Ball Bails on Johnson Lawsuit

The self-styled Canadian climate change expert, Dr. Tim Ball, has abandoned his libel suit against University of Lethbridge Professor of Environmental Science Dan Johnson. Ball dropped the suit without conditions, but also without acknowledging that Johnson’s original comments were accurate and were reported in good faith.

“This is great news,” Dr. Johnson said today, “but it still leaves a cloud over my name that I would like removed. Even though I can now demand that Ball pay what the court calls ‘taxed costs,’ that won’t begin to cover the actual legal bills, to make up for lost time or to repair the damage that Ball has done to my reputation.”

Ball, a spokesperson for two industry front groups fighting against climate change regulation, sued Johnson and the Calgary Herald over a letter the paper ran on April 23, 2006. In an earlier Opinion Page article in which Ball attacked the qualifications of renowned climate change author Tim Flannery, the Herald described Ball as “the first climatology PhD in Canada and … a professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years.”

Johnson wrote a Letter to the Editor challenging those details. He noted that when Ball received his PhD (in Geography) in 1983, “Canada already had PhDs in climatology and it is important to recognize them and their research.” Johnson also pointed out that Ball had been a professor for a much shorter time (Ball later admitted eight years), during which Ball did “not show any evidence of research regarding climate and atmosphere.”

Ball filed suit, asking for damages of $325,000 plus costs.

But Calgary Herald satisfied itself as to the accuracy of Dan Johnson’s letter, and rose in defence. In a Statement of Defence filed with the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the Herald dismissed Ball’s “credibility and credentials as an expert on the issue of global warming,” saying: “The Plantiff (Dr. Ball) is viewed as a paid promoter of the agenda of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist.”

In the face of this rebuff, and of the earlier Statement of Defence filed by Dan Johnson, Ball discontinued his lawsuit.

Since his retirement from the University of Winnipeg in 1995, Tim Ball has worked as an industry-supported climate-change campaigner, sowing doubt about the science of global warming. He first associated himself with a Calgary-based group called the Friends of Science, which the Globe and Mail reported in August of 2006 was funded primarily by the oil and gas industry. Ball then moved to the chairmanship of a new group called the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, which the Toronto Star reported in January 2007, is a creation of the Toronto-based energy-industry lobby firm the High Park Group.

“I never intended any specific damage to Tim Ball’s reputation,” Dan Johnson said today. “But climate change is a critical global issue and I thought it was important to set the record straight. If people want to argue the science, I’m all for that, but Tim Ball was claiming expertise and specific credentials that he does not have. That needed to be corrected.”

Johnson said he is now considering whether to accept basic costs or to seek special costs, adding, “I also deserve an apology. I think the nation deserves an apology.”

Johnson said he would like to thank and acknowledge James Hoggan and the team of for offering considerable assistance in putting together his defence.

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I wonder who paid Ball’s legal bills. It would be interesting if it was FoS, since people (or corporations) who had money funneled to FoS got a tax deduction when they gave their money to the Calgary Foundation on the supposed belief that it was going to fund “research”.

Hopefully CCRA is on top of this.

Ian Forrester

So Mr. Forrester, if deSmog helps out the defendant, thats ok, but if someone were to help Ball, that’s not. You have an interesting perspective on the world. BTW is deSmog’s patron saint John Lefebvre still facing those transferring illegal gambling proceeds charges in the USA?

I am not suggesting that no one should be helping with Ball’s expenses. What I was asking and suggesting is that if FoS were funding any of his legal bills then CCRA should be investigating since FoS appear to have got a large part of their funding on the basis that donations were tax deductible since they were supposed to be going for “research”.

There are various legal terms for this which I will not go into at the moment.

Ian Forrester

I see your point, if a research org were to do such a thing it would be inappropriate, so I doubt that they would. But I’m sure that won’t stop deSmog from continuing the search for dirt. On the second point, if the gentleman in question has not been charged or prosectuted, well then I would stand corrected. I would need proof, but I would stand corrected.

…deductible about our funding. Unlike the folks at the Calgary Foundation/U of Calgary Research Foundation/Friends of science, we have not gone to any lengths to hide our funding sources and we have not tried to involve Canada Customs and Revenue as an unwilling co-conspirator.

Our purpose is to search out people who mislead the public about climate change - and, where possible, to provide insight on motive. Dr. Ball is a prime subject and it's been our pleasure to help Dan Johnson where we can.

And yes, of course, we will continue to search for “dirt.” If you have any, feel free to pass it along.

And as it happens, the “gentleman in question” has not actually been charged with anything, though the U.S. government continues to press its hand. We'll keep you posted. 

If you say he hasn’t actually been charged, like I said, I stand corrected. I wouldn’t want to be accused of being unmoved in the face of new evidence.

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Yes, he spoke at their first fund-raiser, yes it seems they might have arranged for his grants from the oil co/Uni slush fund, etc. Yes, they probably make sure his expenses are paid, but: First, he has done more research than they, acting as a body, seem to. They’re the kind of friends science doesn’t need. Crash on your couch for years, borrow money, wreck your car, steal your SO kind of friends. If they’re really getting federal money through Calgary on a condition that it be used for research, I think they’re screwed. Ball is just a red herring.

We’ll you knew something like this was going to happen, he couldnt go to court and have the judge rule against him. By dropping the suit he can still say the claims/statements made by Dr. Johnson said are false, course even if we know Dr. Johnson spoke the truth about Ball’s trumped, spiced, and out right make believe credentials.

Either way, good to see Dr. J on the up side of things with this one. Carl

A real shame is the failure of the University of Lethbridge Board, Administration and Faculty Association to defend Professor Johnson. So much for academic freedom. So much for institutional integrity. We need some “climate change” within boards, administrations and faculty associations whose failure to defend voices such as those of Professor Johnson makes the academy increasingly spineless.

Way to go! Congrats to all involved! Tim Ball is an evil and immoral man. For the life of me, I do not understand why the mass media in Canada and the US and UK have not tried to expose him for who he is. They have children too. Well done all!

I had the experience of having Dr. Ball as a professor of mine in 1976. I learned about adiabatic lapse rates, advection and all manner of climate processes and terms from him. No, I did not go on to be a “climate expert” and would not even claim to have but a minimal understanding of these processes. I have however, gone on to a career in the environmental field and have great concern with the fate of our planet. What I remember the most about Dr. Ball (and many of the University of Winnipeg faculty for that matter) was his dedication to science and teaching and his admonition to students to never accept anything as fact until absolutely convinced, and even then, to consider that one may still not have all the information to make a final decision. He was a man of strong character and from my observations recently, still is. Evil and immoral? You throw these terms out with such ease for a man you obviously have never met or spoken with. I submit that you appear to be a modern day witch burner. Is this the path that scientific debate and the scientific method have taken us down? Science is never “closed.” The debate is never “over.” There is no place for emotion in a scientific debate. There are no sides. Experiment, observe, hypothesise, revisit, modify. And so it continues, with all “sides” involved in a deliberate and exacting search for truth, recognizing all the while that scientific “truths” are relative and usually far from complete; hence the use of the terms model, theory, law. Note here that we have the “Laws of Physics,” and not the “Truth of Physics.” Laws can be changed; truths, as any religious zealot will attest, cannot. If we close our minds to debate, we doom ourselves to extinction, or even worse … irrelevance.

Your comments are meaningless since they are nothing more than an anonymous claim. Were Ball such a straight shooter he would never have dropped the suit.

well, dan, i never doubted you would eventually win, i just wondered how long it would take. it’s interesting to think that tim ball did not receive the backing to try and wear you out by dragging out the court proceedings (which we had seen in other similar cases). are the powers behind tim ball tired of him personally? or, with the new worldwide interest in actually doing something about the environment, are they going to be more careful in choosing their battles? that’s going to be interesting to watch.

It would have been better if the case went forward. Then there’d be a public record of all this – Ball’s credentials, statements, etc. Ball had to have known this, so he either intended to bail out all along, or he’s even dumber than we already think he is. It would probably be a good idea for Johnson to sue to recover the costs.

A highly-publicized suit would have been great. It would be nice if Dan Johnson countersued, but most likely he just wants to put the whole mess behind him. Ball is a nobody. His publication record wouldn’t be nearly enough to get tenure at a major U.S. university (maybe Canadian universities are different). Some of our grad students make more of an impact on the field before they even get their degrees! It’s a shame that characters like Ball go around trying to pass themselves off as acknowledged experts. Not signing my real name because Ball might try and sue me.

Saw Calgary Sun this morning (by accident; one was laying in the restaurant). Their non-response to the dropping of the lawsuit is to run a large article by somebody and Ball, whining about the PM changing his mind on climate change, although I admit that I didn’t get past the title.

… that folks less likely to be sued write letters to the various media outlets who have carried water for Ball in the past to (a) get more coverage of this story and (b) ask if they will do more checking in the future.

I haven’t dropped in on Desmog for a while but I see nothing has changed. They are still obsessed wth Tim Ball – so preoccupied that they seem not to notice other evil deniers sneaking around their flanks. Did you see the piece by Tim Patterson in the June 20 Financial Post?

When I follow Demsog links to the Friends of Science website I don’t see the name Tim Ball anywhere. I know Tim Ball was once with FOS and is now with NRSP. But what is the other industry front group for which Ball is a “spokesperson”, to quote Richard Littlemore?

Is Tim Ball really the bete noir Desmoggers say he is? This link – – takes you to an Owen Sound Sun-Times letter written by Tom Harris of the NRSP. In it, Harris deflates several claims made about Ball by a Desmogg follower. I know all Demoggers will want to read this letter because Desmoggers are all about balance and fairness, right?

I know Tim Ball was with FOS in the past but he is not currently listed on their web site as a principal of that organization, despite what might have appeared on the FOS web site in the past. So what is the second industry group that Richard Littlemore claims Ball is shilling for since FOS is clearly not one of them?

Ball’s shifted gears and has joined Not Really Science People (a.k.a. Natural Resources Stewardship Project or NRSP), which is prominently linked on the FOS website.

Collusion? Co-operation?

Collusion, co-operation? Do you actually have any evidence that there is collusion between NRSP and Friends of Science, Stephen? Perhaps a joint press release or joint undertaking, like when Suzuki and Greenpeace announce a joint endeavour? Or is that just more of the sly inuendo that Desmoggers are so good at?

Since the allegation of Ball being a spokesperson for two industry lobby groups was Richard Littlemore’s, I think it incumbent upon him to tell us who those two groups are since Friends of Science is obviously not one of them.

And I don’t know how Littlemore can claim that NRSP is an industry lobby group since, as Desmoggers tirelessly assert, NRSP will not divulge its donors.

You can’t have it both ways, Desmoggers.

… maybe the NRSP keeps it donors’ names secret to protect them. If people knew their names would become public, opening them to potential harrassment from some of the more unhinged types in the environmental movement, donations might dry up.

Not likely. The NRSP is hiding their list simply because they know that once it is publicly known that fossil fuel companies are propping them up, their reputation (soiled as it is scientifically) will be completely destroyed as was “Friends of Science” (or as it should be called “Foes of Science” or another term with the same acronym which may not be repeated on DeSmogBlog).

Anyone who didn’t just walk into the discussion knows that NRSP was announced by the FOS people and website, made by the same people, linked carefully for a long time, etc. Anyone who followed the Friends of Science websie and lists of projects and letters (and for that matter also the “Envirotruth” website, which was deleted Sept 2, 2006) saw that they were very clear and seemingly proud of the budding and linkages. They have cowritten numerous articles, and used to post them all together (you can easily find these on internet archives). To say now that there is no evidence of joint releases or joint undertakins is simply denial of the obvious… or an observation made by a newcomer.

The technicalities of officers resigning from one name and forming another, is another question (and not a particularly interesting one), common to all organizations, clubs, etc. Groups have common goals, and change, but so what. That is not that important, and in itself presents no shame for FOS or NRSP.

The choice of term “genealogy” below is more to the point, perhaps. But again, the bottom line is “so what?”. If I were in NRSP, I would not deny the origins or links to like-minded people, goals and TOR, especially when the change is so recent and people all remember. It is hard to see what is gained from that. That stance would only weaken their argument and potential effectiveness.

Here is the quote from, for what it is worth:

NRSP’s Genealogy

The NRSP maintains it has no direct connection with the Calgary-based group of climate change skeptics the “Friends of Science” [5] (FoS), even though the FoS’s most outspoken member, Tim Ball, is now the Chairman of the NRSP. With the exact same purpose and goals, and most of the same scientific allies and members as the Friends of Science, the NRSP is viewed by many as a reincarnation of the FoS, after the FoS was “outed” by The Globe and Mail newspaper in August 2006 as being partly funded by the oil and gas industry. [6].

The NRSP project is led by Executive Director, Tom Harris, who, in November 2002, while in the employ of the public relations firm APCO Worldwide, organized a press conference titled “International Climate Experts Speak Out Against Climate Change Myths.” [7]. The press conference was sponsored by Talisman Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil (ExxonMobil’s Canadian subsidiary). [8] Many of the same scientists and advisors now linked to the NRSP were present, including Tim Ball.

NRSP describes its “first priority project” as being “Understanding Climate Change: A proactive grassroots campaign to counter the Kyoto Protocol and other greenhouse gas reduction schemes while promoting sensible climate change policy.” [9]

Incorporation and Canadian “Letters Patent” and Energy Lobbyists

The Canadian Federal Corporations (CFC) Data Online for the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, Corporation #4326741 BN #818837072RC0001, reports that the Natural Resources Stewardship Project was registered effective “2005/10/21” under the Canada Corporations Act - Part II.

According to the Department of Industry, Canada Corporations Act, the Natural Resources Stewardship Project of “Toronto, Ont.” was granted letters patent number 432674-1 on “21/10/2005”.—Government Notices published December 3, 2005, in the Canada Gazette [10]

NRSP’s original address was 263 Roncesvalles Avenue Suite 2, Toronto, Ontario M6R2L9. [11] This is the same address as that for the High Park Advocacy Group, which is located at Suite 4.

end of quote


If you had any proof of collaboration or cooperation between Friends of Science and NRSP, you would have offered it, Dan. Instead you post stuff that states what we already know – Tim Ball once belonged to FOS and now heads up NRSP. And the two organizations share similar views on climate change. Big deal. There are lots of like-minded groups on both sides of this issue with considerable overlap among the individuals involved.

How come Richard Littlemore is silent on this subject? He’s the one who alleges that Ball is a shill for two industry-front groups and offers links to NRSP and Friends of Science, presumbly to leave the impression that those are the two groups he has in mind.

Ummm, John, are you blind? Here is a list of everyone involved with NRSP:

Timothy F. Ball
Tom Harris
Ian Clark
Tim Patterson
Vincent Gray
Sallie Baliunas
Fred Michel
R.M. (Bob) Carter
Paul Copper
Paavo Siitam
Madhav Khandekar
Rob Scagel
Tad Murty
Garth W. Paltridge
Ian Plimer
Gary D. Sharp
Lee C. Gerhard
Fred Singer
David R. Legates
Nils-Axel Mörner
Richard S. Lindzen
Robert Balling
Al Pekarek
Wibjörn Karlén
Peter Dietze
Hans Erren
Hans H.J. Labohm
David Wojick
Art Robinson
Hugh W. Ellsaesser
Howard C. Hayden
Zbigniew Jaworowski
Richard Courtney

Here is the “Scientific Advisory Board” of FOS:

Sallie Baliunas
Chris de Freitas
Madhav Khandekar
Tim Patterson

Three of the four names on the SAB of FOS are representatives of NRSP. Also, many names on the recommended reading list of FOS are the same as those who are affiliated with NRSP.

Also, read these:

If you still see no connection between the two “astroturf” groups, you’d better get your eyes examined!

To the several co-words used by the questioner, I’ll add correlation. Yes, there is some intersection and correlation. I agree with the questioner on one point: so what? Maybe we can agree that it is a boring question to bicker about. These are two organizations, one of which contains people who used to be in the other and magically stepped down from one to start the other (but of course there is no relationship), but more importantly, neither has been particularly effective. (Unless all one reads is the Canada Free Press or Free Dom whatever it is called.) It is hard to see what their goals are, but they seem certainly to dislike (and fear) squiggly light bulbs. It doesn’t matter.

If you visit the NRSP web site and look under “News”, you will see that this group has been quite effective getting its views published in the mainstream media. Maybe, with addtional time, the mainstream media will take note of what skeptical scientists are saying about AGW and will actually inject some balance into their on-going coverage of climate change issues. One can only hope.

It seems to me that NSRP’s recent media success is a direct rebuke to the efforts of Desmoggers and others to denigrate and marginalize those skeptical of AGW. Desmog’s efforts to attack the messengers are obvously failing. Maybe it is time to deal with the messages.

Because that is what fair-minded people do. If someone makes a point and offers solid, objective evidence to support that view, a Desmoggger hinting that this person has links to an oil company is irrelevant. It doesn’t change the truth of what was said.

And insisting that the science is settled when clearly it isn’t just makes Desmoggers look like fools.

We like it:

Quoted from

The Defendents [Calgary Herald] state that the Plaintiff [Tim Ball] never held a reputation in the scientific community as a noted climatologist and authority on global warming. The particulars of the Plaintiff’s reputation are as follows:

a) The Plaintiff has never published any research in any peer-reviewed scientific journal which addressed the topic of human contributions to greenhouse gass and global emissions;

b) The Plaintiff has published no papers on climatology in academically recognized peer-reviewed scientific journals since his retirement as a Professor in 1996.

c) The Plantiff’s credentials and credibility as an expert on the issue of global warming have been repeatedly disparaged in the media; and

d) The Plaintiff is viewed as a paid promoter of the agenda of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist.