Media Accuracy in 2016 – Please

Friends of Science Society is often maligned by our critics for allegedly spreading false and misleading information. We dispute those claims and show evidence herein that we are frequently pointing out significant errors in the press. Unfortunately it seems the press does not want to issue corrections. We waited to post this, to provide fair time to correct the stories. See our letters linked below for complete evidence.

Why Friends of Science Deserves Ink – Edmonton Media Misinforms Public on Environment Canada Report

By Michelle Stirling

Communications Manager, Friends of Science Society

Two recent (Oct. 8, 2015) Edmonton media stories took information from a spring workshop of the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring group and turned it on its head, to misinform the public.

The Edmonton Journal headline of Oct. 8, 2015 claimed “Hot Spots depict how coal plants contribute to Edmonton pollution in new Environment Canada images.” In fact, the new Environment Canada data showed the coal-fired power plants as blue dots, and indicated that there were significantly reduced emissions.

satellite measurements of Change

Research scientist in charge of this project, Heather Morrison of Environment Canada (EC), in her video presentation on the matter, states at 4:09 that there has been a decrease in sulfur dioxide concentrations from the coal-fired power plants “which aligns very nicely with the mitigation that has happened over that time period…” (2005 to 2013)

ed journal hot spots oct 8

The Journal ran a colorful image of emissions with Alberta lit up as if as air polluted as Ontario. Scary! But Heather Morrison said “what you can see is the measurements are sparse across the landscape and look disproportionately large because they had to make the dots big enough that you can see them.”

On the same day, CBC Edmonton ran a similar story on this headlined: “Computer-generated video shows pollution spread across the Prairies” Oct 8, 2015.

CBC edmonton pollution spread compu gen

Again, the reporter is overstating the case. The images are from a computer model, not real emissions. Outputs from models are not data. The real life empirical data shows a decrease of pollution, despite a population increase.

Alberta’s population grew from 3.256 million in 2006 to 4.120 million by 2014. If sulfur and nitrogen oxides – SOx and NOx – emissions are at about the same levels in 2014 as they were in 2006, that means in real terms a reduction of just over 26% per capita by industry.

The CASA Data Warehouse air quality monitoring records show no exceedances of NO2 or SO2 (the substances studied) during the time frames of the modelling study except occasional short-term exceedances at Redwater, far from coal-fired power plants.

Further, NOx and SOx are essential for a healthy eco-system. In 2011, Mother Nature’s wildfires in Alberta alone, emitted the equivalent of 448 million diesel truck emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), along with 30 million tons of SO4 (sulfates) and 16 million CO2e tons of nitrogen oxides.

It seems the misinformed media slant comes from the phase-out coal activists at Pembina Institute and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), whose representatives are quoted in the stories.

Pembina and CAPE are trying to foist more wind and solar on Albertans by demonizing coal. One has to question this blatant misrepresentation of the facts, especially as Pembina Institute is influentially represented on Alberta’s climate panel.

If Pembina Institute and CAPE are so keen to phase-out coal, maybe they should write the first estimated $11.1 billion compensation cheque, plus $11 billion to transition to natural gas,* plus millions more for power grid interties and infrastructure. Maybe they should pick up the tab for you and me of the tripled power costs that would be the end result if they succeed in foisting renewables – wind and solar – upon us.

*Compensation, transition costs and intertie costs from industry experts.

screenshot20150716at173210 willi watts price of power 1

This graph shows the more installed renewables in the EU, the higher the power prices.  US EIA puts EU residential power prices at ‘more than double’ that of the US, and rising.

There is a federal coal plant retirement program in place. If we wait 10 years, most of the coal-fired power plants will retire on their own and it won’t cost taxpayers these billions, often presented as only “pennies a month.”

Google engineers have shown that wind and solar are not effective for power generation, they are ridiculously expensive, they mess up the grid, and they do not address climate change or air pollution.

Friends of Science, maligned by many, appear to be the only watchdog ferreting out the evidence over climate change ideology. That’s why we deserve ink – to clear the air of eco-smog.


Our letter and evidence to the Edmonton Journal:

lt to ed journal re pratt story on hot spots oct 28 2015 letterhead FINAL(1)

Our letter and evidence to CBC Edmonton:

lt to CBC edmonton oil sands monitoring pollution spread Nov 13 2015 FINAL (1)(1)

We contacted both media outlets. CBC said they would get back to us. Never did. The Edmonton Journal on Nov. 4, 2015 said they would not be publishing our ‘opinion piece.’

Comments are welcome – moderated.


  1. Jeffery Green

    Eco Smog? Hostility towards environmentalists? Justifying pollution?

    Below is the modern way to have clean energy without the serious tradeoffs of pollution.

  2. Michelle Stirling

    When people misrepresent the facts as was done in those two media reports, and when neither organization made efforts to restate, correct, or balance the story, what else would you call it but ‘eco-smog’? No one is ‘justifying pollution’ by pointing out that reporters have erroneously misstated facts about pollution. Your ‘solution’ is filled with pollution – because no renewable devices can be made without fossil fuels. Did you forget that? Also, it’s not magic. Here is a review of how solar could…or could not…replace hydrocarbons in the US. Food for thought. Happy New Year and thank you for participating and sharing your views on our blog.

    • Jeffery Green

      Hydro is also renewable energy. Something Canada has an abundance of and sells to the United States. It can make any metal we need to. It is the cheapest form of energy there is. The coulee dam during WW2 smelted aluminum for bombers and was credited as helping to win WW2. Renewable energy has to go as far as it can. If it can do it all, let’s build it all.

      • Western Mark

        True, only hydro power generation is rarely considered a renewable power source. Flooding river valleys is a no-no. Especially in Canada for some reason. It is apparently OK to use productive farmland and clear forest for solar panels and wind turbines though.

  3. Doug*C

    If you are interested, consider reading about the 21st Century breakthrough science which debunks the GH radiative forcing conjecture and explains what determines temperatures in tropospheres, surfaces, crusts, mantles and cores of planets and satellite moons throughout the Solar System. For details see the linked websites, papers, videos and book on this blog:

  4. climanrecon

    Coal-fired power stations make negligible contributions to local air pollution, most of which comes from forest fires, vehicles, and increasingly from “so-called green” biomass boilers. If that were not the case then the uber-green EU would have shut down such power stations long ago, but instead Germany is building more of them, and closing its emission-free nuclear plants.

    China suffers from a LACK of coal-fired power stations, which is why it is building more of them, in order to provide cheap electricity, to help people to not have to rely on burning coal in their homes for heat, which is one of the real reasons for their smog problem. Africa has similar problems, with cheap coal-fired electricity being the solution.

    The UK has decided to phase out its coal-fired power stations, in my view a terrible mistake that we will come to regret. I hope that Canada does not go down this route.

  5. Robert Muir

    One of the consequences of emissions has been predicted (or prescribed) to be increased rainfall intensities and flood damages – this claim is used in Ontario to support cap and trade and GHG mitigation in lieu of what Canadian cities really need for risk reduction, which is respect for floodplains and design standard adaptation:

    CBCNews gets it wrong a lot (flooding, pollution) it seems. They reported the GO Train flood in Toronto July 8, 2013 as a top weather story of the year, when a higher flood at the exact same location occurred just 6 weeks before and the tracks are known to be below the 5-year flood stage, dating back to the 1981 Flood Inquiry for Premier Davis … so the area flooded all the time and a very very bad operational decision was made. Its simply train frequency, not rain frequency or climate change, to blame:

    Here are some facts on rainfall intensities in Canada per Environment Canada scientists, as published in Atmosphere-Ocean, say storms they are not getting worse:

    So let’s kick the tires on the GHG as it relates to to our flood problems and face the facts that 1950’s drainage design standards are risky, developments in floodplains are risky, and dispatching trains into known floodplains is risky.


    Its good that CBCNews will correct mistakes on insurance media storm reporting, like in this case based on my complaints and Environment Canada’s intervention:

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