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Chamber of Horrors – Minister McKenna Comes to Calgary

Opinion – Contributed by Michelle Stirling ©2017

Imagine your company faces serious, imminent, economic risks.  Imagine that last year friends and family were forced to flee wildfires in Fort McMurray and that’s part of the reason your business is on the brink.  Imagine that just 3 years before that, your business also took a hit in the Calgary floods, and maybe you were one of the unlucky people on the flood plain whose home or business was damaged or destroyed.

Imagine you attend a Chamber of Commerce luncheon about economic opportunity, only to have two out-of-towners peddle their climate change carbon price wares by dancing on your distress.

Yes, that was the Chamber of Horrors in Calgary March 9, 2017.

Calgarians are friendly and polite, so no one said anything out loud.

But most of us know that the eight worst floods in Calgary’s history were before 1933; two of those had greater flow than the 2013 flood by quite a lot. So – the Calgary flood was not about climate change. It was a weather event with unusual combination of circumstances.

calgary flood years weather net

And Alberta has lived through wildfires every season – even Calgarians know them well, despite being high up on a near barren plain, because we get to breathe in the wildfire smoke plumes from BC, Washington, Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan and sometimes even Siberia. We know the Fort McMurray wildfires were human caused and they ripped through Fort Mac in part because the government of Alberta was asleep at the wheel and had cut wildfire budgets and contracts, despite clear recommendations post-Slave Lake, that we needed to be prepared by April 15 – crews, equipment, contracts, the works. We weren’t.

flat top cover.png


That’s mismanagement, not climate change.


Bill Adams, VP Western Canada for the Insurance Bureau of Canada introduced guest speaker, the Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, with a dose of climate gloom and doom remarks. He then neatly tied the story line to his pitch by saying “Timothy Lane, Deputy governor of the Bank of Canada agrees and pointed to that fact in a recent speech where he made the economic case for carbon pricing. Lane made it clear that climate change is already having a profound impact on Canada’s economy and financial systems. And like most Canadians, we support efforts to reduce carbon emissions while protecting our economy.”

He’s wrong on climate change and wildfire…and carbon pricing as any means of protection.



How did bankers and insurance brokers arrive at that conclusion? Spending too much time with anti-oil activist groups who make a living hawking climate porn?




Mr. Lane is not a climate scientist or wildfire expert. Neither such expert would make the claim that the Fort McMurray wildfire event supports carbon pricing as a means of stopping wildfires or floods. That’s just silly. One-of events are not climate change.  Climate patterns are measured in 30, 50, 100 year and millennial timescales. Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change rejects the notion that global warming would cause extreme weather events.

judith curry

Excerpt of Dr. Judith Curry’s 2014 testimony to US Senate


And how about that smooth buy-in line “Like most Canadians…” Albertans are Canadians and most loudly reject carbon pricing.


Mr. Adams introduced the Minister who immediately reminded us that ‘climate change is real.’

2. Holocene Warming periods


Honestly. Alberta, and Calgary have one of the highest per capita ratios of Professional Geoscientists and Professional Engineers, perhaps in the world but certainly in Canada. People who have studied 4 billion years of earth’s changes can tell the Minister a thing or two about how climate change is real and that it changes – a lot – without any human influence.  And the Professional Engineers can explain how a 0.02°C change (two one-hundredths) in temperature over 2015 is not a sign of anything because it falls within a 1 degree margin of error – so, could have been warmer…or cooler.  In fact, an averaged temperature from so many ‘adjusted’ sources is simply a metric – not an actual temperature measurement anymore.

But I digress.

The horror continued – worst of all was the Minister’s own statement that she knew nothing about the ‘climate file’ before beetling off to Paris to negotiate it.  Perhaps it was her blithe, happy-go-lucky, ‘so what’ tone that struck me as illustrating how completely oblivious she is to what her agreement will do to this country, if we try to follow through.


She said: “So when I took this job I immediately went to the climate negotiations. I actually didn’t know about the climate file. I had to figure out what a COP* was. What is this COP? Many people had been to more than one COP, 13, 14 COPs.  I got there, dug in and we were able to get the very ambitious climate agreement but then the rubber had to hit the road here….”  (*COP- Conference of the Parties – int’l meeting on climate policy…going on for 22 years now.)


The rubber had to hit the road here.


Really? Rubber.


I certainly felt a moment of OMG in that roomful of Albertans, many of whom work in the sciences, most in businesses associated with the energy industry, being told that the person who negotiated an international agreement that could turn the Canadian economy into that of Chad, knew nothing about the subject going in.


She then added that she also considered herself a trade minister and that ‘she gets it’ about trade with the US.


The next frightening thing was her reference to Mark Carney for advice on the climate file.


Regarding Mr. Carney, “He said, first of all, we need to take climate action because it’s a huge risk for companies that don’t. So, that’s what keeps me up at night. If we don’t take action, then we’re going to go off a cliff.”


Climate catastrophe bandwagonning doesn’t cut it if you are using a bank governor as your science source, relying on his much-vaunted address to Lloyds of London of Sept 29, 2015.  Especially when Steve Kopitz of Princeton Energy Advisors has found that none of Mr. Carney’s climate catastrophe claims are supported by actual climate data, freely available on US government websites.  Kopitz called Carney’s talk “a failure of analysis.”


So, no cliff, Minister McKenna. Not about climate, anyway.

But, the Minister did show a picture of a pipeline to impress us that two pipelines were approved.

We Albertans don’t really care about that. We only care about pipelines that get built, Minister.


The rest of the show and tell ventured off into much cheer-leading about how entrepreneurial we are and how there’s a $30 trillion market of clean growth ‘opportunities’ out there.  Oddly the minister seemed to be unaware that we already hold the key to any growth of any kind and any industrial development – because we have all the oil, natural gas and coal that is required to make anything. Everything. Even the Tesla and the Ballard fuel-cell buses she showed us as examples of innovation or the wind farms and solar panels. Tesla runs on coal powered electricity. Ballard buses are manufactured – built with materials extracted from or mined by the energy of oil, natural gas and coal. And to get wind you need oil. LOTS of it. So – get our product to market.

2rc8vih oil equivalent energy

To obtain in one year the amount of energy contained in one cubic mile of oil, each year for 50 years we would need to have produced the numbers of dams, nuclear power plants, coal plants, windmills, or solar panels shown here.


We just need to get those green trade warrior ENGOs out of the way!

IFIP mostly silent pg 47


About 81% of the world’s energy sources come from fossil fuels – only 1.4% come from renewables like wind and solar. Despite showing pix of wind turbines and solar panels, this ‘shift’ will take decades and LOTS of oil and gas and coal.

IEA fossil fuesl vs re


In the meantime, there are millions of cars in the world that run on gas – showing us 10 Ballard fuel-cell buses is not impressive or representative of an economic opportunity, though interesting.

  • Of 907 million personal vehicles on the road worldwide in 2014, 405,000 were EV’s. EVs constituted 0.04 % of the PVs on the road globally.
  • Sales of all-electric trucks and buses are negligible.
  • Of 88 million new vehicle sales in the world in 2014, 307,000 were EVs. That is, the EV share of new vehicle sales was 0.35%. In 2015, that probably rose to one half of one percent.
  • To reach 60% of present PV sales by 2040, EV sales would have to increase to 120 times today’s level.
  • The potential growth in total vehicle sales globally is immense, especially in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The likelihood that EV sales will constitute 60% of the much-increased sales of all vehicles by 2040 approaches zero.
  • Internal combustion engines, powered by petroleum fuels, will be the dominant source of motive power for a very long time.


And…if Tesla is innovation, just give us $5 billion and we’ll come up with something nice too.

In the meantime, some American analysts have posted comedic commentaries on how many beer do you have to drink to believe Tesla …others see it as having similar financial patterns to Enron.

tesla enron davidson research


A subsidized Tesla is a horrible example to show us.  Especially when the federal government has written a big fat subsidy cheque to Bombardier, which sits on a port and has global access for its products, but that same Liberal government can’t cough up any reasonable financial support for landlocked Alberta with about 200,000 people unemployed and Fort McMurray still lies, largely in ashes.  It’s a horrible example when this government plays footsie with environmentalists who are blocking pipelines, resource development and demarketing coal power, while claiming ‘victory’ over pipeline approvals. It’s a horrible example that the government has the gall to send a sunny ways senior minister to further demoralize an already hurting market, exploiting our pain to claim that carbon pricing will save the planet, stop floods and wildfires….

Also, it was horrible to hear the Minister tout a carbon capture project as viable because multi-billionaire Bill Gates has thrown money at it.  Minister McKenna, Bill Gates has a net worth of $89.5 billion – billions he can afford to lose.

We don’t. Besides, trying to make gas from air is…energy intensive!

Comments from engineering-types:

  • I suspect as soon as you run any kind of energy balance on this you will find it is a net sucker of energy.  There is a reason (several, actually) why we don’t use much carbon capture from combustion streams like coal flue gas – it is very diluted.  But that is nothing compared to how diluted CO2 in atmosphere is at 400 ppm.
  • This process takes 10Gj of NG as input, so unless it produces net power output, you already have a cost of say C$30-40/tonne CO2 before considering any other costs.
  • making O2 from an air separation unit is very power intensive and I suspect takes up most of the energy output, other than that taken up by pumps, compressors, fans, etc to run this thing.
  • Politicians should not promote things that have not been technically or economically vetted.

(PS – we are all for innovation….that makes sense!)

And it is horrible to think that an Environment Minister also fancies herself as a trade minister for helping sell TEN Ballard hydrogen fuel-cell buses to China, a market of a billion people (where ‘Canada has a very good relationship with China at the highest level of government.’ she said) …while Saudi Arabia just closed a $65 billion deal to supply oil to China.

HEY! If we’re serious on the environment and climate file that should have been OUR deal because Canada is quite a few thousand nautical miles closer to China, based on a quick Google search.


Saudi Arabi-Bejing: 7,341 Nautical miles

Vancouver Bejing: 4,609 Nautical miles

We are CLOSER to China than Saudia Arabia, so there would be much less fuel consumption/emissions for transport. And did I mention, we also have the highest environmental standards of production. #CleanGrowthCentury

But obviously, none of this is about climate change or the environment. It’s about pushing carbon trading.

So, is this how the world foists a carbon trading market upon us? Lock in our resources and squeeze us dry? That’s a different kind of extraction industry, a kind of extortion. Albertans normally do business on a handshake, not a kneecap.


Kudos to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and sponsors for arranging this “Chamber of Horrors” presentation, as painful as it was to hear.


At least we know exactly what we’re up against. And, we know it is folly. Would be nice to have a list of where institutional investment funds are placed…just to make sure there’s no…you know, vested interests driving this conversation.

For me it was most certainly, the Chamber of Horrors. And we know that #BetterISPossible

And sadly it was repeated this past week with a full supplement in the Hill Times March 13, 2017 pumping out the same old Alberta/Fort McMurray wildfires-extreme weather-climate change-carbon price  misinformation to Americans.


Thank heavens the US Government and @POTUS are far more pragmatic and really want to put people back to work. They approved Keystone XL. And based on how they cleared out protestors at DAPL, who left an unholy mess behind them while claiming to want to save the earth, it seems that Blockadia might be a thing of the past, too.

Come and hear our speakers at CLIMATE DOGMA EXPOSED – May 9th, 2017. Tickets at or Eventbrite.





1 Comment

  1. Robert Muir

    Well said. I have been calling out the insurance industry on this file for a few years now and with the help of Advertising Standards Canada have brought some truth back to reporting (marketing) on extreme weather trends in Canada. Many statements are uninformed and go unchecked. For example, this is a summary of how the IBC’s “Telling the Weather Story” report made up weather frequency shifts to explain flooding and misstated that it was real Environment Canada data:
    And the media and even the chief economist of a Canadian bank just repeat the ‘made up’ data on climate-driven frequency shifts and charge ahead no questions asked …
    What McKenna and others new to this field are guilty of is ‘thinking fast’ and exercising the cognitive biases that cause us to misframe problems and come to simple convenient, feel-good solutions to complex problems that truly require ‘thinking slow’ – this thinking fast and slow issue in the context of extreme weather and flooding is explored in my recent paper:
    Evidence Based Policy Gaps in Water Resources: Thinking Fast and Slow on Floods and Flow
    Thank you for promoting a data-driven, evidence-based approach to complex problems and calling out ‘thinking fast (and worse acting fast) when there is no data to back it up!

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