Blog Archives

Mining companies must win hearts and minds or face further opposition

Mining companies must win hearts and minds or face further opposition
By: Simon Rees
19th September 2014
TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Opposition to the extractive industries continues to grow in Canada, with increasing influence on decisions that surround project approval, delegates at the Canada-Southern Africa Chamber of Business risk mitigation and corporate social responsibility (CSR) seminar were told last week.
“The world of the stakeholder is large. From the comfort of a home heated by natural gas or cooled by electricity, and probably using a device laden with metals, a person can discover whether they are ‘against’ an industry,” Goodmans partner Kate Lyons said.
Opposition can develop among thousands of people living many kilometres away from a mining region, their opinions shaping and influencing project outcomes. Lyons highlighted northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire as an example.
“We know the Ring of Fire’s future will not be determined within the region itself but in southern Ontario, where the majority of the political ridings are,” she noted. “Or it will be decided [in Ottawa] to the extent that the federal government is involved.”
“So we must win the hearts and minds of those people sitting at home because that’s how your project is going to be approved,” she said, stressing that meaningful CSR and engagement with locally affected communities was one of the best methods of doing this.
However, successful CSR in Canada depends on effective consultation, with particular reference to constitutional and environmental issues, the latter heavily informed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012. “The new Act has the opportunity for joint panels for provincial and federal examination of environmental matters,” Lyons said.
But a panel’s recommendations are nonbinding and ultimate decisions on project approval reside with the Minister. “A panel’s mandate [only] requires it to weigh the evidence and to present a balance sheet accounting for its associated recommendations,” Lyons explained. “The Minister can still do whatever he or she wants.”
Lyons underlined the importance of aboriginal engagement and cited the recent case Grassy Narrows First Nation versus Ontario (Natural Resources). “The court decided that the Province of Ontario could take up land in a treaty area without having to consult the federal government,” she noted. “But the case is also important because of its clear commentary that consultation must be undertaken.”
In addition, the commentary stressed the need for accommodation. “But accommodation is almost redundant as I have to believe that consultation must automatically include accommodation. [Consultation] can’t simply just mean sitting and listening,” she said.
“Some companies might say: ‘But we’ve got a benefits agreement and done the consultation work. They told us what they want and we’ve got an agreement on the table’. Well that’s never going to work,” she said.
“A benefits agreement is not a commercial arrangement that business people are typically aware of and engagement is much more akin to a marriage contract – a marriage contract with someone who hasn’t agreed to marry you at the start,” she quipped.
Getting the right CSR team in place and giving them the necessary support is vital. “Ensure your officers have the sufficient authority and resources to establish and maintain all elements of the CSR programme, including training and documentation,” she said. “Finally, require your officers to report regularly to the board. Ensure your senior team is aware of and can respond to issues as they arise.”

TIM MCMILLAN STEPPING DOWN AS MINISTER AND MLA – BECOMING CAPP PRESIDENT

TIM MCMILLAN STEPPING DOWN AS MINISTER AND MLA

Released on September 18, 2014

Rural and Remote Health Minister Tim McMillan today announced that he is stepping down from cabinet effective immediately and resigning as the MLA for Lloydminster effective September 30.
McMillan has accepted the position of President of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), effective October 1.
McMillan said it has been an honour to serve in the provincial government led by Premier Brad Wall.
“This province has seen such a positive change over the past seven years,” McMillan said.  “I feel extremely fortunate to have been part of the government during this remarkable period of growth and progress.”
Premier Wall said McMillan will be missed and wished him all the best in his new career.
“Tim has been a great MLA and Minister and I will miss his unique perspective at the cabinet table,” Wall said.  “As President of CAPP, I know Tim will continue working hard to develop our resource industry in western Canada, including here in Saskatchewan.”
McMillan noted he will be following all of the provisions of the new Saskatchewan Lobbyists Act which requires that a former minister cannot lobby the provincial government for one year after leaving cabinet.
McMillan was first elected in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011.  He has held several different cabinet portfolios prior to his appointment as Minister of Rural and Remote Health in June of this year.  These include Energy and Resources, Crown Investments Corporation, Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority and Tourism Saskatchewan.
Wall said for the time being, Health Minister Dustin Duncan will also handle the Rural and Remote Heath duties.  He plans to appoint a new minister shortly.
A byelection must be called by the Premier within six months of the date the seat becomes vacant.
-30-
For more information, contact:
Karen Hill Executive Council Regina Phone: 306-787-2127 Email: karen.hill@gov.sk.ca Cell: 306-5299207

36% more jobs posted on SaskJobs than EI recipients in Saskatchewan in July 2014

September 18, 2014
Statistics Canada
The number of EI recipients in Saskatchewan in July 2014 was up 0.7% from July 2013.
There were 10,490 EI recipients in Saskatchewan in July 2014, at the same time, there were 14,305 jobs posted on SaskJobs .ca alone.
There were 36% more jobs on one website than EI recipients in Saskatchewan.
Today there are 13,762 jobs posted at SaskJobs.ca
 EI Sept 2014 1 EI Sept 2014 2

CN facing federal fine for not moving enough grain

8 Sep 2014
The StarPhoenix
THE CANADIAN PRESS AND THE STARPHOENIX
CN facing federal fine for not moving enough grain
The federal government is fining Canadian National Railway for not moving a minimum amount of grain as outlined in the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act.
“As CN was not able to meet the minimum volume requirements, the Minister has decided to issue Administrative Monetary Penalties to the company,” said Jana Regimbal, press secretary with the Office of the Minister of Transport, in an email.
“The penalty is up to $100,000 per week and that is up to the Minister’s discretion.”
In a news release, Mark Hallman, Director — Communications and Public Affairs for CN, stated, “CN has not been informed of government concerns or any intention to issue penalties against CN in connection with its grain transportation performance.
“… Such a step would be unfounded given that it’s the current balance of the grain supply chain that has not allowed us to meet the government’s Order-In-Council minimum grain volume requirement.”
The government’s Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act states railways must move one million tonnes of grain and oilseeds a week until the end of November.
The new regulations are intended to maximize the amount of grain moved by rail before the winter season and allow the government to reassess the situation later in the fall, with the longer term goal of returning carry-over stocks to normal levels by the end of July 2015.
At 76 million tonnes, the 2013-14 western Canadian crop was 50 per cent higher than the 10-year average and the act is meant to stop a repeat of the grain backlog.
Earlier Wednesday CN chief executive Claude Mongeau told a CIBC investor conference that demand for hopper cars has fallen so low in the past few weeks that the railway won’t be able to meet the federal government’s delivery thresholds.
“So we can’t move what they don’t deliver or what they don’t order, and I think that’s a good sign,” he said. “So we should have continued strong grain, but not the surging that we faced last year.”
While the late crop will be strong, Statistics Canada said it will only be slightly above an average year at 55 million to 58 million tonnes.
He said the company doesn’t expect to face a repeat of the problems it faced in moving last year’s bumper western Canadian grain crop
Mongeau said there is ample storage room for farmers to deliver Prairie grain since country elevator stocks are in line or below the five-year average since the beginning of the new crop.
After a “brutal winter,” he said the supply chain of Canada’s largest railway is “back in sync.”
Despite complaints from grain elevator companies, CN moved a record 25 per cent increase in grain Mongeau said, rejecting claims that grain only started moving because the railways were ordered to do so by the Conservative government.

Environmental extremism a rising threat to energy sector, RCMP warns

Environmental extremism a rising threat to energy sector, RCMP warns

Shawn McCarthy

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Sunday, Sep. 14 2014, 5:08 PM EDT

Last updated Sunday, Sep. 14 2014, 7:29 PM EDT

 

RCMP analysts have warned government and industry that environmental extremists pose a “clear and present criminal threat” to Canada’s energy sector, and are more likely to strike at critical infrastructure than religiously inspired terrorists, according to a report released under Access to Information.

Written by the force’s critical infrastructure intelligence team, the 22-page RCMP document argues there is a “growing criminal phenomenon” associated with environmentalism that aims to interfere with regulatory reviews and force companies to forego development.

“Environmental ideologically motivated individuals including some who are aligned with a radical, criminal extremist ideology pose a clear and present criminal threat to Canada’s energy sector,” said the report, written in March 2011. Since then, the RCMP has held regular meetings with energy companies and federal officials to review potential threats to infrastructure, and faces formal complaints that it conducted surveillance on environmental groups that oppose construction of Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline.

The paper highlighted Canada’s oil sands sector as one that has attracted considerable opposition because it is a major producer of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Law enforcement and national security officials worry about a “growing radicalized environmentalist faction” who oppose the oil sands and other energy development, it said.

The oil industry has run into vehement opposition to plans for crude oil pipelines through British Columbia and across the country to the port of Saint John, N.B. But the oil sands sector needs access to new markets – whether in the U.S. Gulf Coast, Asia Pacific, or the Atlantic basin – if it is going to meet ambitious growth plans that would see production doubling to four million barrels per day by 2025.

Some First Nations leaders warned their people may resort to whatever means necessary to block construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline. But neither First Nation leaders nor environmental groups have advocated violence.

Most of Canada’s counter-terrorism effort has been aimed at international jihadis, and there have been a number of high-profile prosecutions against Canadian residents who plotted to conduct attacks either at home or abroad.

“In reality, criminal occurrences attributed to environmentalists have and are more likely to, occur within Canada,” the report said. It added that the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency (CSIS) monitors individuals and organizations that might be involved in domestic terrorism, “including the threat or use of violence by groups advocating for issues such as the environment.”

Carleton University criminologist Jeff Monaghan, who obtained the document, said the RCMP authors constructed a trend from isolated incidents. He worries police and other security agencies are using anti-terrorism legislation to broaden their investigation and monitoring of groups who oppose development.

RCMP spokesman Greg Cox denied the force is targeting protesters or environmental groups in general. “The RCMP does not investigate individuals, groups or movements, but will investigate the criminal activity of any individuals who threaten the safety and security of Canadians.”

Neither Mr. Cox, nor CSIS spokeswoman Tahera Mufti would comment on formal complaints launched by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association that claim the agencies have conducted improper surveillance activities against law-abiding citizens who oppose the gateway project.

Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ filed the complaints with the RCMP’s Commission for Public Complaints and the Security Intelligence Review Committee, backed by numerous documents obtained under Access to Information, which, he said, show the two agencies were actively monitoring and even infiltrating environmental and aboriginal groups involved in Gateway hearings before the federal review panel, which wrapped up last year.

Canada needs to act now to retain global mining leadership – MAC

Canada needs to act now to retain global mining leadership – MAC
By: Henry Lazenby
12th September 2014
TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – In the face of an increasingly competitive global environment, the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) on Thursday called on all stakeholders in the country’s mining sector to act to ensure that Canada maintained its position as a global mining leader.
In a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade, MAC president and CEO Pierre Gratton provided an overview of the past decade of mining development in Canada.
“Canada benefitted tremendously from the past decade of rising commodity prices, seeing a 25% increase in the number of new mines, increased employment and rising government revenues. The opportunity is there for Canada to continue to responsibly develop its mining industry and the jobs, business development and community investments that go along with it.
“Governments and individuals all play a part in deciding whether we seize those opportunities, or let other countries take the leadership position instead,” Gratton said.
In his address, he pointed to a few indicators to demonstrate how mining had contributed to Canada’s prosperity over the past decade, but also some signs of lost ground.
Last year, after an eight-year period as the top jurisdiction for global exploration spending, Canada fell to the second spot behind Australia. Similarly, in the Fraser Institute’s latest yearly survey, traditionally top Canadian jurisdictions lost their footings. For example, Quebec, which held first place from 2007 to 2009, fell to the twenty-first spot in 2013. In terms of mineral output, Canada had also declined from being a top-five producer of 14 major minerals and metals in 2007 to just tenth today.
To explain these declines, Gratton noted that Canada’s mining sector operated in a much more competitive global environment. Some basic business fundamentals made the country an expensive place to build new mines.
This included rising energy and operating costs, skills shortages, a lack of critical infrastructure to build new mines in increasingly remote and northern regions, high transportation costs to get goods to market and complex and lengthy regulatory processes.
Gratton also dismissed recent commentary that Canada risked losing its strength as a resource-rich country, owing to new demands that industry had to earn ‘social licence’ or due to recent rulings on Aboriginal title and rights.
“If you look at our record, with over 260 agreements with Aboriginal communities concluded across the country, very few mining projects have failed owing to a lack of community support. While a business risk, I don’t believe social licence is a significant obstacle to new mine development in Canada, because, overall, our practices have kept pace with, or exceeded, new expectations,” he stated.
Gratton also addressed the serious tailings breach at Mount Polley and the efforts the industry had to undertake to reassure Canadians and British Columbians, in particular, about its commitment to safety and environmental protection.
Noting that over 200 mines across Canada operated safely every day, Gratton acknowledged that a failure of this sort was unacceptable.
“The Canadian mining industry – and the MAC and, particularly, its members – have spent the better part of the past two decades working to improve practices in this area so that tailings failures never occur. While we do not know yet what caused the breach, the MAC and its members are determined to learn from this event. We expect effective regulation and oversight in concert with robust design, operation and maintenance practices,” Gratton commented.

Canadian regulators seek to give targets more time in hostile takeovers

Canadian regulators seek to give targets more time in hostile takeovers

The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Sep. 11 2014, 12:46 PM EDT

Last updated Thursday, Sep. 11 2014, 12:46 PM EDT

 

Canadian securities regulators have agreed on a plan that would give hostile bid targets more time to find alternatives, and give shareholders a stronger position in any battle.

The national umbrella group for the 13 provincial and territorial regulators laid out the details Thursday, saying that the planned rules would give all targets 120 days to find alternatives to a hostile bid. That is well more than double what they get now.

Bidders would also have to convince owners of at least 50 per cent of shares (not including any stock held by the bidding side) to sell for the bid to succeed. And after reaching the 50 per cent level, the acquirer would be required to extend its bid for a further 10 days to ensure other shareholders can tender, so they don’t end up stranded as minority investors in a company that is controlled.

What’s particularly notable about this is that the provinces and territories have all come together in a harmonized plan. At the moment, the takeover timetable differs from province to province because of varying decisions in precedent-setting individual takeover cases.

What’s more, when the commissions started looking at how to update the hostile takeover rules, it was not clear a harmonized set of rules could be achieved. Quebec was a notable outlier, having proposed a different set of rules including allowing boards to “just say no” to takeovers.

This set of rules would put all the regulators on the same page, and eliminate the uncertainty caused by the differing rules.

“We have worked to develop a harmonized take-over bid regime for all Canadian jurisdictions and have been successful in achieving national agreement,” said Bill Rice, chair of the CSA and chair and CEO of the Alberta Securities Commission. “The proposed amendments are designed to provide target boards with additional time to respond to hostile bids while reserving for shareholders the ability to make voluntary, informed and co-ordinated tender decisions.”

SASKATCHEWAN CROP REPORT FOR THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 2 TO 8, 2014

CROP REPORT FOR THE PERIOD SEPTEMBER 2 TO 8, 2014

 

Released on September 11, 2014

Detailed report is here:  Crop Report For September2 to 8

 

 

Another week of cool and wet weather has delayed harvest for many producers, according to Saskatchewan Agriculture’s Weekly Crop Report.

 

Fourteen per cent of the provincial crop has now been combined, while 39 per cent is swathed or ready to straight-cut.  The five-year average (2009-2013) for this time of year is 26 per cent combined and 32 per cent swathed or ready to straight-cut.

 

Harvest is furthest advanced in the southwestern region, where 23 per cent of the crop is combined.  Sixteen per cent is combined in the west-central region; 15 per cent in the southeast; 11 per cent in the northeast; 10 per cent in the northwest and six per cent in the east-central region.

 

Provincially, 77 per cent of fall rye, 65 per cent of field peas, 53 per cent of winter wheat, 34 per cent of lentils, 16 per cent of mustard, 12 per cent of barley and 10 per cent of canola have been combined.  Seventy-one per cent of canola is swathed or ready to straight-cut.

 

Much of the province received rain this past week, with some areas receiving several inches over the course of a day.  Topsoil moisture conditions on cropland are rated as 31 per cent surplus, 68 per cent adequate and one per cent short.  Hay land and pasture topsoil moisture is rated as 22 per cent surplus, 76 per cent adequate and two per cent short.

 

Yields vary greatly across the province but overall are estimated to be average.  The wet field conditions and continuous rain have damaged many crops and quality remains a concern with some pulses and cereals.  Strong winds, hail and frost have also caused some damage.

 

Farmers are hoping for improved weather to help harvest progress.

 

Follow the 2014 Crop Report on Twitter at @SKAgriculture.

 

-30-

 

For more information, contact:

 

Shannon Friesen

Agriculture

Moose Jaw

Phone: 306-694-3592

Productivity tops mining risks

 Productivity tops mining risks
September 11, 2014
The need to address the decade long decline in productivity due to the sector’s quest for growth during the supercycle has pushed productivity to the top of our risk ranking.
Boards and CEOs are now realizing that regaining lost productivity and gaining new ground is critical for long-term profitability and achieving an adequate return on capital employed, and requires a whole-of-business response. This broad transformational approach is essential and is yet to be applied effectively by any one sector participant. This huge step change is why this risk is top of the ranking.
Although the top risks have shifted around in the ranking, there has not been a substantial shift in priorities. The risks themselves have evolved greatly over the year with the prolonged commodity price dips which have thrown up many issues for the miners.
Top mining risks 2014 vs 2008
Moving up into the top 10 this year is access to water and energy, which is becoming an increasing issue as demand rises, costs increase and availability diminishes.
Capital allocation and access – diverging and unique challenges
The capital allocation dilemmas have fallen from last year’s top spot, reflecting progress made during the year in addressing this challenge.
Steady progress has been made by the majors on capital management and optimization following a spate of asset write-downs in 2013. Capital discipline is expected to continue, but the question now facing companies is what form the next phase of investment will take, and when stakeholders will begin pushing for this.
However, at the other end of the sector, little has changed in the past 12 months for many juniors and explorers and they remain cash-starved and focused on survival.
Social license to operate – engaging powerful communities
This risk has climbed to third position because the influence of a community to stop or slow projects is powerful and can end a project, no matter how exemplary a company’s track record is with social engagement.
The frequency and number of projects being delayed or stopped due to community and environmental activists continues to rise. Organizations cannot assume that acceptance by the community and its stakeholders will always be maintained. They should be integrating the activities required to obtain and maintain a social licence into the broader strategic plan of a more sustainable business.
Resource nationalism – both retreating and advancing
Maintaining its spot in the top five risks, there remain waves of resource nationalism by countries keen to gain a greater share of shrinking returns from the sector.
On one hand, some countries have changed mining tax policies to become more attractive to mining investment in a lower investment environment. At the same time, other countries have introduced mandated beneficiation, invoked use-it-or-lose-it and increased state ownership.
Emotive arguments promoting resource nationalism can only be overcome with meticulous and transparent revelation of the facts.
Capital projects – a conservative approach
This risk has moved into the top five due to the long trail of mega projects commenced during the boom that still need to be fully delivered. With a view to the next cyclical upswing, mining and metals companies are beginning to plan the next wave of projects.
While the public capital markets still do not have an appetite for investment in new supply, companies are beginning to quietly prepare for the inevitable investment as reserves need replacing and the cycle changes.
Mining companies do not want to make the same mistakes they made during the supercycle and boards will be demanding much more robust capital project management to avoid the failures of the past. In addition, with softening commodity prices, many companies are looking to extract more for less through increased productivity.
New entrant – Access to water and energy
Accessing affordable water and energy has become increasingly difficult, especially in South America and Africa. Burgeoning energy costs and competing water demands in many mining regions around the world are starting to have a bigger impact on costs and the ability to operate.
With global demand for energy expected to increase 36% by 2025, and with falling ore grades, this risk is compounding year by year, with the sector facing higher energy prices and volatility. Similarly, water scarcity is an issue demanding a strategic and practical response.

What global warming?

9 Sep 2014
National Post – (Latest Edition)
Mat t Ridley Wall Street Journal Matt Ridley is the author of “The Rational Optimist” (Harper Collins, 2010) and a member of the British House of Lords. Copyright Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission.
What global warming?
Some world leaders will be absent from the UN climate change summit — they have more real issues to worry about
The pause has now lasted 16, 19 or 26 years depending on the temperature record
On Sept. 23 the United Nations will host a party for world leaders in New York to pledge urgent action against climate change. Yet leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won’t attend the summit and others are likely to follow, leaving President Obama looking a bit lonely. Could it be that they no longer regard it as an urgent threat that some time later in this century the air may get a bit warmer?
In effect, this is all that’s left of the globalwarming emergency the U.N. declared in its first report on the subject in 1990. The U.N. no longer claims that there will be dangerous or rapid climate change in the next two decades. Last September, between the second and final draft of its fifth assessment report, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change quietly downgraded the warming it expected in the 30 years following 1995, to about 0.5 degrees Celsius from 0.7 (or, in Fahrenheit, to about 0.9 degrees, from 1.3).
Even that is likely to be too high. The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century began.
First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or “hiatus”), but that it doesn’t after all invalidate their theories.
Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that manmade climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature — a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.
When the climate scientist and geologist Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia wrote an article in 2006 saying that there had been no global warming since 1998 according to the most widely used measure of average global air temperatures, there was an outcry. A year later, when David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London made the same point, the environmentalist and journalist Mark Lynas said in the New Statesman that Mr. Whitehouse was “wrong, completely wrong,” and was “deliberately, or otherwise, misleading the public.”
We know now that it was Mr. Lynas who was wrong. Two years before Mr. Whitehouse’s article, climate scientists were already admitting in emails among themselves that there had been no warming since the late 1990s. “The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998,” wrote Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia in Britain in 2005. He went on: “Okay it has but it is only seven years of data and it isn’t statistically significant.”
If the pause lasted 15 years, they conceded, then it would be so significant that it would invalidate the climate-change models upon which policy was being built. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) written in 2008 made this clear: “The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more.”
Well, the pause has now lasted for 16, 19 or 26 years — depending on whether you choose the surface temperature record or one of two satellite records of the lower atmosphere. That’s according to a new statistical calculation by Ross McKitrick, a professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada.
It has been roughly two decades since there was a trend in temperature significantly different from zero. The burst of warming that preceded the millennium lasted about 20 years and was preceded by 30 years of slight cooling after 1940.
This has taken me by surprise. I was among those who thought the pause was a blip. As a “luke warmer,” I’ve long thought that man-made carbon-dioxide emissions will raise global temperatures, but that this effect will not be amplified much by feedbacks from extra water vapour and clouds, so the world will probably be only a bit more than one degree Celsius warmer in 2100 than today. By contrast, the assumption built into the average climate model is that water-vapour feedback will treble the effect of carbon dioxide.
But now I worry that I am exaggerating, rather than underplaying, the likely warming.
Most science journalists, who are strongly biased in favour of reporting alarming predictions, rather than neutral facts, chose to ignore the pause until very recently, when there were explanations available for it. Nearly 40 different excuses for the pause have been advanced, including Chinese economic growth that supposedly pushed cooling sulphate particles into the air, the removal of ozone-eating chemicals, an excess of volcanic emissions, and a slowdown in magnetic activity in the sun.
The favourite explanation earlier this year was that strong trade winds in the Pacific Ocean had been taking warmth from the air and sequestering it in the ocean. This was based on a few sketchy observations, suggesting a very tiny change in water temperature — a few hundredths of a degree — at depths of up to 200 meters.
Last month two scientists wrote in Science that they had instead found the explanation in natural fluctuations in currents in the Atlantic Ocean. For the last 30 years of the 20th century, Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung suggested, these currents had been boosting the warming by bringing heat to the surface, then for the past 15 years the currents had been counteracting it by taking heat down deep.
The warming in the last three decades of the 20th century, to quote the news release that accompanied their paper, “was roughly half due to global warming and half to the natural Atlantic Ocean cycle.” In other words, even the modest warming in the 1980s and 1990s — which never achieved the 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade necessary to satisfy the feedback-enhanced models that predict about three degrees of warming by the end of the century — had been exaggerated by natural causes. The man-made warming of the past 20 years has been so feeble that a shifting current in one ocean was enough to wipe it out altogether.
Putting the icing on the cake of good news, Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung think the Atlantic Ocean may continue to prevent any warming for the next two decades. So in their quest to explain the pause, scientists have made the future sound even less alarming than before. Let’s hope that the United Nations admits as much on day one of its coming jamboree and asks the delegates to pack up, go home and concentrate on more pressing global problems like war, terror, disease, poverty, habitat loss and the 1.3 billion people with no electricity.
%d bloggers like this: