Climate Change: Lines of Evidence

The National Academies, America’s preeminent independent scientific advisory body, has produced a series of videos about the science of climate change. This one,the second in the series, explains how scientists have arrived at the current state of knowledge about recent climate change and its causes.




Climate Change Study Forces Skeptical Scientists To Change Minds

We’re All Climate Change Idiots

University of Calgary Prostitutes Itself To Big Oil & Gas

Canadian journalist Mike DeSousa first wrote three years ago about the anti-science group with the Orwellian name “Friends of Science” funding a PR blitz meant to cast doubt on the science of climate change. Friends of Science paid for their ad campaign out of a University of Calgary research account controlled by Professor Barry Cooper, but the university and the Calgary Foundation (who also received donations and transferred them to the research account) refused to release details at the time that DeSousa broke the original story. DeSousa appealed that censorship, and won.

DeSousa wrote last week in the Ottawa Citizen:

A pair of “research” accounts at the University of Calgary, funded mainly by the oil and gas industry, were used for a sophisticated international political campaign that involved high-priced consultants, lobbying, wining, dining, and travel with the goal of casting doubt on climate change science, newly-released records have revealed.

The records showed that the strategy was crafted by professional firms, in collaboration with well-known climate change skeptics in Canada and abroad, allowing donors to earn tax receipts by channelling their money through the university.

All of the activities and $507,975 in spending were organized by the Friends of Science, an anti-Kyoto Protocol group founded by retired oil industry workers and academics who are skeptical about peer-reviewed research linking human activity to global warming observed in recent decades.

DeSousa has also revealed that an Alberta-based oil and gas company, Talisman Energy, helped to kick-start the elaborate public relations campaign with a donation of nearly $200,000.

The donation from Talisman Energy was the largest single contribution to a pair of trust accounts at the university that received $507,975 in donations to produce a video and engage in public relations, advertising and lobbying activities against the Kyoto Protocol and government measures to restrict fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Talisman is pleased to be a part of this exciting project and wish you success in the production of the video,” said the letter, dated Nov. 4, 2004, to university account administrator Chantal-Lee Watt, that accompanied a $175,000 cheque.

Something smells fishy around here, and it’s not just the leftover pickerel chowder in my fridge. Aren’t universities supposed to be bastions of learning and scientific inquiry? When did it become okay for a public university to accept private corporate funds to spread misinformation and lies? And then try to suppress the truth, only revealing it when forced to by access to information laws?

If you, like me, think something stinks about this, contact University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon by email at:

In the meantime, Friends of Science is at it again, bringing in journalist (and now climate expert??) Rex Murphy to the University of Calgary on September 29th. Murphy has been spouting his uninformed  views on climate change for a while now, and I’m sure the FoS is happy to have him spread more doubt on the science. Like the tobacco lobby, who for years delayed action on tobacco regulation by confusing the general public about the science linking tobacco and health effects, the Petroleum Lobby is busily repositioning global warming as theory rather than fact. Want to learn more? Head over to – they do a great job of separating climate fact from climate fiction.


More links:

University Funds Used in PR War, Files Show

Oil Money Funnelled To Climate Denier Group

Talisman Energy Kick-Started U of C Climate Skeptic Fund

A Hot Debate

Calamities of Nature is a comic that focuses on topics of social commentary, science, religion, philosophy, and lots of “bacon”. Tony Piro is the talented creator of the strip who graciously gave me permission to repost this here (thanks to Tanna for bringing Tony`s work to my attention in the first place). 

More links:

Calamities of Nature: Global Warming

Calamities of

Climate Crock: Climate Skeptics Have As Much Leg to Stand On As Monty Python’s Black Knight

Peter Sinclair over at Climate Crock Of The Week has just released this video, which demonstrates how little fact or science the anti-science climate skeptics have to back them up. Yet just like the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, who refused to admit defeat even when dismembered, they keep on shouting that they really are legitimate opponents!


Many “Scientists” Who Deny Climate Change, Aren’t Scientists At All

Peter Sinclair, who makes the excellent and informative “Climate Crock of the Week” videos, has just published one entitled “Climate Change: Meet The Scientists”. Watch it, and be informed:


Click here to view more of Sinclair’s videos on YouTube, or go to his website at Greenman

Global Warming Denier Nonsense Amusing If It Weren’t Deadly

This is a reposting – it was originally published on December 1, 2009.

Have a great weekend!

A recent response to one of my posts questioned my statement that there were fewer trees in the world than 200 years ago, saying I had provided no proof.  This same person questioned why it was important to point out that trees breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen when discussing global warming.

This is amusing, on the face of it.  Except that there is a relentless disinformation campaign going on, funded by the companies that have the most to lose if our economy switches from fossil fuel-based to greener, less polluting energy sources.  Lest you think I’m just a paranoid conspiracy theorist, let me remind you of the tobacco companies’ example.  For years, they poured millions of dollars into denying that cigarette smoke is linked to cancer, paying scientists and PR people alike to muddy the waters.  Can we really assume that the oil, coal and gas companies are any different?  They have taken a page out of the tobacco companies’ book, and are trying to divert a solutions-focused climate change discussion.

Exxon Mobile is the largest and wealthiest corporation in the world.  Rather than retreating in the face of mounting evidence of global disaster, there is evidence that it continues to put money and effort into denial of global warming.  In 2006  Exxon was called to account before the Royal Society of London scientific body for its funding of  so-called “think tanks”, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).  CEI produced commercials extolling the virtues of carbon dioxide; set to the background of sunrises and little girls blowing dandelions, the commercials state boldly “Carbon dioxide.  They call it pollution.  We call it life.”  (Click here to view video).

Obviously, carbon dioxide is a part of life.  But the CEI ad – and similar denial claims – ignore that fact that it is not carbon dioxide itself that is inherently harmful, but it is excessive discharges of the gas that scientists argue is harmful to the atmosphere. And excessive discharging of carbon dioxide is what we humans, mostly in Europe and North America, have been doing with our increased rate of fossil fuel consumption since the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago.

In “Climate Change Cover-Up”, James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore offer this analogy:

Behind us is a considerable crowd, 6.7 billion people and counting, and below is a beckoning pool.  Some people say that you can jump into that pool without risk. They say that humans having been doing so for ages without any problems. But others say that waves have been eating away at the foot of the cliff, causing big rocks to fall into the water. They say that the risk of jumping grows more frightening by the day. Whom do you trust?

Hoggan and Littlemore then point out that some of the lifeguards on the climate change cliff just aren’t that qualified, and some of them seem quite willing to sacrifice the whole swim team if there are profits to be made.

Would you trust an unqualified lifeguard, or one with vested interests, with your life, and that of your children and grandchildren?

Bill Nye “The Science Guy”: Climate Skeptics Unpatriotic

Science Educator Bill Nye recently appeared on MSNBC to talk about the claims by contrarians that the snow storms hitting the east coast of the U.S. prove that climate changes isn’t happening. It’s a great interview with Rachel Maddow (hang in there through the first minute of basketball shots).


Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had some fun this week poking fun at the wild assertions as well. For those of us in Canada, who can’t access The Daily Show or Colbert Report anywhere but the Comedy Network, click here for Part I of the Daily Show and here for the first part of the Colbert Report, both from February 10.  For the rest of you, click here to go to  “Colbert Rips Fox News For Using Snowstorm to Deny Global Warming” and watch the video.

For more information on the link between climate change and severe weather, go to

A Meteorologist’s Perspective On The Denial of Climate Change

Mike Balshaw is a retired meteorologist with over 40 years experience.  He recently sent in this excerpt from a Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society newsletter, in response to the ongoing debate over climate change.  I am happy to post it here, with Mike’s permission:

Subject: Countering the Skeptics on Global Warming

I believe the following will help Blog readers in recognizing and countering “the skeptics”.

As the Copenhagen talks approached, an organized campaign of misinformation by skeptics intensified, and most recently included paid radio advertisements across the country. As a retired meteorologist, I recognize my responsibility, as a member of the scientific community and as a concerned parent and grandfather, to report and support truth in the science, in an effort to counter this stream of misinformation and distortion of climate science. Why? Because I believe these so called skeptics are deliberately attempting to misinform and confuse the public. They know that most humans are reluctant to be proactive when in doubt or confused.

The skeptics’ primary objective appears to be to simply keep the public and politicians uncertain regarding “human-causes” of climate change, the current global warming trend and the urgent need for reductions in our global energy and environmental practices that increase carbon dioxide and related gas pollutants in the atmosphere throughout the world.

Some of their favourite misleading or untruthful claims are:

1) That there is huge debate in the scientific community concerning the link between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through burning fossil fuels and global warming.

In fact, there is no such debate among scientists. Evidence for this was summarized in an invited essay in the 03 Dec. 2004 issue of Science Magazine (, titled “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change”, by Naomi Oreskes of the Dept. of History and Science Studies, Univ. of California. Oreskes analyzed 928 abstracts published in refereed journals between 1993 and 2003 containing the words “climate change”. Of all these abstracts, not one single paper disagreed with the consensus view. In fact, 75% explicitly or implicitly accepted the consensus view that “GHGs are directly responsible for most present global warming”, and the other 25% dealt with analysis methods or paleoclimate and took no position whatsoever. That hardly reflects great scientific debate on the GHG-warming link, and the evident solidarity among climate scientists is still very strong, even though different studies may differ somewhat on the degree of warming, timing, or the big uncertainty of how future GHG emissions will evolve.

2) That the main cause of climate change is changes in radiation from the sun.

Although true over many millennia, this is simply not true for the present rapid warming of our climate over just a few decades. In fact, incoming solar radiation (insolation) has actually decreased slightly over the past 50 years, the period during which we have experienced rapid warming.

3) That climate scientists are unwilling to debate the science of human-induced global warming.

This statement does not even deserve a response, because skeptics rarely attend our conferences or publish in journals, but they delight in having debate in the relative safety of radio talk shows, usually where the talk show host is known to have strong leanings towards their views, or is not familiar enough to question their claims.

4) That there has not been any warming for the past ten years, and that it has actually been cooling.

This statement is false. Nine of the ten warmest years in the instrumented records (now including 2009) have all occurred in this 21st century, the 10th year being 1998. The long-term global temperature trend is positive, while the warmest year on record (globally) was 2005 (NASA’s GISS dataset).

5) That climate scientists attribute every anomalous event to global warming.

This is also false, although that assumption is often made by the media, lobby groups, and Hollywood and lay people, but not by climate scientists. Yet, the skeptics never fail to mention short-lived regional cooling events as proof of their global cooling claims.

6) That water vapour is the most important “Green House Gas”.

Here they fail to add the important fact that while this is true for maintaining the long-term natural global temperature balance (without it, Earth would theoretically be some 30°C cooler and might still be a mostly lifeless world), it is not true for present global warming, for the simple fact that there is a natural cap on atmospheric vapour determined by saturation vapour pressure, beyond which precipitation takes care of any sudden imbalance.

7) That model predictions about global warming have been wrong.

This is a totally unsubstantiated and incorrect statement. For example, the past ten 10-year average temperature anomalies have all been between +0.17 and +0.34 °C per decade, very consistent with model predictions reported by IPCC.

Readers with any doubts on these challenges should visit the NASA, NOAA or British Met Office web sites to see how these and other myths disseminated by the skeptics are easily discounted.

Extracted from the “Correspondence” contribution of:
Geoff Strong, Ardrossan, Alberta
In The Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) Bulletin SCMO Vol.37, No.6 -180-

Christine’s note:  Geoff Strong is the Past President of the CMOS.  The CMOS’s position statement on climate change is available on its website (click here for the link).  The CMOS is, according to their website:

…the national society of individuals and organisations dedicated to advancing atmospheric and oceanic sciences and related environmental disciplines in Canada. The Society’s aim is to promote meteorology and oceanography in Canada, and it is a major non-governmental organisation serving the interests of meteorologists, climatologists, oceanographers, limnologists, hydrologists and cryospheric scientists in Canada.