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Concerned Shore Gold shareholders renew quest to shake up diamond company’s board
ALEX MACPHERSON, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
Published on: March 1, 2017 | Last Updated: March 1, 2017 6:00 AM CST
An aerial view of Shore Gold Inc.’s Star-Orion South Project east of Prince Albert. SASKATOON
A group of concerned Shore Gold Inc. shareholders are raising money to fund a legal battle after the Saskatoon-based diamond exploration and development company rejected their latest attempt to shake up its board of directors.
The Shore Gold Shareholders Association Inc. (SGFSA) plans to challenge the company’s refusal to publish and allow shareholders to vote on a proposal that two directors of its choosing be appointed to the board, according to the association’s chairman.
“We need to go to court and have a judge do two things,” David Wright said. “One, interpret the wording and intent of the law, and two, make a judgment whether or not … Shore must in fact publish our shareholder proposal.”
Shore Gold staked its first claim in the Fort à la Corne forest in 1995. It wants to build a diamond mine consisting of two large open pits and a processing plant on the property, known as Star-Orion-South, about 60 kilometres east of Prince Albert.
The SGFSA was formed in 2012 and consists of “progressive” investors representing “well above 10 per cent” of the company’s 294 million shares, who are concerned about its direction and efforts to communicate with its shareholders, according to Wright.
Members of the group came close to blocking the appointment of three Shore Gold directors at a tense meeting last June. Wright said the proxy vote was a shot “aimed at the wheelhouse.” Shore Gold’s chairman deemed it illegal but allowed the results to stand.
“We felt it appropriate that we have some direct say on their board of directors,” Wright said of the SGFSA’s proposals, which were filed this year and subsequently rejected based on differing interpretations of the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA).
Shore Gold President and CEO Kenneth MacNeill said Tuesday that the board is “always” looking at representation, and that while he and shareholders wish the company could be more transparent, public firms are bound by laws governing communications.
“I don’t see this as a hard stance,” MacNeill said of the company’s position. “I see this as we are following the (CBCA) rules and regulations that we need to follow … We’ve certainly responded very robustly to this and explained this to them.”
Meanwhile, Shore Gold is updating its “conservative” 2011 feasibility study. MacNeill did not provide a timeline but said it will “significantly” reduce capital costs and make the mine more attractive to potential financiers, joint venture partners and purchasers.
Shore Gold vice president of exploration and development George Read said the updated study will include better geological information, cheaper and more effective processing technologies and more efficient methods for opening the massive pits.
The company is also waiting for the province to finish consultations and issue environmental approval for the project. The province declined in January to say when a decision would be rendered. Shore Gold received approval from the federal government in 2014.
As that work continues, the SGFSA will canvass its members for the money it needs to pursue its case. Wright said the association simply wants to get its proposal in front of every Shore Gold shareholder and allow them to vote on it.
“I’m very hopeful that we will be able to raise the funding to mount that challenge, and I’m also very confident that we will win that challenge when in fact we do mount it,” he said.
Highest Average Weekly Earnings in Province’s History
Released on February 23, 2017
According to Statistics Canada numbers released today, Saskatchewan workers enjoyed the highest month-over-month percentage growth in average weekly earnings among the provinces in December 2016, up 2.2 per cent (seasonally adjusted) from the previous month to $1,010.37.
The national month-over-month increase was 1.0 per cent (seasonally adjusted).
For the first time in the province’s history, the average weekly earnings were above $1,000—and remain the third highest among the provinces.
“Saskatchewan people are taking home more money at the end of the week, and this is a reflection on our economy and the opportunities in our province,” Economy Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “The increased earnings show our wages are very competitive, and this remains an attraction for skilled workers to our province.”
With inflation factored in, Saskatchewan’s real wage increased by 1.2 per cent year-over-year while the national real wage declined by 0.3 per cent.
The province’s real wage ranked third highest among provinces in Canada.
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Canada losing ground as mining investment destination
Feb 16, 2017
Source: MAC’s Facts & Figures 2016.
While optimism is slowly but steadily returning to the global mining industry, Canada doesn’t seem to be in a good position to benefit from the increasing number of companies ready to make new and significant investments.
At least that is the conclusion from a report released Thursday by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), which also warns of the possibility of seeing major exploration and mining investments flow offshore.
“Very simply, Canada is not as attractive as it used to be for mineral investment, and competition for those dollars is growing globally,” MAC President and CEO Pierre Gratton said.
Elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays, uncertainty and major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing to the country’s declining appeal.
The recent elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays and uncertainty, combined with major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing factors that can explain Canada’s declining attractiveness, Gratton noted.
The report also highlights the policy areas that Canada needs to pay attention to in order to seize future growth opportunities and re-gain its leadership in mining.
Some of the figures included in the report are quite telling. In 2015, foreign direct investment into Canada’s mining industry dropped by more than 50% from the previous year. In contrast, the country’s resources sector direct investment abroad only experienced a 6% decline.
According the industry body, such imbalance proves that Canada no longer attracts the single-largest share of total global mineral exploration spending, a top place it lost to Australia in 2015. Further, MAC says, no new mining projects entered the federal environmental assessment stage in 2016.
If these trends continue, the association warns, there will be fewer discoveries made and fewer projects to become operational mines in Canada.
Despite the challenges, the sector remains a key contributor to the Canadian economy, employing more than 370,000 people across the country and being the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal people on a proportional basis.
In 2015, the mining industry accounted for $56 billion of Canada’s GDP and minerals and metals accounted for 19% of Canadian goods exports.
Wary shippers back Keystone XL but favour alternatives on Trump ‘tweak’ fears
Geoffrey Morgan | February 15, 2017 3:51 PM ET
CALGARY – Canadian oil companies are recommitting to TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, though some producers are concerned about threats of “tweaks” to the North American Free Trade Agreement and a border adjustment tax by the U.S. government.
TransCanada has been canvassing support for its long-delayed but recently revived pipeline between Alberta and the U.S. Gulf Coast at a time when many domestic oil producers are concerned U.S. President Donald Trump could impose new trade taxes on exports to the States.
Trump did soothe Canadian nerves by stating he is only looking for ‘tweaks’ to the Canadian portion of the NAFTA agreement, but it’s unclear whether the minor changes could turn into major implications for Canadian businesses.
In the meantime, other pipeline proposals such as the Alberta-to-New-Brunswick Energy East pipeline and Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain expansion project, are looking increasingly attractive as they connect Alberta to new overseas markets and also serve as a hedge against the oilpatch’s utter dependence on the U.S. and its political risk.
Trent Stangl, Crescent Point Energy Corp. senior vice-president, investor relations and communications, said forecasts show Asian and Indian markets to be key growth drivers for oil products over the next 20 years, and the company “is excited to have multiple opportunities to get to different markets.”
He said export pipelines to the East and West Coasts “gives us more diversity and helps protect us against regulatory and fiscal issues.”
Some producers have reaffirmed their support for Keystone XL project, which was rejected by former president Barack Obama but recently revived by Trump and now needs shippers to re-sign transportation agreements.
“We are, and we remain, a committed shipper on both pipelines,” Suncor Energy Inc. spokesperson Sneh Seetal said of Keystone XL and Energy East pipeline, adding that Suncor’s chief executive Steve Williams downplayed concerns over a border adjustment tax last week.
Privately, however, other energy executives have expressed concerns to the Financial Post about a border adjustment tax and about committing to more U.S.-bound oil shipments on Keystone XL given the uncertainty.
“The last several years, starting with the inability to get Keystone XL across the finish line, and now with border taxes and things like that, it really highlights the need to have a diverse market,” one Alberta executive said, asking not to be named.
Neither producer, nor transporter, nor consumer likes uncertainty, ARC Energy Research Institute executive director Peter Tertzakian said. “The propensity to commit to long-term, big-ticket projects goes down dramatically anytime there’s regulatory or policy uncertainty.”
Trump’s invitation to TransCanada to re-apply for a presidential permit for the pipeline comes at a difficult time for the company, given the president has sought “tweaks” to NAFTA without offering much details.
When asked whether a possible border adjustment tax has made it difficult to secure commitments on the U.S.-bound pipeline, TransCanada spokesperson Terry Cunha would only say, “discussions with our customers on Keystone XL continue.”
Martin Pelletier, TriVest Wealth Management co-founder and industry analyst says shippers are right to be wary. “Why would anybody sign on anything right now, provide any kind of commitment, before we get clarification? That’s like putting the cart before the horse.””
”Why would anybody sign on anything right now”
Similarly, Calgary-based Canadian Energy Research Institute vice-president, research Dinara Millington said an import tax could change the economics of sending oil barrels to the U.S. “The shippers will need to evaluate what their project economics are and whether it makes any sense to them in terms of their netback.”
Millington recently published a study that showed domestic oil companies will need both Energy East and the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline, given oil production forecasts over the next 20 years. At the time of the study, Keystone XL had been shelved, she said, but added that shippers could eventually fill all three pipelines.
“There will still likely be considerable support for the Keystone XL option,” Gary Leach, the Calgary-based president of Explorers and Producers Association of Canada said in an interview. The project would likely be prioritized within TransCanada’s portfolio of projects because the company has already completed the southern leg of the pipeline, he said.
“More options are always better, but somebody’s got to pay for it and the pipeline company needs some assurance they’ve got volume commitments,” Leach said.
Highest Manufacturing Sales Growth in Canada
Released on February 15, 2017
Manufacturing sales in Saskatchewan rose 5.4 per cent (seasonally adjusted) between November 2016 and December 2016, the highest percentage increase among the provinces. Nationally, sales were up 2.3 per cent.
“This marks the second straight month of increases in manufacturing sales,” Economy Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “It is one of the most diverse sectors of the economy that exports products to clients all over the world.”
On a year-over-year basis, sales were up 11.9 per cent (seasonally adjusted) in Saskatchewan, the second highest among the provinces and well ahead of the 4.1 per cent posted nationally.
In December, manufacturing sales totalled $1.3 billion. Major gains on an annual basis were recorded year-over-year for machinery manufacturing (up 4.5 per cent), wood products (up 21.6 per cent), and food manufacturing (up 26.0 per cent) on a seasonally unadjusted basis.
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Oil firms resume rail shipments as crude oil pipelines fill up again
Jesse Snyder | February 13, 2017 4:08 PM ET
CALGARY — A looming pipeline shortage could force more barrels of Canadian oil onto rail cars over the next few years, as oilsands companies look for alternative shipping options amid a gradual rise in production.
The oil industry’s pipeline woes have eased in recent months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved two major pipeline proposals, and after U.S. President Donald Trump invited TransCanada Corp. to resubmit the Keystone XL pipeline permit.
However, the earliest date of completion for any new pipeline project is around the end of 2019 — if there are no delays. With oilsands production expected to rise over the next five years, and with Canada’s pipeline system near capacity, oil firms are tapping crude-by rail once again.
“The reality is, without additional physical steel being put in the ground there will come a point where that pipeline system will be overtaken,” said Kevin Birn, an analyst with IHS Cera in Calgary.
Volumes of crude moving by rail are already on the rise. Canadian crude oil exports by rail surpassed 120,000 bpd in November 2016, the highest in 13 months.
Recent volumes are nearing their peak of 172,000 bpd in March 2014, when several deadly accidents involving crude-laden trains turned oil-by-rail transportation into a contentious topic, according to the National Energy Board.
The prominence of oil-by-rail transportation came as oil prices were riding high, causing pipelines to reach their capacity. Producers began expanding their rail capabilities at great expense, but oil production tapered off after oil prices crashed in late-2014. Pipeline operators also began finding ways to more efficiently move liquids through their systems, which further dampened demand for rail shipments.
Today, rising oilsands output is setting the scene for a modest oil-by-rail resurgence.
GMP FirstEnergy analyst Martin King wrote in a recent research note that higher oilsands production was raising the “potential for (rail) activity to return to previous highs set in 2014.”
That is partly because analysts expect that much of the efficiencies wrung out of the Canadian pipeline system in recent years have reached their maximum.
Midstream companies like TransCanada and Enbridge Inc. have begun moving higher volumes of liquids by replacing older pumps along their pipelines; blending various types of crude together to better utilize space; or adding chemicals and lubricants that allow for better flow.
“Midstream companies’ ability to optimize that system has been very good in recent years, but it’s going to get increasingly tight,” Birn said.
The looming pipeline crunch caused several oilsands companies to buy into rail capacity as a way to diversify their customer base.
Oilsands operator Cenovus Energy Inc. moved an average 15,000 barrels per day by rail in the third quarter of 2016, up from 6,600 barrels in the third quarter of 2015.
“It does allow us to move barrels to refiners that otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive them,” said Cenovus spokesperson Reg Curren.
The company owns roughly 100,000 bpd in rail capacity, including the roughly 70,000 bpd rail terminal in Bruderheim, Alta., that it purchased from Canexus Corp. in 2015.
Imperial Oil Ltd., another oilsands operator, and its joint-venture partner Kinder Morgan, own roughly 210,000 barrels per day of rail capacity out of a terminal based in Edmonton, Alta. The companies did not divulge recent shipping volumes.
With oilsands production set to rise between 600,000 bpd and 800,000 bpd in the next five years, according to some estimates, producers have begun to show more interest in rail options.
Canadian oil production averaged 3.7 million bpd in 2015, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. But that number could reach as high as 5.2 million bpd by 2021, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.
“People have been calling us, hedging their bets,” said John Zahary, the CEO of Altex Energy Ltd., an oil-by-rail logistics firm.
The company today moves around 20,000 bpd of crude through its three main rail offloading facilities. That is lower than the 30,000 bpd it moved when oil-by-rail shipments were at their peak, but Zahary says current volumes could rise as more supply comes on stream.
However most analysts don’t see foresee a similar boom in rail shipments as the rapid build out of rail terminals in 2013-2014 led to an oversupply of capacity.
That undersupply, coupled with low pipeline availability, sent costs skyrocketing for Canadian producers.
“We don’t expect to see the blowouts we’ve seen in the past because of all the infrastructure we’ve seen built out in recent years,” Birn said.
Industry estimates that, on average, rail shipments can cost between $15 and $18 per barrel, compared to $7 to $10 per barrel to ship via pipeline.
Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data
- The Mail on Sunday can reveal a landmark paper exaggerated global warming
- It was rushed through and timed to influence the Paris agreement on climate change
- America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broke its own rules
- The report claimed the pause in global warming never existed, but it was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data
By David Rose for The Mail on Sunday
PUBLISHED: 22:57 GMT, 4 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:12 GMT, 5 February 2017FR
[Follow-up to this story HERE]
Data Science,Climate and satellites Consultant John J Bates, who blew the whistle to the Mail on Sunday
The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.
A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.
The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers.
But the whistleblower, Dr John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data.
It was never subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process – which Dr Bates devised.
His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.
His disclosures are likely to stiffen President Trump’s determination to enact his pledges to reverse his predecessor’s ‘green’ policies, and to withdraw from the Paris deal – so triggering an intense political row.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the world climate change conference
The PM, the Prince and ‘the pause’: David Cameron and Prince Charles attended the historic 2015 Paris climate change conference with 150 world leaders. Cameron committed Britain to an EU-Wide emission cut as a result. And Charles, writing in this paper last month, stated there was no pause in global warming, influenced by the flawed NOAA paper that made this claim
In an exclusive interview, Dr Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.
Dr Bates was one of two Principal Scientists at NCEI, based in Asheville, North Carolina.
A blatant attempt to intensify paper’s impact
Official delegations from America, Britain and the EU were strongly influenced by the flawed NOAA study as they hammered out the Paris Agreement – and committed advanced nations to sweeping reductions in their use of fossil fuel and to spending £80 billion every year on new, climate-related aid projects.
The scandal has disturbing echoes of the ‘Climategate’ affair which broke shortly before the UN climate summit in 2009, when the leak of thousands of emails between climate scientists suggested they had manipulated and hidden data. Some were British experts at the influential Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
LED TO THESE GREEN COMMITMENTS
Data published by NOAA, the world’s top climate data agency, claimed global warming was worse than previously thought. The information was published to coincide with the Paris climate change conference in 2015, where world leaders agreed that…
$100bn be given every year in extra ‘climate-related’ aid to the developing world by rich nations
2 degrees C be set as the limit for maximum temperature rise above pre-industrial times
40% of CO2 emissions would be cut across the EU by 2030
£320bn… what the UK’s pledges will cost our economy by 2030
NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas.
Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.
The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’.
The paper relied on a preliminary, ‘alpha’ version of the data which was never approved or verified.
A final, approved version has still not been issued. None of the data on which the paper was based was properly ‘archived’ – a mandatory requirement meant to ensure that raw data and the software used to process it is accessible to other scientists, so they can verify NOAA results.
Dr Bates retired from NOAA at the end of last year after a 40-year career in meteorology and climate science. As recently as 2014, the Obama administration awarded him a special gold medal for his work in setting new, supposedly binding standards ‘to produce and preserve climate data records’.
Yet when it came to the paper timed to influence the Paris conference, Dr Bates said, these standards were flagrantly ignored.
The paper was published in June 2015 by the journal Science. Entitled ‘Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus’, the document said the widely reported ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ was a myth.
Less than two years earlier, a blockbuster report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which drew on the work of hundreds of scientists around the world, had found ‘a much smaller increasing trend over the past 15 years 1998-2012 than over the past 30 to 60 years’. Explaining the pause became a key issue for climate science. It was seized on by global warming sceptics, because the level of CO2 in the atmosphere had continued to rise.
WHY OBAMA’S GREEN GURU WILL MAKE TRUMP SEE RED
NOAA’s climate boss Thomas Karl, below left, had a hotline to the White House, through his long association with President Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren.
Karl’s ‘Pausebuster’ paper was hugely influential in dictating the world agreement in Paris and sweeping US emissions cuts. President Trump, above right, has pledged to scrap both policies – triggering furious claims by Democrats he is a climate ‘denier’ and ‘anti-science’.
Thanks to today’s MoS story, NOAA is set to face an inquiry by the Republican-led House science committee.
Some scientists argued that the existence of the pause meant the world’s climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought, so that future warming would be slower. One of them, Professor Judith Curry, then head of climate science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said it suggested that computer models used to project future warming were ‘running too hot’.
However, the Pausebuster paper said while the rate of global warming from 1950 to 1999 was 0.113C per decade, the rate from 2000 to 2014 was actually higher, at 0.116C per decade. The IPCC’s claim about the pause, it concluded, ‘was no longer valid’.
The impact was huge and lasting. On publication day, the BBC said the pause in global warming was ‘an illusion caused by inaccurate data’.
One American magazine described the paper as a ‘science bomb’ dropped on sceptics.
Its impact could be seen in this newspaper last month when, writing to launch his Ladybird book about climate change, Prince Charles stated baldly: ‘There isn’t a pause… it is hard to reject the facts on the basis of the evidence.’
Data changed to make the sea appear warmer
The sea dataset used by Thomas Karl and his colleagues – known as Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperatures version 4, or ERSSTv4, tripled the warming trend over the sea during the years 2000 to 2014 from just 0.036C per decade – as stated in version 3 – to 0.099C per decade. Individual measurements in some parts of the globe had increased by about 0.1C and this resulted in the dramatic increase of the overall global trend published by the Pausebuster paper. But Dr Bates said this increase in temperatures was achieved by dubious means. Its key error was an upwards ‘adjustment’ of readings from fixed and floating buoys, which are generally reliable, to bring them into line with readings from a much more doubtful source – water taken in by ships. This, Dr Bates explained, has long been known to be questionable: ships are themselves sources of heat, readings will vary from ship to ship, and the depth of water intake will vary according to how heavily a ship is laden – so affecting temperature readings.
Dr Bates said: ‘They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and “corrected” it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.’
ERSSTv4 ‘adjusted’ buoy readings up by 0.12C. It also ignored data from satellites that measure the temperature of the lower atmosphere, which are also considered reliable. Dr Bates said he gave the paper’s co-authors ‘a hard time’ about this, ‘and they never really justified what they were doing.’
Now, some of those same authors have produced the pending, revised new version of the sea dataset – ERSSTv5. A draft of a document that explains the methods used to generate version 5, and which has been seen by this newspaper, indicates the new version will reverse the flaws in version 4, changing the buoy adjustments and including some satellite data and measurements from a special high-tech floating buoy network known as Argo. As a result, it is certain to show reductions in both absolute temperatures and recent global warming.
The second dataset used by the Pausebuster paper was a new version of NOAA’s land records, known as the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN), an analysis over time of temperature readings from about 4,000 weather stations spread across the globe.
The unstable land readings: Scientists at NOAA used land temperature data from 4,000 weather stations (pictured, one in Montana, USA). But the software used to process the figures was bug-ridden and unstable. NOAA also used ‘unverified’ data that was not tested or approved. This data as merged with unreliable sea surface temperatures
The ‘adjusted’ sea readings: Average sea surface temperatures are calculated using data from weather buoys (pictured). But NOAA ‘adjusted’ these figures upwards to fit with data taken from ships – which is notoriously unreliable. This exaggerated the warming rate, allowing NOAA to claim in the paper dubbed the ‘Pausebuster’ that there was no ‘pause’
This new version found past temperatures had been cooler than previously thought, and recent ones higher – so that the warming trend looked steeper. For the period 2000 to 2014, the paper increased the rate of warming on land from 0.15C to 0.164C per decade.
In the weeks after the Pausebuster paper was published, Dr Bates conducted a one-man investigation into this. His findings were extraordinary. Not only had Mr Karl and his colleagues failed to follow any of the formal procedures required to approve and archive their data, they had used a ‘highly experimental early run’ of a programme that tried to combine two previously separate sets of records.
This had undergone the critical process known as ‘pairwise homogeneity adjustment’, a method of spotting ‘rogue’ readings from individual weather stations by comparing them with others nearby.
However, this process requires extensive, careful checking which was only just beginning, so that the data was not ready for operational use. Now, more than two years after the Pausebuster paper was submitted to Science, the new version of GHCN is still undergoing testing.
Moreover, the GHCN software was afflicted by serious bugs. They caused it to become so ‘unstable’ that every time the raw temperature readings were run through the computer, it gave different results. The new, bug-free version of GHCN has still not been approved and issued. It is, Dr Bates said, ‘significantly different’ from that used by Mr Karl and his co-authors.
Dr Bates revealed that the failure to archive and make available fully documented data not only violated NOAA rules, but also those set down by Science. Before he retired last year, he continued to raise the issue internally. Then came the final bombshell. Dr Bates said: ‘I learned that the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure.’
The reason for the failure is unknown, but it means the Pausebuster paper can never be replicated or verified by other scientists.
The flawed conclusions of the Pausebuster paper were widely discussed by delegates at the Paris climate change conference. Mr Karl had a longstanding relationship with President Obama’s chief science adviser, John Holdren, giving him a hotline to the White House.
The red line shows the current NOAA world temperature graph – elevated in recent years due to the ‘adjusted’ sea data. The blue line is the Met Office’s independent HadCRUT4 record. Although they are offset in temperature by 0.12°C due to different analysis techniques, they reveal that NOAA has been adjusted and so shows a steeper recent warming trend.
They were forced to correct it: 18 months after the ‘Pausebuster’ paper was published in time for the 2015 Paris climate change conference, NOAA’s flawed sea temperature dataset is to be replaced. The new version will remedy its failings, and use data from both buoys and satellites (pictured) – which some say is the best data of all. The new version will show both lower temperatures and a lower warming trend since 2000
Mr Holdren was also a strong advocate of robust measures to curb emissions. Britain’s then Prime Minister David Cameron claimed at the conference that ‘97 per cent of scientists say climate change is urgent and man-made and must be addressed’ and called for ‘a binding legal mechanism’ to ensure the world got no more than 2C warmer than in pre-industrial times.
President Obama stressed his Clean Power Plan at the conference, which mandates American power stations to make big emissions cuts.
President Trump has since pledged he will scrap it, and to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
Whatever takes its place, said Dr Bates, ‘there needs to be a fundamental change to the way NOAA deals with data so that people can check and validate scientific results. I’m hoping that this will be a wake-up call to the climate science community – a signal that we have to put in place processes to make sure this kind of crap doesn’t happen again.
‘I want to address the systemic problems. I don’t care whether modifications to the datasets make temperatures go up or down. But I want the observations to speak for themselves, and for that, there needs to be a new emphasis that ethical standards must be maintained.’
He said he decided to speak out after seeing reports in papers including the Washington Post and Forbes magazine claiming that scientists feared the Trump administration would fail to maintain and preserve NOAA’s climate records.
Dr Bates said: ‘How ironic it is that there is now this idea that Trump is going to trash climate data, when key decisions were earlier taken by someone whose responsibility it was to maintain its integrity – and failed.’
NOAA not only failed, but it effectively mounted a cover-up when challenged over its data. After the paper was published, the US House of Representatives Science Committee launched an inquiry into its Pausebuster claims. NOAA refused to comply with subpoenas demanding internal emails from the committee chairman, the Texas Republican Lamar Smith, and falsely claimed that no one had raised concerns about the paper internally.
Last night Mr Smith thanked Dr Bates ‘for courageously stepping forward to tell the truth about NOAA’s senior officials playing fast and loose with the data in order to meet a politically predetermined conclusion’. He added: ‘The Karl study used flawed data, was rushed to publication in an effort to support the President’s climate change agenda, and ignored NOAA’s own standards for scientific study.’
Professor Curry, now the president of the Climate Forecast Applications Network, said last night: ‘Large adjustments to the raw data, and substantial changes in successive dataset versions, imply substantial uncertainties.’
It was time, she said, that politicians and policymakers took these uncertainties on board.
Last night Mr Karl admitted the data had not been archived when the paper was published. Asked why he had not waited, he said: ‘John Bates is talking about a formal process that takes a long time.’ He denied he was rushing to get the paper out in time for Paris, saying: ‘There was no discussion about Paris.’
They played fast and loose with the figures
He also admitted that the final, approved and ‘operational’ edition of the GHCN land data would be ‘different’ from that used in the paper’.
As for the ERSSTv4 sea dataset, he claimed it was other records – such as the UK Met Office’s – which were wrong, because they understated global warming and were ‘biased too low’. Jeremy Berg, Science’s editor-in-chief, said: ‘Dr Bates raises some serious concerns. After the results of any appropriate investigations… we will consider our options.’ He said that ‘could include retracting that paper’.NOAA declined to comment.
It’s not the first time we’ve exposed dodgy climate data, which is why we’ve dubbed it: Climate Gate 2
Helena Christensen addresses demonstrators in the center of Copenhagen on climate change
Dr John Bates’s disclosures about the manipulation of data behind the ‘Pausebuster’ paper is the biggest scientific scandal since ‘Climategate’ in 2009 when, as this paper reported, thousands of leaked emails revealed scientists were trying to block access to data, and using a ‘trick’ to conceal embarrassing flaws in their claims about global warming.
Both scandals suggest a lack of transparency and, according to Dr Bates, a failure to observe proper ethical standards.
Because of NOAA ’s failure to ‘archive’ data used in the paper, its results can never be verified.
Like Climategate, this scandal is likely to reverberate around the world, and reignite some of science’s most hotly contested debates.
Left, blowing up the graph show is disappears in 1961 artfully hidden behind the other colours. Right, the reason? Because this is what it shows after 1961, a dramatic decline in global temperatures
Has there been an unexpected pause in global warming? If so, is the world less sensitive to carbon dioxide than climate computer models suggest?
And does this mean that truly dangerous global warming is less imminent, and that politicians’ repeated calls for immediate ‘urgent action’ to curb emissions are exaggerated?
[Play belo video HERE]
North Dakota wants hired pipeline protesters to pay state income taxes
By Valerie Richardson – The Washington Times
Monday, January 30, 2017
After spending more than $22 million on the Dakota Access pipeline protest, North Dakota wants to make sure any paid activists remember to submit their state income taxes.
Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said his office is keeping an eye out for tax forms from environmental groups that may have hired protesters to agitate against the 1,172-mile, four-state pipeline project.
“It’s something we’re looking at. I can tell you I’ve had a number of conversations with legislators regarding this very issue,” said Mr. Rauschenberger. “[We’re] looking at the entities that have potential paid contractors here on their behalf doing work.”
It’s no secret that millions have been funneled into the six-month-old demonstration via crowdfunding websites, and that more than 30 environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Indigenous Environmental Network, Food and Water Watch, 350.org and Greenpeace, have backed the protest.
If national environmental organizations are paying protest personnel, they’re not saying so publicly. Still, Mr. Rauschenberger said red flags will be raised if he doesn’t start seeing W2 or 1099 tax forms from those affiliated with the protest arriving at his office.
“It’s something we could possibly pursue if we don’t see 1099s coming in for the activity,” Mr. Rauschenberger said.
The ongoing demonstration has been costly to the state. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota Democrat, issued a plea last week for federal help with unruly protesters, some still camped out on federal land, after President Trump moved to expedite the pipeline review.
North Dakota lawmakers asked repeatedly for aid from the Obama administration without success.
“After five months of protests, over 600 arrests related to those protests, and more than $22 million in North Dakota taxpayer dollars spent on law enforcement resources to keep North Dakotans safe during the protests, state and local law enforcement agencies are in dire need of federal support,” Ms. Heitkamp said in her letter.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier has criticized “paid agitators” who crossed the line from peaceful protest to lawbreaking by trespassing on private property, blocking highways and bridges and throwing rocks, feces and burning logs at law enforcement.
“If an organization is directly paying someone to come and do activities on their behalf, even protesting — if they’re receiving income and they’re here in North Dakota performing activities for an organization, they owe income tax from Day One,” Mr. Rauschenberger said. “And that entity should be issuing 1099s. Just like a contractor.”
Whether protesters would be required to report income based on crowdfunding donations falls into more of a gray area, he said.
“I think a lot of people think that, ‘Oh, if something goes through GoFundMe, it’s just always considered a gift.’ But it can also be used as a way to funnel money just like an employer paying a contractor,” Mr. Rauschenberger said. “It can be a way to funnel money as well, and very well could be taxable. I’m not saying it is. I’m saying it could be. And it’s really on a case-by-case basis.”
He said the IRS has issued a “loose guidance” on crowdfunding. In general, such income is considered exempt if it represents a gift to be repaid, a purchase of an equity interest or a gift without any expectation of repayment.
Rob Port, who runs North Dakota’s Say Anything blog, said the crowdfunding donations are often framed as payment for services provided. He has tabulated at least $11.2 million in contributions to the DAPL protest.
“If those receiving the money didn’t use it in attempting to block the pipeline, I think those giving the money would be upset. They’d feel cheated,” said Mr. Port. “That certainly seems like a quid pro quo relationship to me. That seems like one person paying another person in pursuance of a specific endeavor.”
Several hundred protesters have braved the harsh North Dakota winter in their ongoing effort to stop the $3.8 billion project over fears about its impact on water quality.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribal council has asked occupiers to leave, citing environmental damage and looming spring flooding at some camps, even though the tribe has led opposition to the pipeline.
Mr. Rauschenberger emphasized that the state isn’t looking into the tribe’s financial relationship with protesters, only off-reservation activity. In addition, contributions such as food and shelter would be considered in-kind donations and not subject to taxation.
“The paper trail for something like that would be probably nonexistent,” he said. “We’d be looking at cash, whether it was a check, cash or debit card issued for performing services as opposed to more of the in-kind. It would be too difficult from an enforcement standpoint. We’d be looking at the cash money trail.”
Any paid protesters would owe income tax in North Dakota if their total income in 2016 exceeded $10,350.
Enforcing the tax code may also come down to whether the costs exceed the benefits. There are rumors that some of the thousands of protesters who moved in and out of camps starting in August were being paid with hard-to-track debit cards, and the state tax division has a staff of 128.
“It all comes down to resources,” Mr. Rauschenberger said.
Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.
Alberta vaults over Saskatchewan in new drilling forecast; cost savings of last two years “unsustainable”
By Deborah Jaremko
Jan. 31, 2017, 7:43 a.m.
Oil and gas producers should expect to pay more for services as activity picks up, says Mark Salkheld, CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC), which released a “cautiously optimistic” update to its 2017 drilling forecast on Monday.
“The cost savings exacted from the services sector over the last two and half years are not sustainable, but that will be corrected as activity and the demand for people and equipment increases,” Salkeld said in a statement.
PSAC is now projecting that 975 more wells will be drilled in Canada in 2017, the vast majority in Alberta.
That’s a change from PSAC’s November forecast for 2017, where Saskatchewan was expected to see the most drilling activity.
The new projection of 5,150 wells includes a jump of 806 wells in Alberta, to 2,706 from 1,900.
In Saskatchewan, 1,985 wells are expected, up from 1,940; in B.C., 367 compared to 280 in the original forecast; and in Manitoba 73, up from 50.
“Some of the Canadian oilfield service, supply and manufacturing sector are realizing some uptick in activity as oil prices recover and operators increase their drilling programs,” Salkheld said.
“With luck and the favorable policies from governments in Alberta, Ottawa and Washington DC with respect to the new royalty regime and pipeline approvals, the Canadian oilfield services sector will pick itself up, dust itself off and get people and equipment back to work.”
The numbers may be up from the 2016 final forecast of 3,950, but they are still not anywhere near pre-downturn levels. PSAC forecasted 5,320 wells in the midst of the downturn in 2015, which compares to 10,930 wells in 2014 and 11,475 in 2013.
“It took us many years to recover from a similar but less impactful downturn in the early 80s and it will be the same again now,” Salkheld said.
Fukushima residents exposed to far less radiation than thought
By Katherine Kornei
Jan. 23, 2017 , 2:30 PM
Citizen science usually isn’t this personal. In 2011, roughly 65,000 Japanese citizens living near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant started measuring their own radiation exposure in the wake of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. That’s because no one, not even experts, knew how accurate the traditional method of estimating dosage—taking readings from aircraft hundreds of meters above the ground—really was. Now, in a first-of-its-kind study, scientists analyzing the thousands of citizen readings have come to a surprising conclusion: The airborne observations in this region of Japan overestimated the true radiation level by a factor of four.
“The work [these] researchers are doing is extremely important … [because] it is logistically challenging to sample and monitor every potentially exposed person,” says Kathryn Higley, a certified health physicist at the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
It’s rare to monitor individual radiation exposure after a nuclear power plant accident. In some cases, regions are simply evacuated. In others, the cost and difficulty of handing out personal sensors—called dosimeters—is just too much. The few studies that have gathered individual readings in places like Chernobyl in Ukraine have also suffered limitations. Most target only small populations, and many are conducted far from the disaster site or long after the accident. Using aircraft is often easier, cheaper, and faster.
But in Date, Japan—just 60 kilometers from the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi complex—local officials started a radiation-monitoring campaign within a few months of the accident. Mayor Shoji Nishida was one of the main supporters. He explained at a 2014 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency that his city was never ordered to evacuate, despite surveys revealing radiation levels similar to those in nearby towns that were evacuated. “We decided that we should not depend on the national government and that we had to take our own independent actions,” Nishida said at the meeting. He ordered Date to begin its own decontamination efforts and to monitor individual radiation exposure, allocating 1 billion yen of city funds to the project in May 2011.
Under Nishida’s mandate, pregnant women and children younger than 16 were the first to receive a dosimeter, a candy bar–sized sensor that measures gamma rays. These high-energy electromagnetic waves, emitted by radioactive elements like cesium, can damage DNA and cause cancer. After roughly 9000 dosimeters had been distributed to children and expectant mothers, Date officials expanded the monitoring project: By 2012 almost all of Date’s roughly 65,000 inhabitants had been given one. Residents returned the dosimeters every 3 months for analysis; more than 52,000 residents participated in the survey for at least one year.
Meanwhile, six airborne radiation surveys of Fukushima Prefecture were conducted by the national government. Sensors attached to helicopters measured radioactive cesium on the ground, and researchers used scaling laws to convert that data to expected doses at ground level. Because many people spend most of their time indoors, protected by radiation-absorbing buildings, government scientists further assumed that just 60% of that radiation actually reached most subjects. That estimate was based on the standard assumption that people spend 8 hours outdoors and 16 hours indoors each day.
Now, Makoto Miyazaki, a radiologist at Fukushima Medical University, and Ryugo Hayano, a University of Tokyo physicist, have taken the thousands of data points from the Date dosimeters and compared them with the ground-level estimates from the helicopter data. The scientists concluded that actual radiation doses were roughly 15% of what the helicopters were measuring, scaled to ground level, they reported last month in the Journal of Radiological Protection. That’s four times less radiation than what the Japanese government was previously assuming.
The researchers give several reasons for the large difference. Chief among them: “Residents [are] not staying outdoors for 8 hours each day,” Miyazaki says. He hopes these results will help other researchers better predict actual radiation doses—and therefore potential health effects—based on rapid airborne surveys. A better estimate of individual radiation doses might also allow displaced people to return to their homes sooner, Higley notes.
For Date residents, it’s good news that radiation levels are lower than expected. But the result comes with a less-than-silver lining: Some of the region’s expensive, time-consuming decontamination efforts—such as the removal of topsoil and tree bark—might not have been necessary.