Friends of Science Calgary

The Sun is the main driver of climate change. Not you. Not carbon dioxide.

Clean Energy Canada and #GenEnergy are Just Kidding You

Powerpoint Contributed by Robert Lyman

A recent rather breathless article on Medium rounding up some ideas from the recent  conference, is entitled “Canada can’t afford to ignore these two huge energy trends”. It was written by renewable advocates Merran Smith and Dan Woynillowicz and their story would certainly mislead Canadians into thinking that wind and solar are taking over the world, that Electric Vehicles (EV) will line the streets and that the age of oil, gas and coal are over.  Another Simon Fraser University initiative called Citizen Dialogues on Canada’s Energy Future, with a website banner of wind farms, saying “The Citizen Dialogues on Canada’s Energy Future are an attempt to approach the energy conversation differently.”

Then let’s look at the facts and have an informed conversation.

The facts tell a much different story the the Smith-Woynillowicz version. Ottawa energy policy consultant, Robert Lyman, compiled a power point showing a real world assessment of present and future use of hydrocarbons vs renewables.


Growth of Fossil Fuel Supply and Demand (2)

The idea that EVs will soon line the streets ignores the fact that to do so would cost trillions of dollars to build more conventional power plants and redo the transmission and distribution lines to handle the additional load.  Euan Mearns gives a good example calculation of costs for the EU.  Of course, in Canada, the temperature extremes and distances are particularly unfavourable for EVs, as discussed by Blair King about similar proposals for British Columbia.

Canadians would be wise to remember the following, when talking and planning energy policies.

  • Past, present and future trends in the consumption of fossil fuels are entirely different from the claims of those who think the world is embarked on a massive transformation of the energy system towards renewables.
  • In a world in which significantly increasing carbon dioxide emissions is virtually inevitable, what justification is there for massive economy-destroying reductions in Canada?


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  1. Remove co2 from the atmosphere and earth turns into an iceball.
    Double co2 from 280 ppm co2 to 560 ppm co2 and the earth will be 3*C warmer.
    Double from 560 ppm co2 to 1120 ppm co2 and the earth warms another 3*C

    CO2 is one of most stable ghg in the atmosphere even though it may be one of the weakest. Nevertheless slow and steady wins the race in this game. Somehow FOS has decided they are right and the mainstream science is wrong.

    The basic physics for the present study is rooted in the high precision measurements documenting the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as fully described in the IPCC AR4 report, and in the comprehensive HITRAN database (Rothman et al. 2009) of atmospheric absorption data. The radiative transfer calculations involve well-understood physics that is applied to the global energy balance of the Earth, which is maintained by radiative processes only, since the global net energy transports must equal zero. This demonstrates the nature of the terrestrial greenhouse effect as being sustained by the non-condensing GHGs, with magnification of the greenhouse effect by water vapor and cloud feedbacks, and leaves no doubt that increasing GHGs cause global warming.

    • fosadmin

      October 18, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      Doubling atmospheric CO2 concentration from 280 to 560 ppm will warm the planet an amount called the climate sensitivity. The Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) is the temperature change resulting from doubling the CO2 concentration and then holding it constant for 2,000 – 3,000 years while the oceans reach temperature equilibrium. The IPCC central estimate is 3 deg. C. You are quoting the IPCC central estimate of ECS that is based on models, not on empirical evidence.

      The IPCC estimate is wrong for the following reasons.
      1. It ignores the natural warming from the Little Ice Age.
      2. It uses aerosol forcing that is much too negative.
      3. It uses water vapour and cloud feedbacks that are much too high.
      4. It fails to account for the urban heat island effect that contaminates the government temperature indexes.

      The ECS is likely about 1.0 deg C, or in the likely range of 0.75 – 1.35 deg. C, as documented here.

      The claim that the temperature will be 3 deg. C warmer from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration is further misleading. This is because it ignores the 2,000 – 3,000 years it takes for the oceans to reach temperature equilibrium. The temperature rise that occurs during a gradual increase in CO2 concentration, such as what is currently happening, is called the Transient Climate Sensitivity (TCS). Assuming a continuation of its current exponential growth rate of 0.55% per year, the atmospheric CO2 concentration will likely reach 560 ppm in 2076. The best estimate of TCS is 0.85 deg. C with the likely range of 0.7 – 1.1 deg. C. The TCS best estimate implies that the greenhouse gas induced temperature change from pre-industrial times (about 1800) to 2076 will be 0.85 deg. C. It also implies that the temperature increase from 2016 to 2100 will be 0.57 deg. C.

      The HITRAN database contains measurements of the radiative properties of greenhouse gases. The radiative transfer calculations show that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration without considering the effects of feedbacks would increase the temperature by about 1.15 deg. C. This can be accepted as a reasonable estimate of the “no-feedback ECS.” However, your statement “with magnification of the greenhouse effect by water vapour and cloud feedbacks” is very likely false.

      Water vapour and clouds together cause a small negative feedback. The radiative transfer calculations show that changing the quantity of water vapour in the 300-200 mbar pressure layer (at 10 km altitude) has 81 times the effect on outgoing radiation (i.e. the greenhouse effect) as compared to the same change in the 1,103-850 mbar near-surface layer (up to 1 km altitude). Both satellite and weather balloon data show that high altitude water vapour concentration declines with warming, whereas the climate models falsely project increasing water vapour concentration.

      Relevant graphs found here and here.

      See the section of our Climate Science Essay on Water Vapour Feedback.

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