NRSP: Not Ready to Stop Perjuring

Natural Resources Stewardship Project executive director Tom Harris has been out taking advantage of small-town reporters again , going so far as to convince the Cornwall Standard Freeholde that he is a “scientist.”

He is nothing of the kind. He's a PR guy who's running a front group for an energy industry lobby firm. It's not clear how the reporter came to the erroneous conclusion, but if Harris had an ounce of integrity, he would phone the paper and demand a correction.

The “real” scientist in the story was Carleton University Professor Tim Patterson (inset), who seems equally willing to say things that are entirely fictional. Again, there are no direct quotes around the stupidest of his comments, so we can't say for sure how the defenceless reporter came to write the story. But here's a mix of quotes and paraphrasing that also demands a retraction:

Patterson said much of the up-to-date research indicates that “changes in the brightness of the sun” are almost certainly the primary cause of the warming trend since the end of the “Little Ice Age” in the late 19th century. Human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas of concern in most plans to curb climate change, appear to have little effect on global climate, he said. (my emphasis)

If Patterson can produce any of this “up-to-date research,” I invite him to do so. The guy wanders around with a solar forcing graph that is almost 30 years out of date because actual up-to-date research shows that he either has sunspots in his eyes or he is misleading the public on purpose.

So, c'mon you guys. Phone the Standard Freeholder and set the record straight, or admit that you're making stuff up on behalf of your energy industry clients.


Littlemore, that is baloney, and I’ll bet that you know it. Harris is a specialist in fluid mechanics and energy transfer and was well respected here in Alberta long before he became involved as an AGM skeptic.

Curious that someone working for a PR firm should denigate anyone as being a PR guy. Where’s your sense of irony?

By the buy, how many of your bunch, speaking oh so authoritively while spewing bile onto the webb have any scientific background whatsoever?

That’s by the by. Possibly a Freudian slip related to you and your PR coherts having been “bought” by Hoggan and Lefebvre.

Harris studied engineering. Although he apparently makes his living doing PR, he has an engineering degree. Zog, engineers are not scientists. Don’t you know the difference?

So, anyone who claims to be a “scientist” like Harris can be an expert in climatology and quoted as an authority in the media on the subject? Is this your assertion? In that case, what has Harris published in the way of peer-review research on climate change or anything even remotely associated with climate change? How long ago did he publish? Stop embarrassing yourself.

There is little purpose in trying to discuss contrarians’ science credentials, as happens so often on this forum, in the area of climate change. They have none. The only reason these people get traction is that they are sufficiently unethical or blinded by their own arrogance (take your pick) to bypass the scientific process completely and go straight to the media with politically-oriented takes on climate science. Obviously, there are hardly any reporters with sufficient specialist knowledge to notice that their “proof” is comically weak. For the most part, it is best to leave them alone. Not even the present conservative government seems inclined to give them much air time, so why should we? Where they do serious damage is presenting their drivel in the classroom. I checked recently and found that Ian Clark does exactly this at U of O. In fact - and this is scary - he teaches the climatology part of the environmental science program and guess what? It’s all about how standard climate science amounts to little more than a terrible mistake. This should worry people who care about reality. I don’t know if similar things happen at Carleton University with Patterson but it would be worth finding out and taking steps to intervene if the situation is similarly twisted.

Spoken like a true believer. The solution of course is to ban classroom questioning of the new apocalyptic religion under pain of criminal sanction. There used to be laws like that in some U.S. states with respect to questioning the biblical story of creation. A schoolmaster in the lame brained State of Tennessee was actually charged. While you’re at it, burn of few books that offend you. Gives you a really warm feeling, I’m told.

An alternative acronym for NRSP that seems appropriate given the topic of the article: NRSP = NOT REALLY SCIENCE PEOPLE!! Might as well view them with some humour. Taking them seriously is hardly useful.


Patterson has purportedly given talks on sunspots and climate change, using other peoples’ data such as that cited here (this can be found at numerous sites):

Try it yourself. Here is the sunspot data. Download the Excel file, or just look at the graphs. Consider some statistical comparisons, or mechanisms. More is available at the websites of agencies that actually collect solar data and model solar output.

Sunspot graph and spreadsheet

Yes VJ, since I hold both engineering and science credentials, I do indeed know the difference. What’s more, I’ve know engineers who were very good at science and scientists who were very capable “applied scientists” i.e. engineers.

Climatology is a fairly new “earth science” specialization, which overlaps into fields of enquiry previously the realm of meteorologists and geologists, and (pardon my conceit) it is a tad less scientific than the older disciplines because so much of it is based on conjecture. (And yes, there is conjecture in other specialities too, but AGM science is the only one that I can think of which actually begins with assumptions from which a full-blown theory has developed and peddled as “proved” when there is no proof.)

Science is a methodology based on critical thinking, and the ability to think critically can be learned. Anyone with a scientific background can spot the false premises on which excruciatingly detailed and “accurate” computer models are constructed (think Ross McKitrick) and any engineer will be driven nuts by the attachment of great significance to calculations based on spotty data.

Now, would someone please answer my question and tell me if anyone in your very strongly opinionated crew has had any scientific training, in any discipline, or are you all just good parrots?

I’ve been closely following this contraversy for 15 years, and I class AGM science right up there with scientic proof of UFOs, creation “science” and electronic verification of paranormal activities in haunted houses. Anyone interested in challenging my scepticism will have to come up with something more convincing than hokey computer models.

It is based on critical thinking published in peer reviewed scientific journals. You can critically think all you want in your arm chair. But if you want to talk science, get in a lab and prove it!

Failing proof, you can make a computer model.

That ought to fool the chumps.

Well, Zog, you seem to be forgetting that the theory behind AGW (AGM = Annual General Meeting?) has been developing for a long time and predictions were being made prior to “hokey computer models” of the climate (think Tyndall and Arrhenius). Let’s see, AGW theory has developed hypotheses from first principles, and now those hypotheses are being borne out. This is not simply a matter of assumptions + data in –> desired answer out. What else needs to be done? Alternate hypotheses developed over the same period have been shown incapable of explaining observations. Yeah, people use computers to help reject those other hypotheses (it’s quite hard to do controlled experiments), but some simple graphs of trends in other factors and the match of climate response to the Pinatubo eruption should be convincing even to you. Still not convinced, though? Try being more specific on what would convince you.

I’ve only been following this issue for 13 years, and I only have two degrees in science, but I’ll confidently contend that AGW science is much better than paranormal, UFO, and creation science. Even someone lacking formal scientific training can see that. They might not see, however, that someone calls himself a scientist when really he practices public relations. For that we need sources like Desmogblog.

AGM - touche. I think that I did that once before.

“…now these hypotheses are being borne out.” That’s where the whole thing crumbles. You know perfectly well that correlation doesn’t equate to causation. Anyway, even the correlation isn’t very good. We’ve had very pronounced warming in the western Arctic (except this winter), but Canada east of the Ottawa River has been cold as the proverbial … for several years. In Alberta,this winter started on Halloween and ended last week. “Global” warming should by definition be “global”.

I don’t have Weaver’s supercomputer handy but, I do wonder what would happen to the warming trend of the last few years, at least for North America, if the anomalous situation in the westrn Arctic was excluded.

Climate response to the Pinatubo erruption was predictable and predicted on the basis of previous major eruptions, without computer models. It wouldn’t take much tweaking to make it fit a model. Who did that modelling and where? Frankly, this is the first I’ve heard of it.

I don’t know what the macro controls of climate are, any more than the AGW enthusiasts do, but the historical record gives a few clues that don’t involve human activity. If, as we say in geology, the present is the key to the past, it should be equally true that the past is the key to the present.

As a matter of interest, are you Steve, the fisheries guy with whom I had a little dialogue a couple of months ago? It seems a little strange to have two rational people named Steve both visiting desmog blog.

New science? Not according to these guys:

“…Our best hope of understanding how the climate changes over time and how we may be affecting it lies in computer climate models developed over the past 50 years. Climate models are probably the most complex in all of science and have already proved their worth with startling success in simulating the past climate of the Earth…”

“…Mathematician and physicist Joseph Fourier was the first to describe the greenhouse effect in the early 19th century, and a few decades later John Tyndall realized that gases like carbon dioxide and water vapour are the principal causes, rather than the more abundant atmospheric constituents such as nitrogen and oxygen…”

And more historical stuff and description of how computer modelling is done.

The link above was found here, and discussion.

You’re right that the greenhouse gas hypothesis began with Fourier. It was regarded as interesting, but nobody gave it much thought until Tyndall came along. Hardly the birth of a new scientific discipline! I don’t remember when I first heard the term “climatologist”, but it first appeared as self-identification by some meteorologists, geographers and oceanographers with special interest in the subject. There are still a lot of them on the right side of the grass, so my reference to “new science” is valid. And VJ, there’s a lot more to the science of climatology than greenhouse gasing.

You missed the 50 years of climate modelling. More from my first link:

“…In the 1960s researchers based at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, US, built on weather-forecasting models to simulate the effect of anthropogenic CO2 emissions on the Earth’s climate. Measurements by Charles Keeling at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, starting in 1957 had shown clear evidence that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was increasing. The Princeton model predicted that doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would warm the troposphere – the lowest level of the atmosphere – but also cool the much higher stratosphere, while producing the greatest warming towards the poles, in agreement with Callendar’s early calculations…”

Here’s one of the links listed by RealClimate; it’s on the website of the American Institute of Physics. I haven’t had a chance to look at it much; it looks like massive amounts of information for anyone interested in the history.

“The Discovery of Global Warming – CLIMATE CHANGE

A hypertext history of how scientists came to (partly) understand what people are doing to cause climate change.

This Web site created by Spencer Weart supplements his much shorter book, which tells the history of climate change research as a single connected narrative. On this Web site you will find a fuller history (about 250,000 words)…”

It might be a good idea to include this link on DeSmogBlog.

In a prior comment Zog says: “I’ve been closely following this contraversy for 15 years” Then above he says: “Climate response to the Pinatubo erruption was predictable and predicted on the basis of previous major eruptions, without computer models. It wouldn’t take much tweaking to make it fit a model. Who did that modelling and where? Frankly, this is the first I’ve heard of it.” Thus he proves himself a liar. (Never heard of Jim Hansen and NASA GISS in all those years, Zog? I would have thought they were hard to miss.) He also says: “I hold (…) science credentials” But then he makes this astonishingly ignorant assertion that regional climate variability ought to disappear with global warming: “ ‘Global’ warming should by definition be ‘global’.” His words have no value.

“… he makes this astonishingly ignorant assertion that regional climate variability ought to disappear with global warming.”

Have you considered taking a remedial reading course, Mr. Bloom?

You say that Hansen included the Pinatubo eruption in one of his models? O.K., I’ll buy that, although I wonder how you know since, to you, models are probably little aeroplanes that you hang from the ceiling in mummie’s basement.

Anyone who inserts himself into a reasonable discussion of a serious matter by calling someone a “liar” is an ignoramous and a fool.

Zog, your assertions haven’t held up to scrutiny. Resorting to name calling doesn’t help your case and only undermines your credibility.

Bring forth more detail to support your case, or do the honourable thing and concede. If you can’t do that, then your motivations are called into question as it would appear you are not interested in seeking truth and understanding, just peddling disinformation.

What assertions haven’t held up to whose scrutiny? Bring forth what sort of detail to support my case? I’ve presented my arguments in the posts above and in several on other threads. If you think that is peddling disinformation - fine. I hardly expect anyone to change their deeply-held convictions on the strength of a brief internet exchange but, I hope that I might at least encourage somebody to think about the more obvious weaknesses in AGW theory and perhaps be a little less dogmatic. And please take a closer look at my last post and the one to which I responded before deciding who was resorting to infantile name-calling.

You remembered me but forgot the content of our last dialogue. I was asking you to outline what evidence you needed to see in order to be convinced of AGW enough to act. We didn’t get very far, so then I asked you to show me the analogous scientific principles, supposedly lacking in AGW theory, applied to the question of economics to convince me that acting on AGW would be too expensive. You balked.

It was a good conversation, but it’s sad to see that nothing has changed since then. You seem to still be using the same talking points. And you’re ignoring things like the cooling stratosphere concurrent with the warming of the troposphere (predicted by AGW theory and almost no alternatives) that requires no GCM to see as supportive evidence. Also, please look up Hansen 1988 to see the prediction of the Pinatubo eruption effect (as Steve Bloom not so generously ‘suggested’).

A cooling stratosphere would be good evidence that the current GW is mostly due to the “greenhouse” effect. However the jury is still out on that one. There is even some confusion as to whether or not the troposphere is actually warming near the tropopause or only at lower levels. Interpretation of remote sensing data is tricky as hell and subject to disagreements among the experts.

Radiosond data is too scattered to be very helpful, and the earlier stuff is too inaccurate to have any significance at the level we are discussing. (Radiosonde BTW is what I was doing at Alert. Damn, it would have been nice to be able to feed the data into a computer or even have hand calculators to do the interpretation!)

You don’t have to be an economist to understand that cutting CO2 emissions by 35% would require the shutdown of all coal-burning power plants (goodbye Nantikoke and life in urban Alberta)**, rapid development of as yet unknown technologies for any new oil sands projects and the “grounding” of most commercial highway transport. CO2 emissions are directly proportional to energy output, and most internal combustion engines are already approaching the theoretical limits of efficiency.

The federal governments announcement (based on economic analyses) that chapter and verse application of Kyoto would cause a major economic depression didn’t impress me much, since it was belaboring the obvious.

As soon as I have the time, I will check out Hansen on Pinatubo, both to see what he did and to see how he relates his work to the accuracy of GW predictions.

As I’ve said many times before, I don’t pretend to know what is causing earth surface temperatures to rise, or even if the trend is likely to continue. The decadal trend since the last “spike” is downward. Of course, if that trend continues for another decade, Suzuki, if he’s still around, will say that it’s an immediate effect of Canada “doing something” about its already globally inconsequental CO2 emissions. Win, win for the prophet. Yeah, that’s what Gore called him in Calgary - “a prophet”. Hmmm. I’ll refrain from any rude comments.

Sorry to be so windy. I got carried away.

** O.K. you could refit to burn natural gas but that takes time and pots of money. In the end, you still have major CO2 emissions - just less than for coal.

Whoa, Zog, “the decadal trend since the last “spike” is downward”? Are you saying that 1987 to 1997 was warmer than 1997 to 2007? I’m guessing you’re saying that since the big El Nino in 1998 things have been colder. I can’t imagine why you would inject that into a reasonable conversation unless you wanted to distract/obfuscate/annoy. It’s worse if I assume that you recognize 2005 (a La Nina year) was tied with 1998.
On to semi-legit points you made: the link and click-throughs (above) describe the cooling of the upper levels of the atmosphere. More than one line of evidence.

Regarding the economics, okay, here’s how our conversation goes from here. You said, “You don’t have to be an economist to understand that cutting CO2 emissions by 35% would require the shutdown….” Then I say, “Pfft, that’s just a theory, and it’s less well-supported empirically than the theory that adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere enhances the greenhouse effect.” And then you counter, “Look at the relationship between CO2 and prosperity (GDP or some other measure) among countries.” That leads me to an arrogant use of your own words: “That’s correlation, not causation, you idiot,” and I continue in a more serious tone, “besides there are great gobs of variance around that relationship!” Finally you resort to your example of a particular location in Alberta (from whence I came), and I reply long after everyone has lost interest, “Like global warming should be global, you have to consider the whole economy, not just a part of it.” We each go away thinking that the other is obtuse until it starts up again on some other thread. Of course, I’ll still feel like ‘my side’ is superior because it’s easy to relax carbon restrictions (letting Kyoto drop after a couple of years) and much harder to sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere and put more ice into Glacier National Park.

I have no idea how you’ll feel. Depends on your motives, I guess. If you’re like some of the skeptics/contrarians/AGW deniers who only want to say “don’t even think about CO2 solutions, because the science is wrong,” you will have lost to some degree, because we actually discussed something (just a little bit) other than your doubts regarding the science. If you wanted to convince me that the science is less certain than I think (funny how people here are always being told to keep an open mind), then you’ll have failed miserably. And you’ll have failed predictably since this site is for people who want to talk about solutions and about the obstacles put in our way to prevent even doing that. [If you want to make an impact regarding how the climatology is viewed by folks, you should be spending your time on a science site, showing where the science is weakest to somebody who actually knows something about it.] But if your objective is just to muddy (or smog-up) the discussion you will have achieved something, because of ridiculous statements like the one I complained about above. Not to mention the frustration you’ve provided and time you’ve wasted for folks like me who come here to understand the policy and marketing side of things.

I’m sorry if my representation of things offends you and your perspective is vastly different. But I hope you can see my perspective a little better now.

No problem except for your comments re a 35% cut in CO2 emissions requiring the shutdown of power plants, long-haul trucking and bits and pieces of other things as well being “just a theory”. What ARE you smoking. Makes me wonder where in hell you were educated. The production of mechanical power generally requires the production of thermal energy (which even includes nuclear, although that’s not an issue here.) Producing conventional thermal energy, i.e. burning stuff, produces CO2 - the more energy, the more C02. To deny that is just plain silly, and you don’t have to be an engineer to understand it. However, if you can’t get your mind around it, ask any garage mechanic.

So, if you want to save the planet, stop burning fuel. Put your car up on blocks and shut off your furnace like a good boy. You can still use your electric stove however because, in B.C., there’s a lot of hydro power, and you can pretend that you are using only the “green” component.

I’m really disappointed, if not digusted. I thought that we could rationally debate our differences re AGW, on which you’ve made enough interesting points to raise some small doubts in my mind (the question of stratospheric and upper tropospheric temperatures is important), but anyone who can’t make the simple, linear connection between power, fuel and C02 lives in a different world than the rest of us!

Pixie dust and new age bullshit! Thank goodness most young professionals have a stronger grip on reality, or Canada would really be in trouble.

Zog, you over-reacted. I had a rather lengthy reply that wasn’t posted. A few of my attempts have been filtered out lately, so I’ve learned to save my text before submitting. I’m going to try to attach my reply in pieces to see which parts are the objectionable (to the filtering mechanism). Here is the first part: Oh good, personal insults (especially the last sentence). I’ve told you previously that I ride my bike, I eat mostly vegetarian, and use very little power, so you can stuff the snark if you’re trying to call me a hypocrite. “Good boy” – trying to get my goat? Well, get this instead:

1. You blew a gasket when I compared the logic of increased greenhouse gas –> increased greenhouse effect to the logic of decreased CO2 requiring less burned coal. I am upset that you and some others constantly try to question the logic of the former in a forum where most readers are trying to focus on something else. I’d be happy to discuss AGW science with you elsewhere, but in my opinion this site is not for that (and why wouldn’t you rather discuss it with climate scientists?). The economic discussion I think is much more appropriate here, but you seem incapable of discussing it when I make points analogous to the talking points injected by AGW deniers here. Think about that.

I have tried to respond to Zog a few times but my comments have been filtered. It’s getting tiresome to retry. Finally I’ve learned to save some of my text, and I’m going to experiment with various parts of my last attempt to see which parts are objectionable to the filtering software.

Oh good, personal insults (especially the last sentence). I’ve told you previously that I ride my bike, I eat mostly vegetarian, and use very little power, so you can stuff the snark if you’re trying to call me a hypocrite. “Good boy” – trying to get my goat? Well, get this instead:

1. You blew a gasket when I compared the logic of increased greenhouse gas –> increased greenhouse effect to the logic of decreased CO2 requiring less burned coal. I am upset that you and some others constantly try to question the logic of the former in a forum where most readers are trying to focus on something else. I’d be happy to discuss AGW science with you elsewhere, but in my opinion this site is not for that (and why wouldn’t you rather discuss it with climate scientists?). The economic discussion I think is much more appropriate here, but you seem incapable of discussing it when I make points analogous to the talking points injected by AGW deniers here. Think about that.

The “just a theory” aspect of what I wrote is that you imply that costs in going to natural gas rather than coal (although there are apparently some CO2 sequestering technologies for ‘clean’ coal plants) are going to be bad for the economy. That is, you mentioned some impacts – that they will be bad for the economy on the whole is “just a theory.” I’d be happy if you wanted to complain that utilitarianism is a bad approach with respect to the economy (if you, say, wanted to focus on Nantikoke) – at least we’d be talking about policy and approaches to the problem. It’s beyond me why you would rather argue that AGW isn’t a problem on this site.

This point is basically about the same thing that I have been arguing all along. You have said previously that you want people to keep an open mind when discussing what to do about AGW. Okay, I think a well-timed, “Remember, the latest IPCC report indicated only a 90%-99% confidence regarding AGW,” is valuable. I think it’s valuable to point out, from a decision analysis perspective, that there is great uncertainty about what the impacts of AGW will be. I do not, however, think it valuable to argue about the 90%-99% estimate here, where the complicated science that underlies that estimate cannot be adequately treated.

PS. I grew up in Alberta and received my first 16 years of schooling there (if you’re looking to blame an educational system). Also, I don’t smoke, since you wanted to make an issue of it and me rather than my arguments.

Isn’t this part of the problem? In Alberta and most places, if you take an undergraduate degree in engineering, you are not allowed to take a significant number of science classes for credit, beyond a minimal grounding in physics, etc. (unless it was actually in physics). Eng degrees are called B.Sc. in some Universities, but are short on science classes or theory. They have extra math and applied classes that would be good for other students to take, and it is a good education in engineering, no doubt, but not really what you would get in a science. Engineers’ background in biology and climate is generally very low, although environmental engineers have more than mech, chem, elec, computer, etc. engineers.

I’m on this site to try to find info on Prof. P. after I was verbally accosted by a relative at a wedding Ottawa over the weekend.

My relative, a 2nd year student and an self-confessed right-winger, was vehement in his denial of my admittedly un-educated agreement with the ‘popular’, ‘Al Gore’ view of clmate change.

He and Harris are supposedly supported by ‘big oil’, this blog seems to be ‘left-wing’ [ me too].

Where does one go for a ‘non-religious’ view??

Go to for discussion of the science. The lying deniers will claim it is biased, but an intelligent person reading the posts there will conclude that the posts are by scientists talking about the science of the real world, not about politics-based fantasy. The comments are by scientists and non-scientists. They are happy to answer honest questions, but they will recognize denialist nonsense quickly and will explode it and not allow it to take over a thread.

Which is why the denialists really dislike that website.