[UPDATE, Nov. 30: I have added at the end a response from Ross McKitrick (originally posted as a comment at Judith Curry’s website), along with my additional commentary. Also the third paragraph has been slightly amended to clarify that the two out-of-context Phil Jones quotes, misleadingly juxtaposed and reversed by McKitrick, were originally three months apart.]
Son of climategate? SwiftHack 2.0? Dejavugate (as in “deja vu all over again”)? Whichever moniker one prefers for the latest release of stolen CRU emails, it is very clear that a new round of out-of-context quote mining and error-filled “analysis” is already unfolding. And the leader out of the gate, so to speak, appears to be Ross McKitrick, whose recent National Post piece on the IPCC and the latest batch of stolen emails is now being spread far and wide.
In one particularly outrageous and error-filled passage, McKitrick accuses IPCC AR4 co-ordinating lead authors Phil Jones and Kevin Trenberth of selecting their team of contributing authors solely on the basis of whether they agree with the pair’s scientific views. He even goes so far as to accuse Jones of “dismissing” (i.e. rejecting as a contributing author) one qualified expert who, supposedly in Jones’s own words, “has done a lot, but I don’t trust him.”
But the record clearly shows that it was Trenberth who made that last comment, and that he was expressing misgivings about the quality of the researcher’s work, not whether he was on the “right side” of scientific issues. And the expert in question, climatologist Joel Norris, was in fact selected by Trenberth as a contributing author. Even worse, McKitrick has reversed the order of the Jones quotes (originally three months apart) , taken them out of context, and then juxtaposed them to make it appear as if they were part of the same exchange. Meanwhile, an examination of the two separate email discussions show chapter co-ordinators trying to fill out their team with authors who will be able to contribute effectively, in complete contradiction to McKitrick’s central thesis.
First, I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. And then I checked the date at the top of the screen to make sure I hadn’t stumbled across a leftover April Fool’s joke.
But the date read “July 15, 2010”. And the headline of the National Post’s lead opinion piece still read forthrightly:
Bad science: Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause
The piece itself, by longtime Post columnist Jonathan Kay, is as forthright an excoriation of “climate-change deniers” (his term) as I’ve read anywhere. And, unlike previous (and very occasional) token AGW commentators, Kay is a National Post insider, who happens to be comment pages editor. Indeed, there are intriguing indications that the Post’s treatment of the climate change issue may be undergoing a shift, although it’s too early to say how far it will go.
Terence Corcoran may well have just unleashed the National Post’s biggest whopper yet about climate science – and that’s saying something.
Corcoran’s commentary on the recent Russell “climategate” email review lays one error-laden defamation on top of another, as he attempts to demonstrate that the report “provides plenty of evidence that climate science has been and remains an uncertain shambles”. Oh, and apparently the review “portrays climate science as a field filled with uncertainty, debate, lack of openness, data hoarding and ill-will.”
Along the way, Corcoran even manages to confuse a little known Phil Jones graphic with Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” millenial temperature reconstruction. This leads to the astonishing (and entirely wrong) accusation that the hockey stick creators “eliminated some of the data from 1960 forward … and then spliced on actual temperature data”. Yet neither the “hockey stick” graph (the real one) nor the associated Mann et al study are mentioned in the report at all!
The latest false scandal in climate science hit the blogosphere over the weekend. National Post columnist Lawrence Solomon [not to be confused with atmospheric chemist and IPCC WG1 chair Susan Solomon] wrote a column with the outlandish claim:
The UN’s IPCC misled the press and public into believing that thousands of scientists backed its claims on manmade global warming, according to Mike Hulme, a prominent climate scientist and IPCC insider.
Charges of a “phony UN IPCC consensus” are already reverberating on contrarian blogs around the world, thanks to the quick efforts of climate science disinformation specialist Marc Morano.
But now Mike Hulme, a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, has set the record straight. His “correcting and clarifying” statement is unambiguous in its disavowal of Solomon’s and Morano’s misinterpretation:
I did not say the ‘IPCC misleads’ anyone – it is claims that are made by other commentators, such as the caricatured claim I offer in the paper, that have the potential to mislead.
Few columnists writing about climate science are as brazen in their open contempt for the truth as Lawrence Solomon, as I showed in my analysis of Solomon’s recent musings about Arctic sea ice.
But the second half of that article, Solomon outdoes even his own dismal record, as he takes on a New Scientist article describing new research that posits a link between declining solar activity and colder Northern European winters over the coming decades. That research is held by Solomon to be evidence that “Earth could be in for a period of global cooling”. Yet a cursory examination of the New Scientist article and the research paper it is based on, shows clearly that the phenomenon is a strictly regional and seasonal one, with little import for hemispheric or global temperature trends.
Lawrence Solomon at the Frontier Centre
As Canada’s newspaper of record for climate science disinformation, the National Post is home to many climate “skeptic” voices, all drawing on the same standard (and repeatedly debunked) memes, but each with his own distinct style. I’ve often examined the stylings of Lorne Gunter, who specializes in hyperventilating attacks on climate scientists, complemented by repackaged press releases from the likes of Marc Morano (as seen in Gunter’s recent, um, discussion of the work of Mojib Latif).
Lawrence Solomon, National Post columnist and head of the “free-market environmentalist” lobby group Energy Probe, has received less of my attention (although his weirdly paranoid “analysis” of Google’s supposed censorship of “climategate” was certainly a classic).
That’s an oversight that I intend to rectify, starting with a dissection of Solomon’s recent misrepresentation of the latest Arctic sea ice extent data, said to “augur” coming “global cooling”. Incredibly, Solomon even claims that the latest data “acts to disprove” models projecting continued decline of Arctic sea ice. That assertion flies in the face of the relentless downward trend in sea ice extent that has continued unabated, or possibly even accelerated, since the release of the last IPCC report in early 2007.
Just when you thought commentary on the CRU hacked emails could not get any more absurd, along comes National Post columnist and “environmentalist” Lawrence Solomon to up the ante. Believe it or not, Solomon’s latest over-the-top screed accuses Google of censoring search results to downplay the so-called Climategate scandal. But, as they say in the newspaper biz: “Check a story, lose a story”.
It’s deja vu all over again.
The contrarian hysteria ratcheting ever upward as a key United Nations climate conference gets underway is depressingly familiar. A case in point is the Canadian National Post’s relentless drum beat of pseudo-scientific half-truths, outright falsehoods and ideological invective, all under the hyperbolic title of Countdown to Catastrophe Copenhagen.
The National Post’s coverage of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Chamge) Bali conference two years ago was not quite as elaborate, but did feature one particularly disturbing instance of contrarian boosterism, the infamous Bali open letter.
The full story, told here for the first time, shows how editor and skeptic cheerleader Terence Corcoran crossed the line from opinionated commentary to active participation in a shadowy public relations stunt aimed at scuttling the Bali negotiations. And complaisant editor-in-chief Douglas Kelly went along with the charade, not even bothering to force Corcoran to reveal the key involvement of longtime disinformation specialist Tom Harris and his “astroturf” Natural Resources Stewardship Project.
Those who follow various media battles about climate science and policy are undoubtedly familiar with the nonsensical and scurrilous commentary to be found in the Wall Street Journal, and even in major dailies like the Washington Post. But no other North American daily newspaper can come close to the Canadian contrarian newspaper of record for intellectual dishonesty, factual distortion and sheer volume of misinformation.
I’m speaking, of course, of the Toronto-based National Post, which provides a home to such climate “experts” as Lorne Gunter, Peter Foster and Terence Corcoran, as well as a platform for notable Canadian contrarians such as faux-environmentalist Lawrence Solomon (of “The Deniers” fame) and economist and climate gadfly Ross McKitrick.
As the Post spews forth ever-mounting volleys of falsehoods on its FP Comment page in its shrieking campaign against the “Copenhagen Catastrophe”, it is worth reviewing the history of the Post’s climate hysteria, whose roots go right back to the newspaper’s founding in 1998.
By now, anyone who follows the climate blog wars knows that a new battle is underway over the standard temperature reconstruction popularly known as the “hockey stick”. Although it has been declared thoroughly shattered many times, apparently it must be attacked again and again.
Over the last few days, self-appointed climate “auditor” Steve McIntyre has made several insinuations concerning the work of UK dendro-climatologist Keith Briffa, focusing on the recently released Yamal series of tree-ring measurements. Along the way, he has once again rehashed an oft-repeated accusation that “cherry-picking” of proxy sites is endemic in the paleo-climatological community that he disdainfully calls the “Hockey Team”. But this time, McIntyre has outdone himself, comparing the repeated use of the Yamal tree-ring chronology in paleoclimatology studies to a “crack cocaine” addiction.