My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

McIntyre makes the Wall Street Journal...

You will NEVER hear him on CBC's Quirks and Quarks....
The retired Canadian businessman, whose self-described "auditing" a few years ago prompted a Congressional review of climate science, has once again thrown EnviroLand into a tailspin. In September, he revealed that a famous graph using tree rings to show unprecedented 20th century warming relies on thin data. Since its publication in 2000, University of East Anglia professor Keith Briffa's much-celebrated image has made star appearances everywhere from U.N. policy papers to activists' posters. Like other so-called "hockey stick" temperature graphs, it's an easy sell—one look and it seems Gadzooks! We're burning ourselves up!

"It was the belle of the ball," Mr. McIntyre told me on a recent phone call from Ontario. "Its dance card was full."

At least until Mr. McIntyre reported that the modern portion of that graph, which shows temperatures appearing to skyrocket in the last 100 years, relies on just 12 tree cores in Russia's Yamal region. When Mr. McIntyre presented a second graph, adding data from 34 tree cores from a nearby site, the temperature spike disappears.

Mr. Briffa denounces Mr. McIntyre's work as "demonstrably biased" because it uses "a narrower area and range of sample sites." He says he and his colleagues have now built a new chronology using still more data. Here, as in similar graphs by other researchers, the spike soars once again. Mr. McIntyre's "work has little implication for our published work or any other work that uses it," Mr. Briffa concludes.

He and his colleagues may well ignore Mr. McIntyre, but the rest of us shouldn't. While Mr. McIntyre's image may use data from fewer sites, it still has nearly three times as many tree cores representing the modern era as Mr. Briffa's original.

Yet Mr. McIntyre is first to admit his work is no bullet aimed at the heart of the theory of man-made climate change. Rather, his work—chronicled in papers co-written with environmental economist Ross McKitrick and more than 7,000 posts on his Weblog—does something much more important: It illustrates the uncertainty of a science presented as so infallible as to justify huge new taxes on rich countries along with bribes to poor ones in order to halt their fossil-fueled climbs to prosperity. Mr. McIntyre offers what many in the field do not: rigor.

It all started in 2002 when—as many might given the time and Mr. McIntyre's mathematics background—he decided to verify for himself the case for action on climate change.

"It was like a big crossword puzzle," he told me. "Business was a bit slow at the time, so I started reading up."

Prior to the Briffa graph revelation, he had also caught a statistical error that undercut another exalted "hockey stick" graph prominently featured by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, this one by Michael Mann, head of Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center. Alerts about review boards' seemingly lax standards litter his blog, highlighting in particular the IPCC, which has used both the Mann and Briffa graphs in its reports. In 2007, Mr. McIntyre found a technical gaffe that forced NASA to correct itself and admit that 1934, not 1998, was the warmest year recorded in the continental U.S.

"At the beginning I innocently assumed there would be due diligence for all this stuff. … So often my mouth would drop, when I realized no one had really looked into it."

Even more innocently, he assumed the billion-dollar climate change industry would welcome his untrained but painstaking work. Instead, Mr. McIntyre is subjected to every kind of venom—that he must be funded by Big Oil, by Big Business, by Some Texan Somewhere. For the record, the 62-year-old declares himself "past my best-by date, operating on my own nickel."

James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute, has dismissed him as a "court jester." Mr. Mann replied to an emailed query about Mr. McIntyre by decrying "every specious contrarian claim and innuendo against me, my colleagues, and the science of climate change itself."

Others are more thick-skinned: "You mention his name in my community, people just smile. It's a one-liner to get a laugh out of a group of climate scientists," affirms Stanford University's Stephen Schneider.

One wonders what is so funny, when it is not only the Canadian hobbyist fueling skepticism, but also figures from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center that now show thickening Arctic ice; from the U.K. Met (Meteorological) Office showing falling temperatures that contradict modeling predictions; and other studies that suggest natural factors in climate change are being dramatically underestimated.


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