About

My name is Blair King. As my blog name suggests, I am a Professional Chemist and a resident of the Township of Langley, British Columbia, Canada. I am a husband and the father of three great kids.

The general aim of this blog is to look at the news and everyday life through the lens of a Chemist; husband; father; and resident of my community, province and country. I have come to recognize that a lot of important decisions are being made by people who lack the basic understanding of science to make informed decisions. My fear is that we continue to waste our moral and financial capital on emotionally-charged and scientifically-indefensible projects leaving us without anything to spend when it comes to making real changes that can make tangible improvements locally, regionally and nationally.

I acknowledge that I will not always be the expert (or even right) but will endeavour to make corrections when my errors are pointed out and provide links to those who know more than I do on a topic.

Academically, I have an Interdisciplinary PhD in Chemistry and Environmental Studies with an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Biology. Since I graduated at the dawn of the internet age and work in the private sector, my C.V. is not online at any university web site so the most common complaint is that I am making up my credentials. I can point out that my thesis is available at the University of Victoria library and my academic and professional qualifications have been vetted by the various professional bodies discussed below, but that is often not enough for some. Ad hominems go that way and if you are going to insult me based on nothing, supporting information isn’t going to stop you.

Professionally, I am a Registered Professional Chemist and a Registered Professional Biologist and have been appointed to the Roster of Approved Professionals by the BC Ministry of Environment’s Director of Waste Management as a Standards Assessment Specialist (Contaminated Sites Approved Professional). Many mistakenly confuse this to believe that I somehow work as a government scientist. This is not true. The CSAP Society is:

an independent professional organization that is mandated by the Provincial Government, through the Ministry of Environment, to review environmental certification applications made under the Environmental Management Act and Contaminated Sites Regulation. The Society credentials its members and recommends they be appointed to the Ministry of Environment Roster of Approved Professionals (APs)”.

I work for a great private sector employer, but none of my blogging is done on behalf of that employer. My direct supervisors and managers are aware of my blog and I have assured them that I will avoid any potential conflicts between my work and my blog. Sometimes this means I won’t blog on a topic where my personal intellectual interests and my company’s corporate interests intersect. I do that willingly as I enjoy and appreciate my job too much to risk it by blogging on such topics. To make this clear I have never been paid to write a blog post and receive no compensation for blogging. The contents of this blog are my thoughts and opinions only and do not reflect those of my employer.

My area of professional expertise is the investigation and remediation of former industrial and commercial sites with a specialty in the assessment of petroleum hydrocarbon contamination and its effects on human and ecological health. In my professional capacity I serve as a technical specialist in areas including: industrial chemistry; sources, fate and transport, and biodegradation of chemical contaminants; effects of contaminants on natural systems; and ecosystem restoration.

My graduate research was in the fields of Chemistry and Environmental Studies and involved improving the availability of high-quality multidisciplinary scientific data for use in environmental decision-making. This included developing standardised protocols to evaluate multidisciplinary data including specialised protocols for organic trace data, toxicological experiments and biological responses to organic contaminants. Coincidentally, one of my original research cases used to develop my thesis methodology was an examination of the field of climate change. As such I have been reading the literature on climate change since the early 1990s and I have some pretty strong opinions on that topic as well.

As a professional researcher in the 1990’s, I also worked on developing an educational curriculum on ecosystem restoration and did research on human impacts and loadings in the Strait of Georgia and the Fraser River Basin. The best part of that job was that I was paid to spend my days reading about science and all that reading has served me well in my life and career.

In my private life, I spend most of my time working with my wife to raise thoughtful, moral and well-rounded children and reading science and sci-fi. At one point in my life I was a fairly competitive runner and soccer player but now instead of playing sports I coach my kids’ teams. In the last 20 years I have coached more soccer players than I can possibly remember, have taught long-distance running to high-school athletes and adults and in the last few years have added basketball and baseball to my coaching resume.

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16 Responses to About

  1. Scott says:

    Just read your Huff Post article, Truth about Toxic Mold. I have seen your blog and very much like and relate to your arguments on Precautionary Principle, risk communication, and risk assessment.
    Please feel free to look me up. I am not a ranter or angry victim. I wish you would have addressed it differently. The tone is that mold is not a problem, only the building condition if it’s wet and damp. You completely ignored the fact of removal of the mold is first and foremost for eliminating the exposure, high or low, frequent or rare. You also mis-quoted the unfortunate argument agains using the phrase, “no such thing as toxic mold”.

    Like

  2. John Bradford says:

    Hi Blair,
    I have submitted a list of questions and comments about the Harvest Fraser composting plant in Richmond, pursuant to their application to renew their permit for discharging Volatile Organic Compounds, etc. into the air. This has been an issue for me for awhile because the plant’s airborne effluent frankly stinks 12 km away (where I live in Steveston) and I am curious about its contents, especially since the application renewal seeks MUCH higher discharge amounts. I would appreciate getting your comments on my questions; I am a geologist and not an expert and this seems pretty close to your areas of expertise. Could you please send me your email so I can forward the questions I submitted to the GVRD? I think quite highly of your blogs and follow you on Twitter, and suspect you could bring some pretty informed opinions to the table.
    Thanks very much for your help.
    Cheers
    John Bradford
    jbradford09@gmail.com

    Like

  3. William Kay says:

    At http://www.ecofascism.com there is a recent post listing 356 enviro-critical websites plus additional information on the organized enviro-critical movement and their funders.

    William Kay

    Like

  4. William Kay says:

    At http://www.ecofascism.com there is a new posting listing 356 enviro-critical websites plus additional info on the enviro-critical movement and its funders.

    Like

  5. Frances says:

    With all your qualifications, intelligence, etc. would you have an opinion on chemtrails, geoengineering, HAARP or its equivalent, etc. I read geoengineering.org newsletters and the comments of readers from around the world cannot be ignored.

    Like

  6. Bob Zybach says:

    Blair: As a first time visitor to you blog, I am very impressed with the quality of your work and the clarity with which you describe yourself and your intended purpose for writing a blog. You and I seem to share many perspectives as well as a somewhat similar academic background — although my Little League coaching days are behind me and I’m now enjoying my first great-grandchild. Best wishes, good luck and keep up the good work!

    Like

  7. markmc03 says:

    While you state you do not intend your blog to reflect your employer’s stance on any issue, it would be very helpful to know who your employers are and have been. This might help someone reading your comments to understand where your influences are from.

    Like

  8. RT says:

    Hi Blair, I am glad I came across this. I am recently just getting back into chemistry. My youngest child started Kingergarten this year. I had several lab jobs in my undergrad and loved them, but I decided to go into teaching. After 7 years and two strikes, I learned teaching highschool wasn’t about teaching at all and I left to stay home with my kids. Now I would like to get back to working in a lab. I loved being a lab analyst. I also have a Master’s of Science degree now though it was in Kin. Any suggestions on where I can apply and where would be a good place to work?

    Like

  9. Sandi Nishikawa says:

    Hey Blair, saw this on one of the facebook groups. http://boereport.com/2016/10/17/pipeline-companies-feeble-communications-efforts-no-wonder-nothing-gets-built/. I follow you religiously and like you I am a scientist so facts matter to me. Do you think that the industry needs to be better advocates for their industry? I wonder what it would cost to make a documentary about the benefits of oil and gas. The anti-oil side like Leo DiCaprio and documentaries like “Fracknation” spread all kinds of misinformation. Maybe those that support the gradual transition to renewables should fight fire with fire. Just a thought and to say that I love your efforts in trying to educate people about the realities.

    Like

    • Bob Jones says:

      Sandi Fracknation by Phelim McAleer is actually a pro industry documentary …and a very good one.

      Like

      • Sandi Nishikawa says:

        I did see that, I thought it was a great idea to try to combat all the misrepresentation by the anti-fossil fuel crowd. It is obvious that they have no interest in granting “social license” as Blair has pointed out many times. I think I meant to say “Gasland”, which is a massive smear campaign against fracking. I am sure you have seen it.

        Like

  10. Marv Everett says:

    I enjoy your blog and find it to be a refreshing, pragmatic, and sane counter point to the hype of the emotionally charged environmental zealots and the agenda driven climate change evangelists.
    And although I concur with the majority of your conclusions and comments, I do disagree on one point, carbon tax. In my opinion, any form of CO2 taxation on a regional/national basis is absolute folly if the rest of the world doesn’t follow suite. What possible benefit can be achieved by lowering the CO2 content of Canada’s 1.6% contribution to the world’s atmosphere by some ridiculously small percentage? Also, I am sure that you are aware that there is no scientific consensus on the contribution of anthropogenic CO2 to global warming. Therefore it is still a theory. This being the case, is it reasonable to require Canadians to pay tax for something that isn’t proven? As a scientist, I am surprised that you wouldn’t insist on consensus before recommending or supporting a policy or remedial action.

    Otherwise, keep up the great work. Oh, and for the record, I am one of the “grumpy old retirees” that you make reference to.

    Like

  11. pessling says:

    Hi Blair, as you always interested in Toxicology and risk I thought you might find this interesting. Ivo is a South African journalist who writes about bad science and biases and spin. This article is about a supposed link between fire retardant chemicals in fabrics and a link to bad behavior in children. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2017-03-14-not-setting-children-on-fire-makes-them-angry/#.WMyQGZHOef0
    Regards
    Phil

    Like

  12. JG says:

    Hi Blair, Can I get your gmail? As what you said you are a professional chemist and Im having a hard time looking for some professional chemists. I just want to ask you some question about my dream career which is to become a chemist. Please reply as soon as possible. Thank you so much!

    Like

  13. HLP says:

    Hey Blair,
    Any suggestions for an equivalent to your blog in Alberta? You’ve talked about us a bit, which is good, but obviously you are focused on where you live. Since I don’t live in BC, I was hoping for some more perspective on where I am. Thanks for helping me get a grip on the science!

    Hannah

    Like

  14. Andy Skuce says:

    Hi Blair

    I have respect for your scientific opinions (although we have disagreed from time-to-time on areas outside your speciality). I have learned from your writings and you have changed my mind more than once. Thanks for that.

    The attacks on you for being a shill and the attempts to undermine your are deplorable. Dana Nuccitelli from Skeptical Science, is also employed by a private sector environmental company and has suffered the same kind of attack from climate change dismissives. Those are low tactics, particularly when they come from anonymous sources. I too, have been assured of hypocrisy and concocted financial motives for being an ex-oil company guy, now dead set against further long-term development.

    Now for some unsolicited advice. You generalize too much about the ill-informed opinions and general stupidity of “activists”. This puts people’s backs up and they overreact. Sometimes engaging you on Twitter is frustrating. I want a conversation, but it too often turns into a tit-for-tat bickering session in which scoring points matters more than seeking understanding. I think that if you toned down what looks to others like peevish anger and gave more credit for the reasonable points that even extremists sometimes make, your voice would be more effective.

    I’m sure we could have more cordial conversations in a face-face- setting.

    I acknowledge that my own contributions, especially on Twitter, often fall short of these standards and all too frequently i can’t resist being snarky.

    Like

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