Climate Change Denial in Canada’s Capital

This week, the Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism at the Centre for Inquiry Canada released a damning report of climate change denial that has found a home at Carleton University in Ottawa.  The 98-page report details every aspect of the pseudoscientific and incorrect conclusions drawn by Tom Harris in the course  “Climate Change: An Earth Sciences Perspective” and was produced by a detailed analysis of videos of the lectures lead by Dr. Chris Hassall and his team in Ottawa.

A summary of their findings, available in detail here, is as follows:

1. Climate change represents a challenge to current and future civilisation. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Schools and universities have a responsibility to ensure students understand the scientific basis for climate change.

2. We describe a case in which noted climate change deniers have gained access to the Canadian higher education system through a course taught at Carleton University – Climate Change: An Earth Sciences Perspective (ERTH2402). These academics are closely associated with a number of organisations that have involvement with the energy industry.

3. Carleton University teaches a range of courses on various aspects of climate change and the vast majority adhere to the highest academic standards. However, the content of this particular course is heavily biased against the scientific consensus concerning the anthropogenic causes of dangerous climate change. Through an extensive audit of the course material, we identify 142 claims made during the lectures by the instructor, Mr Tom Harris, and various guest lecturers, that run counter to established scientific opinion. We review these claims and provide corrections, citing peer-reviewed scientific publications where appropriate.

4. This course is taught with little reference to the primary literature and is largely presented to non-science majors. We note that other courses at Carleton University teach the established science on climate change, with instructors who have been involved with the IPCC and sharing in the Nobel Peace Prize that that organisation was awarded.

5. We acknowledge the need for academic freedom and the promotion of multiple viewpoints on course material – particularly in such an important area as climate change. However, it is important to note that the unbalanced nature of the course, the lack of peer-reviewed literature cited, and the non-science audience mean that the course fails to constitute ‚promotion of debate‛ and instead merely presents a biased and inaccurate portrayal of contemporary climate science.

6. We present our report to highlight how one extreme of the climate change debate is being taught in higher education and where that teaching diverges from the contemporary scientific consensus.

 

I would encourage everyone who cares about science and rational thought to let the Dean of Faculty of Science Dr. Malcolm Butler at Carleton know that academic freedom should not include the freedom to just make things up and it helps no one, whether policy maker or publican, make a rational decision on what to do about climate change if they are basing their decision on false information.  CASS can be contacted at cass@cficanada.ca and their new website is www.scientificskepticism.ca

photo credit: creative commons 

23 Responses to “Climate Change Denial in Canada’s Capital”

  1. Composer99 says:

    Kudos to CASS-CFI for doing all this work!

    IMO while academic freedom is all well and good – indeed, vitally important – it’s undermined when professors ‘game the system’ by teaching classes – to 2nd-year non-science undergrads, no less – which do not consist of honest presentations of the empirical evidence coupled with their opinions and interpretations, but rather systematic distortions and misrepresentations of the literature, self-contradictory statements, and long-refuted false claims.

    Harris’ class is IMO about equivalent to having young-earth creationism taught as geology, or astrology taught as astronomy.

    Incidentally, a better link for contacting the Dean of Science at Carleton is probably here. The page linked to in the OP is a news article/blog post.

  2. Werner Strasser says:

    CASS, the Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism, is criticizing the skepticism of a professor on matters of AGW by calling him a climate change dinier. Where is the proof that the professor denies that the climate changes?

    It would behoove CASS to criticize the fraudulent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports first before using this junk science as ammunition against the professor. This report undermines CASS’s credibility. CASS attempts to smear a professor who refuses to “accept scientific opinion”: Opinion is opinion and is not fact. Therefore, it is imperative the professor is allowed to voice his opinion while CASS shell not be allowed to tyrannically clamp down on the principle of academic freedom.

    CASS itself appears to be one of a number of smaller organizations that rely not on scientific evidence but on rhetoric and international PR tactics. Otherwise they would not have wasted pressures resources creating a 98 page report of propaganda in support of the AWG-hoax.

    I commend Professor Tom Harris for making his students think and analyze the AWG’s pseudo-scientific thesis that is paid for and served by arrogant, self-serving political organizations under the motto that it is “the generally accepted scientists’ consensus that human activity is responsible for the climate”.

    Hitler, the founder of this particular kind of science, recognized that there always will be some who just can’t be brain-washed and indoctrinated and those must be “neutralized” via special means. Is that’s what’s going on here?

    • Scott Gavura says:

      Godwin’d in two comments! I think that’s a new record at SN.

      • Werner Strasser says:

        Scott, it is difficult to respond to coded replies. Who is Godwin’d? SN, I assume, stands for Skeptic North. So what is your point except that you feel to be one of the enlightened who knows it all?

        Have you followed the call by SN to “make a rational decision on what to do about climate change…”? Don’t be timid; you can save the earth much faster than you think. Just stop breeding and revert back to the way our ancestors survived.

        I am willing to help you in your transition: You will love it. I have some coal mines and several naturally air conditioned caves left for rent. I throw in the garden tools so you won’t starve.

    • Kim Hebert says:

      Your comment had low credibility in the first place by railing against “opinion” with your own assertions, but you lost any shred of it when you typed the letters H-I-T-L-E-R either as intentional trolling or with a galling lack of self-consciousness or awareness.

      • Werner Strasser says:

        Interesting: Believers are history deniers and are unaware of Groessenwahn?

        The truth cannot be erased by your or by my denials, much the same as junk science will not sustain the advancement of the AGW-religion. With your opinion you belong to the majority for right now.

        However, science doesn’t require a majority vote by believers. It survives on facts and its own strength. No peer review, by peers who share the same believe, makes things better or truer but only delays the pending demise if it was based on junk. No matter how much diligence is exercised by peers through filtering and coordinated subordination of scientific inferences in support of popular political objectives the peer revive merely serve to assure those who will vote at the popularity contest.

        Since AWG has degraded itself to an occult it no longer differs from any other religion where prophets predict our eminent demise and then promise the paradise. Every change in climate is being attributed to human activity/sins. If it rains it is proof, if the sea levels rise, if it gets cold or if it gets hot all that is used to proof that the AWG-apostles are right?

        The reaction to the professor’s skepticism is sufficient proof as to how fragile the AWG-apostles perceive their religion to be. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear its followers shout: “Let’s burn that professor at the stakes!”

  3. Werner Strasser says:

    The bogus theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), a concoction formulated by the USA using long ago debunked German science, is imploding.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that no climatologist ever completed any university course in climatology–that’s how new this branch of science really is. Like any new science the fall-back position of a cornered AGW proponent is the dreaded “appeal to authority” where the flustered debater, out of his or her depth, will say, “Well, professor so-and-so and the IPCC says it’s true – so it must be true.” The professor claimed the same but forgot to mention the IPCC-garbage. Therefore, we have to demand his crucifixion? This is hardly serving science considering the following:

    1) It has been shows that the IPCC “consensus” atmospheric physics model tying CO2 to global warming is not only unverifiable, but actually violates basic laws of physics, i.e. the First and Second Law of Thermodynamics. (http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0707/0707.1161v4.pdf)

    2) In general, “scientific consensus” is not related whatsoever to scientific truth as countless examples in history have shown. ”Consensus” is a political term, not a scientific term.
    The popular greenhouse ideas entertained by the global climatology community are absurd in that they are bases upon a falsified scientific foundation that was debunked by modern science. (Die kalte Sonne, http://www.amazon.com/kalte-Sonne-Sebastian-L%C3%BCning-Vahrenholt/dp/3455502504).

    3) The professor has the same right to state his opinions as have the AGW-believers. Except, he might be more credible than the fans of the greenhouse hypothesis, a hypothesis that is crumbling. I might be all wrong, and will gladly admit it should anyone provide proof that our top layer of the atmosphere has a glass ceiling. (http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/the_agw_smoking_gun.html)

  4. Art Tricque says:

    Herr Strasser, you comment all over the internet. You clearly know how to use a computer. Whether you cannot take the trouble to look up the term “Godwin” on Google or any other favourite search engine, or just are being disingenuous, by being so the impression you leave is even worse than having had to resort to the use of the Godwin technique on its own in the first place. Leaving such a poor impression makes readers even more doubtful of the “meat” of your commentary, and any evidence that you have shared. I say “meat” and “evidence”, but there is precious little, since of the three pieces of “evidence” you have given, one is a book and one is an article in a right-wing on-line “journal”; and the rest of your commentary is diatribes against the IPCC, AGW, CASS, Skeptic North, and other commenters.

  5. The bogus link between lung cancer and smoking, a concoction formulated by the USA using long ago debunked German science, is imploding.

    The fall-back position of a cornered tobacco-cancer proponent is the dreaded “appeal to authority” where the flustered debater, out of his or her depth, will say, “Well, professor so-and-so and the NIH says it’s true – so it must be true.” The professor claimed the same but forgot to mention the NIH-garbage. Therefore, we have to demand his crucifixion? This is hardly serving science considering the following:

    1) It has been shows that the NIH and the medical “consensus” is not only unverifiable, but actually violates basic laws of physics, i.e. the First and Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    2) In general, “scientific consensus” is not related whatsoever to scientific truth as countless examples in history have shown. ”Consensus” is a political term, not a scientific term.
    The popular cancer notions entertained by the global health community are absurd in that they are bases upon a falsified scientific foundation that was debunked by modern science.

    3) The professor has the same right to state his opinions as have the smoking-causes-cancer-believers. Except, he might be more credible than the fans of the link between cancer and smoking, a hypothesis that is crumbling. I might be all wrong, and will gladly admit it should anyone provide proof that our lungs have a glass ceiling.

    …………………………………

    The bogus Theory of Evolution, a concoction formulated by the British using long ago debunked 19 century science, is imploding.

    The fall-back position of a cornered Darwinian proponent is the dreaded “appeal to authority” where the flustered debater, out of his or her depth, will say, “Well, professor so-and-so and the AAAS says it’s true – so it must be true.” The professor claimed the same but forgot to mention the AAAS-garbage. Therefore, we have to demand his crucifixion? This is hardly serving science considering the following:

    1) It has been shows that the AAAS and the biology “consensus” is not only unverifiable, but actually violates basic laws of physics, i.e. the First and Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    2) In general, “scientific consensus” is not related whatsoever to scientific truth as countless examples in history have shown. ”Consensus” is a political term, not a scientific term.
    The popular cancer notions entertained by the global biological community are absurd in that they are bases upon a falsified scientific foundation that was debunked by modern science.

    3) The professor has the same right to state his opinions as have the evolution believers. Except, he might be more credible than the fans of Darwinism, a hypothesis that is crumbling. I might be all wrong, and will gladly admit it should anyone provide proof that we all came from monkeys.

    Climate deniers: Making 9/11 Troofers looks smart in comparison.

    • -90% of all lung cancer patients are smokers and the risk is dose-dependent. There are specific pathological changes in the lungs of smokers that can be directly observed. Please explain these findings in the absence of a relationship between the two.

      - Laws of thermodynamics only apply to closed systems. Earth is not a closed system.

      - Proof we evolved from ape-like ancestors: molecular biology. We can work back from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA and get the same answer – we come from common ancestors, the same as all other life on Earth. You can explore the evidence on your own on the NCBI Blast website.

      • Composer99 says:

        Richelle:

        Cedric was mocking Werner Strasser’s post with smoking-cancer and evolution parodies.

        The game is given away at the end of his comment.

      • I THOUGHT it was but… it’s so hard to tell Poes from the True Believers ™. People can have an incredible lack of insight into their own conspiracy theories.

  6. Composer99 says:

    I emailed Carleton University’s Faculty of Science about this and was advised that the class was not being offered this year & Tom Harris was not teaching at Carleton.

    No further detail was given, for what I suspect are contractual reasons.

    Without any further evidence other than Carleton’s reply I suspect that routine processes (expiry of contracts & the like) are responsible for the discontinuation of the class, since of course CASS-CFI’s report was only released quite recently, well into the second term of this year.

    • Composer99 says:

      The CASS-CIF report has come up on Skeptical Science on a number of threads (not unreasonably, as Skeptical Science is given as a reference for additional reading several times).

      Dr Patterson has also issued a reply/comment on the CASS-CFI report as shown here.

      Not terribly encouraging: ERTH2402 will be taught by Dr Patterson in the 2013 winter term (and, one suspects, for a few years going forward).

      Frankly, I doubt Dr Patterson will be discussing the geosciences perspective on AGW in the spirit of CUASA’s statement on academic freedom and “the duty to use that freedom in a manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research and teaching on an honest search for truth”.

  7. Composer99 says:

    As usual, the physics crank/AGW denialist has no idea what makes a scientific consensus come to be (or at least appears to have no idea).

    It is my understanding that there is, for example, a scientific consensus that general relativity/special relativity together render a very good account of the behaviour of the universe at large scales and at high speeds. I assume some physicists reject the consensus, but that does not invalidate its existence.

    Perhaps Strasser can explain why such a consensus would have formed – and hence come to understand, if he has integrity, whence comes a scientific consensus on human-induced rapid global overheating.

  8. Diane Bruce says:

    There was a segment about this on the local CBC radio 1 station CBO.
    http://www.cbc.ca/ottawamorning/episodes/
    Look down the list of episodes for ‘climate change’.

  9. Richelle, my apologies. I was indeed doing a Poe.
    Next time I will add sarc tags. :)

  10. Leah says:

    I just cannot believe that some people or even institutions are still denying the climate change. I’ve been living in NYC for years and it’s been the first time that I didn’t see any snow in Manhattan. It’s the first time I went out in January without a jacket so many times. The only snow we had was last year in October! A snowstorm that caused many broken trees in central park due to the fact that trees with leafs weren’t able to hold the snow. This weather is just crazy. I really don’t know what to say. It’s just sad. I guess it’s a thing about us human beings to react when it’s (almost) too late.

  11. Tom Harris says:

    The course originator and primary author (and, for ten years the instructor – he will be teaching the course in 2013) addresses the naive and error riddle attack against my course and the rather nasty logical fallacies that permeate this debate here:

    http://www.fcpp.org/media.php/1996

    The complaints about the course are, generally speaking, either wrong, irrelevant or so dumb as to beyond comment.

    • Art Tricque says:

      Mr. Harris, citing a link to a podcast at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (FCPP) is anything but convincing. The FCPP claims transparency for government policy (see FAQ http://www.fcpp.org/faq.php ), but hides behind double-speak on its About the Frontier Centre for Public Policy – Policy Orientation page, where it says that it wants “Consumer-focused education and healthcare systems”, but it policy prescriptions — outlined on other pages — all seem to translate this harmless-sounding code to mean private-sector provision. If it can’t be clear on its own web site about itself, how can we expect clarity in anything else it does?

  12. Gord says:

    Where is the AGW “science”?

    A) The AGW “science” is the “Greenhouse Effect” and comes from The IPCC AR4 Report.

    AGW’ers frequently cite that there is a “consensus” of 97% of Climatologists and all of the Scientific Academies agree that atmospheric CO2 (a Greenhouse Gas) can and does cause the Earth’s Surface to HEAT-UP.

    Here is a link to the The IPCC AR4 Report where the Greenhouse Effect is defined along with Trenberth’s Earth Energy Budget Diagram.
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter1.pdf

    Quotes from the IPCC AR4 Report.
    ————————–
    On Pg. 115
    Frequently Asked Question 1.3
    What is the Greenhouse Effect?

    “The Sun powers Earth’s climate, radiating energy at very short wavelengths, predominately in the visible or near-visible (e.g., ultraviolet)part of the spectrum.

    Roughly one-third of the solar energy that reaches the top of Earth’s atmosphere is reflected directly back to space.

    The remaining two-thirds is absorbed by the surface and, to a lesser extent, by the atmosphere.

    To balance the absorbed incoming energy, the Earth must, on average, radiate the same amount of energy back to space.

    Because the Earth is much colder than the Sun, it radiates at much longer wavelengths, primarily in the infrared part of the spectrum (see Figure 1).

    Much of this thermal radiation emitted by the land and ocean is absorbed by the atmosphere, including clouds, and reradiated back to Earth.

    This is called the greenhouse effect.”
    ——————
    Figure 1 is also on Pg. 115

    FAQ 1.3, Figure 1. An idealised model of the natural greenhouse effect. See text for explanation.

    Quoted right from Figure 1…

    “The Greenhouse Effect
    Some of the infrared radiation passes through the atmosphere but most is absorbed and re-emitted in all directions by greenhouse gas molecules and clouds.

    The effect of this is to warm the Earth’s surface and the lower atmosphere.”
    ——————-
    What this is saying is this:

    - A portion of the Sun’s energy is absorbed by the Earths Surface and heats the Earths Surface.
    - The warmed Earth Surface re-radiates this energy at IR wavelengths.
    - The atmosphere, including clouds, absorbes the Earth’s Surface radiation and then reradiates Back to the Earth Surface.
    - The Energy reradiated Back to the Earth Surface from the Atmosphere (called Back Radiation) is absorbed by the Earths Surface and causes the Earths Surface to warm.
    - This is the greenhouse effect.

    Some additional information:
    - The Average Earth Surface temperature is +15 deg C.
    - The Average Atmospheric temperature is -20 deg C.
    —————————-

    Thus we can correctly write the IPCC AR4 Report definition of the Greenhouse Effect as:

    Greenhouse Effect: Back Radiation from a Average -20 deg C Atmosphere to a +15 deg C Earth Surface where the Back Radiation is absorbed causing the Earths Surface to warm.

    ——————————
    B) The Greenhouse Effect Violates The Second Law of Thermodynamics

    There is a Law of Science called The 2nd Law Of Thermodynamics that prohibits Cold Objects from Heating Up Wamer Objects:

    “Second Law of Thermodynamics: It is NOT POSSIBLE for heat to flow from a colder body to a warmer body without any work having been done to accomplish this flow. Energy will not flow spontaneously from a low temperature object to a higher temperature object.”
    http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/thermo/seclaw.html#c3

    It should be noted that there has never been any measurement, ever done, where a colder body’s heat flow heats up a warmer body.

    That includes Back Radiation from a Average -20 deg C Atmosphere to a +15 deg C Earth Surface where the Back Radiation is absorbed causing the Earths Surface to warm as per the IPCC AR4 “Greenhouse Effect” definition.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics has never been shown to be violated….EVER.

    It is not possible for a colder object to HEAT-UP a warmer object as any four year old knows.

    The AGW “science” is an obvious FRAUD.

  13. Gord says:

    Here is a peer reviewed paper by two German Physicists that confirms that AGW violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics:

    Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics.
    International Journal of Modern Physics B, Vol. 23, No. 3 (30 January 2009), 275-364

    “The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that many authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier (1824), Tyndall (1861), and Arrhenius (1896), and which is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism, in which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system.

    According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist.”

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0707.1161

    The G&T Paper is PROVEN to be ABSOLUTELY CORRECT by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and EVERY MEASUREMENT EVER DONE.

  14. Gord says:

    Here is Measurement Proof that AGW and the fantasy “Greenhouse Effect” does not exist:

    Parabolic mirror Solar Ovens will concentrate all Electromagnetic Energy such as visible light from the Sun and IR Back Radiation at a focal point to produce heating.

    If water is placed at the focal point and the Solar Oven is pointed at the Sun the water will heat up and boil.

    If the Solar Oven is pointed away from the Sun, at the Cold Atmosphere, the water will cool and even FREEZE.

    This is direct measurement proof that even Concentrated Back Radiation from a Cold Atmosphere cannot heat up a tiny bit of water let alone heat up an entire Warmer Earth.

    - No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong. — Albert Einstein
    - The criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability. — Karl Popper

    In fact, every measurement, ever done, Proves that a Colder Atmosphere CANNOT HEAT-UP a Warmer Earth and therefore Proves that the fantasy “Greenhouse Effect” as described by the IPCC AR4 Report and all the 97% of Climatologists and all of the Scientific Academies that the AGW’ers claim to have a “consensus” are simply Frauds.

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    Michael is an advanced-care paramedic in York Region, just north of Toronto, Ontario. A semi-retired theatrical lighting designer as well, he re-trained in 2005 as an EMT-PS at the University of Iowa and as an ACP at Durham College, and is currently working towards a B.Sc at the University of Toronto. Michael is a founder and the chair of the board of directors of Bad Science Watch. He is also the recipient of the first annual Barry Beyerstein Award for Skepticism. Follow Michael on twitter @anxiousmedic. Michael's musings are his own and do not necessarily represent those of his employer or Bad Science Watch.