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Canada's 2001 Climate Predictions Revisited

12 Jun 2023 | Crystal Ball

The “Canada Action Plan” Crystal Ball Check Revisited transcript

John Robson:

For the Climate Discussion Nexus, I’m John Robson with another trip down memory lane, to Canada’s definitive 2001 climate change assessment and action plan. And also to our second-most-popular video, “Canada’s 2001 climate predictions. How did they do?“, which has had 400,000 views since being released in June 2019, and which we think some of our newer viewing and reading friends might have missed and might appreciate.

The main point here is that, if governments don’t know what’s happening, they can’t possibly know what to do about it. But it’s also important to note that if they were as sure 20 years ago as they are today, and were completely clueless back then, it calls into serious question how solid their understanding is today.

This video looks at the disastrously wrong predictions the Canadian government made about climate change at the turn of the century based on the climate models that they’d spent many millions of dollars developing. It was on the basis of those predictions that they wanted to convince the nation to rally behind their costly and impractical plans to slash energy use. Because, as we show, the predictions weren’t just wrong, they were all wrong in the same direction. There was a systemic bias in the direction of creating the impression of a climate crisis that the data just didn’t show.


The fact that the Canadian climate model is biased towards too much warming is no secret among scientists. In 2020, a team of British climate scientists looked at how climate models from around the world since the late 1970s compared to reality in the lower part of the atmosphere, called the troposphere, which is the region where greenhouse gases are believed to have their clearest effect. All the models they examined warmed too much, but they singled out the Canadian model for its singular bias: “We draw attention to the CanESM5 model: it simulates the greatest warming in the troposphere, roughly 7 times larger than the observed trends.”

John Robson:

And what does our federal government say about their model that warms seven times faster than observations? Why, they rely on it: “to provide science-based quantitative information to inform climate change adaptation and mitigation in Canada and internationally.”

So if you ever wonder why here in Canada we can’t have nice things any more, it’s because when they’re setting emission control policy the government relies on a model that predicts seven times more warming than has actually been observed.

But the issue here isn’t simply that the government has overstated the global warming problem. It’s they keep underestimating the difficulty of the emission-control problem.


Despite Canada having missed every emissions target it ever set, Prime Minister Trudeau insisted in October 2022 that Canada would actually hit its targets for the first time, seven years into his premiership, because “Every other plan was based on targets. Any politician can put forward a target. Can you actually put forward a plan to do it?”

He seems to have forgotten that previous Prime Ministers put forward lots of plans to cut emissions. It’s just that none of them were feasible or practical. Including the 2016 “Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change” put forward on his watch.

John Robson:

In fact way back in 2002, when Canada’s government ratified the much-hyped 1997 Kyoto Protocol that, Wikipedia drones, “commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that (part one) global warming is occurring and (part two) that human-made CO2 emissions are driving it”, I wrote in the Ottawa Citizen that while many people were elated by this news, and others were alarmed by it, I was bored.

The Canadian government, I insisted, had no idea how to implement Kyoto because it had no idea what was going on with greenhouse gasses or the climate, so, we wouldn’t see emissions reductions or much of anything else. And we haven’t.

So my prediction holds up pretty well. How about theirs?


The global warming issue depends heavily on computer model forecasts about climate problems that greenhouse gas emissions will supposedly cause decades from now. But it turns out that climate experts and government officials have been making these kinds of forecasts for a long time, warning about things that, by now, should already have happened, if their models are as accurate as they claim.

John Robson:

So I think it’s time we checked how good their crystal ball turned out to be. Before we put any trust in their new forecasts, I say we’re entitled to see how good the old ones were.


For our first trip back to the future, we want to look at this 2001 pamphlet, which the Government of Canada mailed out to people across the country to build support for their costly new climate policy plans two decades ago.

“The Earth is getting warmer … We are changing our climate,” the pamphlet warned.

John Robson:

It swept aside any uncertainties and insisted that we are the cause, it’s going to be harmful, and we need to take action now (that is, in 2001) to stop it from happening.


The pamphlet went on to list the following predictions:

  • Canadian cities will experience longer and more intense heat waves;
  • These heat waves will make air pollution get worse;
  • Sea levels on the northern coast of British Columbia will rise by up to 30 cm by 2050;
  • Crop yields on the prairies will start declining due to increased droughts;
  • There will be more frequent forest fires;
  • And water levels in the St Lawrence Seaway will fall by up to 1.25 meters this century.

John Robson:

Now those warnings sound pretty familiar, because we’re hearing them today. But it’s been more than 20 years since the Canadian government declared the debate over, and made those predictions in that pamphlet. So, let’s see if any of them came true.


More Heat Waves.

John Robson:

Environment Canada’s long term temperature archive for every city in Canada can be seen online at YourEnvironment.ca. Toronto’s records go back to 1840, and summertime daily highs have barely changed over the past hundred years.

Now, here are the monthly average daytime highs for June, July and August, the hot months, since 1990.

There’s simply no evidence of longer or more intense heatwaves over the past few decades. We invite you to use the site to check out other large urban areas in Canada for yourself – and good luck finding anywhere that shows a trend of longer and more intense summertime high temperatures.


More Air Pollution.

Environment Canada maintains air pollution records for most major Canadian cities back to the early 1970s. In 2017 the Fraser Institute took the data and produced this report. It clearly shows that, instead of going up, heat-related pollution levels have been steady or declining in major urban areas for at least the past 20 years.

John Robson:

So far on the government’s predictions, we’re zero for two.


Rising BC Sea Levels.

John Robson:

Global tide gauge data is maintained by the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level in Liverpool, England, and it too is all available online. According to the government’s 2001 pamphlet, sea levels along the northern BC coast should be going up by about 6 cm a decade due to climate change.

Northern BC coastal sea levels have been measured at Prince Rupert since 1925 and, in fact, water levels rose up to the mid-1970s, but since then they haven’t changed much at all. And a little further north in Ketchikan Alaska, they’re actually going down.

This graph compares what the government forecast and what has actually been observed since the early 1990s.

Another swing and a miss.


Falling Prairie Crop Yields.

Is prairie grain production declining due to drought, or anything else? Statistics Canada has measured annual prairie crop yields since 1908. Since the government published its prediction of falling grain yields, total wheat and canola production on the prairies has soared by over 60%, while spring wheat production per hectare is up about 66%.

John Robson:

Another failed prediction.


More Forest Fires.

John Robson:

The National Forestry Database, again operated by the Canadian government, provides estimates of the number of forest fires every year, and the national record goes back to 1970. It seems that the number of forest fires in Canada since 2001, when the pamphlet was published, has actually been going down slightly, not up, as the government’s model forecast.

Another wrong prediction.

John Robson:

Declining St. Lawrence Water Levels.

The government predicted that St Lawrence River water levels would fall so quickly they should be down by about 25 cm by now. The Water Survey of Canada is a government agency that monitors water flow and levels in all major Canadian river systems. Their data collection is easily accessible online.

Here’s the monthly average data for the St Lawrence from the monitoring station near Cornwall, Ontario, going back to when the seaway opened in 1959. And here’s a chart of the data up close since 2000, comparing actual St Lawrence levels to the government’s predicted rate of decline. As you can see, the level changes a little from year to year, but it isn’t declining the way the government forecast.

John Robson:

So that’s zero out of six predictions right. That’s like striking out twice in one at-bat. Their forecasting model did far worse than random guessing would have, or monkeys throwing darts.

And it would be bad enough if they made all these mistakes while admitting that, yes, the science is uncertain, it needs to be debated, climate’s complex. But they were doing the opposite.

Already, more than two decades ago, they had shut down the idea of debate, and civil discussion, and insisted that the science was settled, and they knew what it said. But the science that produced these forecasts was hopelessly inaccurate.

The government used worthless computer projections to engage in fearmongering aimed at silencing critics and intimidating Canadians into supporting a costly policy agenda.


So you don’t have to take at face value any of the government’s current forecasts about the supposed dangers of climate change until they can explain why so many of their past predictions were wrong.

John Robson:

For the Climate Discussion Nexus, I’m John Robson, and that’s our updated crystal ball check on the Canadian government’s 2001 Climate Action Plan pamphlet.

13 comments on “Canada's 2001 Climate Predictions Revisited”

  1. Fabulous as always. How can we resist or slow down this lunacy, those who support climate change are unable to even take the time to look at the other side as I am , information on both sides can be created to show a partial perspective, not suggesting yours does, but when you can't even discuss its a hard road row to hoe.


    PS Why do you have the wonderful fire burning in your back ground it must drive them crazy if they do happen to venture on to the site.

  2. The problem is that the observed change is c. 1C over the last hundred years or so, but in order to establish how much of that was us, we'd need to subtract whatever change would have happened naturally (had we not been here) from what's been observed.

    As we simply do not know what would have happened had mankind been absent, we cannot do this calculation.
    It's surely highly likely that the observed c.1C warming is entirely natural, given that we are emerging from an ice age? But if we are to blame for part of it, that part must be significantly less than 1C, which frankly isn't worth fretting about- in fact it must fall within the error range of the measurements.

    I call bs on the whole AGW agenda.

  3. As long as their is no credence give or notice taken of those who disagree; you have only one conclusion that can be reached is that they either have no justification or they are hiding something. I must admit I am on the side of the former.

  4. Could I ask why the establishments keep cutting out any debate by saying the Science is settled? I have heard arguments that the reports of Disasters due to Climate change is there to see by everyone but how much of this due to us all getting instant news from Smartphone uploads from people around the World, how much of this went unreported in the past?

  5. surprise surprise... where is my comment? ohhh only voices of agreement welcome on this con-page 😉

  6. exactly. They don't want to allow this comment, for example:

    Dad, why are you on this con-artist website? It is clearly trying way too hard to seem official... they even cropped what is clearly a government of Canada logo on the top image of lake louise to make it look official without "technically" copyright infringing!
    The video was already open on your computer when I started watching it, and I actually thought for a few minutes it could be a fair look at the topic including facts without an agenda and I was interested to see the story here, but man, it did not take long before agenda gushes forth full of finely comb-overed fallacy.

  7. Even without bothering to see whether the cherry picked convenient(ly modified) "data" sets and graphs to illustrate the arguments is real, current, legitimate, trustworthy, or an appropriate at all source, it is laughable how clearly they are either skewed, irrelevant, or sometimes even revealing data that is being overlaid by commentary contradictory to it! e.g. first point with graphs of Toronto peak temperatures in warm months he says have not increased... but the graphs literally show the increase if you actually look at the dots! I think he tried to present the data in a way to hide it and then distract from it, but look exactly where he is telling you to and compare over time and he is saying the opposite of what is actually shown!! Wild!

  8. There are blatant problems with the evidence used and how it is presented (e.g. presenting similar graphs one after the next but subtly shaving years off an axis etc. ) for the arguments and support in saying the first five predictions were misses. If you pay close attention, it seems a lot more like they were hits! After the video, I feel more convinced the government predictions were more likely 5/6 correct, which is strikingly impressive! Especially if the depth of logic used for the predictions is anything close to this guy's understanding of cause and effect, I think. I am not even coming at this in favour of supporting a belief in climate change or anything, but just from neutral curiosity in observing what is put forth in the "discussion". This is classic snakeskin salesman stuff here, down to the name of the website and luring stumble-uponers into a false impressions this is legitimate dialectics and honest debate!
    I am willing to bet that if you comment any valid rational point hear illustrating any of the video's fallacies or say anything that could be considered dissenting of their rhetoric, it will never appear publicly, or if it does, it will be removed promptly.
    Please tell me you aren't falling for this type of cheap propaganda and misinformation...

  9. Some worthwhile sayings that have saved many hair folicles:
    1) Some people are like concrete:. All mixed up and permanently set.
    2)Some people think: Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.

    But before I point fingers, I always ask myself if it could be me. Then I say just the facts please, I will make my own conclusions.

  10. Spot on. I do not know of a single prediction that has come true. Our government still rushes to save us from ourselves. It is silly and if you question you are called names. Oh what a time we live in.

  11. In light of the data that Canada appears to be sinking on the East Coast and rising on the West Coast, one of our own climate experts may have the answer. Its probably due to the more dense population at the Eastern shores causing the continent to tilt. Here is climate expert Hank Johnson explaining the phenomenon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5dkqUy7mUk

  12. I did follow up on the data for mean monthly temperature in Toronto for July which had the most visual scatter. I obtained the data from the site that was given in the video and on the transcript and brought it into Excel. I'm no statistician, but verifying the presence or absence of trends is one step that anyone with access to the data and spreadsheet software can do. Over 171 years, the linear regression fit line indicates an increase of temperature of .01 degree per year, so an increase of about 1.5 to 2 degrees since measurements started until 2016. The r2 value, the proportion of variance in the dependent variable (temperature) that can be explained by the passage of time (years since data collection began) shows how well data fit the line. It is 0.13, meaning that only 13% of the variance in temperature data can be explained by time. That's a pretty weak relationship, and that could be in part because of pretty large year to year variations either side of the line along the whole length of the measurement period. So, this goes a step further than eyeballing the provided charts and basing conclusions on that perception. If someone has another method, suggest it.

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