In the beginning: Friends of Science, Talisman Energy and the de Freitas brothers

Here is the first of an occasional series that will look back at the origins of various major players among Canada’s climate contrarians. And, quite appropriately, the honour of inauguration belongs to none other than our old, um, acquaintances, Friends of Science.

For the first time, we can confirm both financial and logistical support from an Albertan oil company, Talisman Energy, along with circumstantial evidence of  the early involvement of a second, Imperial Oil (ExxonMobil’s Canadian subsidiary). We’ll also look at the key roles played by the de Freitas brothers, geologist Tim and climate skeptic Chris. And the story leads right to the heart of a key controversy reignited by the stolen CRU emails, namely the ongoing perversion of the scientific peer review system by “skeptic” scientists.

The Friends of Science Society was founded in 2002 by a group of active and retired Calgary geologists and engineers, with a website operating from at least October 2002. From the beginning, opposition to Kyoto was front and centre:

Welcome to the Friends of Science website, a critical scientific assessment that challenges the premises of the Kyoto Protocol, and presents causes for climate change that are more plausible than carbon dioxide.

As related in the University of Calgary newspaper the Gauntlet, the group’s early inspiration came from Dr. Chris de Freitas of the University of Auckland.

“In the late ’90s we had a visit from Dr. Chris de Freitas–he came and spoke to the Geological Society twice,” said Friends of Science vice-president Eric Loughead. “He was an expert with respect to the IPCC and in both cases he was very critical of what was being said about the role of carbon dioxide in global warming. We all left the luncheon speeches all shaking our heads that this silliness was going on.”

De Freitas became one of four initial Friends of Science “professional contacts”. The local connection had came through his brother Tim de Freitas, who worked for Imperial Oil and then Talisman Energy, and served as editor of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin.

In June 2002, Tim de Freitas published a controversial paper by his brother Chris entitled Are observed changes in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere really dangerous?

As noted in the CSPG’s 2002-3 report of activities (see PDF at p. 27), Tim de Freitas had recused himself from consideration of the paper, but had it reviewed by two prominent “skeptics”, Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and political scientist Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, editor of the social science journal Energy and Environment. Boehmer-Christiansen was erroneously described by the CSPG as a “climate scientist at the University of Hull”. (She later went on to infamy for rushing Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick’s first paper into print without even bothering with peer review).

A trio of founding Friends of Science members, Arthur M. Patterson, Albert Jacobs and David Barss, created much of the material on the group’s website. The three also fashioned a global warming policy statement for the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, which was duly approved in January 2003. The CSPG position  echoed many of the same assertions as the de Freitas article, which was  prominently displayed on the  CSPG website. The article was also one of only two featured on the Talisman website “newsroom” page until 2006.

It appears the connection to APCO Worldwide also came in 2002, at least by the time of the November 2002 APCO Ottawa press event, “Kyoto’s Fatal Flaws Revealed,” sponsored by Imperial Oil and Talisman Energy, among others.The event was organized by APCO consultant Tom Harris, who later produced the Friends’ first major project, the 2005 video Climate Catastrophe Cancelled.

Although the event announcement made no formal mention of Friends of Science, the group and its website were apparently publicized at that event. Two of the Friends’ other “professional contacts,” Tim Ball and Tim Patterson, were present, and the fourth, Ross McKitrick, was on the availability list. And Friends of Science spokesperson Albert Jacobs referred to the event as the “Friends’ first Ottawa press conference”, according to Charles Montgomery’s groundbreaking Globe and Mail expose.

Last year, I communicated with Talisman Energy and Imperial Oil, in search of background information for my independent report (nearing completion) on the funding of Friends of Science via Professor Barry Cooper’s  “climate research” fund at the University of Calgary.

1. What was the value of contracted services supplied to Talisman by APCO Worldwide in the period 2002-2004? What services were provided? Please provide as many details as possible.

2. Was any monetary contribution or other support given directly or indirectly by Talisman to FoS at any time? If so, please give details.

3. Was there any direct or indirect monetary contribution to FoS from any officers of Talisman (including CEO James Buckee)? Again, if so, please provide available details.

4. What was the position and main activities of Tim de Freitas at Talisman in the period 2002-2004? Was the editorship of the CSPG Bulletin considered a part of his duties, or was it “extra-cirricular”?  Was de Freitas given part-time leave, whether paid or unpaid, for this purpose? Please provide all relevant details.

5. Who approved the posting (up until at least March, 2006) on the Talisman website of the article by FoS scientifc advisor Chris de Freitas, entitled “Are observed changes in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere really dangerous?”  and originally published in the June 2002 issue of the Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology? Were officers of Talisman (including CEO Buckee) aware of the posting?

According to official spokesperson Dave Mann, Talisman may have donated “small amounts” to Friends of Science at the request of then-CEO James Buckee, but the total and timing of Talisman donations is not known.

As mentioned in my previous email, if contributions to the friends of science or any group were significant or longstanding, then they would have crossed my desk, but this wasn’t the case.

As you well know, our previous CEO Jim Buckee was skeptical of the science behind global warming. From talking to people who handle Talisman’s donations requests, some small amounts of funding were requested by Jim, in addition, groups knowing Jim’s views could have approached us for support. Similarly we would have considered and funded requests for groups with opposing views.

According to Friends president Douglas Leahey, as related to the National Post’s Peter Foster, the organization was indeed “given money several years ago by Jim Buckee, when he ran Talisman Energy, to produce a video”.

Buckee, who often expressed “skeptic” views of climate change, left the company in 2006. The present official views of Talisman appear to be more in line with the mainstream scientific consensus, as do those of current CEO John Manzoni, judging from the latest corporate responsibility report (p.12-14) and the company’s full response to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

However, Talisman has so far ignored requests for other information, including further details of its donations, its relationship with APCO Worldwide, and the exact role of gologist Tim de Freitas in 2002-2003.

As for Imperial Oil, that company has refused to divulge any information whatsoever on the matter, despite repeated requests.

Of course, the rest is history, although perhaps not as well known as it should be. Friends of Science went on to become  a well-oiled propaganda machine, so to speak, with major projects run by Harris  and Morten Paulsen (ex-Fleishman-Hillard). And after a hiatus brought about by closure of Barry Cooper’s “research” conduit at the University of Calgary, Friends of Science has returned with a vengeance. The run up to Copenhagen has seen a cross-Canada tour from contrarian Lord Chrisopher Monckton, as well as a deceptive national radio ad campaign.

Chris de Freitas has also gone on to bigger, if not better, things. Indeed, the story of the de Freitas brothers and the CSPG Bulletin has a feeling of “deja vu all over again”. And here’s where the story of Friends of Science intersects with the hacked CRU emails.

In the CRU correspondence, there are emails bemoaning the publication of sub-standard papers at the journal Climate Research in 2003 and discussing various responses. Of course, we now know that the scientists had every reason to be alarmed.

It’s almost as if the earlier de Freitas CSPG paper served as a blueprint for what was to come at Climate Research. The formula is simple: find a journal with weak leadership and a complaisant editor, and a policy that enables the selection of sympathetic reviewers. Or even better – get a skeptic installed as editor and get as much anti-AGW pseudo-science published as possible.

That’s what happened at Climate Research, where rogue editor Chris de Freitas greenlighted a series of flawed papers. As related by Chris Mooney, matters came to a head when newly installed editor-in-chief  Hans von Storch wanted to revamp journal policies and run an editorial repudiating a particularly flawed de Freitas-edited article by Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon (who had reviewed the earlier de Freitas paper). Publisher Otto van Keine refused, and von Storch promptly resigned.  Four other editors followed suit.

The article’s controversial finding:

Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.

But the response in EOS by Mann et al provided a devastating critique of Soon and Baliunas’s methodology, which failed to follow long accepted and elementary principles of paleoclimatology such as the use of decadally resolved (or finer) proxies or accounting for opposing simultaneous regional trends within a larger hemispheric context.

In a telling retrospective, von Storch ruefully said that the situation at the journal turned out to have been more troublesome  than he could have imagined.

The review process had utterly failed; important questions have not been asked, as was documented by a comment in EOS by Mann and several coauthors. (The problem is not whether the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the 20th century, or if Mann’s hockey stick is realistic; the problem is that the methodological basis for such a conclusion was simply not given.) It was not the first time that the process had failed, but it was the most severe case. However, my authority as Editor-in-Chief did obviously not cover the publication of an editorial spelling out the problem. The publisher declined the publication, and I cancelled my task as Editor-in-Chief immediately on 28 July 2003.

I withdrew also as editor because I learned during the conflict that CR editors used different scales for judging the validity of an article. Some editors considered the problem of the Soon & Baliunas paper as merely a problem of “opinion”, while it was really a problem of severe methodological flaws. Thus, I decided that I had to disconnect from that journal, which I had served proudly for about 10 years. [Emphasis added]

The whole affair points up other worrisome aspects of “skeptic” science. On the scientific front, Mann and his co-authors responded so convincingly to Soon and Baliunas’s nonsense that even a severe “hockey stick” critic like von Storch had to admit that the paper was worthless.

But it all came way too late. For on the public relations and political front, publication of Soon and Baliunas had already proved disastrous. Chris Mooney picks up the story:

Conservative politicians in the U.S., who oppose forced restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, lionized the study. Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe called it literally paradigm shifting. The Bush administration attempted to edit an Environmental Protection Agency report’s discussion of climate change in order to include reference to the Soon and Baliunas work.

Even more troubling are the principals’ ties to oil industry funded astroturf  groups and think tanks, which appear not to have been well understood at the time. As mentioned above, Chris de Freitas was, and remains, a charter “advisor” to Friends of Science. Surely such an association with an astroturf group tied to the Alberta oil patch from its very inception is an egregious conflict of interest for an editor of a scholarly journal.

As for Sallie Baliunas, she went on to a starring role in the Friends of Science 2005 video, Climate Catstrophe Cancelled, produced and promoted by APCO Worldwide. And she has been on the Friends’ scientific advisory board ever since. Her other affiliations include the Marshall Institute and the Greening Earth Society.

The formula established back in 2002 and 2003 has been refined over the years. A particularly outrageous example involved the return of Chris de Freitas to the peer-reviewed literature. McLean et al 2009, on which de Freitas was “communicating” author, was the subject of a devastating critical comment by Foster et al. , which was submitted more than three months ago, but has yet to be published:

The suggestion in their [McLean et al] conclusions that ENSO may be a major contributor to recent trends in global temperature is not supported by their analysis or any physical theory presented in that paper, especially as the analysis method itself eliminates the influence of trends on the purported correlations.

But, again the most disturbing aspect of this paper was not its flawed science. Rather, it was the alacrity with which the authors co-operated with the intellectually dishonest public relations campaign organized by Tom Harris’s International Climate Science Coalition and its Australian and New Zealand affiliates. The authors even lent their names to a press release that made the outrageous and wholly unsupported claim that their paper demonstrated that “Nature, not Man, is Responsible for Global Warming”. At the same time, information emerged tying the Climate Science Coalition affiliates to industrialist Alan Gibbs, one of New Zealand’s wealthiest industrialists and a major backer and influence on the right-wing ACT New Zealand political party.

Other deeply flawed papers also appearing in Journal of Geophysical Research (Atmospheres) this year include Lindzen and Choi on climate sensitivity, and Klotzbach et al on discrepancies between the surface and tropospheric record.

While there is no evidence yet of a rogue contrarian editor at JGR, as there was at Climate Research, the recent pattern is sufficiently disturbing that scientists like James Annan are calling for more transparency and rigour in the editing and peer review process at the American Geophysical Union family of journals.

Meanwhile, in the topsy-turvy world of “climategate”, scientists who drew attention to shoddy “skeptic” science, and its promotion by dubious interests, are vilified as “gatekeepers” blocking those with whom they disagree, even by George Monbiot of all people. Yet the real villains like Marc Morano and Tom Harris and their fossil fuel industry backers continue to get a free pass in the  mainstream press. That’s the real scandal here.

[Correction: As two readers pointed out very quickly, the title of the original McLean et al 2009 press release was “Nature, not Man, is Responsible for Global Warming” (not the reverse as I mistakenly wrote).]

[N.B. I expect this post to generate some comment. I will endeavour to keep everyone on topic. In particular, discussion of the CRU emails will be limited to the exchanges about the peer-review system. ]


43 responses to “In the beginning: Friends of Science, Talisman Energy and the de Freitas brothers

  1. I’ll open the comments here by asking skeptics to answer the following questions:

    1) Does the differentiation operator act as a high-pass or a low-pass filter on time-series data to which it is applied?

    2) Is the warming trend seen in the NASA/CRU/UAH/RSS temperature data a high-frequency or a low-frequency component of the data?

  2. Interesting capsule summary of the history.

    The problem I see is that we have on the one side a concerted attack on the scientific conclusions and the credibility of the scientific establishment, and on the other side an attempt by the scientists to respond within the modes and parameters of normal scientific controversy. Unfortunately, this is a wildly uneven fight.

    For example, look at the “CRU/UEA has dumped original data” meme that seems to have originated in the misleading article on timesonline, concerning a webpage of UEA that was selectively quoted but without providing a link or reference; and then has been ballyhooed all over the internet; despite the fact that another site, Little Green Footballs, was able to document the text-selection process that made a volcano out of an anthill. Members of Congress now want to open panels of inquiry on the basis of an act that is the intellectual equivalent of throwing away a photocopy of a library book.

    I hate to advocate a “circle the wagons” mentality, but there should be some agency that is able to respond to this sort of nonsense. In my opinion, it would not be out of line for UEA to sue timesonline for libel – as a starting point.

    This civilization is not going to be able to continue doing well if one of our most effective institutions, the scientific enterprise, for dealing with the world is conceptually constrained by what is “acceptable” and convenient to the powerful interests of the day.

    The scientific motto has always been that “the truth is its own defence.” In a world in which decisions made in the present may have dramatic consequences for the planet in a generation or two, I am not sure that this is still true. At the time of Galileo, his being shut up by the Catholic Church had no long-term effect on Europe (except to bring discredit on the Church itself); but even had they managed to shut down scientific progress in Europe, it would have continued elsewhere, perhaps in China. But if the internet/media frenzy manages to shut down progress on dealing with human-caused climate change, there will be no escape. As time goes on, more and more decisions (irrevocable and irreversible – at least on human timescale) will be made by default. Unfortunately, we have no spare planet.

  3. Timothy Chase

    I really appreciate this post and am looking forward to its successors. This is just the sort of history that is needed. And incidentally, I had vaguely remembered Storch as having been critical of the hockey stick, so the fact that he quit over the Baliunas/Soon paper had seemed very unlikely — unless I was mistaken about his hostility towards the stick. Thank you for the confirmation that sometimes reality and especially human psychology gets rather messy.

    At one point towards the end, however, you quote regarding McLean et al. 2009:

    The suggestion in their [McLean et al] conclusions that ENSO may be a major contributor to recent trends in global temperature is not supported by their analysis or any physical theory presented in that paper, especially as the analysis method itself eliminates the influence of trends on the purported correlations.

    … then you state:

    The authors even lent their names to a press release that made the outrageous and wholly unsupported claim that their paper demonstrated that “Man, not Nature, is Responsible for Global Warming”.

    I assume that the outrageous claim should be “Nature not Man” being responsible for global warming — given the fact that they are trying to attribute global warming to El Nino.

    Incidentally, someone pointed up recently that Watergate — like “Climategate” — was also about a break-in, but with Watergate it was the burglars that were put on trial, not the victims with burglars acting in the role of prosecutors. The name “Climategate” has rather unfortunate, unintended associations for the “skeptics” there, don’t you think?

  4. PS

    I wrote a rather lengthy comment telling Monbiot in no uncertain terms that I thought he was losing it — and causing more damage than any of the “skeptics” might dream of doing. However, by the time I was done frothing, I couldn’t see how the comment could be rewritten so that at least superficially it would achieve a degree of civility — and could only click the browser shut — rather than click the submit button. Of course if I had submitted it, for Monbiot this would have simply been “proof” that denial grounded in emotionalism was widespread among the AGWs.

  5. Does this paragraph say what you intended?

    “The authors even lent their names to a press release that made the outrageous and wholly unsupported claim that their paper demonstrated that “Man, not Nature, is Responsible for Global Warming”. At the same time, information emerged tying the Climate Science Coalition affiliates to industrialist Alan Gibbs, one of New Zealand’s wealthiest industrialists and a major backer and influence on the right-wing ACT New Zealand political party.”

    [DC: Indeed, I got it backwards – fixed now. (My face is still red, though.)]

  6. Ian Forrester

    DC, Friends of Science also appear to have a mole in the Calgary Herald who forwards copies of e-mails sent as “Letters to the Editor” thus leaking private information such as e-mail address.

    I had a letter published a few years ago which was critical of them. I immediately received an e-mail which was both offensive and abusive from one of their cohorts (he has claimed that he is not a member but he is closely associated with them).

    He included a copy of my e-mail which had obviously been sent from the Calgary Herald since it had “copyright” Calgary Herald on the bottom.

    Perhaps this is the reason that there are far too few letters published in the Herald critical of the FOS and their view of climate change. I know that I have had several letters refused.

  7. DC,

    This brilliant and I very much look forward to the follow up posts. DC (and posters), you need to disseminate this widely!!

    Ian Forrester, I know of similar experiences. For example, FoS and Tom Harris have been trying to meddle in the business of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society by harassing its executive board and other members. Turns out that they had planted a mole in CMOS who was feeding private information to them. Said mole is still on the CMOS council.
    Also, I have strong suspicions that Lorne Gunter has close ties with Tom Harris, possibly even FoS, and that he is acting as their mouthpiece in CanWest publications. There are just too many coincidences in material and wording.

    This is a sordid tale. The climate scientists at CRU and elsewhere had every right to be outraged, if it were my scientific discipline which was being undermined by biased editors and politics, then I would want those elements removed. Otherwise the science suffers. It is bad enough that we have to fight the war of misinformation put forth by those in denial on the internet, but if they then infiltrate and subvert the peer review process with pseudo science…..

    We can only hope that the CRU enquiry/investigation is going to leave a fair amount of egg on the face of those in denial. If done fairly and properly, that will happen.

  8. Pingback: The Real “Climategate” « Once More Into The Breach

  9. Excellent, excellent piece, DC. Thank you very much.

  10. David Donovan

    Interesting !

    I hope that the sorted details of what went on with the Journal of Climate get much exposure during the CRU investigation. Could turn out to be a big denier “Own-goal” when all is said and done.

    Hmmm…lost my login details over at DeSmogBlog. You guys should talk.

  11. Good stuff, DC. For your files, from the emails… (it goes against the grain to quote from stolen material, but in this case I make an exception):

    Jim Salinger raises the more personal issue of deFreitas. He is clearly giving good science a bad name, but I do not think a barrage of ad hominem attacks or letters is the best way to counter this.

    If Jim wishes to write a letter with multiple authors, I may be willing to sign it, but I would not write such a letter myself.

    In this case, deFreitas is such a poor scientist that he may simply disappear. I saw some work from his PhD, and it was awful (Pat Michaels’
    PhD is at the same level).


  12. It is unfortunate that a Canadian Oil company gets such undeserved scrutiny for standing up for science.

    After the bodyblow that science too when the massive corruption was revealed by climategate, many took great comfort that their we’re ethical stalwards like Tim ball standing up for science.
    The friends of science receives the vast majority of their funding from little guys like us. It’s time we stopped fighting them and got on board with them for the sake of science!

    [DC: Talisman and Buckee did not “stand up for science”; they attempted to subvert science by abusing the peer review system.

    Needless to say, not one of Friends of Science advisors has a credible climate science publication record. For example, here is the Google scholar search for Tim Ball.

    A veritable paucity of publications and citations, wouldn’t you say?

    The only recent paper is this gem in Energy and Environment:

    Climate Change: Dangers of a Singular Approach and Consideration of a Sensible Strategy
    Author: Ball, Timothy F.
    Source: Energy & Environment, Volume 20, Numbers 1-2, January 2009 , pp. 201-205(5)

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has convinced many, including most governments, that the only future is global warming. IPCC’s structure and directions required it only examine human causes of climate change. It also created a view that warming was only disastrous. Actually, there are more benefits to warming than cooling. Evidence indicates cooling is already occurring, because of changes in solar activity. Cooling is much more problematic. A logical strategy regardless of the trend is to prepare for cooling. Adaptation to warming is easier than to cooling.

    Document Type: Research article

    DOI: 10.1260/095830509787689187

    As for ethics, you are no doubt aware that Tim Ball has been caught padding his resume several times. And he’s still at it, apparently:

    From FoS:

    Dr. Ball has a B.A. (Honours), an M.A. (University of Winnipeg) and a Ph.D. (Doctor of Science) , University of London, England. Dr. Ball has an extensive background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and conditions. He was a faculty member at the University of Winnipeg from 1971 to 1996, during which time he was an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor , specializing in climatology. [Emphasis added]

    From Wikipedia:

    Ball has a B.A. degree from the University of Winnipeg, an M.A. degree from the University of Manitoba in 1970 in Geography, and a Ph.D. degree in climatology from the University of London, England in 1983, writing a thesis analyzing historical weather records from Canada’s north. Ball taught geography at the University of Winnipeg from 1973 to 1996, starting as a Sessional Lecturer and retiring as a Professor.

    The FoS bio is clearly misleading as it implies that Ball became Assistant Professor in 1971, whereas he did not have that title until 1984. Omitting the dates of his degrees makes the deception harder to detect to the casual observer.]

  13. Cam, you are wasting your money on FoS. And please do not insult us with lies when you say “The friends of science receives the vast majority of their funding from little guys like us.” This time over $140,000 and counting has been funneled into FoS though third parties. There is simply no way that FoS could afford to support the Monckton tour and the national ad misinformation campaign (which cost at least $200,000) using small donations from donors like you. Those funds are dirty, and have in fact probably been obtained illegally.

    Additionally, Tim Ball is the antithesis of a reputable and ethical scientist. The man simply has no scientific credibility whatsoever, and you stating otherwise does not change that. You desperately trying to maintain otherwise is quite laughable.

    Also, you should know that your friends at FoS (the term “Friends” is a complete misnomer meant to sucker people, and you have bought it) have been shown to distort and fudge data and misrepresent the science and subvert the peer-review process. Also, it is members of your clan who have been making violent and vile threats against Jones. The list of transgressions (both ethical and scientific) by those in denial is limitless.

    These facts of course won’t change your mind, but perhaps your conscience will reflect on them when you sleep at night.

  14. It is unfortunate that a Canadian Oil company gets such undeserved scrutiny for standing up for science.

    Just let this stand alone … Oil company stands up for science proving that burning oil doesn’t cause problems.

    Tobacco all over again.

  15. It is unfortunate that a Canadian Oil company gets such undeserved scrutiny for standing up for science.

    Uh, yeah. This is even worse than all that opprobrium that came Talisman’s way when it was involved in that business in the Sahel. Really totally undeserved, all that scrutiny that they had to undergo because of the suspicions that they were abetting the government in Khartoum in the suppression of the southern tribes. Can’t see why anyone would think that they weren’t real stand-up guys.

  16. Thanks for the information and detailed timeline.

    Just out of curiosity, can an FOI request be used to expose the funding sources and amounts for these “Friends of Science”? Obviously this a step of last resort since everybody is talking about transparency in climate science these days. Right? 😉

  17. Incidentally, Cam’s own blog was started on Nov 6, if that date can be trusted – after the CRU emails were stolen but before the theft was known about by the public. Coincidence? Or did someone nudge or even pay Cam to start another denialist blog?
    I wonder if there are many other such blogs?

    [DC: Coincidence, I’m sure. There are many such blogs. In general, the imminent Copenhagen conference is driving all this activity.]

  18. joe // December 3, 2009 at 11:24 pm | Reply

    Thanks for the information and detailed timeline.

    Just out of curiosity, can an FOI request be used to expose the funding sources and amounts for these “Friends of Science”? Obviously this a step of last resort since everybody is talking about transparency in climate science these days. Right?
    The only thing you can get from FOS is a report from revenue Canada and it does not have to show individual donors, just bulk amounts as they are not a registered charity and are not a government institution.

    Holly Stick, Hahaha, if Big Oil was funding me I would have the $$$ to hire a programer. In reality all the green has flowed into the green movement. Suzuki got 100K from Gores speech in Calgary alone. No doubt that money will be used to subvert democracy. Suzuki’s foundation acts as a registered charity, yet still carries on political activities. There is an organization that needs to be investigated.

    Instead of trying to sling mud at an honest guy like Tim Ball you should look at Mann et co. Thos guys have taken the peer review process and run it through the mud.

    • My understanding is that Suzuki and the Suzuki Foundation get audited routinely. He has been careful to keep political activities strictly apart from the Foundation. Despite the Conservative government’s best efforts, nothing has been found that would endanger the tax exempt status.

      The Fraser Institute, on the other hand, has never been properly scrutinized, but they have powerful friends.

      As for FOS, you can download their annual budgets (for a fee). But, as seen in the SourceWatch article at right, often the money doesn’t even go through FOS.

      For example, the most of the grants of $200,000 to fund the Ontario election ads and lobbying efforts went straight from the University of Calgary fund to Morten Paulsen, Fleishman Hillard and to pay for the advertising spots.

      Typically, FOS receives under $50,000 in annual membership fees and direct donations, and most of that goes to pay office overhead costs, apparently.

      As for Tim Ball, the facts are plain. He has constantly misrepresented the details of his academic career, and studiously hidden the indirect sources of funding. And his scientific publications are virually non-existent.

      I suggest you read the comment policy; some of your assertions are redundant and/or off topic and may be edited or deleted in future.

  19. DC, another exemplary expose. Thank you.

    Is Friends of Science connected to Fraser Institute in any way? ExxonSecrets does not have FoS in their database.

    • No formal connection as far as I know. However, the recent Monckton tour was a trifecta of co-operation between Fraser, FOS and the Frontier Centre.

      There are interconnections to be sure, as various individuals graze from trough to trough. Ross McKitrick for example was a scientifc advisor for FOS, and is now Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute.

      FOS funding appears to be wholly “made in Canada”. Most funding has come through the Science Education Fund at the Calgary Foundation.

    • Ian Forrester

      Scott, one of the connections is what is referred to as “The Calgary School” a group of profs in the U of C’s Political Science department.

      They are very well connected with the Federal Conservative party of S. Harper.


    • Ian,

      That’s a good point.

      Over and over again, we see links between Canadian “skeptic” groups and the Harper-led Conservatives (and the Canadian Alliance before that).

      For FOS, see these sections in the SourceWatch article:

      Lobbyists and Political Connections

      2006 election radio ads

      The Fraser Institute is rife with Conservative (or antecedent Reform/Canadian Alliance) connections. Encana ex-CEO and Fraser vice-chair Gwyn Morgan is a longtime climate skeptic, Fraser financial supporter, Conservative fundraiser – and mentor of PM Stephen Harper. More on him upcoming.

      The Frontier Centre also has connections with the Conservatives – to be discussed another time. FOS advisor Tim Ball is also an FCPP Senior Fellow, and other FOS advisors have made guest appearances at various times.

  20. Thanks for the info. I am still annoyed that the Vermont State Climatologist has a Fraser Institute document as her first link for climate science information – despite me alerting her, her Chair, and the Director of the American Association of State Climatologists.

    They obviously do not care.

  21. Don’t forget to notice Conservative links with US denialists. Rob Anders worked as a heckler for Jim Inhofe in 1994.

  22. Pingback: U.S. conservative’s definition of ‘fascism’: Defending climate science from Exxon-Mobil corruption | Climate Vine

  23. Great article. Could you point me towards any sort of documented sources on which these accusations are based? Any help would be much appreciated. I am having a bit of a tough time wading through all the information. Thanks!

  24. nevermind, I think I have it sorted out! thanks!

  25. Pingback: Contrarian scholarship: Revisiting the Wegman report « Deep Climate

  26. This post is a classic example of Climategate response strategy #37 — the “I’m rubber and you’re glue” defense.

    [DC: Actually, it’s the other way around.]

  27. Pingback: Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, part 1: In the beginning « Deep Climate

  28. One small addition, from look at the chronologies:

    03/28/02 DeFreitas submits paper, Soon & Boehmer-Christiansen review.
    04/11/02 Soon& Baliunas submit paper (whose first-acked sponsor was the API) to de Freitas
    06/23/02 DeFreitas paper published
    01/31/03 Soon&Baliunas published by de Freitas.

    So, that’s 2.5-month overlap, where Soon&de Fretias are both reviewing each others’ (dodgy) papers.

    • John Mashey,

      As always good sleuthing. Thanks. Yes, and those in denial and McI et al. are trying to perpetuate the myth that it was those affiliated with CRU who were perverting the peer-review process. Your evidence demonstrates otherwise. You can submit this evidence to the Sir Russell investigation online at:

      Also, the media really do need to know about this!

  29. Pingback: McKitrick gets it wrong on IPCC « Deep Climate

  30. Pingback: Leaked! – NZ talks at Heartland crankfest — Hot Topic

  31. Pingback: Michaels and Knappenberger’s World Climate Report: “No warming whatsoever over the past decade” « Deep Climate

  32. What is it with the submissions of cutnpaste blog text appearing in as user comments?

    If the name link linked to some spam site or vanity blog, I could maybe understand what the poster was trying.

    [DC: Sounds like a “pingback”. It’s a comment automatically generated by a reference to the post. As such, it represents more recent commentary that may be relevant or of interest.

    Some blogs don’t let these through at all, but I permit them on a case by case basis.

    You do have a point – this most recent one perhaps should not have been permitted, as it came from a recnt post of my own that did not really add to relevant information. ]

  33. OK, it was just weird. And, since spam started off with a sales pitch or link then, to avoid filters, added tailing text to lower the spamcount, then when spam filters improved, put the text BEFORE the spam message, then when that stopped working, put ONLY the non-message text in, leaving the spam with no sales pitch or link to same and therefore COMPLETELY POINTLESS, it wasn’t impossible that it was spam attempts.

    But look at me, I even want spam messages to make sense..!

    • I’ve gotten rid of the latest pingback, since that adds little to the information. But I think pingbacks can be useful when they point to relevant commentary or further development of the same theme.

      Anyway …

      I hope you found the post itself interesting.

  34. Pingback: Tom Harris, Heartland and the 2007 Bali open letter to the U.N. | Deep Climate

  35. Pingback: NZ Herald’s turn to offer propaganda as opinion – De Freitas’ links to cranks hidden from readers