Why Canada Does Not Want The Truth About Climate
As a small nation, Canada has a proprietary interest in its fellow citizens who make good in the big world. Banting and Best are watchwords for pioneering the use of insulin in diabetes care. The CanadArm is hailed on space travel missions. Our comedians and actors are beloved at home for their success in the United States.
So you’d think that a couple of Canadian researchers who could save the world’s economies from a catastrophic climate policy might be household names north of the 49th. But you won’t see the names Ross McKitrick and Stephen McIntyre on the Order of Canada lists or on the dollar bills. Why?
The pair revealed that a crucial piece of climate research with the very Canadian name of the Hockey Stick Graph was unreliable. In the present hysteria, such impertinence is socially unacceptable. Like smoking in public places. In the Canada of David Suzuki, climate heresy is treason. The science, pace Barack Obama, is settled.
Except, as McKitrick and Mcintyre proved, science is never settled. The pair debunked a study (done by Dr. Michael Mann and others) that took the history of pine-tree rings and extrapolated it as the climate history of North America for the past 1000 years. Using these records, the graph showed a fairly steady temperature pattern for the thousand or so years before the start of the 20th century.
Then, at the dawn of the industrial age, temperatures allegedly shot upwards, like the blade of a stick. Ergo, the products of modern life are killing the earth. (Just ask Leo DiCaprio— when he comes down from his private jet.) For the Luddite set, who seek a return to an imagined Elysium of fields and streams, this was gospel.
To McKitrick (a professor specializing in environmental economics and policy analysis) and McIntyre (a semi-retired mining consultant whose work has included statistical analysis) the research was rife with problems. There was, in the words of McKitrick, “a basic calculation error… surrounding the set of pine-tree records” at the heart of Mann’s opus. This despite the original authors cautioning their numbers shouldn’t be used as a climate re-construction tool.
The IPCC soldiered on, however, doing lots of doctoring, lots of massaging of data in its review process. For instance, they picked Mann to write the chapter on the climate history of North America. As McKitrick observes, authors “inevitably side with themselves. It wasn’t hard for him to agree with himself.”
Next thing you knew the stick-graph results attracted politicians like Obama and Justin Trudeau who needed to look virtuous to keep their left wings in the big tent. Massive UN climate conferences were organized to stoke the fear that, without the ministrations of public servants and progressives, the end was nigh. “Before you knew it the stick graph was everywhere,” says McKitrick. “People who had no clue on statistical analysis pronounced it as the last word. There was a lot of political blowback (about our work).”
In fact, McKitrick and McIntyre were savaged by the devotees of the graph. “The hockey-stick episode was really nasty,” recalls McKitrick, “There were relentless personal attacks against us. I wish that part of it hadn’t happened. I am just thankful for tenure (at the University of Guelph). A lot of younger colleagues can’t do what I do, because their job would be at risk.”
The scientific shooting war finally ended up on front page of the WSJ. But barely a peep was heard about McKitrick and McIntyre in Canada where the media was instead breathlessly reporting every melting glacier, hot summer and species extinction served up by the spin doctors of the green movement.
Even when researchers were revealed to be cooking results in the ClimateGate scandal (Phil Jones, a British scientist, told a friend that he was determined to keep contradictory information out of their results at any cost) dissenting voices were shouted down by opponents and ignored by Canadian media.
To this day, McKitrick says that, despite his international status, his research has been virtually ignored on the public broadcaster in Canada. It would, however, take a powerful computer to tote up the minutes devoted in those shows to Green spokespeople and their causes.
“The public only gets to see the propaganda,” says McKitrick. “It was frustrating, showing where errors and dishonesty has crept into the work. But the reality is that people are cherry picked by the IPCC to say what they want it to say. It’s a waste of time to be a peer reviewer, because they know what they want going in. The inability to have any debate on this serves the public badly.”
The hockey-stick graph experience was replicated when McKItrick was among those who noted the hiatus in world’s temperatures since the late 1990s. Instead of a fiery cauldron, the world temperature was flatlining. Puzzled green scientists tried to make the temperature-rise hiatus go away by massaging the data. But the numbers stubbornly refused to agree with the Al Gore apocalyptic set. Their earlier predictions had drastically overstated the present situation. (http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-sn-global-warming-hiatus-20150603-story.html)
Again, it was crickets in Canada for data that stood in the way of the Green Machine. “What’s worse is how it’s now crept into political policy,” says McKitrick, who’s on the board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. The research shows all sorts of results that disagree with each other. Yet, because of the political pressure, the harassment, Canadians are only getting "ridiculous energy policy” from government.
Under the Ontario Liberals energy fiasco, taxpayers now pay three times the price for its power as a result of its green infatuation. It’s “lunatic extremism” say McKitrick for the Wynne government to ban reliable fossil fuels such as natural gas, force people into wildly expensive electric cars and rearrange the economy based on such minimal results. (http://goo.gl/folvDS)
Fossil fuels have been used for about 150 years and though more CO2 has gone into the atmosphere there’s been very little temperature change. “The numbers from atmosphere, oceans and ground sources show very little of the change predicted by the IPCC’s computer models,” says McKitrick. “It’s only the computer models that show this catastrophic results, and yet they’re the ones that have the credibility with politicians and media.
"Reporters operate as though environmental movement has a halo about everything they do, that they have no vested interests,” says McKitrick, who says he takes no energy-industry money. “But the Big Green environmental movement is a billion-dollar business with huge resources.” Take the $5 billion Pew Trust run by ancestors of the Sun Oil founders. The current generation now are radical environmentalists who influence policy and coverage with their billions. But the CBC only talks about multinational corporations and conservative philanthropists.
The current rage from Kathleen Wynne to rad activist Naomi Klein is linking the wild fires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, to climate change. Mckitrick is unsparing in his criticism. “They are unscrupulous. The case for linking them is shaky at best, non existent in reality. But it’s par for course for activists to take the suffering of ordinary people to raise money and get attention.” (http://goo.gl/U3gwNC)
In reality, says McKitrick, fossil fuels have benefitted us in many ways in terms of life span, comfort of living, economic progress. “We can say this has been a great benefit to us in the West. So who’s going too speak up on behalf of families whose electricity bills have tripled or who are told by government they must use electric cars that are wildly expensive? Why is it bad form, why is it socially unacceptable to speak up on behalf of that community?”
That’s a good question. Certainly not one being asked in Canada.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy
Bruce's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience with successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013).