Tim Ball: "the First Canadian PhD in Climatology"


Friends of Science scientific advisor Dr. Tim Ball, who has been criss-crossing the country in a campaign to undermine public support for the scientific proof behind human-caused climate change, advertises himself as “the first Canadian PhD in Climatology.” The FOS website boasts that, “He has an extensive background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and the human condition.”

This suggests an expertise in climate science that we all should take seriously. Or should we?

A search of the global database Worldcat shows two scientific books to Dr. Ball's credit. The first, from 1972, suggests direct expertise: Climate Change in Central Canada, but the subheading gives it a bit of context: A Preliminary Analysis of Weather Information from the Hudson's Bay Company Forts at York Factory and Churchill Factory, 1714-1850. As Worldcat lists just one copy of this “book” worldwide, and as that copy rests in the University of London, where Ball's PhD was granted, this is likely his thesis.

A second publication, The Significance of Grain-size and Heavy Minerals Volume Percentage as Indicators of Environmental Character, Grand Beach, Manitoba – A Case Study, is likely a Masters thesis.

In the 34 years since he completed his thesis, a library search shows that Dr. Ball has contributed to two other books, a text, The Fundamentals of Physical Geography and what appears to be a more populist non-fiction: Eighteenth-century naturalists of Hudson Bay.

A search of the Web of Science (the best-known compendium of scientific publications worldwide, maintained by the Institute for Scientific Information) shows two peer-reviewed articles:

Historical Evidence and Climatic Implications of a Shift in the Boreal Forest Tundra Transition in Central Canada – 1986 Instrumental Temperature Records at 2 Sites in Central Canada, 1768 TO 1910 – 1984

These searches do not capture all of Dr. Ball's publications. He has been a busy contributor in the popular press of late, but as demonstrated elsewhere on the DeSmogBlog, in that venue, no one is holding Dr. Ball to account for the accuracy of his statements.

Compare that output to, say, one of the University of Victoria's leading researchers, Dr. Andrew J. Weaver, who has been working the field for less than half the time of Dr. Ball, but who has already published 183 papers in top, peer-reviewed journals.

Who would you believe?


Note to readers: This post was accidentally deleted. It has been restored, but the only way to add back the comments is to post them below. Please read on for the original comments.

First Climatology PhD in Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/05/2006 - 12:37.

First Climatology PhD in Canada?  Not even close.  What would cause a claim like that?  Is Canada such a backwater that 1983 would be the first PhD in anything?  Is a Geography PhD from England close enough?  His basic position as ex-University faculty or simply a citizen should be good enough.  Who would feel the need to build an imaginary peak like professor for 30 years etc., except perhaps as a great height from which to blow spatter on more legitimate thinkers.


Publications Submitted by Brian J (not verified) on Sun, 06/25/2006 - 01:46.

I checked the ISI database myself, and found 4 peer-reviewed publications by Tim Ball. In addition to the two you mentioned, there’s also:

“The migration of Geese as an indicator of climate change in the southern Hudson-Bay region between 1715 and 1851,” Climatic Change 5, 85-93 (1983).

“Climate of 2 locations of the southwestern corner of Hudson-Bay -AD 1720-1729.” International Journal of Climatology 14, 1151-1168 (1994).

Still a very small number, though, and all on one subject (historical climate in central Canada) unconnected to the physical causes of climate change.

TFB’s thesis Submitted by eli rabett (not verified) on Sat, 06/24/2006 - 15:44.

You can find the tesis in the University of London (Queen Mary;s College) The  article in Climatic Change  looks like it came from his thesis. The date on the thesis is 1983 not 1972 (?). http://tinyurl.com/fw8j7 

Couple of additional points on Dr. Ball. A Ph.D degree, technically speaking is not issued in any field. A scholar must have a significant area of research, but it is not specified or conferred with the degree. So saying you are the first Ph.D. IN anything is vacuous at best and misleading at worst. Second - in addition to the great work done here, digging up Dr. Ball’s meagre scholarly output, I would add that the University where he taught, University of Winnepeg, offers no graduate science programs of any kind. It only confers 4 graduate degrees: Masters of Theology and 3 joint Masters Degrees (with University of Manitoba) in Public Administration, Religion and History. The university has 4 research chairs in Forest Ecology, Canadian History, Canadian-German Studies and Urban Studies. In its history, University of Winnepeg has been granted 4 Canadian Research Chairs. One of the universities current holders of a Canadian Research Chair in Dendrochronology, Dr. Jacques Tardif does actually study climate change and is well published (38 publications in the last 12 years). But then, he is not a climate change denier, and no where on his website does he list Dr. Ball as a mentor nor has he ever coauthored any publications with Dr. Ball. From this it is pretty safe to say that Dr. Ball has spent the majority of his academic career teaching basic science to undergrads. In a nutshell, his scholarly accomplishments are few and that which he has accomplished is not highly regarded by his peers.

This posting by Don demonstrates the lengths to which people are willing to go to denigrate someone that doesn’t agree with them. This is nearly as bad as a headline stating, “Inflated Credentials”. So from what I see, personal attacks to discredit others is the NEW and IMPROVED scientific method.