NRSP Peddling Deceptive Statistics About IPCC

Mon, 2007-12-17 09:40Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

NRSP Peddling Deceptive Statistics About IPCC

The energy-backed Natural Resources Steward Project's Tom Harris is at it again, spreading questionable statistics about the review process of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In Harris's most recent diatribe on Canada Free Press, the energy industry PR guy says the IPCC is misleading people by saying its work was reviewed by 2,500 scientists. To the contrary, Harris and a new collaborator named John Mclean, say that whole sections of the IPCC reports are reviewed by very few people, and that the editors don't always respect reviewers' input. For example, in reference to the chapter that contains the broadest consensus statements about human-induced global warming, Harris and Mclean say:

“In total, only 62 scientists reviewed the chapter in which this statement appears. And of these 62 reviewers, 55 had serious vested interests, leaving only seven expert reviewers who appear impartial. In addition, almost 60 per cent of all the comments from official IPCC scientist reviewers concerning this crucial chapter were rejected by IPCC editors.”

As someone whose own conflict of interest is so well documented, Harris is a bit dodgy about offering any evidence for the “seriously vested interests” charge. But when someone (thanks Dave) took the time to follow up Harris and Mclean's statistical analysis, it turned out that this statistical sample was more than a little misleading. The IPCC had indeed rejected a lot of comments in this section, but 90 per cent came from a single reviewer: NRSP insider Dr. Vincent Gray, a New Zealand chemist and coal expert who has never published peer-reviewed work on climate science and whose last peer-reviewed publication on any topic appeared 17 years ago. And a large number of rejections came because the input was grammatically or logically insensible.

Once again, Harris deserves some grudging admiration: he has succeeded again in spreading disinformation all around the internet and has even won publication of this “analysis” in the mainstream press (although the Saskatoon Star Phoenix is not quite the New York Times). The fact that he is a front man for a Toronto energy industry lobby firm always disappears into the detail (the Star Phoenix either didn't bother checking his credentials or doesn't mind shilling for PR people who want to hide the identity and motivations of their deep-pocketed clients).


Thanks for the shout-out Richard. While tabulating all the comments, and knowing Gray hadn't published in a peer reviewed climate journal, I thought, "How did this guy sneak into the review group?"

As I understand it, anyone could become an IPCC reviewer by filling out a form (including non-disclosure promise) and downloading the draft report.

BTW, one of you at Desmogblog should blog on who's behind the latest "skeptic" open letter. The only press release on it was sent out by Tom Harris of the NRSP, and it links to the National Post publication of the letter (rather than reproducing the text). There was also an approving accomapnying commentary by financial section editor Terence Corcoran. This raises serious questions about journalistic integrity and the degree of complicity in the PR campaign on the part of the Post. At the very least, the Post, unknowingly or not, have allowed themselves to be used as a key element in the PR campaign associated with the letter, IMHO.

CNW/Telbec news release:

Besides the NRSP, New Zealand's Brian Leyland (of the new and mysterious International Climate Science Coalition) is listed as a contact in the press release and is also a signatory, along with ICSC head Own McShane.

Check out the ExxonSecrets blog for more on skeptics in Bali, including the activities in Bali of the ICSC and the Exxon-funded CFACT (whose rep in Bali is none other than ... Brian Leyland).

The other contact is British AGW skeptic Christopher Monckton who has made frequent appearances in this blog. the National Post? You jest.

Terry Corcoran has been the energy industry's media insider for a decade or more. If there has been a denier story reported anywhere on the continent, Corcoran made sure it was presented prominently in the pages of the National Post. And Tom Harris and Tim Ball have probably had as much space in the Post over the years as in any of the tawdry, second-rate internet "news" sites like Canada Free Press.

The Post is not there to provide integrity on this isse. It's there so the deniers have one last mainstream media outlet to quibble over how fast our ship is sinking.

No argument there - but this time the Post appears to go even further, playing a key part in the actual PR campaign.

"although the Saskatoon Star Phoenix is not quite the New York Times"

Having read a few of your posts here, I can well understand your preference -- given that the New York Times has produced such esteemed alumni as Walter Duranty and Jayson Blair.

It's nice to have role models to emulate, eh, Richard?

Somebody said, it's nice to be important but more important to be nice. The NYT is important (becoming less so) and I've never heard of the SSP. With respect to climate reporting, this sample size of one suggests that the SSP is not a very good source.

Wow. Finally. A glimmer of Truth leaks out through all the AGW mythology.

Remember.... IPCC = Fraud

Wrong, Gary. The NRSP and the "Frauds of Science" are the real fraudsters.

NRSP = Not Really Science People

I've only been to Saskatoon once, and I don't recall reading the SSP.
I searched SSP for global warming, get a reasonable number of hits, mostly for copy sourced elsewhere, but this was by SSP writer Doug Cuthand:

SSP doesn't seem to be filled with anti-AGW ravings, so maybe this is an exception. Is there somebody (from Canada anyway) who can check up with them in a nice way?

This kind of stuff sneaks by editors at regional newspapers all the time, and sometimes it is sufficient to simply sensitize them to the issues, as I suggested in Deltoid a while ago:

The SSP is a pretty reliable little paper. The odd thing slips through, but it's certainly no CFP.

I somewhat doubt that 2500 people can contribute in a meaningful way to a document (Vincent Gray proves the point), but it seems to me that the accounting provided by Tom Harris and John McLean is (surprise!) flawed in more ways than just their calculation of rate of comment rejection. They also seem to think that you have to submit comments formally to contribute. In my agency, I generally don't comment unless I see something wrong. Could it be that the lack of comments indicates a level of agreement?

For amusement regard McLean:

I can picture him pounding on his keyboard with steam coming out of his ears.

We find:
John McLean, PhD, climate data analyst, computer scientist, Australia

But here, in something written in 2006 or 2007, I think:

John McLean, BArch (Melbourne)

(a document that might be worth saving...)

and homepage: "Computer consultant and occasional travel photographer"

For more, goto comments in:

And here all along all I had to do was add the letters after my name! Who knew?

I wonder how Dr McLean would respond to a request for his curriculum vitae.

I do have a question, though, about Luke's assumption that the "John" responding to his comments is the same John McLean? Is there some way to determine this?

Tim Lambert has a good story over in Deltoid:

It seems that one computer scientist (Scientist???) is trying to make a judgment on another computer scientist who counts reviewers and review comments.

Could the first computer scientist not do exactly what the second has done (i.e. count the comments)?

Could the second one have done what the first has done (i.e. said that the first one was probably unqualified to make a judgment about qualifications)?

Does this mean that all computer scientists are irrelevant to climate matters regardless of which side of the debate they favor? Surely disregarding Lambert is more appropriate because he cannot understand that counting comments does not require a degree in climatology.

Too delicious not to share ...


"So I thought I'd look at how many respected scientists had climatology degrees. I started with the main man - James Hansen.

I found his page-

Wow, complete surprise! His education lists Astronomy, Physics, and Mathematics. But no climatology or even meteorology.

I also tried Michael Mann, another well known figure. I found his page too -

He holds degrees in Applied Math, Physics and Geology. Like Hansen, no climatology or even meteorology.

You'd think the two biggest names in global warming research would have some training in meteorology or climatology."

Summarising this for simple minds...

James Hansen - outspoken NASA employee - no degree in climatology

Michael Mann - co-creator of the deceitful hockey-stick graph - no degree in climatology

The words kettle, pot and black spring to mind!

climatology is a multi-disciplinary field, requiring skills and research in a wide range of subjects including physics, astronomy, mathematics, meteorology, geophysics, etc etc etc. Someone like Tim ball who claims lofty PhD (Science) in Climatology is proof positive that a claim of expertise that specific is laughable.

Fern Mackenzie

In , we find:

"BTW While I am unsure what John McLean's exact university qualifications are, it has been my observation that he is a committed and hard working 'student in research' which I believe qualifies him as a scientist. I understand the notion that all knowledge starts with a university degree is a relatively recent one.

Posted by: Jennifer M at December 22, 2007 10:29 AM"

I assume that's Jennifer Marohasy.

The trendiness of the "last initial only" among the climate ostriches* is increasing.

I'd guess it contributes to fantasizing that they're revolutionaries and anonymity gives protection from those who would confiscate the coal from their hot little hands.

OR something. It's truly odd as a pattern.


* David Brin's term: "You need to make firm contact with the bit that's in the sand rather than what's poking up above it. Engage them on their terms. Don't harangue."
... Resist backsliding into your own urge to gloat! (After all, the left had its own era of foolish association with monsters, and it may again. Admit it!)....