass, it would require the government to meet targets:
25% below 1990 levels by 2020.
80% below 1990 levels by 2050

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Although the stolen emails from the Climate Research Unit CRU at the UK University of East Anglia were being dubbed Climategate by presumably climate deniers just before the conference in Copenhagen, GL reminds that in Watergate, the original "gate", it was the crooks who broke into the National Democratic Committee offices in the Watergate building in Washington, DC. in 1972. Then President Nixon tried to cover up the break-in but the FBI eventually found a slush fund to connect the five men arrested for the break-in with the presidential re-election campaign. The attacks on climate scientists may not be over as the office of Andrew Weaver (1) was broken into and an old computer stolen.

Spencer Weart, author of the Discovery of Global Warming and a science historian associated with the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics spoke on the CBC's The Current in December about the release of the stolen emails. Among his points are it reminded him of pleasant weeks in archives reading old letters and wondering whether the widow had gone through them to remove the embarrassing ones. In this case, because the emails cover a long time span, the 13 years from 1996-2009, someone has left the most embarrassing but without a context on which to base any evaluation. Weart didn't find much that was all that embarrassing. In the early years, it was mostly arguing with each other and then as the years went by, the pressure of the sceptics wanting more and more data and questioning their integrity showed up. Weart said, "It isn't surprising they say some things that don't sound so great." However, he didn't think that the emails cast much of the science of climate change into doubt. CRU was one of the pioneers in terms of collecting weather data but there are other weather centres. Weather data is always problematic and manipulated because sometimes there are bizarre results. Some data is thrown out because it is considered poor. But weather is only one of the sources for detecting climate change: ice cores and rock core sampling have led to the same conclusions.

He said that there is no evidence that the people at CRU did anything improper. When they talk about tricks in presenting data, it is an idea for how to do it like in tricks and tips rather than tricks to deceive. Most of the discussion is already in the public record having been hashed over in science journals and isn't new. They call their opponents bad names and get upset about critics and sceptics but that isn't very surprising, He suggested that scientists aren't good at politics or communication and the climate change has become highly politicized.

GL notes that the emails are a bumpy ride as we think most readers would find the same difficulty we had most of the time even knowing what is being talked about. These are scientists involved in various projects discussing both personal (K. has had an operation) and work in data collection, peer-review and article submissions. There are thousands of these emails, and the critics could only find a very few items even worthwhile to highlight and even those are subject to several interpretation anyway.

GL's editor thought how easy it is to see conspiracy in everyday talk when a colleague phoned and left a message the other day about "further plotting about our nefarious purposes", a purely tongue in cheek but not unusual type of comment from him even though the colleague spends most of his life working on social and environmental causes, nothing nefarious we know anything about.

The American Meteorological Society said in regard to its position on climate change that the emails did not change any of its statements, “For climate change research, the body of research in the literature is very large and the dependence on any one set of research results to the comprehensive understanding of the climate system is very, very small. Even if some of the charges of improper behaviour in this particular case turn out to be true — which is not yet clearly the case — the impact on the science of climate change would be very limited. “

1. Andrew Weaver is the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis at the University of Victoria, a lead author of one of the chapters of the IPCC reports and author of Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World. Viking Canada: September 2008.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Those who delve deeply into the research of climate change and its implications become certain of the threat and can hardly believe that the climate denial industry is in full tilt, writes James Hoggan in his book Climate Cover-up. Hoggan suggests searching for "global warming" connected to "hoax" on the internet to see the continual expansion of the climate sceptics not to mention the increased number of fossil fuel lobbyists. Climate sceptics have had to shift from denying climate change to acknowledging that it does exist but are working to delay - action is too expensive, it's too late, it's sun spots so there's nothing we can do, that cold weather goes to show it's not global warming, they say. GL also notes the surprising criticism of some of the climate sceptics involved in the free-markets-system-is-the-only-and-the-best newspaper such as National Post that carbon pricing is despicable because somebody is going to make a lot of money. It isn't surprising in the face of disinformation that people think that is still a scientific debate about the threat of climate change.

Hogan says industry and government are urging us to ignore the problem and provides chapter after chapter of readable and blood-pressure-raising cases. But he says, , "When someone says it isn't practical to address climate change, when they say there is no reason for countries like the United States and Canada to show leadership when China and India may not fall immediately into step, the deniers and delayers are urging us every closer to the cliff without regard for who or how many people fall to the rocks below."

He recommends strategies:
GL found the book familiar content on one level as we have written about some of the same topics in the Gallon Environment Letter: the manipulation of language by Frank Luntz for the Republicans, the selective interpretation of scientific information by Bjorn Lomborg, the misnamed Friends of Science and Tim Ball and we visit However, the book covers a great deal more. Since another strategy of the climate sceptics tactics is lawsuits, Hoggan treads carefully but covers a wide range including the media which seeks to "balance" views.

He concludes that "There can be a good future if we make it so. But if we stand about, if we allow energy-industry flunkies to control the conversation---or even if we let it ride, cynically accepting that politics is inherently corrupt and that nothing we do can make a difference---we will all have time to regret the passing of a beautiful, sustainable world."

James Hoggan is president of Vancouver-based public relations firm James Hoggan & Associates and co-founder of which tracks climate denier/delayer tactics: "DeSmogBlog is here to cry foul - to shine the light on techniques and tactics that reflect badly on the PR industry and are, ultimately, bad for the planet." Hoggan is also chair of the David Suzuki Foundation and a trustee of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education. Although he is a Liberal, he says his support for the BC carbon tax is because it is a good initiative.

Richard Littlemore is a strategist and senior writer at James Hoggan & Associates and the editor of He has served in the Canadian government's Kyoto implementation process and as an elected representative to the metropolitan government of Vancouver, B.C.

Hoggan, James, co-founder of with Richard Littlemore. Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming. Greystone Books. Vancouver, British Columbia: Greystone Books, 2009. $20.00


Climate researchers like some other scientists are often too busy, not inclined, too deeply involved in research, too nerdy, not skilled in speaking to laypeople etc when it comes to communicating with policy-makers and the public. Benjamin D. Santer climate researcher at the US Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and lead author for one of the chapters in the 1995 IPCC Working Group 1 report, resolved a few years ago to take a different approach to media communication about science. Then he said the way he related to journalists was to:
Because fewer journalists understand science and editors often know next to nothing, the popular press articles often include errors.. So Santer developed short summary background papers to help journalists understand the much more complex technical peer-reviewed papers. One of the first papers he created a summary which he provided to his lab's PR department for was a 600 word summary of a 6000 word paper published in 2006 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS. It was about what causes changes in ocean surface temperatures which in term affects hurricane formation such as Katrina. He explained how they identified "a fingerprint" of human activities. " “In climate models,” he wrote, “this increase in water vapors was primarily due to human-caused increases in greenhouse gases …. there is an emerging signal of human activities in the moisture content of Earth’s atmosphere.”

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Now Ben Santer (see above) is helping to lead a strategy of communication to counter the climate deniers. After the release of stolen emails, hacked from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU). he wrote an open letter to the climate science community. Santer's emails were among those released.

Among his points were:

The stolen emails are being dubbed Climategate mostly by those wanting to shake up the established climate science. In the original, "Watergate" the scandal was not about those whose information was stolen but who had ordered the break-in to get that information, who paid the burglars, who tried to cover-up the circumstances of the theft and why. GL thinks Climategate might be an apt name after all if we use the model of that original "gate". where the crooks were the ones doing the stealing and seeking to undermine due process. There is no doubt that the theft of the emails has been traumatic. The IPCC is reviewing its process and planning to revise some of its training. Amongst all its massive volume of information, a paragraph on 938 page Working Group II, the speed of the melting of Himalayan glaciers has been found to be based on a non-peer-reviewed document. This doesn't negate the underlying science and conclusions about regional scale mountain snow pack and small ice caps but it is a mistake which is being corrected.

The science of climate change is increasingly supported by extensive satellite imagery and sophisticated measurement and data technologies. The hacked email incident might clarify for the public and policy makers the motivations of the most active climate sceptics. Climate sceptics want us to believe that climate science is a house of cards when the foundation of climate science  is robust and solid.The Wolf in the story of The Three Little Pigs wasn't huffing and puffing to test the safety of the construction of the houses but to eat the residents. GL is certain that this email theft wasn’t orchestrated for the good of the inhabitants of the planet either.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Earlier in the fall before the hacked emails (see above) were released, the Competitive Enterprise Institute CEI, a “free-market” group, was lobbying to oppose the US Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing its endangerment findings on greenhouse gases claiming that critical data at CRU has been destroyed and available data was not available. The Web site for CRU says, "Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized) data."

GL: It isn't as if the practice of not keeping every piece of data applies only to climate research or that data isn't dumped and replaced by updated and corrected versions. GL's company has done number crunching for expert witnesses in court cases on air pollution trying to collect data for past decades on certain air contaminants and found it common that certain monitoring stations had moved or closed or that the raw data had been replaced with processed time series. Sometimes there was no longer any source data except a limited amount in journal articles, conference presentations or government documents, many of which were out-of-print some in less than 10 years. We also discovered that the US federal government rejected some air pollution readings because they didn't meet the required US EPA standards for measurement. On one occasion, unbeknownst to us the EPA retrospectively corrected a faulty factor on one of the contaminants in its database after we had given the data to our client. It was pretty bad at first when our client called to question the data for this contaminant. Errors do happen but we try everything to make sure they don't happen to us especially when so much depends on the credibility of the data. Tracking through all the versions of conversion, we concluded it wasn't us and several phone calls later were able to verify the EPA timeline for the revision. GL heard no hollering at about the EPA delaying air pollution rules because of credibility of air data.

Climate sceptics can't possibly really believe that every piece of data and information and every version of number crunching should be kept forever and made available to anyone that asks anytime. Or that if there is an error, no matter what the nature of the error, that this undermines the entire concept of climate change. This is certainly not the standard we generally apply to corporations who release contaminated products into the marketplace or threaten the very economy with fake loans and live to see another day.

But apparently they will set standards of perfection for others. The CEI news release titled "CEI Demands EPA Stop Plans to Regulate Greenhouse Gases in Wake of Climategate Fraud" equates Phil Jones temporarily stepping down as director of CRU as evidence of fraud instead of an honourable action to avoid conflict of interest. Associated Press asked a number of scientists to review thousands of the emails and found no wrongdoing. CEI which asks for donations "For Liberty" but doesn't list any members would issue an outraged press release if it were attacked with such a poorly-founded charge of fraud without "one iota of evidence" (a phrase CEI uses about the anti-trust lawsuit filed by Federal Trade Commission against Intel) and the absurd number of foolishly extrapolated language used in the press release. CEI petitioned the EPA not only to reopen proceedings again on endangerment but questioned the "scientific basis for the Kyoto climate treaty, the successor treaty to be negotiated later this month in Copenhagen, the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer energy-rationing bills, the EPA’s proposed finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare, and other related EPA regulatory proposals." GL wonders why they don't just say "get government out of anything that might constrain corporations."

One idea has been suggested that we should check whether the climate sceptics data retention practices are as good as they say others should be. If they have a PhD whatever field it might be we could all ask for the raw data supporting their PhD and if this is not forthcoming to our criteria then we should ask the University to take away their degree because their findings are invalid due to missing data.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


A presentation by the two co-chairs of IPCC’s Working Group 1, Profs Stocker and Plattner of Bern University on the physical basis of climate change in preparation for the 5th Assessment Report provides some of these facts:

The two co-chairs of Working Group 1 also commented on the stolen emails and stated some key facts about climate change:
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


A Supreme Court ruling in 2007 found that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the US Clean Air Act but required the Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency to determine whether emissions of greenhouse gases from new vehicles contribute to air pollution which could reasonably be expected to endanger public health or whether there was not enough scientific evidence. On December 15, 2009, the EPA published its findings in the Federal Register. There are two findings related to Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act:
1. The endangerment finding which finds that the current or future concentrations of six greenhouse gases (six key well mixed greenhouse gases--carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs),perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)) in the atmosphere threaten public heath and welfare of current and future generations.
2. The cause or contribute finding which finds that the specific four CO2, CH4, N2O, and HFCs of these six well-mixed gases contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of the key greenhouse gases and to the threat of climate change.
The findings in themselves don't create any obligations on industry but are necessary in order for the EPA to finalize its proposed greenhouse gas emission standards for light duty vehicles. On December 15, the EPA published the findings in the federal register. The technical support documents provide the scientific evidence on which the findings are based.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


            SUBJECT: GL V14 NO. 10

Dear Colin:

The Local Food Movement issue of GEL (15 December 2009) shows just how complicated many environmental issues really are. And nowhere more so than with food, where balancing among nutritional quality, ecological protection, rural social patterns, carbon footprints, labour conditions etc. is very tough, as the examples in the issue demonstrate. In putting together our water soft path study, we found it imperative to distinguish total water use for producing food from delivered water use. The former is pretty much the same for rangeland or feedlot animals, but dramatically different if one subtracts the water that arrives naturally from precipitation or is drunk directly from watercourses. Yes, red meat is generally more water intensive than a poultry-fish diet which in turn is generally more water intensive than a vegetarian diet, But, if you compare rangefed red meat, which requires delivered water only once it arrives at a feedlot or processing plant, with irrigated vegetables, which are typically watered several times over the growing season, the results can flip over.

I want to raise a related issue involving the local food movement, but goes beyond it: viz., the use of irrigation where it is needed not for productivity. One of the case study areas in our water soft path book was the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, which receives around 1500 mm of precipitation a year. Under such conditions, in most years there is no need for irrigation to obtain a good crop. However, marketing channels, especially for supermarket chains, are not interested in production per se; rather, they are concerned with delivery capacity: Can Farmer X deliver 50 tonnes of tomatoes at 4 am on Monday morning, 13 July. Nature is not so obliging as to provide that capacity, but irrigation will. This is what I call market-driven irrigation, rather than production-driven irrigation, and it is taking a heavy toll on our water resources in eastern, central and west-coast Canada. (Prairie agriculture is rather different, and I do not mean to include it in this comment.)

I am not sure how to deal with this dilemma, except to say that it is another argument in favour of more traditional farming practices, and both farmers markets and those produce shops that are willing to swing with weather patterns rather than always having plenty of everything. More broadly, it supports the arguments of those who suggest that there are major structural problems in the whole pattern of food marketing in Canada -- indeed, in much if not most of the developed world.

David B. Brooks
Senior Advisor - Fresh Water
Friends of the Earth Canada
GL: The book referred to in the email is David B. Brooks, Oliver M. Brandes and Stephen Gurman (editors), Making the Most of the Water We Have: The Soft Path Approach to Water Management (London, UK: Earthscan, 2009); C$115


CEC Atlas: Evan Lloyd, Acting Executive Director, Commission for Environmental Cooperation sent a letter and the December 2009 issue of Canadian Geographic magazine. The issue contains a map of the 2005 Land Cover of North America (Canada, US and Mexico). Lloyd's letter points to website, "The CEC's North American Environmental Atlas is an online collection of map layers created through the work of the Commission and its partners to visualize the status of environmental conditions and identify significant trends across North America. I encourage you to explore the Atlas' maps, geographic data and downloadable map files at: "

Species Diversity Right Under Our Nose: In the December 2009 issue, the 80th anniversary of the Canadian Geographic magazine, another map shows that most animals and plants have the same preference for space as most Canadians who live in southern Canada near the 49th parallel. Jeremy Kerr of the Canadian Facility for Ecoinformatices Research and professor of ecology at the University of Ottawa said that monitoring and mapping by CFER shows that the highest density of species are in the southern areas of Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Agriculture except for some agroforestry and other species-friendly approaches and urbanization are hostile for species. Most of Canada's parks are farther north. Because it is nearly impossible to create large natural parks in populated areas, Kerr recommends that landowners in the southern part of Canada can help to protect species by allowing even small portions of their land, fields and yards to revert to a natural state. GL notes that this may require a major re-education campaign as the majority of people still regard mowing as next to godliness and natural areas on urban and farmland as "wasteland."

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


A number of conferences (Conference Board, Federated Press, InfoNex) have been and are planned in the first few months of 2010 on integrated risk management. According to one held for the public sector risk management is related to accountability, governance, monitoring and reporting including facilitating a reduction in oversight. The sessions are on the process of risk management. They are not on the identification of specific risk so environmental risks are often not mentioned specifically.

However, InfoNex is holding one in February which included a half-day session with John Lark, Risk Practice Manager, Stratos Inc.; formerly Director of Integrated Risk Management, Audit and Evaluation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Although most of the focus is on implementation, effective strategies and moving the organization towards the new standard ISO 31000, he will also discuss how to use risk management to improve the sustainability of the organization. The opening speaker and chair of the conference is Wes Darou, Team Leader, Integrated Risk Management, Performance Management Division, Strategic Policy and Performance Branch, Canadian International Development Agency CIDA

A new international standard ISO 31000:2009, Risk management—Principles and guidelines was approved late last year. Based on the Australian standard AS/NZS4360-2004 released in 1996, it is intended to be integrated into an organization's management system to deal with the effect of uncertainty on objectives. The standard sets out common risk terms and a process but does not certify.

Among the key concepts are that:
The Canadian Standards Association will also reissue existing standards such as CSA Q850.

It is one of those standards which are not certifiable, in other words, the organization can't claim to be "certified to ISO 31000." It is supposed to help organizations save money by adjusting oversight to fit the risk. So perhaps finally we'll have managers in the Environment Ministry able to order coffee for meetings without having to get three levels of approval.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Guy Crittenden, editor of HazMat Management magazine writes in the Winter 2010 issue that 2009 marks two decades of the magazine, which started as a kitchen table business begun by his friend Matthew Keegan,who brought in two of his friends Arnie Gess and Todd Latham. It was a time when environmental regulations were being passed in Canada and companies needed services, advice and equipment. Gess, Latham and Crittenden eventually bought out Keegan and these three sold the business in 2000 to the current owners. Latham moved on to his own trade magazine publishing venture including Renew Canada and Gess manages trade shows.

A number of the articles talk about the changes over the last 20 years. John Hosty Director, Environmental Preparedness for Environmental Solutions (Mississauga, Ontario) in an article using the price of Guinness as a benchmark notes how the price of protective clothing for chemical workers has become cheaper. Earlier because gear was so expensive, the clothing was often cleaned after an incident and reused but many were wary of the safety of that. Although still not really cheap, a protective unit which used to be priced at $6,000 is now at more "manageable levels" of $1,000 and intended to be discarded after an incident. Portable air monitoring equipment twenty years ago detected only a limited number of air pollutants but now are much more wide ranging and again much cheaper. Hosty says he opened his first training and hazardous materials emergency response company and the first ad he took out was in then-named Hazardous Materials Management magazine: it turns out it was also the very first ad sold by the new magazin
John Nicholson writes on The Evolution of Consulting. Nicholson began working with Acres International Ltd twenty years ago. In 1989, among the biggies in the environmental consulting field were Gore & Storrie (founded in 1919), Proctor & Redfern (1911) and SNC Lavalin (1936). The year marked the start of a number of other firms due to growing concern about liability and increased regulation of contaminated sites. Companies have merged or been acquired e.g. Acres by Hatch, Gore & Storrie by CH2M-Hill, Proctor & Redfern by Earth Tech which in turn was acquired by AECON. AGRA is now AMEC, Jacques Whitford part of Stantec and MacViro by GENIVAR. Nicholson notes that despite the mergers, over 90% of Canadian environmental services firms have under 100 employees and observes, "If anything, mergers and acquisitions of large Canadian firms has succeeded in creating a playing field where clients can be served by large firms with multi-national presence or small speciality firms, with little in-between."

The cover story in the anniversary issue is called Nanomaterials: are they the next asbestos? and was written by GL's editor, Colin Isaacs, who also writes a regular opinion/commentary on business and the environment in the affiliated publication EcoLog.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 


Concentrated consumer products can reduce packaging which in turn reduces shipping costs and space on the store shelf and indeed in people’s homes. GL is for concentration but chuckles at the ad for Tide concentrated detergent which on televisions says something like "Each bottle has reduced its plastic by up to 47%." This gives remarkable capability to a plastic bottle (and isn’t consistent with requirements for comparative environmental claims but that is another story). But it isn’t just environmental marketing which confounds the public. Imagine our delight in this Reuters headline "Johnny Cash releasing another posthumous album." Not just one, but another. The album title “Ain’t No Grave” is dead-on.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here. 
Copyright © Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
119 Concession 6 Rd Fisherville ON N0A 1G0 Canada. Fisherville & Toronto
All rights reserved. The Gallon Environment Letter (GL for short) presents information for general interest and does not endorse products, companies or practices. Information including articles, letters and guest columns may be from sources expressing opinions not shared by the Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment. Readers must verify all information for themselves before acting on it. Advertising or sponsorship of one or more issues consistent with sustainable development goals is welcome and identified as separate from editorial content. Subscriptions for organizations $184 + GST = $193.20. For individuals (non-organizational emails and paid with non-org funds please) $30 includes GST. Issues about twelve times a year with supplements.