(This post is by Ross.) Eight years ago, in October 2003, Stephen Schneider wrote email 0020.txt to Annie Petsonk of Environmental Defense, cc’ing to Mann, Hegerl, Overpeck, Briffa, Hughes, MacCracken, Jones, Bradley, Santer, Thompson, Mosley-Thompson, Crowley, Trenberth, Osborn, Wigley and a couple others. The email stated, in part, the following ([sic] wherever appropriate).
Hello all. Ah ha–the latest idiot–McKitrick–reenters the scene. He and another incompetent had a book signing party at the US Capitol–Mike MacCracken went and he can tell you about it–last summer. McKitrick also had an article–oped, highly refereed of course–in the Canadian National Post on June 4 this year. Here is the URL that worked back then: http://www.nationalpost.com/search/site/story.asp?id=045D5241-FD00-4773-B816-76222A771778
It was a scream. He argued there is no such thing as global temperature change, just local–all natural variablity mostly. To prove this he had a graph of temperature trends in Erie Pennsylvania for the past 50 years (this is from memory) which showed a cooling. THat alone proves nothing, but when reading the caption I noticed the trend was for temperature in October and November!! So one station for two months consitituted his “refutation” of global warming–another even dumber than Lomborg economist way out of depth and polemicizing. I showed it to a class of Stanford freshman, and one of them said: “I wonder how many records for various combinations of months they had to run through to find one with a cooling trend?” THe freshman was smarter than this bozo. It is improtant to get that op-ed to simply tell all reporters how unbelievably incompetent he is, and should not even be given the time of day over climate issues, for which his one “contribution” is laughably incompetent. By the way, the Henderson/Castles stuff he mentions is also mostly absurd, but that is a longer discussion you all don’t need to get into–check it out in the UCS response to earlier Inhofe polemics with answers I gave them on Henderson/Castles if you want to know more about their bad economics on top of their bad climate science
The op-ed I believe Schneider refers to is not at the Post website anymore, but it is online here. It was published in April 2003, not June. I didn’t publish an op-ed in June 2003, to the best of my recollection (and I have nothing in my files from then). Also, the print edition for the April 2003 op-ed shows the temperature graph for Erie Pennsylvania, and is the only one I’ve written that refers to that data. I encourage everyone to read my April 2003 op-ed, and then re-read Schneider’s email.
There’s no mention of Castles and Henderson in it: I think Schneider must have mingled something else in his memory. As to the choice of Erie PA, As I explain in the op-ed, I was responding to a claim David Suzuki had made on TVOntario a few nights earlier, saying that when he grew up in London Ontario, winter used to set in by the end of October, but now the snow didn’t come until much later; this being evidence of the fearful progress of global warming (or words to that effect). So I looked up the weather records for London from the 1940s to the present to check. Since the Canadian data on the GISS archive only went up to 1990, I also looked up the Erie PA record, which was the nearest US city (just across Lake Erie from London) with a long temperature record for October and November continuing up to the (then) present. The slight cooling trend in those records contradicted Suzuki’s claim.
This is all explained in the op-ed. Contrary to Schneider’s claim, I was not using the October-November temperature trend from Erie PA as a measure of global climate, I was using it as a measure of the October-November temperature trend for Erie PA. Schneider was careless in his reading, remiss in his recollection, and obnoxious in broadcasting his opinion to his colleagues.
OK, some jerk sent an email. What does it matter?
10 years before that email was sent, I was a grad student in economics, planning to do my PhD on carbon taxes. When trying to learn about the physical science issues, one of the first things I read was a 1989 Scientific American article by Schneider. Probably many people first learned about the issue from Schneider’s writings, and over time he had an enormous influence on the way the scientific message was controlled and transmitted to the public and to policymakers. He edited a major journal, wrote UN climate reports, advised governments and generally spoke for his profession for several decades.
That he turns out to have been intensely biased, arrogant and careless with facts matters a great deal.