STANDING COMMITTEE ON
ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE
L'ENVIRONNEMENT ET DU DÉVELOPPEMENT
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Monday, November 3,1997
The Chairman (Mr. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.)): Order,
please. Good day, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Ladies and gentlemen, before we start our meeting, a
brief reminder. Tomorrow at noon for lunch and Wednesday
at dinner time we will receive a visit from a Chinese
delegation. These are five colleagues from China, two
of whom are elected representatives interested in
natural resources and their management. They are touring
North America and have included Ottawa in their visit.
As you may recall, two weeks ago we decided as a
committee that we should find time for them, as they
requested through their ambassador.
We therefore have made arrangements for concurrent
simultaneous translation in Chinese in addition to English and
French, so the meetings can proceed at a
Could I ask by way of indication by hand
how many of you intend to participate in the meeting
with the delegation from China tomorrow
at noon? Seven. Thank you. That's very good.
May I ask you now how many of you intend to
participate at the meeting Wednesday evening?
Mr. Chuck Cadman (Surrey North, Ref.): At what time
is it, Mr. Chair?
The Chairman: It's at 7 p.m.
Mr. Bill Gilmour (Nanaimo—Alberni, Ref.): Unfortunately
special caucus at that time.
The Chairman: That will be the
continuation of tomorrow, so it's good that we start with
a good representation.
Ms. Aileen Carroll
(Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, Lib.): Mr. Chair,
I'm not putting my hand up for tomorrow lunch
only because I don't know.
I know I have House duty. Are we meeting on site?
Is that meeting on the Hill?
The Chairman: Oh, yes, definitely.
Ms. Aileen Carroll: I just haven't even looked at
Where is this?
The Chairman: It will be in 701.
The Clerk of the Committee: Lunch
will be served at 151 Sparks.
The Chairman: It is arranged through the
foreign relations bureau of the parliamentary office.
I imagine those of you who travel and sometimes go
to China, or may in future go to China, will want to take
advantage of this opportunity to make some contacts and
also to learn from our visitors the issues
that are uppermost in their minds. I thank you very much
for your intent.
In addition to that, the chair needs a motion that
would authorize the clerk to purchase a small present
as a welcome gift. Could someone perhaps move a motion
to that effect?
Mr. Casson moves it. It's seconded by Mr. Pratt.
(Motion agreed to—See Minutes of Proceedings)
The Chairman: Today we are operating again
in conformity to Standing Order 108(2),
and we've asked here Dr.
McBean of the Atmospheric Environment Service in Metro
Dr. McBean is very well known for his involvement
in climate-related issues. He's an assistant deputy
We are extremely happy that you can launch
this round of hearings. Welcome to the committee.
The floor is yours. Later there will probably
be a good round of questions.
Dr. Gordon McBean (Assistant Deputy Minister,
Atmospheric Environment Service, Department of the
Environment): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm very pleased to be here and to have the opportunity
to speak to the committee. I have a deck on climate
change science, which I believe has been made available
to you. We also have provided some background material
in terms of some earlier notes.
I was specifically asked if I could go through
what we might call the “new science”, but
I'd like to do that in the context of a set
of overheads that basically puts in context
that material. I will go through this
to give you the systematic view of the
climate change science.
As the chairman has noted, I would very much welcome
an opportunity to discuss and answer any of your questions
afterwards. I'll go through this quite quickly.
If we have a chance to discuss the other presentations,
I would be quite happy to do so.
I would remind you that we are talking about human
activities that are changing climate, something called the
greenhouse effect, a naturally occurring
phenomenom that has raised the average temperature
of our globe from approximately -18 degrees Celsius
to 15 degrees Celsius.
This is due to the trapping of outgoing energy
from the earth's surface, which is due to greenhouse gases.
Human activities are very much changing those
concentrations of greenhouse gases.
Carbon dioxide is the dominant of the greenhouse gases
influenced by human activities in the time-scales of concern.
The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide
was historically approximately 280 parts per million,
and had been a value of that magnitude
for probably at least six to ten thousand years.
We have seen in the last 200 years a dramatic increase
in the carbon dioxide concentration so that we
now have values in excess of 360 parts per million.
The measurements over the last couple of years
since the publication of the IPCC report in 1995,
and my earlier presentations to you, show a
continuing increase along that trajectory
of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.
To put into context that number of approximately 360,
we can look at historical records of the atmospheric
concentration of greenhouse gases obtained by
extracting minute bubbles of air that were
dissolved in Antarctic ice as it formed over the last
200,000 years. As you can see by looking at the
bottom curve, the amount of carbon dioxide,
according to our best estimates,
in the past 2,000 years has not exceeded
300 parts per million.
During the ice ages, the low points on the
curve, the values did drop to about 180, but during the
climatic regimes that are similar to now, the value was
less than 300 parts per million. As noted on the
left-hand side of the curve, the 1990 value is about
350 parts per million in carbon dioxide,
and we're now over 360.
Methane concentrations, shown in the centre
of the diagram, also have varied significantly through
the historic record, but the values were always less than or
about 0.7 parts per million by volume. They are now
approximately more than twice that, up to about 1.8,
I believe. On top of that is the estimated
temperature change relative to present climate.
These are temperature changes around the regions
of Antarctica. The temperatures dropped
about ten degrees Celsius
during the maximum ice age conditions.
Our estimate is that if you were to construct
a global pattern of temperature at that time,
it would be approximately five degrees Celsius,
maybe seven degrees Celsisu,
below present conditions.
That's an important number to keep
in mind, that the difference between the present
climate and an ice age that had several kilometres of
ice over Ottawa is only about five to seven degrees
Celsius. So when we talk of temperature changes of two,
three, four degrees Celsius, we are talking about
magnitudes similar to that of going in and out of an
ice age. I would stress that it's in a different
direction and things are not equal in either
As we look ahead to the future, the decisions of what
governments will do will in fact control, in lots of
ways, the expected carbon dioxide concentrations out
to the year 2100. The estimates here are just
scenarios of what would happen based on estimates of
population growth, energy use, fossil fuel consumption
per energy unit, etc., and they are estimates done by
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I would
ask you to note that if you take the high estimate, we
would result in a value of approximately three times
the pre-industrial value by the end of the next
century. If we take the low estimate, which is based
on very conservative population estimates and increased
use of renewable or at least other non-fossil fuel energy
sources, we still get a value that approaches 500 ppm,
which is getting into the neighbourhood of doubled
carbon dioxide by the end of the next century.
Scientifically, it's important for you to
understand that carbon dioxide is a gas that remains in
the atmosphere for a long time, so when we make
emissions in the present time, they will still be there for
many years to come. We estimate approximately 100
years, or in the 60 to 200 year range, something in the
order of a century, as the residence or adjustment time
for atmospheric carbon dioxide. So if countries all agree
in Kyoto to stabilize their emissions, the atmospheric
concentration will still go up in the same sense as if
we were able to stabilize our deficit at some value,
the total debt still rises.
We have been doing further work to understand the
relationship between atmospheric concentrations of
carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and
atmospheric aerosols, which are better referred to as
particles. They are usually small sulphate or dusty
particles that are in the air and they result primarily
also from human activities. The effect of those
particles is actually to cool climate. So we have a
counterbalancing or counteracting activity of one set
of human emissions causing a cooling and the greenhouse
gas emissions causing a warming.
We have factored
those in to the latest computations as a Canadian
Climate Centre model, which is shown here in the
diagram. The blue curve that wiggles along the bottom
of the diagram is our model running for approximately
200 years where we have not changed the atmospheric
concentration of either greenhouse gases or aerosols.
This model, when run in this mode, shows a stability in
the sense that its climate does not change
significantly. It reproduces the general
characteristics of the earth's climate. As we then
increase the amount of carbon dioxide in it, starting
from a year 1900 reference, we find that the red dash
line, which is shown up through the middle there, in a
general sense follows the observed climate change,
which is shown in the black line.
If we then continue to increase the amount of carbon
dioxide—and here we can follow any one of many
scenarios, and we have arbitrarily picked one, so this is
not an attempt to predict in fact the future but to
say this is a scenario of climatic change—you can see
that this particular model for the scenario of
greenhouse gas emissions used actually increases the
global climate by up to about four degrees or so by the
end of the next century.
GCM is the global climate model. This the Canadian
Climate Centre global climate model. This is a
sophisticated mathematical model involving the
atmosphere, the ocean and the ice component in a
relatively simple representation of particularly the
surface processes of the earth.
The Chairman: Greenhouse gases—
Dr. Gordon McBean: Aerosols. So we have factored
in as well as we can the particulate effect, the
cooling effect of dust and things on the
Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Is
the projection of the scenario based on the actual
Dr. Gordon McBean: No, I believe in this case the
scenario of greenhouse gases is just a simple 1% per
year increase. It is like the business as
usual one. It shouldn't be taken as being our
prediction—and we could re-run this given computer time—in
any other way. These models are run on our
super-computer, which is in Dorval.
They take several months
of computational time to do a simulation like this and
many more months to analyse them. The patterns of
variability in the climate system will not be the same
from one to another.
The next diagram shows the projected temperature
changes corresponding to the previous curve, again from
the Canadian Climate Centre model. This shows the
changes we might expect at the year 2040 following
along this trajectory corresponding to that
greenhouse gas emission. This is again a scenario.
It's not saying this is what will happen, but if the
greenhouse gases changed in a way such as we had modelled,
then this is the type of climatic regime we would
What you can see is a dramatic warming in the north
polar regions, and a considerable warming over the interior
of the continental regions of North America and Asia.
You also see areas such as off the Labrador coast, where
the models actually predict cooling. We generally
expect to see more warming at higher latitudes in the
northern hemisphere, less warming along the equatorial
This is because of the way the climate system responds
to a change of greenhouse gases, which is assumed to be
uniform, but the aerosol concentrations are spatially
varying because they are primarily where the aerosols
or the dust is emitted. You can see that the
temperature changes get up into the five degrees Celsius
in the Canadian Arctic region, and that is similar, as I
noted earlier, to the magnitude of changes seen in and
out of ice ages.
The next diagram really shows us what up until 1996
was our best estimate of the global temperature change.
This is based on very careful scientific analysis by
scientists in several different countries of the world.
Working together they have constructed the debate
using all the available data, corrected them as appropriate
for effects of urbanization, etc. What you can see
there is a warming trend. The individual wiggles up
and down are part of natural variability. Our climate
still varies naturally, but we feel that superimposed
upon that is a trend about which, in the latest 1995
assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, the conclusion reached was that the evidence
suggested discernible human influence on the global
This again also varies considerably spatially. If we
focus on Canada, these are the variations in
temperatures, comparing the trend seen from 1961 to
1990, an era when we had good data. There is an area
over the North Pole that is shown in grey, which
doesn't have data, so we have not included that. But
what you see is the warming trend over western Canada,
across the prairies and up into the Mackenzie Basin.
You see the cooling trend in the Labrador Sea and
up into the Baffin Bay, and that's the kind of
variability we will see as we continue moving. But
overall, Canada has been warming, based on our
There has been a lot of debate about whether we have
seen global warming, about whether we have seen
climatic change due to greenhouse gases. The 1995
scientific assessment was one debated at great length,
but in the end the conclusion of not only the
scientists but of a massive review process done by
countries and by groups.... In the end, at a meeting of
governments in late 1995—for which I had the privilege
of being the Canadian delegate—all governments in the
end agreed with the
line-by-line assessment and conclusion in the consensus
document of the intergovernmental panel.
Since that time, I think the evidence of the
scientific work that's been carried on in the last couple
of years has confirmed, generally, the conclusions of
that assessment, that there was a discernible human
influence. I personally asked the lead author, Mr.
Santer, what he felt about it if he had to write
it now, and he said that he would write it probably
stronger than he did in 1995.
As you see summarized on the screen, our estimate,
the kinds of comments we can make on this, is that the 20th
century is warm. We can note that 1995, according to
our data, is the warmest year on record globally, and
that 1996 appears to have been the eighth warmest year on
record. The patterns of change are similar to what is
predicted. So I think the conclusion of the
intergovernmental panel has been strenghtened, as
opposed to in any sense weakened.
Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, Ref.): When you say
any year on record, how far back do those records go?
Dr. Gordon Bean: We're really talking in the sense
of the last 100 to 150 years. We can reconstruct paleo
through other means, but in terms of instrumental record
the statement of warmer, at least as any in the
centuries since 1400, is clearly based on other forms than direct
measurement. But when we talk about it being the
eighth warmest year we're talking about the instrumental
Just to give you some comment on the impacts of
this.... And here I should stress that as we get to global
impacts we have to be more subjective rather than
giving a high level of detail because global climate
models do not give you the kind of very detailed
resolution of climate change on for example one part of
a province as opposed to another. But we can make, we
think, some general statements, and these are largely
drawn from international discussions and consensus in
one form or another.
For example, in an agricultural sense we think the
global production could be maintained, but there will
certainly be regional effects that will vary widely.
Certainly in some locations there will be increased
risk of hunger and famine.
Water supplies we think will be
one of the more difficult areas to deal with in terms
of climatic change. You've heard about sea level rise.
The estimates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change were that sea level rise could be as low as
fifteen centimetres but as high as one metre, with the most
likely value being something of the order of a fifty centimetres
rise by the end of the next century.
I should stress that sea level rises more slowly.
It's like trying to boil a pot full of water. It
simply heats up slower than an empty pot. So the ocean
will respond much more slowly, but it also means that
sea level would continue to rise even after climate has
To give you some numbers, a one-metre sea level rise
corresponds to about 17% to 18% of the country of
Bangladesh or about 80% of the Marshall Islands.
To look more nationally, we here show you some
results, which are to be illustrative rather than definitive at
this point, but just to say if you look at large
vegetation regimes across Canada the climate is one
of the major factors of determining what kind of
vegetation regime you have. So you can map our
present country in terms of boreal forest, the prairie
grasslands, the temperate forest zones. If you relate
those to the climate of those locations, and if you
project ahead based on our model simulations the type
of climatic regime you might have in places when you
reach double carbon dioxide, which is looking into the next
century, then you would see the map on the right-hand
side, which basically shows where you would have certain
kinds of ecosystems, temperate forests, boreal
I want to emphasize that this is not where they would
necessarily be, but this is where the climate for which they are in
equilibrium would be. What that means is that a
boreal forest tree in central Saskatchewan, which
presently enjoys a climate to which it is accustomed,
would in some years' time find itself in a climatic
regime for which it is not accustomed. That makes it
more vulnerable to things like pests, to wildfires,
as well as a general lowering of its
production rate, its productivity rate.
You can see there are very large changes.
note—in case anybody from British Columbia's here,
besides myself—that the mapping in British Columbia
is left as unclassified because basically climates in
British Columbia go up and down mountainsides and it's
very hard to show on a flat diagram how those change
with the level of detail that's here. That is also
true in other parts of Canada, but not quite to the
extent as in British Columbia.
We have some data on recent economic losses and these
are primarily due to events related to climate. I
think one has to say that we cannot show that this is
information directly attributable to a change in
climate, because extreme events are very hard to
relate to a given type of climatic regime. But the
insurance company who has provided us with this and
the next slide are themselves convinced that this
is due to something other than increased human exposure
or other aspects. You see in Canada the types of
insured losses—these are insured losses, rather than
total losses—but there's something we can
very well quantify based on Insurance Bureau of Canada
data and you see a gradual increase in the types of extreme
weather events that have caused more economic loss.
To try to bring this more quickly to a
conclusion, I want to emphasize with the next slide that
we are really recognizing there are uncertainties
in climate change. If we look in the upper left-hand
corner of this diagram, we are, as a scientific
community, very confident that the increasing
greenhouse gas concentrations do exist and
we are verify confident they are as a result of human
activities. We are slightly less confident but still
have relatively high confidence on the magnitudes and rates
of global temperature change, less confidence in the
rates of precipitation change.
As we move down to the lower right-hand corner, we
have to admit to having only very low confidence in
terms of the details, in any given zone of Canada or any
other country, as to how they will change.
Another piece of science that I think is important
from a point of policy response is to recognize that
the relationships between atmospheric emissions and
atmospheric concentrations take place on the order of
centuries, because of the very long residence time of
carbon dioxide. As I mentioned already, the
relationship between temperature and sea level will take
centuries to readjust. Those are important
Just to remind you on the next-to-last slide, under
the framework convention, which is what will be
discussed in Kyoto—
Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Those adjustments up and down,
when you say it takes a long time for it to happen, it's
the same thing in reverse, I guess.
Dr. Gordon McBean: Pretty well. We have to use ocean
atmosphere biosphere models to construct the rate of
change of the atmospheric concentration due to emission
changes. These models are what we would say are
non-linear. In fact, the atmosphere will adjust
relatively quickly in the short term, in the order of
years, but what basically then happens is a change in
the upper ocean resulting in characteristics that then take
longer to adjust. So if you sort of look at the whole
system as a total, you have to accept that there is a
fairly long adjustment time, which works in either sense.
When we talk about adjustment times, I think it's
important to recognize that the framework convention on
climate change is talking about stabilization of
atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at levels that
would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference.
I would emphasize that the word “dangerous” is always in the
eye of the beholder. Danger is.... The scientists
are saying that's a political judgment, danger. It is
in your bailiwick, ladies and gentlemen.
We can try to quantify the impacts,
but the decision of what is dangerous is a political
judgment. However, we think we also want to emphasize that this
level has to be achieved within a timeframe that allows
ecosystems to adjust naturally, to ensure
food production is not threatened and at the
same time enable economic development to proceed.
In our view, the basis for concern is
scientifically sound. We believe there is a human
influence on climate that appears discernible. It is a
risk question, and in a sense the risk of danger we
think is real and significant. We recognize there are
uncertainties in the magnitude and distribution of that
regional danger. And one of the things I would like to
mention is that the greatest risks are likely due
to the changed frequency or intensity of extreme
events. Extreme events are very hard to
analyse and they are also very hard to model, but we
think there are significant risks there.
To conclude, we feel scientifically that the rationale
for action is clear.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Who would like to go
first? Mr. Gilmour.
Mr. Bill Gilmour: Thank you for your presentation.
We're still faced with a
theory, not a fact. If you go back to the models, the
earlier models have not proven to be correct. They've
been out by a factor of one, two, three or four
degrees. The basis for your models,
is this the basis that Canada is taking to Kyoto? Is
it the same model we're talking about?
Dr. Gordon McBean: Let me say, first of all, that
the Canadian model and most other models of the world
give similar results. So the Canadian position from a
policy point of view is not in any way based more on
a Canadian model or anyone else's. Let me then say
that these models have been shown to be able to simulate a
variable climate that has existed in the past, and that
gives us confidence that they will simulate a type of
climate that will exist in the future. Because all
we're doing, as I showed, is changing the amount of
Mr. Bill Gilmour: That's fine. What is your
experimental error in these models?
Dr. Gordon McBean: The
error depends on how you define this, but we, as a
scientific committee.... Let me first of all correct
the general misunderstanding that the models previously
gave values that were warmer. The models that
predicted—and we published prior to 1995 assessment—were
based on greenhouse gases only. During the period
1990-95 it was understood by the scientific community
that the cooling effect of aerosols, and I agree that....
So the change is by incorporating a new physical
process that we did not previously understand; it's
not because the models are actually just getting
different. They still respond in the same way to
greenhouse gases. That may not give you a comfort
level, but that's the reality.
In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with
all of the top climate-modelling scientists in the
world, the assessment was that when you double the
amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the
uncertainty range was that the global climate would
warm by between 1.5 degrees Celsius and 4.5 degrees
Celsius, and the most likely value was 2.5 degrees
Celsius. That gives you an estimate of our
Mr. Bill Gilmour: Well, 1.5 degrees Celsius gets
you nice and warm; 4.5 degrees Celsius gets you into an
ice age. So there's a heck of a spread there.
I'll go back. What are the experimental errors? What
are your confidence levels? Again, that's the first
question. The second one: Is this the model that
Canada is taking to Kyoto? Is this what we're basing
our facts on?
Dr. Gordon McBean: First of all, the confidence
estimates, as I've said, on global temperature change
are between 1.5 degrees Celsius and
4.5 degrees Celsius. That does not
Secondly, the Canadian position, as far as negotiations
at Kyoto are concerned, are based on all of the global
models, whether it is the Canadian model, the German model,
the United States model, the Japanese model, the Russian
model, or the Australian model. All of them give you
projections. In fact, I believe in the 1992
assessment there were 22 models from almost all the
major countries of the world and they ranged in
values between 1.9 degrees and 5.1 degrees Celsius
warming for doubled carbon dioxide.
Mr. Bill Gilmour: Again, this is the concern.
Where are we going with the models? That's all we have
to grasp at. I mean, the climate has warmed. We've
gone through the mini-ice-age in the mid-1600s up to
where we are now. In fact, there's a fairly confident
opinion that we've been cooling over the last ten
years, if you don't take surface temperatures and if you go
Now, we are going into Kyoto with the idea that we are
going to sign onto some lines that could do some
major economic hits to Canada. In my view, the science
in some ways does not support this. That's why I'm
stressing the models. That's why I'm asking about the
confidence. Between 1.5 degrees and 4.5 degrees is a huge
discrepancy. That is the difference between an ice
age.... I believe it was four degrees for the last ice age
10,000 or 12,000 years ago, so yes, that's major.
But 1.5 degrees may not be so major. That
difference is absolutely the telling tale. So where
Dr. Gordon McBean: As I noted earlier, the
consensus of the scientific community and the consensus
of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
including all the countries of the globe, was that
there was a scientifically justifiable reason for
action by governments. That is what has been put
forward by all governments, with a few exceptions now.
But the rationale for action based on that science is
confirmed. I guess I would only ask you, when you
ask me to clarify the errors in global climate models,
to put the same questions to the economists who
predict global catastrophe economically.
The Chairman: One more question.
Mr. Bill Gilmour: Yes, the
economists do agree that there will be economic
downfalls if this comes true. The point is, if it's
coming true. I think that's the whole debate. Does
climate change? We believe the climate is
warming. That's basically been demonstrated over the
last number of hundred years. Carbon dioxide emissions
have been increasing, as well as nitrous oxide and others.
But the point is to tie them together. And this is the
debate we're grappling with. Does A cause B? And
there is enough scientific opinion out there to call
a question to this. That's the point.
For every scientist you can get on one side, you can find one on
the other. This is the debate we're into.
Yes, the group on climate change came out with some
rather flat comments. They were not strong. They were
not definitive. They were fairly weak, in fact.
Please carry on.
The Chairman: A brief answer, please.
Dr. Gordon McBean: I disagree that you can find
one to balance off the other in the scientific
community. The consensus among active front-line
climate scientists has been well demonstrated by the
intergovernmental panel's statements. The relationship
between human emissions and atmospheric concentrations
I believe is beyond reasonable scientific doubt. The
relationship between increased atmospheric
concentrations and global climate change has
uncertainties. But the relationship is there. We
would expect to see a climatic regime that is
significantly warmer in the future, based on the
projections of emissions.
The Chairman: Thank you.
A brief question to the
members of the committee. I've just been told that Dr.
Pocklington, who is our next witness and who is an
historian in matters related to climatic change, is
taking quite a different approach.
Is it the wish of the committee to have one round of
questions of the first witness, Dr. McBean, or is it the
wish of the committee that we hear both before we
continue with questions?
Some hon. members: Both.
The Chairman: All right, then. We'll proceed with
Dr. Pocklington. You have ten minutes, then we continue
Dr. Roger Pocklington (Individual Presentation): Thank
you, Mr. Chair. I guess
I'm my own projectionist.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I must pick up on
that last remark of Gordon McBean's with regard to what
he referred to as an active scientist. Although I did
reach the age to take early retirement from my position
with the federal government, I do believe I still place
myself in the active category.
As far as front line, I think the front line of
climate work is when you're doing the job in Cape
Farewell in February when the weather is, in
oceanographic terms, “blowing a bastard”. So perhaps
we'll hear a little less about large-scale models and a
little more about some ground truths.
To cover the whole topic of oceanography and global
warming, it's an impossible task for me, probably for
anyone, certainly in the time available. I'm reminded
of the story of a senior professor of engineering out
of a British university who, having agreed to talk about
fusion energy on the BBC radio, was told by the show's
producer just as they were going on the air, “One
minute, and no long words, Professor”.
Why must we consider the ocean in our models of global
climate? Just the top few metres of the ocean have a
heat capacity equivalent to that of the whole
atmosphere. Due to this huge heat capacity, the ocean
provides a buffer for the atmospheric system, smoothing
out its continental excesses, something to which anyone
living by the sea can attest. Just now, as I left
Bermuda, the actual sea surface temperature for this
month of October was higher than the mean air temperature.
The ocean transports as much heat from equatorial to
temperate and polar regions as does the atmosphere.
When it releases this heat from, for example, the ocean
west of the British Isles, where there's a continuous
outward flux of heat equivalent to 50 watts per square
metre, it warms the adjacent land. And to put that
number I just gave you in perspective—the 50 watts per
square metre—this whole GW argument is about
temperature differences of the order of two watts per
The ocean contains fifty times as much carbon dioxide as the
atmosphere, and the flux, the exchange of carbon dioxide
across the air and sea interface, is twenty
times greater than the
amount released by the burning of fossil fuels. For
these reasons, the ocean is—and it's invaluable to
climate modelers—a great place in which they can hide
things. Any imbalance in heat budgets—for instance, an
increase in mean temperature only half of what they
calculated, or in carbon budgets, say two
gigatonnes of carbon just simply missing from the
atmosphere—can be attributed to the ocean and
nobody will notice any difference.
In the words of the celebrated American
physical oceanographer, Walter Munk, the ocean plays
three roles in this game: it serves as a reservoir for
carbon; it serves as a reservoir for heat; and, most
important of all, it serves as a reservoir for ignorance.
I shall attempt to dispel some of this ignorance by
looking at evidence from the region I know best, the
extratropical North Atlantic and adjacent land, and to
examine in some detail the validity of some
propositions about systematic warming of the globe
found in the latest reports of the IPCC. You had
explained to you what IPCC is.
Now, you don't want to
look at it the Australian way. If you've ever seen an
Australian atlas, it really does have Australia at the
top. The region of interest for us is the North
Atlantic outside of the tropics. Where I'm currently
working is down here. It is Bermuda—nearly due south of the
place I was working before, Dartmouth, Nova
Scotia—just off Cape Hatteras.
This ocean, the North Atlantic ocean, is a region of
particular importance to the global climate system. It
contains one of the small number of sites of formation
of deep ocean water that's round here northeast of
Iceland. Surface water here is cooled and passes as deep
Atlantic water down the coast. There is a further
sinking of water here. It is one of the few places in
the world oceans where such deep ocean water is formed
and it's also the site of one of the major surface
ocean currents, the Gulf Stream, bringing that warming
effect that I mentioned earlier over to Europe.
Now, working group one of the IPCC, in the summary for
policy-makers of their second assessment report, stated
that “analyses of meteorological and other data over large
areas and over periods
of decades or more have provided evidence for some
important systematic changes”.
For more than two
decades, my colleagues and I have looked for important systematic
changes in the North Atlantic region. We have found
them, but they may not be what the IPCC was
I emphasize that the data for land stations that I
present here are the same as those used to produce the
global and hemispheric time series featured in the IPCC
climate change reports. I am not coming along here
with a whole lot of different fundamental numbers. My
slant on them may be different. We updated our
stations to the end of 1996 by using Monthly Climatic
Data for the World, the official publication of
the World Meteorological Organization.
The ocean data
are our own or as noted in the references to the
document you have from me. We calculate annual means.
When I give you information on annual means, they're
the regular 12 monthly means and we calculate annual
anomalies. The anomaly is a departure from a long-term
mean at each station. It's either warmer or cooler
than the long-term mean at each station. We call that
an anomaly. I've used five-year periods in comparison,
so-called pentades, rather than decades because this
allows us to include the first five-year, 1991-95,
record of the current, as yet unfinished, decade.
We'll start down in Bermuda. The Bermuda Biological
Station for Research—that's BBSR if I refer to it
again—where I worked from 1969 to 1971, is responsible
for physical and chemical measurements at the famous
hydrographic Station S, which lies southeast of Bermuda
in 3,200 metres of water. It's close to the centre of
the subtropical North Atlantic ocean.
Now, serial measurements of temperature observations
on land dating back a century or more are not
uncommon—they've already been referred to—but no such
record exists for any location in the ocean. Station
S, which has been occupied regularly by the staff of
BBSR since the observations were initiated by Henry
Stommel of Woods Hole and MIT in 1954, is the
longest continuous series we have in the deep ocean.
The sampling frequency—on average twice a
month—is dense enough to show real periodic phenomena,
such as variability of temperature at sub-surface
depths, and the trends in the data are indicative of change
over much of the subtropical North Atlantic.
In 1972, after eliminating the annual cycle from the
record, I detected a cooling trend in the sub-surface
waters. This is 1972. So we had a cooling trend down
to about 1,000 metres, and that trend had persisted for
over a decade and a half. Now, at that time—if any of
you are old enough to remember that far back—the whole
northern hemisphere was known to have been cooling
since about the 1940s, and serious and informed opinion
was that a return of the ice age was imminent.
All of this implied that further declines in water
temperature in Bermuda could be expected.
So what happened?
By 1975 the cooling trend in the sub-surface waters
had been reversed. For the past two decades, the
waters off Bermuda have become steadily warmer, though
at many depths they remain cooler than they were at the
start of the time series.
If the observations at this Station S
had been begun in the mid-1970s, this warming trend
would have been seized upon as a sign of greenhouse
warming. But since the series began in 1954, we can
see the true picture is of cooling in the first part of
the record, with warming thereafter to values not yet
equivalent to the initial ones.
From that I learned—and I think you should learn—the
salutary lesson that the inferences that can be drawn
from any time series are highly dependent upon the
length of the series you're presented to study. What
you're shown is what you have to judge upon.
If you've carried nothing more than that away from my
talk today, I'll be well satisfied. You'll be better
equipped to ask to be shown not only truth and nothing
but the truth, but the whole truth about global
Let's move a little closer to home. We'll go to Sable
Island. It's not quite Bermuda, but a lovely spot
in its own right.
I'm going to show a couple of these. They're both the
same type, where the starting date is here; years are
on this axis up to the current. On this matter of the
anomaly, we start with the mean level in the middle.
These are years of warmer than average, cooler than
average. This spidery kind of line is the annual and
the rather bolder line is a five-year average.
The record from Sable Island is really very, very
important, because it's an excellent example of an
isolated location. It's uninhabited except for weather
station personnel, so it's unaffected by any
possible heating from urban growth.
It's one of the global sites used to monitor the
partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
in support of the long-term measurements at Mauna Loa
The record of surface air temperature
since the 1890s—this is rather warm, isn't it—is quite
It started with a cooling as we entered the century,
down to its coldest around the 1920s. It warmed up
quite dramatically through to the 1950s, since which it
has essentially declined to a level that is in fact
lower than it was at the beginning.
That rise and decline was really quite substantial. It
was in the order of two degrees Celsius. But when you
look at the whole record from beginning to end, I think
you could remark—as we would say in the other official
the more things change, the more they stay the same.
So at a station unaffected by urban warming, we really
have no case for a continued warming.
I obviously can't give you every one of these in a
short talk this afternoon, but other long-term stations
in Atlantic Canada—Charlottetown, Prince Edward
Island; Sydney, Nova Scotia; St. John's,
Newfoundland—show this same pattern of warming to
mid-century and then decline to the present time.
Even though the database for the coast of Labrador and
Baffin Island is patchy prior to 1940, the same
pattern of warming to a peak in the 1950s followed by
cooling to date is shown there also.
The temperature of the surface of the ocean south and
east of Newfoundland also shows a similar pattern, but
the decline comes later, around the mid-1960s. So air
temperatures declined, and then about a decade later
the surface ocean temperature declined.
These climatic fluctuations have economic consequences
for the fishery. During the last ten years of
extremely cold temperatures in the region, recruitment
from Labrador to the Grand Banks has been poor; these
sea temperature declines since the mid-1980s are
responsible for half of the recent decrease in
size-at-age of cod.
These temperature-dependent effects aren't
hypothetical or model; they are real, and they are
having real consequences for us.
The decreasing minimum temperatures in winter don't
just affect natural stocks.
The decreasing winter temperatures have been a factor.
This was shown near St. Andrews, New Brunswick, in the
winter of 1992-93, when cold in the winter caused
mass mortalities in captive stocks of salmon in
facilities in southern New Brunswick. Currently
cold temperatures restrict the expansion of
aquaculture in Newfoundland waters. Bear that in mind
if you are a believer in future warming. There are
one or two places that could do with a little extra
warmth, particularly in winter.
To move now to Greenland, the station record here, of
the same pattern as from Sable Island, is from
Godthaab on the west coast,
and similarly from the east coast,
Angmagssalik. For the first decades of this century you
see there was warmth, which culminated in about the
1930s and the warmest five-year period of the record.
Since then both those coasts have cooled, in
the west to the lowest values on record. This
has had a significant effect on the fishery. This
temperature record from Godthaab essentially charts the
rise and fall of a great fishery, the west Greenland
cod fishery. I will admit it was aided and abetted by
overfishing. There is now no fishing for cod off west
Greenland. Essentially the good years we had
were the years above the mean temperature.
So once again there is no evidence of a warming
in this record.
Until 1989 my colleagues and I had been
investigating the marine climate. We had just been
studying these regional variations in temperature and
effects on the fisheries and we hadn't thought to look
at our results in the light of global warming. Like
most scientists we just accepted it: well, the people doing
the models must have something going for them. But we
really did begin to wonder, if the world in general
and the Northern Hemisphere in particular were supposed to be
warming, why did our series of temperatures show
nothing but cooling?
The IPCC explanation is more
or less that the Arctic is warming as a consequence of
the greenhouse effect. This causes greater volumes of
cold water to leave the Arctic, pass down the eastern
seaboard, and give lower sea and air temperatures
locally. This is what we've been told: well, you're
just looking at the local effect, Rog, it's no big
general deal. However, such an idea has testable
consequences, because if more cold water really is
moving out of the Labrador Sea, there should be some
type of compensatory flow.
This is just a diagram of mainly
the surface circulation of the North Atlantic. Here's the
North Atlantic Current. Essentially red through blue
colours are warm through cold, with the intermediate of
yellow and green. Remember my mentioning about this
water releasing heat energy to the atmosphere, which
warms western Europe? That's happening around here.
This warmer water, originally from the subtropics,
is working its way up here, being cooled northeast of
Iceland, and other cold water is coming out here and
forming currents, which at the surface and deeper
take cold water in here. Other cold water is coming down
the coast of Baffin Island, along the coast of
Labrador—somewhat fresher water—as
shown by this green here.
If the idea is that there's more of the cold stuff
coming out here, it has to be compensated by some
compensatory flow of warm here, so we thought we would
go look over on the other side of this ocean. If it's
coercing the cooling here, we would expect to see
warming on the other side.
I ask you to look in your text. I haven't an overhead
of this. I gave you a table, table 1, in which I
summarized our findings for island stations and coastal
stations off the coast of western Europe. It's called
table 1, “Stations off
Northwest Europe: The Long-Term Records”.
I've listed the stations from
the west, Iceland, to the east—Murmansk in Russia
is our most easterly station—from the north, Ireland,
all the way south to the Azores. I've given you the
length of record, then the warmest and the coldest
five-year periods, with some comments.
What you'll see
is that all these stations in the northern North Atlantic
follow that pattern which I've you showed you for
our own stations off the east coast of Canada, a
pattern of warming from cold decades at the start of
the century, to a later maximum, with subsequent cooling.
It's also noteworthy that in this list the coldest
five-year period for all stations with a record longer
than 100 years falls in the 19th century, except for
the Azores. That's true, in fact, of all
long-term stations in the record.
I can show you here that if we're allowed to move
inland a little bit in Europe to the places where there
are long term records, some of which have been in
operation since the mid 1700s, only slightly after
Daniel Fahrenheit invented the thermometer....
Don't look at the warmest decade, but at the coldest decade.
All these stations have their coldest decades in a
period from the mid nineteenth to the late nineteenth
century. I've never encountered one of these things
with such a heat output. Perhaps whoever has
responsibility for energy conservation here needs to
look at this one. However, trying to hold it flat,
what you are shown by the IPCC always begins in the
middle or late nineteenth century, so it simply cannot
fail to show warming to date, because it begins in the
period that has the coldest decades without exception.
Where the warmest decades come is interesting. Some
of these stations have their warmest decades early in
the record, in the late eighteenth century. Not
one of them has its warmest decade in the
nineteenth century. The nineteenth century was a cold
This I ran up to the 1980s; the
1990s is not yet a complete decade. Some of them, like
Vienna, Copenhagen, and Geneva, had their
warmest decade most recently, but others, quite
significantly, had their warmest decades in the 1930s,
Stockholm, and Trondheim in Norway.
So we have this very
interesting picture, that the era in which the IPCC
starts its global and hemispherical graphs to impress
you with the fact that the world is warmed is the
coldest recent era. Think about that one.
Also note that the three stations in table 1, with
their warmest five-year period in the last three
decades, all have their locations moved to airports.
Airports are heat islands: paved runways and
burning of aviation fuel keep the adjacent air warmer
than ambient. It's suspicious, at the very least,
that as meteorological observation stations have been
moved to airfields, their local temperature trend is
upward and it often diverges from nearby rural
Surface temperatures in the ectotropical north
Atlantic, we may see, are currently close to or
below their long term means, and they're below the
temperatures reached in the warmest decades of this
century or, in the case of some of the long-term
In all cases, the warmest period came before the 1990s
and the current decade is so far most uninteresting.
There's no evidence that the region has warmed or
cooled dramatically during the 1990s—basically boring.
The pattern of general warming that is supposed to be
manifest in the hemisphere is simply not shown here.
You can't explain this general cooling at all
these island stations by that rather simplistic
interpretation that cold melt-water is coming out of a
warming Arctic. Whatever the IPCC says is happening
globally, it certainly
doesn't include our region.
because the north Atlantic is without doubt the most
extensively and intensively sampled of all the oceans.
This is showing you the frequency of meteorological
observations per month for different parts of the
world. Red means at least 15 observations per
month in a two degree by two degree lat-long square.
You'll see that when we go back to the start of the
record in 1880, 1890, essentially
there was a record for the western north Atlantic, across the
Atlantic here, to North America, down to South
America.... This is interesting; that must have
been the ships going for the Chile saltpetre. There's
essentially nothing in the Pacific, and through the Suez
Canal is the route to the Indies. There was no Panama Canal in
When we look at the years up to 1940, the coverage in
the North Atlantic, again the North Atlantic is the
ocean with a good coverage. Some coverage is starting
up in the North Pacific and there's coverage in east
Asia. Even when we come to 1960, 1980 we see, yes, the
coverage in the North Atlantic is good and, yes, the
coverage in the North Pacific is good, but much of the
southern ocean is essentially unsampled even today.
A major part of the globe is not even sampled for the
purpose of giving you these so-called global averages.
As we know, in those temperate latitudes of eastern
North America and northwestern Europe where we have the
longest measures of temperature, some of them extending back
in time to when the first instrumental records were made
in the eighteenth century, we have cooling there.
If we can't find the evidence of global warming here
in the best sample parts of the world, are we supposed
to believe that it's occurring based on evidence from
central Siberia or remote regions of the southern
hemisphere? Apparently the answer is yes, because this
is the IPCC's own production chart from their 1996
First, anyone who has the least connection with the
sea recognizes this as a Mercator chart. A Mercator
chart is excellent for navigation but is in no way an
equal area projection in terms of north and south of
60 degrees, so it immediately exaggerates these areas shown
here, which are supposed to impress us as being the
areas of warming, the area in the northwest of our own
country and over into Alaska and this region in
As a matter of fact, if we had another day and a half
to go into it, this region in Siberia is one of the
most poorly and inadequately sampled regions in the
globe. We have considerable problems with the
database there. And where it's supposed to be warming in
the southern ocean we have huge gaps in the data. It's
a few isolated spots. I think this shows Tristan de
Cunha or something. There really is no coverage in the
southern ocean to base warming there.
When I present this to my colleagues, of course I am
told, “But Dr. Pocklington, you don't have to worry.”
By the way, here is our cooling, around here, in
Europe. “You don't have to worry about the cooling
you're finding in the North Atlantic, in northwest
Europe. Our models now predict cooling over northeast
North America and Greenland.” I was told this for the
first time in 1994.
“Oh,” I said, “where were you in 1965? How can you
predict in 1994 cooling that began at the middle of the
century? That's not a prediction, that's a
They said it was a “retrospective prediction”. And
I said, “Oh yes, like the one your broker gives you
the day after the market goes down.”
This is highly unsatisfactory. We come up with these
real data and these very expensive computer models are
now—they don't use the word “tweaked”, I think they say
tuned—tuned to give the effect that is in the data.
That is not prediction. That is after-the-fact
adjustment, let us say—I won't say manipulation—so I
simply don't believe it.
They never did predict this cooling. It was only
after we showed them the cooling year after year and
after we literally rubbed their noses in the data that
they admitted the fact and changed their models to give
the cooling in the North Atlantic.
But if the models now have cooling in the North
Atlantic, I and the others in the fishing community
would really like to know, if it's in their model, when
is it going to stop? But when you ask a specific
question like that you get told that on the regional
scale they can't really tell you anything.
The other point you have to bear in mind is this. Had
we gone out and found warming in the North Atlantic,
can you believe that it would have been interpreted as
evidence against greenhouse warming? You can't simply
have a scientific hypothesis when the evidence that is
180 degrees opposed is always in favour of your hypothesis.
Watch this one, folks. This is not a prediction at
all about cooling in the North Atlantic; this is an
after-the-fact justification of what the real data
I'm sorry I became a little impassioned, Mr. Chair.
I'm probably running out of time. If I may be allowed
a couple of minutes more, let's cool down a bit—or
maybe warm up—and go back to the latitude of Bermuda.
In my opening remarks I spoke about the length of a
temperature time series being dependent on the length
of the series you're given to see.
Some very exciting things in addition to Station S
have been done off Bermuda. In the 1970s a
collection of a nearly continuous suite of deep
sediment trap samples—these intercept particles that
are sinking through the water column—were started at a
site called an ocean flux program site. They were
begun by Werner Deuser of Woods Hole. Additionally,
deep-sea cores of sediment have been taken on the
Bermuda rise east of Station S.
These three elements combine to give one the first
reconstructions of sea surface temperature in recent
centuries in the open ocean. I should add that these
are quite additional to evidence from tree rings, from
ground boreholes. This is additional what is termed
“proxy” evidence. I agree that they aren't from
somebody going out and noting down a temperature and
putting it in a log book, but this is totally
independent proxy data.
We can study the stable isotope composition of the
shells of some little planktonic animals called
formaminifera, which record past changes in
temperature and salinity of the Sargasso Sea sea water
where they lived and where they then fell down to the
bottom and became preserved in the sediments.
I should explain, by the way, that geologists, unlike
climatologists, begin here on the left of the X axis
and they go back in time to the right. This is a
longstanding distinction. How it began I don't know.
It's rather like the schism between the eastern and the
western churches. It goes back a long way. You just
have to remember that when you're looking at the
geologist's core, here is now, and to the right is a
long time ago, whereas in a climatologist's scale it's
However, let us look at what this record shows us.
Here's our little Station S and the little record
we've had since 1954, which fits right in here. Prior
to that, and we're going back about 300 years, is very
clear evidence of what has been termed the “little ice
age”. This is known from a large amount of other
evidence from certainly all over the northern
hemisphere, if not all over the world, because there
wasn't any evidence from other parts of the world.
Certainly where there was evidence, there was cold in
Further back is the “medieval warm period”. During
this period, people from Scandinavia first made it over
to Greenland, where in southern Greenland, with the
poor varieties of wheat of the day, they grew a crop of
wheat. I challenge you to do that nowadays, even with
modern varieties. These events were real—the little
ice age and the medieval warm period. Further back in
time we have another cold event here, around 1500 years
before present, and an even warmer event back here.
The main thing to look at has to do with this question
of variability in the record, which was raised in the
initial questioning. The range here is fully a degree
or more cold for the little ice age. We're going a
degree or more warmer here—even two degrees here.
We have not yet seen here the full range of natural
variability. Anything that might have happened here is
well within the range of natural variability. Natural
variability is considerably greater than we feel. There
was a remark made by the previous speaker about an
assumption of stability in the long-term climate, which
is simply not true.
All these events, I may say, occurred without human
invention. Although they were trying hard to keep themselves
warm during the little ice age, I don't think our
ancestors burned enough fuel to significantly affect
the carbon dioxide partial pressure in their atmosphere.
I think I've said enough, and I've taken too much of
your valuable time. Basically, claims that the
half-degree warming since the late 19th century to the
present day is exceptional and requires some kind of
special explanation to account for it are poorly
supported by this data. Remember, what you see in any
time series depends upon how much you're shown.
Thank you so much.
The Chairman: Thank you, Dr. Pocklington.
now continue our round of questions. I would urge you
to perhaps use five minutes rather than ten. We'll
hear from Mr. Lincoln, followed by Mr. Knutson. After
that, my list is still white. Mr. Pratt—okay. Please
go ahead, Mr. Lincoln.
Mr. Clifford Lincoln: I'll just give Dr.
Pocklington a minute.
Dr. Pocklington, if I understand you correctly, you
disagree completely with the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change—their 2,500 scientists or so. Is your
own work peer-reviewed?
Dr. Roger Pocklington: No, sir, I do not disagree
completely with the IPCC. You heard my presentation.
On those specific instances I covered, I presented
you factual evidence, where the factual evidence, which
is not mine but theirs, is in variance with their
Mr. Clifford Lincoln: No, no. I was just asking
you a specific question. Is your work peer-reviewed?
Dr. Roger Pocklington: I'm not here to answer
ad hominem questions, sir. I'm here of my own
time and expense. I'm a currently retired former public
servant of Canada. The list of my publications is with
you, in peer-reviewed publications. I'm currently
retired and am not currently employed, if that's the
basis for your question. But I really find it a little
offensive that these personal factors are introduced at
Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Excuse me, Dr. Pocklington,
but I think this type of questioning is fair.
I'm just reading a book now, The Heat is On,
which shows that so many people who refute the IPCC are
not peer-reviewed—it's amazing how many. What I
understand myself, and I'm not a scientist, is that the
IPCC has something like 2,500 scientists from all over
the world, has grouped together the most eminent
scientists in the field, who tell us that there is
global warming. You come out and object to my
question, but it's your word that says what Dr. McBean
said wasn't true.
You object to my question as to whether your work is
peer-reviewed, but I think it's a fair question. If
you come along tell us that Dr. McBean's statements
are not true, I think I'd like to know if your work is
peer-reviewed. The IPCC work is peer-reviewed at every
stage by the most eminent scientists in the world. I
want to know whether I should believe you more than Dr.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Okay, sir. Perhaps I'm a
little sensitive on this issue, because whenever I
express any disbelief on the basis of my own practical
experience in my working life.... And I made this talk
a little personal to show you how I came from doing
just regional studies that no one can refute. All this
stuff is in the literature, our own papers and the
other papers from the fisheries scientists at the
Bedford Institute. You have reference to some of my
colleagues in there. All this stuff is presented to
the ICES meetings every year—the
Unfortunately, my colleagues tended to look at these
facts as just a regional thing. They set me to thinking
how this fits within this larger story we're
I have publications. They are listed, I
believe, in the.... Stephen, were they attached?
The Clerk: Yes, they are.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: I have publications that
are listed there, and I have publications in press, and
you may read the publications of my colleagues.
Mr. Clifford Lincoln: I know, but I think this is
a key question. We are not disputing facts that were
known by all scientists on the same basis. What we are
trying to find out here is which group of scientists
has the interpretation of the facts to give us a
projection that will tell us that we should act now,
or, as the Reform Party is suggesting, we should do
nothing for now because it will cost too much. Just
like the tobacco industry told us 20 years ago—you
know, there is no definite proof, so don't do anything.
Then it's too late.
What we want to know is should we act now on the
precautionary possibility that the 2,500 IPCC
scientists might be right? If you give a counterpoint
and you come to a different interpretation, we want to
know that you have as much backing for your opinions
as they have for their opinions.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Well, it's obvious that one
is not equal to 2,500. But I've shown you that I'm a
practising, working scientist, and that I am not in
fact alone in these opinions. I am more free to
express them now that I'm retired, though I must say
that my own department was always very supportive of my
work. You will see that my work was supported by the
Panel on Energy Research and Development. You may
read the whole list of projects that panel supports.
They range from supporting me, as you might say, if you
want to take that as one extreme, all the way through
to people studying whether beaver ponds are a
significant effect in the methane. The source of my
funding is a source from which a great variety of
people of different viewpoints have drawn.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Knutson, followed by Mr. Pratt.
Mr. Gar Knutson (Elgin—Middlesex—London, Lib.): I
just wondered, Dr. McBean, if you would like to make
any comments, given the presentation we just saw.
Dr. Gordon McBean: Thank you. Yes I would,
actually. I would also personally, like Dr.
Pocklington, avoid trying to be personal, but I did find
some of his comments rather offensive to myself and to
my colleagues in the broad scientific community.
However, I will stick to the points he has made.
He has basically given you a selection of temperature
data from the North Atlantic and a few stations
adjoining it on land areas, which, as I showed you in
this figure, is an area that we agree does cool.
I think one also must take exception to his comments
that all these land stations are at airports, and
airports are natural heat islands.
first of all comment that they're not all at airports.
We have many stations in the Canadian climate network
that are at other than airports.
Secondly, there has been a very careful analysis by
scientists in the United States and the U.K., as well
as those in Canada, who have looked at this land-based
data and have made comparisons of airport versus other,
and where appropriate they have corrected the
heat-island-affected stations. We believe the data that we
presented, which show a global temperature change
including the warming in the 1990s—the fact that 1995
is the warmest year on the record—are on a solid base.
I object to the argument that we use Mercator maps.
We clearly don't use Mercator maps, other than to show
them in diagrams. When one computes global averages,
one uses a sensible scientific approach of areas.
If the committee would like to have a solid,
authoritative presentation on the role of the ocean and
climate, I think there are many very eminent Canadian
oceanographers who have played a leading role. In fact,
the chairman of the World Oceans Circulation
Experiment, who happens to work for the Department
of Fisheries and Oceans, is one of the most eminent
physical oceanographers on the planet today. He is
chairing committees internationally, and if you wish to
hear an authoritative comment on the role of the ocean
in the climate system, it would be appropriate to
invite Dr. Clark from the Bedford Institute.
I could also note that previous to my present
appointment, I was the head of the department of
oceanography at the University of British Columbia, and
I don't think the kind of ocean work that has been
presented here is credible in terms of putting it in a
global context of global change.
The Chairman: Mr. Knutson.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: I have a point of order,
The Chairman: No, there's no point of order. I'm
Mr. Gar Knutson: What did you want to say?
The Chairman: If you are asked a similar question,
of course you will have an opportunity to put it
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Understood.
Mr. Gar Knutson: Let me just interject here that
I'm assuming everyone's acting in good faith. We're
sort of into arguing about who's the smartest and who's
I'm not a scientist either, but when somebody tells me
there's a consensus in the scientific community—or a
rough consensus—that there's a serious problem here, I
tend to accept that. I'm not qualified to look at
computer models. I'm not qualified to try to sort this
out on my own. I don't think that's what I got elected
to do. But other than the personal stuff on both sides,
I find this debate interesting.
Mr. Pocklington, the chair cut you off. What did you
want to say?
Dr. Roger Pocklington: No, the chair explained the
circumstances under which I may answer the points.
The Chairman: Go ahead, Mr. Pocklington.
Mr. Gar Knutson: Let's hear your rebuttal to the
The Chairman: By all means, proceed.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: I agree with Mr. Knutson.
Perhaps we should just lower the emotional tone a bit.
The matter of consensus is of course very important
to you people in the political sphere. It's always
very important to you that you reach the maximum
consensus in a democratic system, that all views are
represented, so on and so forth.
But as I tell students, science is unfortunately both
democratic and undemocratic. It's democratic in the
sense that anyone can play. I didn't say it was
equally easy for everyone to enter, but even a
fisherman's son can enter and can be a participant.
It's undemocratic in the fact that at any meeting
convened in Geneva for scientists who are deemed or
deem themselves to be eminent—and I must tell you that
the majority of these people are the actual movers and
shakers—the actually really active scientists of that
group I would put at one-tenth. The others are
knowledgeable and well-intentioned people who are the
representatives of various governments. They may not
in fact have specific expertise, but maybe they are
delegated the responsibility.
So the presumption that this is the absolute number of
active scientists in the field, and that anyone who was
not invited to this....
And I might tell you
that it's in my curriculum vitae that Dr. Bruce did
very kindly invite me to be on the Canadian review
committee of the most recent report, the group three
report. That was very civil of him, and just exactly
what he should have done to involve people who had
something to say but who were not necessarily at the
table. So you must not just believe that the only
people who have anything to say were at that meeting in
If I could take up a specific thing, I really did not
say “at all airports”—and my text is in front of
you. I merely made the very mild remark that three of
those stations that showed warming most recently
happened to have been moved to airports, and wasn't
I know what Gordon says, that we try very hard to
remove this urban effect. But it's also interesting
that when you go to Sable Island, where there is no
urban effect, you don't see this warming. If you take
a selection across the United States, as Thomas Karl
has done, of those stations that couldn't possibly
have any urban warming because they're even maybe
smaller now than they were when this record started,
you get no overall warming for the continental United
States. In fact, there is a slight but I think
So we like to think we've removed the urban warming
effect, but that was all I said. I didn't say that all
warming stations were at airports.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Mr.
Chair, I think some of my questions have been answered,
but I'm not sure Dr. Pocklington has fully answered Mr.
Understanding that different scientists can come to
different conclusions, would you not concede that there
seems to be a consensus within the scientific community
that the issue of global warming is in fact a reality,
whether it's a rough or solid consensus?
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Yes, but I tried to
tell you, when I made the remark about science being
both democratic and not democratic, that it doesn't
work that way. It's democratic in that anyone can
play, but it's not democratic in that the majority....
With reference to what is now known as plate tectonics,
when the majority of us were in college, J. Tuzo Wilson
himself was of the camp that said the continents
and oceans are fixed in place and cannot move. If you
had had a meeting in Geneva at that time, you would
have had the majority voting on that. But then the key
evidence came out and people switched, and now the
convention is that we have the continents moving around
the ocean basins.
Mr. David Pratt: Is it your belief, then, that
governments around the world are relying on, or are
basing policy decisions on, second-rate science right
Dr. Roger Pocklington: You've made much too strong
a statement. I do believe I said I find it curious
that in those parts of the world that are best
sampled—and I'm sure I convinced you of that, and the
figures I'm showing you are the IPCC's
own figures—the North Atlantic in terms of oceans and
northwestern Europe and eastern North America are our
best samples. I can show you from the IPCC's own list
where the stations are. The stations that have had
continuous measurements since 1840 are few and far
between, and they're in those locations.
I've asked my colleagues at Bedford Institute if they
would not feel happier if they had their strongest
evidence from the best-sampled parts of the world
rather than the worst-sampled parts of the world.
That's all. It's just a sort of practical thing.
Wouldn't it be a little easier if the best sample parts
showed warming, rather than having us having to go to
the middle of nowhere to find it? I have to tell you
that the East Asian and Siberian land data is very
Mention was made here by a gentleman questioning about
the satellite records that we haven't even brought up.
If we go up from the surface and into the next layer,
where I think there have been records now since the
late 1970s—is it now eighteen years of data,
Gordon?—they were not showing any warming at all.
It's showing some cooling.
Perhaps I get a bit too excited when I'm throwing the
overheads on there, but basically I felt my message was
one of caution. Let us be cautious.
Mr. David Pratt: So rather than making a sweeping
comment about perhaps second-rate science here, to sum
Dr. Roger Pocklington: I didn't make that
Mr. David Pratt: No, I did, but I'm just trying to
understand the sort of general direction you're
going in. Would you say, then, that some of the
conclusions that governments have drawn from the
scientific evidence that appears to be out there are
problematic in terms of the extent to which they're
Dr. Roger Pocklington: I myself have not seen change
outside the range of variation. I haven't seen a
signal outside the range. I am not a modeller. I
am not predicting the future for you. I'm showing you
the past, showing what really happened in the
past, as well as we can know it, and saying it's no big
deal. This half-degree Celsius warming we have
had—and remember, we always start those graphs at the
coldest time—is no big
deal and does not require a special explanation
involving wicked humans puffing whatever it might be
into the atmosphere.
If I might say so, Dr. McBean said very truly that
carbon dioxide is the dominant greenhouse gas among those
people have much to do with, but the
overall dominant greenhouse gas on this planet is water
vapour. This planet is warm because there is water
vapour in its atmosphere.
I personally have great difficulty in believing
the whole of earth's climate history is essentially
dominated by minor concentration changes in a minor
atmospheric constituent. If you want it,
the overall thing that
bothers me is a model which has basically one factor in
it. Oh, sure, methane and other things are in it, but
these models started with let's take something and
double it and see what happens. Well, of course something
happens. If you try doubling
other factors things will happen.
The focus on that then
I think ran away with the political.
If I may say so, Mr. Chair, I didn't
make any type of political statement. I didn't feel it
was up to me. But if things
are put into action...and again, it was mentioned that we
are being asked to suffer real economic
costs for, as far as I'm concerned, hypothetical
benefits. The lowest costs will fall on the power bills
and the heating bills of poor little pensioners like
me, poor people generally. I joke, but it will fall on the
backs of poor people.
So you have to think very hard. Real costs for
hypothetical, some-time-in-the-future benefits: that's
The Chairman: Mr. Charbonneau.
Mr. Yvon Charbonneau (Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, Lib.): This
exchange, Mr. Chairman, almost makes us regret the practice of
A few hundred years ago, there was a consensus in the
scientific community that the Earth was flat, but from time to
time, somebody dared say it was round. He was considered an
oddball. I wonder if we are not in just such a situation now: there
is someone who dares express other points of view and say that
perhaps the Earth is not flat.
I would like to ask Mr. McBean to comment on the fact that Mr.
Pocklington's argument is based on a longer observation period. I
think that, fact for fact, in five-year blocks, you are saying
almost the same thing for the period you have in common. But the
period observed by Mr. Pocklington is longer, which leads him to
make his conclusion relative, while the period observed by the
scientists and Mr. McBean is shorter.
Mr. McBean, why couldn't you at least concede this point to
Mr. Pocklington—that everything has to be observed over a longer
period? If the scientists that you represent or whose point of view
you express haven't done so, is it because they had no interest in
studying everything over a longer period?
I have a question for Mr. Pocklington. We are going through
this whole exercise because in December there is going to be an
international conference where an agreement is to be signed. We
have noted that the different countries—Europe, Japan and the
United States—are talking to us about stabilization at 1990
levels. That might take more years for some and fewer for others.
The means might be different, but they are talking to us about this
ideal of stabilization.
Could you comment on this goal of stabilization at 1990
levels? In your opinion, is it a good idea, in spite of your
conclusions? How could we contribute to this stabilization in
Dr. Gordon McBean: Let me first comment
that although the diagram I showed started in
approximately 1860, the intergovernmental panel
in fact has gone back. You will note that in one of my
overheads it says the 20th century is at least as warm
as any other since at least 1400. We based that on
over 600 years of reconstructions of
climate. The third or so diagram in here
actually goes back 200,000 years. So we have
very much used longer periods of record, which I think
are adequate to go beyond or earlier than the time
period that Mr. Pocklington has talked about.
The data record gets less robust. There were fewer
observations in the earlier times and we must
reconstruct them from things like the small beasties in
the ocean that Dr. Pocklington talked about earlier that he
If you ask me the question of stabilizing at 1990, my
only comment would be that stabilizing at 1990,
according to our carbon models, indicates that the
atmospheric concentrations will still go up. If every
country in the globe stabilizes, the atmospheric
concentration will still continue to increase and will
be very nearly double the global carbon dioxide
concentration by the year 2100, with the resulting
changes in climate corresponding to that.
The IPCC in its 1990 or 1992 report stated that if you
wished to stabilize the atmospheric concentration of
carbon dioxide, you would have to reduce the present day
emissions by all countries by approximately 60%.
The Chairman: Dr. Pocklington, please.
Mr. Roger Pocklington: I have nothing to say on the question
of stabilization. As far as I'm concerned, the concentration of
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not a problem. Why stabilize
something when it's not a problem?
Mr. Yvon Charbonneau: I understood better in French than in
English. I didn't understand that up until now, it wasn't a
problem. I understood that it wasn't as serious a problem as the
others said. But now you're telling us it's not a problem at all.
Is that what you are saying?
Mr. Roger Pocklington: It isn't a problem because, for me, the
series of temperatures doesn't require a separate explanation; that
is to say, what happened between the end of the 19th Century and
now is negligible.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Charbonneau.
Ms. Kraft Sloan.
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (York North, Lib.): Dr.
McBean, I just wanted to ask you a little bit about some
of the recent regional studies that have been
undertaken across this country. We have the Canada
country study, which will be released later this month.
There are six regional scientific reports: British
Columbia, Yukon, Arctic, Prairies, Ontario, Quebec
and Atlantic. There was one released this summer on
the Mackenzie Basin impact study.
I'm just wondering
if you can tell us a little bit about the
Mackenzie Basin impact study, if you have that
information handy, because it's my recollection that
through that study we've been able to see evidence of
climate change already at work in the Mackenzie Basin
area, and that it has been accepted by a wide-level
consensus with 2,500 to 3,000 scientists, as well as 300
economists, who have been looking at some of the impacts
of climate change to suggest that human intervention
does play a role.
It's also my
understanding that scientists have reached a consensus
or conclusion that warming will be greater in polar
than equatorial regions, and in continental rather than
If you'd like to comment on the Mackenzie Basin
impact study, or any of the other ones, I'd appreciate
Dr. Gordon McBean: Yes, thank you. We can
provide to the committee members the Mackenzie
Basin impact study executive summary, if it hasn't
already been done. I think it may have been in the
past, but we can get out copies.
The Mackenzie Basin impact study was an analysis
based on looking at scientific studies of the
local changes in permafrost and ecosystems in water, as
well as a large number of interviews with people who
live in that area, including many native people who
have carried out a certain lifestyle for long periods
Our own scientific data show that the Mackenzie
Basin has warmed by approximately 1.5 degrees Celsius.
As demonstrated on this little chart I showed you
earlier, that is one of the places where the warming
has been most pronounced in Canada. That is consistent
with the predictions of the global climate change
models. We have also seen impacts, noted by studies by
ecologists, that there are changes in ecosystems. The
permafrost effects have been noted, and also the native
peoples themselves have reported many—this is
anecdotal information but based on their own
lifestyles—changes they had observed in terms of
the way in which the climate of that area has changed.
We released the report in Quebec the other day for the
region. These are assessments based on scientific
literature of the types of impacts that would occur if
the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were to
double in the future, what kind of climate change would
be appropriate with that. They are not predictions;
they are just a scientific assessment indicative of the
types of social, economic, as well as environmental
change it would correspond to, region by region in
Canada. They have to be qualified because of the
difficulties in modelling fine-scale changes, but
within that context they demonstrate the changes and
their impacts—some of which are positive and some of
which are negative—on Canadian activities.
As you said, the formal, full-Canada country study
will be released later this month.
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Thank you.
Dr. Pocklington, do you have any comments about the
Mackenzie Basin impact study, with some of the
changes that Canadian scientists have recognized as
actual climate change occurring now in Canada's north,
with some of the effects on the ecosystem? Are you
familiar with the study at all?
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Yes, Mrs. Kraft Sloan.
In fact, probably Mr. Lincoln would be pleased to know
that I'm one of the contributors to the Atlantic region
report. Some of the things I brought out, the factual
information I've presented, and that of my colleagues
will be in there, with the recognition that in the
Atlantic region we must be prepared for climate change
of either sign, minus as well as plus, because our
reality is minus. As I've tried to show you, that
too has economic and social consequences.
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: But I believe that's why
it's called “climate change”.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Yes, it's climate change.
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: It's called climate change
because it isn't going to go hot or cold, necessarily.
It depends on what part of the world you're dealing
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Yes.
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: —and certainly in
Canada's north there is well-documented evidence, both
at the western sort of science level as well as the
on-the-ground, community-based indigenous people's
I have been up there. I know I'm a politician; I'm
not a scientist. I don't live there; I don't spend a
lot of time there. But I've also talked to local
people who have indicated to me the changes they've
seen, the changes in the ability to support certain
kinds of fish, the changes in transportation because of
winter roads thawing, ice bridges thawing, the sides of
the Mackenzie River caving in because of mud slides,
and the increase in forest fires. So a lot of local
people are seeing this as part of the climate change
Dr. Roger Pocklington: I'm sure you have all
this local data.
I would like to make two points.
One, not that many people live in that region now.
How many fewer lived there in say 1895? My
understanding is that the long-term temperature trace
we have from there really begins with one station, I
believe Norman Wells. So let us consider also my
point that we have a sparse record over time. I agree
we have people's experiences and so on to guide us, but
we also have people's experiences in Newfoundland,
Labrador, and Baffin Island and what has happened to
If you see the stuff that I present to you about the
Atlantic, and western Europe is to be discounted—oh,
well, yes, that's cooling, but that's not terribly
important—if you look at the geographic area of which
you're speaking, I could say the same thing. I could
say, “Oh, well, it's atypical”. Frankly, you have a
system of some regions warming and some cooling, and
that, Madam, you have to accept.
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: But it's not atypical,
because the greatest impact of climate change in terms
of increasing temperature is going to be in the north
and centre of the continent, which is the area we're
We're talking about people who pass stories from
generation to generation, which is also a type of
science. They have indicated the changes out there as
well, the changes they've seen in ecosystems—wider
landscape ecosystems as well as individual species and
fish populations and things like that. They have seen
it. And the results of the increase in temperature in
that area, which Dr. McBean has pointed out, from a
western science point of view, fit in with the climate
So the results of the work that has been carried out
with the Mackenzie Basin impact study,
which crosses sectoral lines—it includes the
scientific community and local indigenous people—all
suggest that climate change is occurring now in
The Chairman: I apologize, but make it a brief
Dr. Roger Pocklington: As it is in the Atlantic
and the regions I talked about.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Asselin, please.
Mr. Gérard Asselin (Charlevoix, BQ): My question is directed
to Mr. McBean. At the moment, we're studying the problem of
emissions of greenhouse effect gases in anticipation of the Kyoto
meeting. The Environment, Natural Resources and Industry Ministries
have looked into this question. A little while ago, someone said
the more things change the more they stay the same. I knew that
saying was correct in politics: we change governments and
ministers, and the more things change the more they stay the same.
We do studies and analyses, but we don't do anything concrete to
bring about a reduction.
When I look at the graphs from 1900 to 2001, I notice that the
more things change, the more they stay the same. And in 2001
there... [Editor's Note: Inaudible]. The same is true from 1910 to
2040, and from 1860 to 2000.
Is the Environment Ministry, besides doing analyses and
hatching pretty documents that look good and will surely look good
at the Kyoto meeting, really trying to prevent the curve on the
graphs from changing for the year 2000? Can Environment Canada,
through its employees, today or even tomorrow, present any concrete
solutions for achieving this goal of stabilization?
If we are able to reduce these emissions, let's not wait until
we're like South Korea or Mexico, where you have to walk around all
day long with a handkerchief or a mask over your mouth or nose,
before we start to act.
We have already done analyses and studies; what is missing is
quite simply the will to apply environmental policies that give
Dr. Gordon McBean: Thank you.
Certainly there is within several departments of the
federal government now a very large level of activity,
and we have the involvement of many ministers. I
cannot today tell you what the position will be, and
it's inappropriate for me to try to comment on what it
might be, but there is, as I said, a high level of
activity. The Prime Minister has already spoken on a
couple of occasions in the last week or so on this
issue. It is identified as an issue of concern within
governments, and we are developing a position for
Kyoto, which will be part of a process that is
presently under way.
I am glad you made the comment about the mask on the
face question, because we're also looking at the
effects on human health of these kinds of emissions as
the whole question of urban air quality. These and
climate change questions are very closely linked.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Asselin.
We can have a quick second round after a brief
question from the chair. The question that intrigues
me is the following.
There is an indication of a temperature change on this
map of the northwest Atlantic that you showed us, Dr.
McBean, which indicates that there is there a cooling
trend. This is the conclusion also of the Sable Island
observations that Dr. Pocklington referred to. So
there is, in this part of the oceans, a convergence of
Are there any other convergences of conclusions in
other oceans in other parts of the world?
Dr. Gordon McBean: I believe so, yes. I'm glad
you pointed that out. These kinds of model projections
include the ocean and they include the impacts of an
oceanographic change corresponding to greenhouse gases.
In the early parts of this record, it does indicate,
as noted in this diagram, a cooling due to a change in
the north Atlantic thermohaline circulation in
that region. As we progress further, as we go further
into 2100 or an increasing amount of greenhouse
gases, that area of cooling eventually, in a much
longer period of time, does become a warming period.
But there are other areas where of course the
observations and the models are in agreement now,
including parts of the north Atlantic and other areas.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Mr. Chair, could I quickly
The Chairman: Yes.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: I wish we just had more
time. After all, this has been fascinating. Although
some people have left, I saw no one go to sleep.
Earlier Dr. McBean showed you this very same thing
with the same data source coming from the University of
East Anglia, which is like the Vatican in this
debate. This is where the authoritative data and
statements issue from. We have here a much better
equal area projection, because it of course is the
projection from the top down. We're looking at our
globe from the top down.
On Dr. McBean's point about the Mercator, whatever
he says, the Mercator is the one that was given to the
public to see in that other figure. But as scientists,
we are agreed that we're better looking at equal area
This one is very interesting, because this is broken
down for autumn. He showed you the annual. Red tints
are warming and blue are cooling. You may ignore the
intermediate tints, because the projections of the IPCC
are not only in absolute terms, but in rate of
change. Therefore very slow rates of warming aren't
even supportive of their argument. They not only have
to warm the world up; they have to warm it up at a rate
unprecedented, which means you need only bother about
the deep red and the very blue.
I'm sorry; I'll speak to my member of Parliament about
improving the overhead projector you have in here.
The levels in degrees Celsius per decade are of the
same order for the cooling. We have minus six degrees
Celsius to minus five degrees Celsius, down
in the red colours, where they're claiming the very
reddish colours are going up to one degree Celsius.
But essentially, if
you look at it in autumn and you say this is equal
area, you can see as much or more areas of blue
cooling: the whole of the North American continent,
the region I was telling you about, eastern Europe, and
I never even got to mention the north Pacific. A huge
area of water has been cooling in the north Pacific.
Yes, we still have what claims to be warming in Alaska
and in the east Siberian region, which I wish I had
more time to tell you about. But this is from the
people who, as I say, are the pope and the cardinals of
this warming debate, and they have to admit that when
they look from 1961 to 1990 and break it down into the
autumn season, they are hard-pressed to find any
warming at all—only this region here and a touch here.
By and large, you can look in the IPCC report, and
this is left totally unexplained. It really is most
peculiar. It is telling us something about our world,
but I have not seen a satisfactory explanation. There
is as much or more cooling than warming going on in our
world this 30 years.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Rick Laliberte (Churchill River, NDP): Thank
You can get a headache looking at the whole aspect
here. Just from an oceanographer's perspective, Dr.
Pocklington, this whole climate change issue looks at
the poles and the scenario that the poles will warm. Is
it a fact that if the poles warm, the ice will melt
and the oceans will rise? Is that an oceanographic
fact as well?
Dr. Roger Pocklington: That is correct. But
actually, if you want to talk about sea level a little
Mr. Rick Laliberte: Well, yes. You didn't mention
sea level at all.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Well, I was initially told
ten minutes. You gave me far more than that.
The sea level thing is really pre-empted. There is an
element of it, but you must realize that because of
things such as buoyancy of ice and so on, the sea level
rise actually comes from warming the surface water of
the ocean, which then expands. This is where the
projected or proposed sea level rise comes from.
There are two points I would like to make there. If
you think the database for temperature is bad,
precipitation is worse, and the database for sea
level—that is, the factual basis that we have at
different places in the world where they have actually
measured sea level—is atrocious.
Bermuda is supposed to be one of the better places,
because it's a coral cap on top of a volcano that
supposedly hasn't been going up and down itself, as
many parts of Canada have. But I have to tell you,
that physical record, for which I was responsible in
the past, is lousy for the reason that the gauge itself
has been moved around. There is a very poor factual
base for knowing what is happening now with sea level.
In different places it's going up and down and staying
the same, so I find it very touchy that people can
The calculation that if we warm the surface water of
the ocean so much, it will expand, and other things
being equal, this will raise sea level, that's okay.
That's a simple physical calculation. But its
expression in different places....
If I may take Bermuda again, you keep hearing this
story about how the water is going to rise and the poor
little people.... Actually, they're not poor little
people in Bermuda. Bermuda is one of the few places
where you can visit as a Canadian and you don't have to
feel sorry for the natives, because they're richer than
you are. But there are some poor islands, too, that
have this same basis of coral, and the fact of the matter
is those islands are there because the coral reef is
able to grow up faster than the water level can rise.
Water levels have been going up and down throughout
Again, I don't feel threatened by that, and I'm the
guy living on a coral island.
Mr. Rick Laliberte: It seems as if your statements
are bordering on a conspiracy theory here.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Oh, certainly not. I can't
believe I said anything....
Mr. Rick Laliberte: I can say that. I'm a
Now, if you tell us that we're not going in any way,
and in a decade or two decades, which this
whole conference is based on.... If we do not change our
ways and pollution throughout the world, our lifestyles
throughout the world, our indications are that
ecological factors are falling into place and ecological
facts are telling us that we're making a grave mistake
here. You have boldly said not to worry about
carbon dioxide, that the climate change is nothing, it's just a
little hiccup in time. If that's a mistake,
are you willing to take that burden?
Dr. Roger Pocklington: You see, the assumption is
always made that—and I'm entering the political now,
so I'm speaking just as a citizen—if we “do nothing”
there will be terrible consequences. But do you know
what would be the worst consequence in all this? It
would be if we took action prejudicial to the economy of the
world. And remember, it will hit the poorest people
most, the poorest people in our country and the poorest
people in other countries, even though there is an
initial exemption of the developing countries from
these rules. I guess you're all aware of that: they get
an exemption. The worst case is in fact that we do these
things and the world continues to warm anyway because
it is warming for reasons unrelated to carbon dioxide.
Another thing: how will you know that your action has
consequences? Imagine what some people will say. You
take this action, at great expense to the global
economy. If the world keeps on warming, it'll
be that we didn't try hard enough; if it goes
along about on the average—
The Chairman: Dr. Pocklington, I'm sorry to
interrupt you. You are now going into a theme
that is not within your competence—economy.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Yes, I agree, sir.
The Chairman: You're here as a witness on
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Understood.
The Chairman: So I will appreciate it if you
stay out of considerations that are outside the realm
of your specialty and address the question asked by Mr.
Laliberte to the best of your knowledge within your
Mr. Laliberte, do you have any further questions?
Mr. Rick Laliberte: It's just that some statements
were made at some point. Along the east coast, you
said, 50% of the loss of cod was presented as a
percentage loss and you didn't say that a lot of it,
or any of it, was done by either draggers or a human
aspect. You referred to it as temporal
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Mr. Chair, I'm being
dragged into some of these subjects.
Mr. Rick Laliberte: No, no.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: If you read what I've said,
the references are there to Drinkwater. What my
colleagues who are the fishery scientists are
saying is that when you go and look at the year
class, when you look at the little fish that are coming
along that are going to be the catchable ones the next
year, there's a direct effect of cold temperature upon
I did say in my statement about the decline of
the great Greenland cod fishery that, sure, it was not only
the temperature, it was aided and abetted by
overfishing. But that fishery can never come back
until those waters warm, irrespective of what action
you take to restrict the fishing.
The Chairman: Mr. Knutson, followed by Mr. Lincoln.
Mr. Gar Knutson: Mr. McBean, to
me it would seem an easy matter to throw out all
the temperature measurements from airports, or cities
around airports, and just take temperatures from the
middle of Montana, or wherever. If we threw out all
the data from airport weather stations, what would we
Dr. Gordon McBean: I can't give you a map at this
time, but I can tell you that the scientists who have
analysed this have looked at this question of airports
and the heat island effect that has been referred to
and have come to the conclusion that the temperature
mapping that you would see on a global basis would not
be significantly different. We would have many fewer
They would not be
for as long a period in some cases; but of course most
airports really are a relatively recent innovation.
If I could comment more generally, I think it is
inappropriate to focus all one's concern on
whether or not we show or do not show climatic warming.
As a scientist I am convinced we understand the
way the climate system works well enough and I'm quite
at variance with Dr. Pocklington's comment that
changing carbon dioxide concentrations is a trivial
matter. In my view changing carbon dioxide
concentrations, as we project in the future, will have
a significant effect on our global climate
and, scaling down, climates.
So the concern has to be what we look to the future
for. In my view the analysis of the records of the
past give us confidence that we are right in our
projections; that these models are in fact
representing the real climate system as best we
To go in and out of whether one station shows this or that
I think is rather time-consuming and probably not the
appropriate way of getting at this issue.
Mr. Gar Knutson: The issue, then, of stabilizing
at 1990 levels: you're saying with the rate of
increase in the amount of carbon dioxide going into
the atmosphere and the amount taken out—not that
I understand how it comes out once it's in—we're still
going to have a very quick rate of increase.
Is it going to make any difference if we stabilize at
Dr. Gordon McBean: Yes, it will make a difference.
What I'm saying is that if you look at the fourth or
fifth diagram, if we do
nothing, the IPCC's estimate was the top curve.
That's if all countries just go ahead with what we
would say is business as usual.
If we stabilize, this bottom
curve is similar to that. It's not actually calculated
in the same way, but basically it's the lower curve.
There is a major difference in the year 2100.
certainly don't want to give you the impression that
stabilization means there will be no climatic change,
because there will be.
It does make a difference. It makes a big difference
in total amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Mr. Gar Knutson: If we stabilize at the 1990
levels by the year 2010 or something thereabouts.
Dr. Gordon McBean: Yes, but I would also
emphasize that we should be
looking at going beyond stabilization on a global
basis. This low curve corresponds to stabilization
initially, but eventually lowering so the global amount
is about 60% of what we are doing now.
This actually does correspond to a reduction of
emissions in the next century.
Mr. Gar Knutson: Dr. Pocklington, I'm going to ask
you an economic question. I'm a little more grounded
in economics than I am in science.
It seems to me a whole bunch of benefits
go along with the globe becoming more energy-efficient,
burning less fossil fuels, stretching out.... I can't give you a
reference, but I've read we're going to run out of
fossil fuels in 50 years.
The less we burn now.... Ignoring the whole issue of
climate change, if we can stretch that out.... There was
a time before climate change when being less reliant on
oil, relying on alternate energy sources...there
are a whole bunch
of other positives like that, prolonging the world's
use of oil, so we don't get hit with some major
shutdown in our economy 50 years hence, or some massive
increase in oil prices as reserves disappear.
This statement that, oh, we're going to have great costs if
we take too much action or we take
action too soon: I don't see the basis for that, because
I see a whole bunch of other positive side effects,
even if you ignore the climate change issue.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Mr. Chair, I was asked my
personal opinion, but I will try to be brief.
I'm a Yorkshireman. Do you know what a Yorkshireman is?
A Yorkshireman is described as a Scot with all the
generosity squeezed out of him.
I'm a Yorkshireman,
married to a Nova Scotian. In my personal life
frugality is right up there with cleanliness and godliness.
And I'm not telling you which comes first.
Nothing I said has anything to do with my personal
belief that flagrant misuse of the world's resources is
an obvious stupidity, as is uncontrolled population
growth, if you really want to know, because the best
thing you can fit to that carbon dioxide curve is the growth
of global population.
However, I was giving you a specific comment upon it.
I can't as yet see evidence that what is supposed to be
happening is happening.
Mr. Gar Knutson: Granted, but you did say we are
going to pay the cost today—
Dr. Roger Pocklington: I'm led to believe that the
economic costs of these actions cannot but be serious.
Mr. Gar Knutson: In Toronto, we might build more
Dr. Roger Pocklington: If I may, I will give you
the Bermuda example. Bermuda imports heavy oil to burn
to generate electric power. Why they haven't done
more, let's say, with solar and so on is their problem.
I shall be urging them to do things like that when I'm
But if they're stuck with a carbon tax, my bills will
go up. There are going to be effects on real people of
what is proposed, I believe, so real people have a
chance to say.... I believe in the U.K. there was
something done with the pricing of kerosene, which
affected seniors and there was upset about that.
Mr. Gar Knutson: But as I say, in Toronto they
might build more subways.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: I really can't say.
Mr. Gar Knutson: It might be really positive if we
build more subways. We're probably 15 to 20 years
behind on where we should be in terms of—
Dr. Roger Pocklington: But I really didn't
advocate the flagrant waste of world resources in what
The Chairman: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Knutson.
Mr. Lincoln, followed by Madam Kraft Sloan.
Mr. Clifford Lincoln: I must say, Mr. Chairman,
I'm a little shocked by what I heard here today. I
thought we were coming here to find out whether we have
a serious worry about climate change. I do have a
serious worry about climate change. I'm not a
scientist and I know that we can't prove 100% that all
the climate warming is due to man-made activities.
But when I hear Dr. Pocklington say that in Bermuda
the sea is not rising, how come, I would ask him, the
40-odd small island states are all unanimous in being
the greatest fighters against climate change?
I happen to have been at the United Nations in 1987
when the president of the Maldives, Mr. Gayoom, who is
still president today, described how for the first time
in their history they were visited by tidal waves in
the 1980s. There were three sets of tidal waves, and
the third one caused all kinds of damage and death. He
says the seas are rising at such a rate that maybe in
the next century his island state will disappear.
I was born on a small island, Mauritius. When I go
back there I see that beaches have disappeared
completely. I don't know if I can prove 100% that
man-made carbons have caused the seas to rise, but
for people to say that the seas are not rising today
when we are losing whole sections of coastal areas and
when small island states are frightened to death.... And
I can tell you I've spoken to a lot of environment
ministers and presidents of small islands who see the
seas rise. Ask them in Barbados. Ask them anywhere.
They are frightened to death about this thing, in the
Marshall Islands and in all kinds of other places.
I read in this book today—I'm just trying to inform
myself—that in Antarctica they have found a fissure 40
miles wide where the snows have melted, in two months,
they say; they had predicted it would take several
And somehow we say, okay, maybe this is not man-made.
But what do we do? Do we wait till we're 100% sure and
certain that the problem is there before we start to
move? Do we wait like we did with tobacco? It was
said that there was no definite link between lung
cancer and tobacco and then when it was too late we
started to move and now all the people are in hospital.
Dr. Pocklington, I don't know why you are so adamant,
but I say that if 2,500 leading scientists of the
world, peer-reviewed, tell me there's a potential
problem, then I feel it's our job here to tell the
other people that there is a problem and to do
something about it.
And I find it very sad that you come along to tell me
there's no problem, that carbon dioxide is not a
problem, that the seas are not rising, that it's not
man-made and that everyone will be happy ever after. I
don't believe you, I'm sorry to say.
Dr. Roger Pocklington: Monsieur, I also visited
l'Île Maurice and I visited the Maldives—only twice,
but that's two times more than the average
I would like to read into
the record from New Scientist of October 4, 1997, an
article by Clive Wilkinson, who co-ordinates the global
coral reef monitoring network: “Human impacts on reefs
are far more threatening than any vague threat of
future global climate change”.
The reason the reefs disappear, sir, is people blow
them up with explosives, people discharge sewage onto
them, people put sediment on them. When the reef is
gone, the protection for the island is gone.
The statement I made is that reefs, left to their own and
not troubled by these things, can grow and have grown
faster than the projected rate of the sea level rise.
But please let Mr. Wilkinson say it, and not myself.
I may add that to the documentation in my presentation, Mr.
Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Maybe Dr. Wilkinson should
convince the 40 island states presidents that are
fighting the hardest at the climate change convention
for meaningful targets. They are very skeptical. They
think that man-made problems are there.
The Chairman: Madam Kraft Sloan.
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: I was going to follow
along with the same questioning as Mr. Lincoln had
put forward. I met with the president of Micronesia at the UN in
June, and he implored me for assistance because they
are now shipping rice to neighbouring
island states because their terrace fields are
flooding with salt water. He was very concerned about
the effects of climate change on his area.
I also wanted to put forward the idea of the cost. I
am wondering if you are perhaps writing questions for
the Reform Party during question period, because we are not
talking about a carbon tax. This government has never
talked about a carbon tax, and I do not know where you
are getting the idea of a carbon tax from. There is
something called no regrets alternatives that we
can enter into, which talk about energy efficiency,
better waste management, better
One of my colleagues said “Just putting the climate
change aside, I think we'd better take a look at other
ways of using natural resources in this world”.
Certainly economics is very important to us, but we can
never forget the fact that our material and cultural
wealth is totally dependent upon our natural wealth.
Anyway, I wanted to raise this issue of the
conversation with the president of Micronesia, because I
was very touched by what he had to say to me. He,
along with his other colleagues, believe that they will
lose their islands because of climate change and
because we in the north have ignored them.
Dr. Gordon McBean: Just a quick comment on the economic
side, which I am
not personally qualified to comment on, but I would note
that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
working group three, which was co-chaired by Dr. Jim Bruce
of Canada, actually did look into these questions of
no regrets strategy and has provided a good summary,
which we could make available to the committee.
I would also note that a large number—and I do not
remember offhand what it was, but several hundred U.S. leading
economists, including many Nobel laureates, wrote to
President Clinton stating that they were in support of
the economic conclusions within the working group three of
Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: I would
add that the Union of Concerned Scientists,
which is a very large group of scientists globally who
do not have a particular agenda or axe to grind, have
put forward documentation on past energy efficiency.
I would also like to support what Dr. McBean has
said about the 300-plus economists who have suggested
that the propositions here will lead to economic
Dr. Roger Pocklington: A point was made, Mr.
Chairman, once again another ad hominem argument in
some way linking something I had to say to one of the
parties in our Parliament, in fact the official
I am not here representing any political party of
Canada. I am here on my own recognizance as a citizen,
because the work I am telling you about the
Canadian citizens paid for.
I was a public servant, drawing a good salary and
supported in my work by the people of Canada, and they
have a right to know that there are two sides to this
The data I was quoting to you has been gathered
over the years by very hard-working employees of what
is now Atmospheric Environment Service,
and I am sorry for them because their department made a
decision in 1989 that greenhouse warming was real and
was to be the basis of their department's policy.
I said at the time: I can't believe this; you mean as
a department of the Canadian government, you now rule
on issues of natural science? They cut off debate on
it because they felt they had seen enough and they
made a decision. This has coloured their
The Chairman: Thank you.
There is time for one more question before we
Mr. Gérard Asselin: I know the truth hurts. Not every bit of
truth is fit to be told. Unfortunately, it has been told, and by
both parties. As you say, there are two sides to the story.
Today, we don't have a choice. We have to face facts and take
action because there is a problem. We are talking about acid rain.
It's affecting sugar bushes in Quebec. Fish, agriculture and some
animals on the endangered list are at risk because of environmental
That's why we're hearing witnesses. If we want to hear
witnesses and have them say what they have to say, that's easy. But
it would be in the Committee's interest to hear both sides of the
story. Then, the Committee will be able to produce a proactive
The Chairman: All right. Are there any further
On behalf of the committee, I thank Dr. McBean and Dr.
Pocklington for their appearance today.
We will resume our meeting tomorrow at 9 a.m., in Room
269, West Block.
The meeting is adjourned.