Latest posts by Tom Harris (see all)
Media Matters for America has taken after reporters who dared to cover The Heartland Institute’s climate conferences. They have also, I understand from Heartland, spread misinformation about the Institute. So it is not surprising that Media Matters is now condemning reporters who are simply balancing their coverage of climate issues by including the views of non-alarmists.
The story in question is this one in yesterday’s ClimateWire in The New York Times: “Gore Takes Climate Change Slide Show Around the World in 24 Hours.” Media Matters’ Jill Fitzsimmons and Jocelyn Fong published a scathing attack against Climatewire, The Times, the International Climate Science Coalition, and me, the ICSC’s executive director.
I submitted the following response as a comment on the Media Matters post, but it has yet to be allowed on their site. So, it’s reproduced below:
Misleading Point (MP) #1: “NYTimes.com Strikes False Balance On Climate Change”
Response: The NYT is to be complimented for allowing the views of climate realists to be expressed along side those of Al Gore. In a field as complex and important as climate change, to listen to only one side of the argument is a recipe for making very large mistakes in public policy formulation.
MP #2: I am labeled a “contrarian”. Polls show that a majority of Americans do not support the idea that humanity is causing dangerous climate change. I may be saying things that are contrary to what Al Gore and most of the media say, but a slight majority of the public are now doubting or disagree with the catastrophic human caused climate change hypothesis. Hence my position, and that of ICSC, is no longer contrarian.
MP #3: I am quoted as saying that “This extreme weather thing is not a function of temperature” as if that statement was incorrect.
Response: Weather, extreme or not, I explained to the writer, is driven by temperature and pressure differences (called gradients by weather experts) between different regions, generally not the temperature itself. In a warmer world, the temperature difference between the tropics and the arctic regions is expected to lessen and so, in general, extreme weather lessens as well. Mr. Gore has the situation backwards. It is during cold periods when we have experienced the most, and most severe extreme weather events. Many studies show this. For example, a recent report from the Chinese Academy of Sciences showed that it was during cool periods that typhoon activity was highest in the Pacific in the past centuries.
MP #4: I am cited as estimating that “90 percent of the important facts [in Gore’s presentations] are wrong or misrepresented.” “The article offered no details to support this claim.”
Response: Yes, it is true that in a short piece like the NYT article there was undoubtedly no space to include details to support this claim. However, I stand by the statement. As I explained to the author, whether you are looking at strong tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, heat waves, extreme precipitation events, fires, etc., there is no overall significant upward trend in the extent or severity of extreme weather events. Some are actually dropping significantly.
MP #5: “Nor did mention that the vast majority of scientists agree that humans are changing the climate.”
Response: This is an urban myth repeated over and over by alarmists. There is no compelling evidence of consensus since there has never been reputable, world-wide polling of scientists who study climate change causes.
Among the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), only 62 of the 2,500 expert scientific reviewers commented on anything in the chapter in the IPCC report that includes the oft-repeated statement about the climatic impact of human greenhouse gas emissions. That 98% of them said nothing about it does not indicate that they agree or disagree, of course, but claims of consensus within that body about the most important assertion of the debate are unsubstantiated.
It is also meaningless to say that IPCC’s views are supported by the learned academies of science in all of the countries of scientific accomplishment, as Gore does. None of the academies have polled their members and showed that a majority of them approve of the academies’ positions. These statements are simply the opinions of academy executives or special committees appointed by the executives, and are often just political statements unsupported by many of the member scientists.
Most experts in the field understand that global warming science remains immature and highly uncertain.
MP #6: “And at no point did the article explain who Tom Harris is or why he was quoted evaluating statements about science instead of, say, a climate scientist.”
Response: I work with many of the world’s leading climate experts and, as someone with an advanced technical/science degree and 30+ years of experience in technical/scientific topics (mainly thermo-fluids—thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer), I have the training required to read and evaluate many of the science papers and reports and formulate informed opinions, even though I do not do the research myself. Contrast my background with Al Gore, or any of the Executive Directors of the various groups promoting the climate scare who are often cited in mass media.
MP #7: “Starting in the late 1990s, big companies whose profits were tied to fossil fuels, … Since then, industry-funded groups have used the media’s tradition of quoting people with competing views to convey a state of confusion even as consensus on warming has built.”
Response: This is irrelevant to the group I lead, the International Climate Science Coalition (climatescienceinternational.org) since we are not, and have never been, supported by industry of any kind, let alone the fossil fuel industry.
Regardless, it is an obvious logical fallacy to assert that what anyone on either side of the argument says is wrong because the group is supported by, or has ties with, vested interests such as corporations. That is why the International Climate Science Coalition does NOT use this “motive intent” argument to criticize the many climate campaigners who have significant corporate funding (such as the David Suzuki Foundation).
MP #8: “Harris is a mechanical engineer, not a climate researcher.”
Response: Se MP #6 above.
MP #9: “According to a 2007 Toronto Star article, he previously worked for a lobbying group which represented the Canadian Electricity Association and the Canadian Gas Association.”
Response: Yes, for about five months in 2006, I worked for High Park Group (HPG), which, so I am told (I was not involved in any lobbying activity while I worked for the company), lobbied on behalf of the Canadian Electricity Association and the Canadian Gas Association. They also lobbied on behalf of solar and nuclear companies, the head of HPG has told media. So, what is one to conclude about HPG – are they for greenhouse gas controls so as to please their solar and nuclear clients or are they against GHG controls to please their fossil fuel clients? This part of the above article is meaningless.
MP #10: The implied “guilt by association” logical fallacy reference to Heartland.
Response: Yes, of course ICSC works with groups that share ICSC’s perspective on climate change. We don’t get involved in their non-climate related work and we are happy to work with groups from any side of the political spectrum that want to approach the climate issue in a realistic fashion. Heartland is one of the original climate realist groups and they have done much important work on this file, especially the Nongovernmental International Panel on climate Change (NIPCC – see www.nipccreport.com).
Regardless, I and the scientists involved with the ICSC will speak at any conference that is open to hearing an alternative viewpoint on the climate issue. It is important to note that Heartland had speakers and attendees at their conferences from both sides of the climate controversy—even Al Gore was invited. This approach of allowing, indeed welcoming people from both sides of the debate to speak and attend is something climate alarmist organizations would do well to emulate if they want to be taken seriously.
Attacks like this one from “Media Matters for America” give climate realists an important benchmark. As bomber pilots in the air force used to say in World War II, “You get the most flack when you are over the target.” We must be doing something right to warrant this attention from those who apparently want to censor the important climate debate to include only one point of view.
Media Matters for America say they are “dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media”. But ICSC is not conservative. Neither is it liberal or centrist. It is trying to follow the example of Ben Franklin, taking the best from both sides of the political spectrum to promote policies that are beneficial for our nations and the world around us.