Can I be an “international scientist” too?

Perhaps the NewsLetter believes it’s printing the controversy with its continued focus on the Enviroment Minister’s apparent scepticism.. á la creationism.. Or perhaps the editor has been the recipient of some encouraging phone-calls – as described here. In either case the description of the authors of this article as “international scientists”, as the NewsLetter does here, is distinctly odd.. to say the least. One, John McLean, describes himself as a “computer consultant and occasional travel photographer” – he’s also a member of the self-declared New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. The other, Tom Harris, has been around longer and his biographical details have been noted here – Canadian [mechanical] engineer/PR/Lobbyist specialist with previous work for Canadian energy companies via the High Park Group lobbying company. As for the article itself there’s little, if any, scientific argument – just a variation of a previous article by the same two authors [dated 14 Dec 2007]. And the “vested interests” charge is seriously questioned here. The same three ‘experts’ are also quoted in both articles. Dr Vincent Gray, chair of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, Dr Timothy Ball, chair of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project of which Tom Harris was cited as being the Ottawa-based Executive Director – until March this year – and Canadian economist Dr Ross McKitrick. In both articles the reviewers’ comments on the IPCC Working Group 1 report are referred to. You can read those comments, on the first draft, here – by Draft 2 the battle lines are clearly drawn. By my reckoning Vincent Gray made 287 comments on draft 1, of which 15 were accepted, and 201 rejected, with the rest falling between the two positions – most of those comments were suggested grammatical changes to weaken the report, and were rejected because the “reviewer [provided] no evidence or reasoning for suggesting this change” – some examples here. For Ross McKitrick it was 12 comments, 5 rejected. But, as the previously noted blog puts it,

Once again, Harris deserves some grudging admiration: he has succeeded again in spreading disinformation all around the internet and has even won publication of this “analysis” in the mainstream press (although the Saskatoon Star Phoenix [or the NewsLetter – Ed] is not quite the New York Times). The fact that he is a front man for a Toronto energy industry lobby firm always disappears into the detail (the Star Phoenix either didn’t bother checking his credentials or doesn’t mind shilling for PR people who want to hide the identity and motivations of their deep-pocketed clients).

News Letter take note.

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  • Well researched piece Pete.

    Keep it up.


  • [aside]The New York Times has been looking at the effects of ‘global warming’ in Chile. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the effects will be felt in Larne.

  • Pete Baker

    Thanks Conall.

    The only time-consuming part was reading the comments on the draft IPCC report.

    The rest was relatively easy to uncover.

  • Robert Emmet Hernan

    Pete: Terrific job of uncovering the energy-sector roots of these few “skeptics”. What is basis for Wilson’s/DUP’s distrust of or anger toward climate change? I understand [not agreeing with] Wilson’s cutting out advisers from the South as playing to the DUP base, but why the attack on climate change? Is it a play to small farmers? If so, does that group constitute a significant support group for DUP? The US environmental prince of darkness – aka George Bush – can be understood, in part, by his deep connections to oil industries, but that doesn’t seem relevant to Wilson. Or is just the award-winning paper he wrote in lower school about climate cooling that has him on a crusade. Is he reflecting DUP policy?

  • willis

    Is he reflecting DUP policy?

    a) We support new and enhanced investment
    in our existing power stations.Demands from
    whatever source to close the Kilroot plant must
    be resisted. Northern Ireland needs diversity in
    its energy supply.
    b) We encourage proposals for the construction
    of a second cross-border electricity interconnector,
    aiding the development of a British
    Isles energy market.This should not only lower
    prices for Northern Ireland businesses but also
    create new opportunities for Ulster energy
    producers in the Irish market.
    c) Our energy base must continue to expand
    with natural gas brought to all parts of
    Northern Ireland, and a greater emphasis on
    more efficient and environmentally-friendly
    sources of power.
    d) Northern Ireland should capitalise upon
    the economic development opportunities
    presented by renewable energy technology
    and other innovative energy technologies.

  • Pete Baker

    Iain Stewart had some interesting footage from the keynote speaker at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change at the end of the second part of his BBC series – Earth: The Climate Wars.

    Worth watching.

  • Dan

    I see that there are some interesting notes regarding Harris as an “editor”.

    and this interesting musing:

    …The resulting chaos, with claims all over the map, will do enough to thoroughly confuse everyone (which is appropriate, actually, since the science is so immature and, frankly, confusing) and take the wind out of the sails of the “we are causing a climate disaster and must stop it” camp entirely, and the CPC can quietly turn to important issues without really having had to say much at all.
    What’s wrong with this approach?


    Tom Harris, Executive Director, Natural Resources Stewardship Project