The “climate change skeptic” right-wing think tank Heartland Institute has been quietly updating its list of almost 60 speakers for the second annual International Conference on Climate Change to be held in New York this March – and Canadian skeptics are front and centre. And in at least two cases, the official affiliations listed for speakers appear unlikely to be bona fide.
Last year’s inaugural event was derided by climate scientists as a PR sham masquerading as a scientific conference. Conference speakers, most of whom are not practicing climate scientists, are paid a generous honorarium and all travel expenses. Funding sources are not disclosed, but the Heartland Institute has received $676,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.
This year’s meeting will feature first time invitee Stephen McIntyre, founder of the popular ClimateAudit blog, as one of six headliners. McIntyre is described by Heartland as a “devastating critic of the temperature record of the past 1,000 years”, but has published only one peer-reviewed article in a recognized science journal.
Interestingly, McIntyre’s listed affiliation is with the University of Toronto. McIntyre’s connection to the University is unclear, although he does apparently have a University email address.
Among the other five confirmed Canadian speakers, undoubtedly the most controversial is Lawrence Solomon, listed as affiliated with the National Post, a national Canadian daily newspaper. Solomon is the author of The Deniers, a book based on a long series of individual profiles written for the Post. He has recently launched attacks in the Post on Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, as seen here and here. Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe, a non-profit group that “works for environmental sustainability by promoting property rights.” (Closer scrutiny of this group is clearly warranted, but will have to wait for a future post).
At the time of writing, it was not clear if the supposed official affiliations with the University of Toronto (McIntyre) and the National Post (Solomon) were bona fide. Indeed it seems plausible that these affiliations are presumptuous overreaching on the part of the Heartland Institute.
[Update Feb. 12, 2009: Last week, I inquired about the above affiliations with both the National Post (on February 7) and McIntyre (on February 9). McIntyre promptly replied stating that he has asked Heartland to correct the mistaken U of T affiliation. The National Post has yet to respond concerning Solomon’s official affiliation. The Heartland speakers list was updated on February 10, but both affiliations remain unchanged].
The other four Canadian speakers, include:
- Christopher Essex (University of Western Ontario)
- Ross McKitrick (Fraser Institute Senior Fellow, University of Guelph)
- Tim Patterson (International Climate Science Coalition, Carleton University)
- Jan Veizer (University of Ottawa)
Economics professor Ross McKitrick collaborates frequently with McIntyre; a complete list of their publications can be found on McKitrick’s Guelph University’s publications page. A list entitled “Peer-Reviewed Science Journal Articles”, includes seven of the pair’s publications. Only one is a peer-reviewed article in a recognized journal ( Geophysical Research Letters in 2005); the rest are various short, non-peer reviewed letters and comments or appeared in the “skeptic” social science journal Energy and Environment.
McKitrick is also the leading author of the Fraser Institute‘s 2007 Independent Summary for Policy Makers (ISPM), which purports to be an “independent” summary of the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change. McKitrick was also co-author, with Essex, of Taken by Storm and was one of four original “science contacts” for the Calgary-based anti-Kyoto group Friends of Science, along with Patterson, Tim Ball and Chris de Freitas.
Geology professor Tim Patterson is chairman of the shadowy International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), an affiliation which is not mentioned anywhere on Heartland’s website. The ICSC is headed up by Executive Director Tom Harris, who was also a conference speaker last year.
Harris and Patterson have collaborated frequently over the years, going back to a series of articles in the popular press from 1999 to 2002, mostly in the National Post. Harris’s resume includes a stint in 2002 as a legislative aide for Bob Mills, who was Canadian Alliance (and later Conservative) environment critic under then opposition leader Stephen Harper. Harris left Parliament Hill to become a PR consultant at APCO Worldwide’s Ottawa office, organizing an anti-Kyoto conference in Ottawa in the fall of 2002, and played a key role in the Friends of Science 2005 video, “Climate Catastrophe Cancelled”.
The Post has long provided a platform for Canadian skeptics, and played a key role in the dissemination of the Bali open letter, organized in late 2007 by Harris to attack the credibility of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change and the International Panel on Climate Change. At the time, Harris was head of the “astroturf” group the Natural Resources Stewardship Project (NRSP).
Besides McIntyre, the other “headliners” are all well-known U.S. climate change skeptics:
- William Gray, Colorado State University.
- Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Arthur Robinson, head of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and “curator” of the infamous Oregon petition.
- Willie Soon, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
- Roy Spencer, University of Alabama at Huntsville.