Sunday, September 18, 2011

NY Times Fluffs "Goreathon" Climate Change Piece

Their mistake is to treat Canada's own Tom Harris as a credible representative of the "sceptical" side of the AGW argument.   Mediamatters gets some of it right: such technical training as he has is in mechanical engineering, but Tom is mostly a lobbyist/PR guy, not a scientist. 

But there's way more to it than that.  For example, the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) is pure astroturf, and  probably gets funding from Aussie humvee maker Alan Gibbs.  I don't know what Tom's making, but a couple of years ago they were offering $70,000 to $90,000 per year to the administrative head of their American affiliate (a job that eventually went to Steve Goreham). 

So these guys are well paid to spread the FUD.

But perhaps most relevant for the people at the NY Times is (or should have been) Mr. Harris's association with  The Friends of Science, a precursor to both the ICSC and  NRSP (Natural Resources Stewardship Project).  The Friends and Tom have recently made news in Canada.  Basically, they were the recipients of about $500,000 in funds from various oil industry sources channelled improperly through research accounts at the University of Calgary.  Part of this money was used to fly sceptics to various conferences and throw fancy parties for them (Tom Harris included).  Another $175,000 wound up going to the PR firm APCO Worldwide, Mr. Harris's employer at the time, where it helped finance the video Climate Catastrophe Cancelled , script courtesy of...you guessed it...Tom Harris.

This unfolding scandal has given U-of-C a real black eye, and the leader of Alberta's official opposition has requested an investigation to determine whether the university has been subject to "inappropriate corporate influence".  So you may hear Tom's name again in the near future.

And one final question I'd like answered: how is Tom Harris qualified to teach a 2nd year course in climate science anywhere, let alone Carleton University?   I thought the kooks all taught at the University of Ottawa.

8 comments:

Holly Stick said...

How did Harris get that gig? Is somebody underwriting his salary for the university?

Or maybe he got a good reference from some university professor, like, say, Barry Cooper?

Tom Harris said...

Lots of incorrect stuff here by BigCityLib - sure, I went to fancy parties on FOS's dime. They were actually fancy dress parties, if you must know. I went dressed as David Suzuki. How silly.

I am not, and have never been, even a member of FOS and neither NRSP of ICSC have been connected to FOS.

BigCityLib: "This unfolding scandal has given U-of-C a real black eye, and the leader of Alberta's official opposition has requested an investigation to determine whether the university has been subject to "inappropriate corporate influence". So you may hear Tom's name again in the near future."

Response: Perhaps, but as an employee of a PR firm working on a contract, there is nothing I did that was inappropriate. I am proud of the video product and, aside from the need to update some satellite temp data shown in the video, it has stood the test of time well.

Tom Harris said...

BigCityLib: "And one final question I'd like answered: how is Tom Harris qualified to teach a 2nd year course in climate science anywhere, let alone Carleton University? I thought the kooks all taught at the University of Ottawa."

Response: I have been working with the course originator (and for a decade, the course instructor) Professor Tim Patterson on climate science issues since 1999. That, along with my university training in thermo-fluids and experience in science/technology jobs makes me well qualified to teach a "general survey" course in climate science to non-geology majors. The course has been highly rated by students and supported strongly by most faculty members. It is even used by Carleton to help recruit students to the University since they have one of their current students citing the course as one of her two favourite.

Tom Harris said...

BTW, here is my response to the hopelessly biased comments from Media Matters:

http://tinyurl.com/6gmomp8

John Cross said...

Tom: I only had time to watch the first youtube clip from your video but that clip seemed to mostly make the point that the surface temperatures were wrong, the satellite were correct but don't show much warming.

So, now that we have a longer period of data to work with, doesn't this graph contradict that part of the video.

This is much more than needing to update the satellite data. I would be interested, when you teach your students do you mention the close agreement between surface station records and satellites?

Thanks
John

Ian Forrester said...

Too bad Tom Harris has never been to a class on ethics or honesty. If you went to a fancy dress ball and wanted to be in disguise why didn't you go as an honest citizen? Was that too fancy for you?

KB said...

We might not know how Harris got the job, but he certainly shouldn't keep it. Check out this report from CASS auditing his course content. It's appalling.
http://scientificskepticism.ca/content/climate-change-denial-carleton-university-course-exposed-national-science-team

Steve Goreham said...

Also in error in the post, my position as Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America, the US affiliate of Tom's association, is unpaid.

Steve Goreham