Peter Kent’s 178 million-ton challenge

Writing in the Globe and Mail Economy Lab Blog on Thursday may 19, Andrew Leach discussed Emissions: Peter Kent’s 178 millon-ton challenge.
It may be his most important task, and setting Canada’s GHG policy course for the next four years will not be an easy one for Environment Minister Peter Kent. By his own admission, meeting Canada’s GHG goals will be a daunting challenge and will require stringent regulations on oil and gas, electricity generation, transportation, and other industrial sectors.

As of today, Monday May 23, there are over 800 comments from readers. One of the threads of conversation was triggered by a remark from Richard Wakefield to the effect that the world is not warming but that it’s getting less cool. In other words he claims that the daily maximum temperatures (TMax) are not rising but the minimum (TMin) is doing so.

I argued that the average temperature of, say, 24 per day once per hour, is a better measure of warming and cooling, approximating the integral with respect to time of the temperatures because it is a better measure of the total heat received in any given day.

In any case, I and “SoundOff” took issue with his assertion and found some counter examples which do show warming. He was looking at individual sites rather than using regional or global values published by institutions like NASA/NOAA and the UAE/CRU.

SoundOff had a look at “Toronto Summer/Winter Temperature Trends” (click on the image for a full-size view):

Toronto Temperature Trends

He determined trends for summertime (June – August) expressed as number of degrees Celsius change per decade of
ΔTMax=0.107 °C,
ΔTMin=0.273 °C and
ΔTMax-ΔTMin=-0.166 °C

and for wintertime (December – February) of
ΔTMax=0.125 °C,
ΔTMin=0.233°C and

I chose to do a linear least squares fit of temperatures for our northernmost weather station with a continuous record from 1947 to 2010 (Eureka, Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut) and found that July
ΔTMin=0.118 °C and
ΔTMax=0.231 °C.

Eureka July TMax
Eureka July TMin

The Eureka data were downloaded from the Canada Weather Station Map

These results clearly show that Richard’s assertion about lack of warming is wrong at these locations. Taken with other measurements from reputable agencies, his opinion does not stand up to scrutiny.

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7 Responses to Peter Kent’s 178 million-ton challenge

  1. Alan Burke says:

    Richard Wakefield made this comment 4:04 PM on May 23, 2011:

    “Precicely [sic] what in the climate or weather today is beyond normal variation, and definitively from CO2 emssions [sic]? None. Nature has proved AGW wrong, but since AGW is a belief system, the new religion of environmentalism, there is no way to disprove AGW in the minds of the True Believers.”

    If there’s any “belief system” at play here it’s his rejection of legitimate and reputable science.

  2. David Wilson says:

    do you really care what some troglodyte says in a comment at the Globe? he can’t even spell – I thought you had given up that ‘catalyst with one gold star’ stuff.

    • Alan Burke says:

      David I don’t particularly care what Richard Wakefield may think of me and I have cut back considerably on my commentary at the Globe and Mail.

      I switched “handles” because the G&M management were unresponsive to my request to remove my Catalyst status. I asked them to do that because it was proving to be impossible to meet the associated obligations, primarily to try to “elevate” discussion; the reason is the failed “moderation” which is often capricious, provides no warning, no notification, no justification, no appeal and no audit trail.

      This website is where I’m putting most of my efforts, reaching a broader audience. However I’ll occasionally return when I see particularly egregious distortion of the science that has some air of plausibility, enough that I feel it should be countered to allow open-minded readers to form their own opinions from a basis of reputable science and policy. Occasionally too the articles themselves are poorly done and misleading, as is almost always the case with Margaret Wente’s rants. I feel a self-imposed obligation to try to expose the most egregious errors and misrepresentations.

      Fortunately there are several correspondents who continue to comment and I’ve gleaned new sources of information from postings they have made and, in this case, have contributed material for this site.

      And I do rarely get bored enough that a good debate helps to get the adrenalin going again. 😉

      Thanks for writing; I do enjoy visiting your blog.

  3. David Wilson says:

    read this sentence again slowly Alan: “And I do rarely get bored enough that a good debate helps to get the adrenalin going again.” (Say wha?)

    whatever you meant to say, I would hope that a person of your calibre is never bored

    I wish you would help me with this: no one seems to understand me when I say that the debate on climate change is mired in the murkiness that comes from lack of comparable numbers – Bill C-311 called for “25% below the 1990 level by the year 2020” and Lester Brown says “cut net carbon dioxide emissions 80 percent by 2020” (his baseline is 2006 though you have to dig a bit to find it). Meanwhile, our friend Andrew Leach talks in megatonnes, Mt – is that the same as megaton? And is that tons of carbon or tons of CO2, or what?

    I tried to take it up with Andrew Weaver the other evening at a talk he gave at UofT and he just dismissed it with “well, none of these targets can be met so whats the difference?”

    Well, the difference is this – I know (without the fear of contradiction) that the people on the streets of Toronto have no idea what any of this is about. I go along to events and presentations year after year and see the very same people sitting in the chairs and almost no new faces. And yet it seems to me that the key figures could all be put on one side of one 8½ x 11 piece of paper (which as a prof at architecture school once told us is an absolute prerequisite for communication).

    And if the information is not effectively communicated to the people on the street then we will wind up with what we’ve got – a piece of media has-been beefcake dressed up as Minister of the Environment.

    Anyway, this is not the first time I have tried to put this to you – first time was just before Copenhagen eh?

    Don’t be bored – life is short, be well.

    PS: This week they killed Zé Cláudio and his wife Maria in Brasil – I have posted one of his presentations with english subtitles here: – not a perfect translation but you can get the idea 🙂

    • Alan Burke says:

      This might help a bit, from my “Politics” page: 2009-07-09, G8 Conference, L’Aquila, Italy

      Mt is megatonnes (millions of tonnes) of CO2 while Gt is gigatonnes (billions of tonnes). The tonne (unit symbol t) or metric ton (U.S.), often written tautologically as metric tonne, is a unit of mass equal to 1,000 kg (2,204.62 lb) or approximately the mass of one cubic metre of water at four degrees Celsius. It’s about 10% heavier than the (Imperial) ton (2000 pounds).

      See also List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions

      See also June 7, 2010 – Canada Cuts CO2 Emissions Reduction Targets

      The Canadian government has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction targets, which now stands at CO2 cuts of five million tonnes in 2010, eight million tonnes in 2011 and 10 million tonnes in 2012, reports AFP.

      Earlier this year, Canada aligned itself with the U.S. goal to reduce GHG emissions 17 percent. In January, the U.S. officially pledged to cut 2020 emission by17 percent below 2005 levels.

      The new 2010 target is ten times weaker than last year’s estimate that capped the growth of emissions by 52 megatonnes for the year, reports the Vancouver Sun.

      Environmentalists told AFP it would lead to a 2.5 percent increase in Canada’s CO2 emissions from 1990 levels, compared to Ottawa’s previous plan announced in 2006 to cut emissions by three percent.

      The new target was released in a report, “A Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act” (PDF).

      Canada also recently announced it is increasing its financial aid to developing countries to help them reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Canada is making a contribution of $238.4 million over the four-year period of 2010-2014 to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which marks an increase of 50 percent over Canada’s previous contribution of $158.94 million for the past four years.

      I hope that this helps. If after following the links you still have questions, don’t be shy – I’d be pleased to respond.

  4. David Wilson says:

    sorry I mentioned it … almost didn’t, won’t again …

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