Post-Truth Vancouver

Our Post-Truth Culture and Greenwash(See our update to this whole story  in “Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus — Roman legal principle: a witness who willfully falsifies on one issue is not to be trusted on any issue” (20-July-2015).

This media release below was issued June 18, 2013. CityHallWatch is facilitating Mr. Petrie in follow-up, and will report periodically on correspondence with and responses from the entities mentioned until we are confident they have provided correct facts publicly. (As of 29 Aug 2013, none of the organizations mentioned have provided any response despite repeated attempts.) Below is a copy of the original media release.


MEDIA RELEASE (Download in PDF MEDIA_Release CityHallWatch Post-Truth, Petrie, 18-June-2013 web)

 ‘Our Post-Truth Culture and Greenwash’ essay by Jon Petrie raises alarms bells: Misinformation on a Vancouver ‘steam’ clock, a wind turbine, and carbon emissions

 (Vancouver, June 18, 2013) CityHallWatch today announced the online publication of “Our Post-Truth Culture and Greenwash,” by independent researcher Jon Petrie.

The central claim of the 25-page report is serious: “Lies and omissions of salient information by corporations and governments go unchallenged in Vancouver, B.C.; we live in a post-truth era, and unless we forcibly challenge disinformation, then we as a community have lost the possibility of rational public engagement on both minor issues and the key issue of our time: likely climate holocaust.”

The report is available for viewing online here and can be downloaded in PDF format:

Our Post-Truth Culture and Greenwash presents four “disinformation case studies”:

  1. Vancouver B.C.’s ‘steam’ clock that is not powered by steam
  2. The wind turbine on Grouse Mountain, “a beacon of sustainability,” that is an energy sink
  3. Misleading carbon numbers from BC Hydro
  4. Dangerous greenwashing and miseducation by the City of Vancouver

To mark release of his paper, Jon Petrie said, “I hope to stimulate alarm and disquiet — and a radical rethink of our direction. The Eye of the Wind turbine on Grouse Mountain is producing only 3% of the electricity they let us believe is being produced. The City of Vancouver is gaming the system with its CO2e reporting, and miseducating the world. Democratic society cannot function if disinformation circulates unchallenged.”

Randy Helten, coordinator of CityHallWatch, said, “We hope Mr. Petrie’s essay be taken seriously,and that BC Hydro, Grouse, and the City respond by changing the false and misleading representations they have been making for years with essentially no criticism. We also hope that  the broader issues raised by the essay – the absence of critical thought, and the acceptance of disinformation in what he calls our “post-truth culture” – will provoke discussion, awareness of responsibilities, and change.”

Footnotes are extensive and are an integral part of the work. In the interest of openness and the search for the truth, Petrie has offered a $400 award to the first person who can show that one of his four analyses is wrong in some important way or that the information in any one of the analyses is readily available elsewhere (see note 1b in essay). He also invites the parties referenced to respond in writing to his assertions, and to his questions indicated below.

On the next page are a set of follow-up questions from Petrie to the City of Vancouver, Grouse Mountain Resorts, etc.

### — What will Vancouver look like in the future? Many players and interests influence civic decisions. CityHallWatch aims to balance the game by giving citizens the confidence and tools to engage City Hall effectively.

General contact: Randy Helten, Web

Inquiries on the report: Jon Petrie will respond to informed inquiries. See contact info in his note 1b.


FOLLOW UP to Our Post-Truth Culture and Greenwash, By Jon Petrie, June 2013


We are sending the Petrie article to Grouse Mountain Resorts, BC Hydro, the City of Vancouver, the David Suzuki Foundation, and UBC asking each a few questions. We will publish their responses and any comments they choose to make on the Petrie article. We would be happy to host a debate.

1. Petrie’s questions to the City of Vancouver re section one of the essay:

  • When did steam last “wind the weights” of the Gastown clock for a period of more than five days? When will the plaque on the clock advising that “live steam winds the weights” be changed to reflect the current reality?

2. Petrie’s questions to Grouse Mountain Resorts re section two:

  • How many kilowatt-hours of electricity did the Eye generate in the last six months? In the last year? When will the conspicuous statement within the Eye “… can generate enough electricity … to service the needs of 400 homes” be modified?

3. Petrie’s questions to BC Hydro:

  • On an annual and gross basis, what percentage of an average B.C. households consumed electricity comes from outside the province? And what figure does BC Hydro have for the CO2e marginal cost of employing an extra kilowatt-hour of electricity at times of peak demand and on average?

4. Petrie’s question for the City of Vancouver re section four:

  • Is the City aware of the King County and Seattle studies of total per capita emissions that include embodied emissions? Are Vancouver resident’s per capita emissions likely to be much different than the per capita emissions numbers of those two studies, and if so, why? Is the Petrie estimate of a 19-tonne lower limit for Vancouverites per capita total emissions responsibility wrong, and if so why? Does the City have any figures for Vancouver residents’ responsibility for air travel emissions or of emissions from flights that load fuel at YVR?

5. Petrie’s questions for the David Suzuki Foundation – (see note 3i):

  • If electricity had been valued at 700 grams of CO2e per kilowatt-hour would the projected CO2e output of the Vancouver Olympics have been greater than previous Winter Olympics? And in any analysis of the CO2e cost of additional demands for electricity from an event, isn’t the marginal kilowatt-hour CO2e cost of electricity a more accurate gauge of the incremental CO2e cost of that event than average CO2e cost of electricity?

6. Petrie’s questions for the University of British Columbia – (see note 3c):

  • Are accurate non-misleading CO2e numbers educationally important?
  • Are Vancouver’s CO2e numbers as misleading as Petrie indicates or is Petrie fundamentally wrong?
  • Has anyone from the academic community critiqued in detail Vancouver’s CO2e numbers? (And if no critique from within the academic community, ‘a place of mind’, a suggestion as to why no such a critique has been written.)
  • The University’s Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) apparently employs a figure of about 30 grams of CO2e per kilowatt-hour for BC Hydro-provided electricity. What is the justification for that figure?

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