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.
Eminent retired physicist Freeman Dyson is perhaps the most prominent scientist to oppose publicly the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming. But the widespread controversy that peaked after Nicholas Dawidoff’s New York Times Magazine cover feature on Dyson has thus far glossed over some inconvenient facts and questions about Dyson’s participation in recent anti-AGW petition projects organized by Canada’s leading climate disinformation PR operative, Tom Harris. These include the Bali Open Letter released toward the end of the December, 2007 at the UN Climate Change conference in Bali, and the Manhattan Declaration, released in March, 2008 at the Heartland Institute’s first International Climate Change Conference.
Click to view animation
A new “analysis” craze has been sweeping the climate contrarian world of late. Not content with cherrypicking one relatively cool La Nina year (even though 2008 was still in the top 10 in the instrumental record), some of the usual suspects are now using higher-order polynomial fitting in an attempt to illustrate a severe downward “trend” in global temperature.
Chief among them (what a surprise) is Alberta’s very own “fact chucker”, National Post columnist Lorne Gunter (you read that right – LG will not rest until all facts are distorted or removed as seen in recent posts here and here). Roy Spencer (of UAH satellite-derived tropospheric temperature fame) has also jumped on the polynomial bandwagon, and now superimposes a polynomial curve on his monthly update of the UAH record. [Update May 15: Spencer no longer uses the fourth-order polynomial curve in his monthly update]. Can a “scientific” conference on the subject, perhaps jointly sponsored by the Heartland and Fraser institutes, be far behind?
Now it turns out that Gunter, who is mathematically challenged to say the least, has most likely been relying on the wisdom and Microsoft Excel skills of his fellow Albertan, oil industry insider and engineer Allan MacRae (or Allan M.R. MacRae, as he most often styles himself). MacRae is a minor but fast rising star in the contrarian firmament, as we shall see.
When we last left LG, he’d managed to cram four or five howlers into the first paragraph of his latest National Post screed. Fearing the onset of RSI, I decided to take a break. But let’s resume …
Indeed, the drop in temperatures since late-2007 has been so precipitous –nearly a full degree Celsius– that almost all of the global warming that has occurred since the late-1970s has disappeared.
In fact, late 2007 looks cooler than the last month (January, 2009).
In the wake of the kerfuffle concerning George Will’s column on sea ice in the Washington Post, Lorne Gunter has upped the ante in the Canadian daily newspaper National Post with a particularly error-ridden and nonsensical column on a favourite theme – the supposed “intellectual dishonesty” of climate scientists who refuse to accept the “fact” of “global cooling”.
A key issue in the Will case was the apparent failure of fact checkers and editors to catch what should have been obvious errors. Like Will, Gunter appears to lean on tidbits from such reliable sources as U.S. senator James Inhofe’s climate disinformation clearing house (run by aide Marc Morano), or blogs like Stephen Mcintyre’s Climateaudit.org or Anthony Watt’s Wattsupwiththat.com. Gunter then proceeds to somehow mangle even those dubious assertions.