Greetings. It is December, which means freeze-up is imminent. Seismic in Canada is historically seasonal, and in addition to the PC Season’s Greetings and my preferred Merry Christmas, I’d like to wish you all a prosperous and safe winter seismic season.
December also brings CSEG elections. I am pleased that a high quality slate of candidates has chosen to run for CSEG office (see pages 22-25 for candidate biographies). Thanks to all of them for doing so. Please vote! Voting is online and by the time you receive this print edition of the RECORDER, you should have already received an email notification from the CSEG about the details of the online ballot.
One of my favorite parts of the RECORDER is Mike Doyle’s article. CAGC does a lot of really good work, and Mike himself does a great job of communicating that work in the context of bigger issues to the CSEG membership in his column. One of the ways he does that is by using pieces of articles from The Economist and other publications. The Economist is one of my favorite news outlets, so Mike’s article is a happy synthesis for me (thanks Mike), and I’ll pay him the small compliment of copying his example this month.
The October 19-25th edition of The Economist featured a cover article titled ‘How Science Goes Wrong’. While acknowledging that science has changed the world “overwhelmingly for the better”, the authors suggest that poor reviewing, a desire for headlines, a lack of published negative cases, very poor repeatability and poor application of statistics contribute to spurious ‘additions’ to published knowledge. Both the leader (The Economist’s summary) and the full article are thought-provoking for anyone involved in applied or pure science. Of note, perhaps to our world, was the indication that only 14% of papers described negative results – failure to prove an hypothesis. This is down from 30% in 1990. In some ways the equivalent in our industry would be case studies that show a technique just didn’t quite work – and why. Another point of note was the high rejection rate by leading journals, and the failure of the peer review process to identify deliberately introduced errors in papers submitted to test that process. I am making no implications here. It was an interesting article and I suggest you find a copy and have a look.
A recent issue of CAPP’s magazine had a cover article on social license. This brought to mind a curious incident that happened to me in early November. My wife and I were on vacation and had stopped for a few days in Hong Kong, where we had dinner with a cousin and her husband. They hail originally from England and have been in Hong Kong for over twenty years. Upon being told that I was a geophysicist, the husband (who is in the freight forwarding business) immediately asked me if I knew anything about fracking. I know a bit about it and we had an interesting discussion. It turns out he still owns a home some four miles from a proposed shale gas well in the UK and the popular press has him concerned the home will fall to the ground moments after operations commence. We talked about the fact that Dallas/Fort Worth homes and communities remain sound, as do homes and communities in other areas where similar activity occurs. I encouraged him to find the reports issued by the US National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society in Britain, and the BC O&G Commission. If you are curious and have not seen these yourselves, I likewise encourage you.
A news piece came out around November 12th that indicated the US could be self sufficient with respect to oil production as early as 2015. As I write this, memory fails, but I believe the piece also indicated that the US was about to (or already has) regained its long relinquished position as the world’s leading oil producer. With Canadian export avenues constrained, the implications are, if not clear in specifics, at least a compelling topic for discussion. Presumably, these discussions are happening at the two senior levels of government.
As usual, we have sad news. Allin Follinsbee died in a hunting incident in early November. Allin was a notably ‘sharp’ scientist with graduate degrees from MIT. He was also a very notable contributer to the geophysics community, having been a stalwart in both APEGA and CSEG activities. He was married to Alice Payne, herself a notable figure in the geology community (she is the CSPG President whose signature appears in the opening pages of “The Atlas”). Another good man gone too soon, and our thoughts and sympathy go out to Alice, the family and friends. He will be missed.
On that sad note, I’ll say this. Enjoy the winter. But be safe: aside from ice fishing, winter recreation tends to be fast (skiing, boarding, skating, and sledding), or steep (ice climbing) and it involves cold. Unless you’re in, say, Costa Rica. Hmmm?