In 2005, serial litigant Andrew Weaver, now a politician but then an academic at University of Victoria active in public controversy, threatened Climate Audit about alleged defamatory remarks. I asked Weaver to explain why the seemingly innocuous remarks (by John A, not myself) were supposedly defamatory. As I understand Weaver’s theory of libel, sarcasm towards an academic is supposed to be tortious. It may seem -preposterous spelled out like this, but so does the decision in Weaver v National Post.
I will present the correspondence pertaining to Weaver’s libel allegations in full, so that readers can judge for themselves whether I have accurately characterized the Weaver’s doctrine of tortious sarcasm towards an academic. [Note: I was concurrently discussing issues related to Rutherford et al, 2005, of which Weaver was editor. To focus on the flow of discussion on Weaver’s libel allegations, I haven’t shown these sections of the emails, but, to reassure Brandon, will place a pdf online of the emails including Rutherford discussion – see here]
In today’s post, I’ll show that even Andrew Weaver was tricked by Mann’s IPCC 2001 hide-the-decline. Weaver’s incorrect belief that the IPCC diagram showed “four” “independent” “hockey sticks” constructed using “different techniques” led him to believe that the research was much solider than it really was (or is), to say that our focus on the Mann reconstruction was “vindictive” and that any suggestion that our work might impact IPCC conclusions on the topic was “pure and unadulterated rubbish”. Because of Weaver’s rhetorical style (see yesterday’s post), the National Post news reporter slightly misunderstood Weaver as saying that our research was “pure and unadulterated rubbish” – a view that Weaver probably held – as opposed to saying that the idea that our research would have any impact on IPCC conclusions on the topic was “pure and unadulterated rubbish” Continue reading →
Last year, Karl Rove was reported to have suggested that Hillary Clinton had brain damage:
Karl Rove stunned a conference when he suggested Hillary Clinton may have brain damage. Onstage with Robert Gibbs and CBS correspondent and “Spies Against Armageddon” co-author Dan Raviv, Rove said Republicans should keep the Benghazi issue alive. He said if Clinton runs for president, voters must be told what happened when she suffered a fall in December 2012. The official diagnosis was a blood clot. Rove told the conference near LA Thursday, “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”
Rove subsequently denied reports that he said Hillary Clinton may have brain damage. Peter Beinart in the Atlantic dissected Karl Rove’s denial as follows:
Karl Rove now denies reports that he said Hillary Clinton may have brain damage. “I never used that phrase,” he said on Fox News. True. What Rove said was, “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.” In other words, Rove didn’t say Hillary Clinton has brain damage. He hinted it, thus giving himself deniability while ensuring that the slur lingers in the public mind. Which is what he’s been doing his entire career.
In an unrelated incident, Andrew Weaver was reported as having called for Pachauri’s resignation. Weaver subsequently denied that he had called for Pachauri’s resignation. Alert readers may detect some structural similarity in the disputes.
Communications specialist Christopher Witt here, who is definitely not a Rove supporter, used Rove’s verbal (rhetorical) technique as an example of the “rhetoric of deception”. In today’s post, I’ll show that some of the statements in the Weaver (and other) controversies fall squarely within Witt’s typology. I intend to apply some of these concepts in a future post on the second major count of Weaver’s libel suit: whether he believed that the fossil fuel industry was responsible for break-ins at the University of Victoria. But in today’s post, I will re-visit a 2003 incident involving Weaver and McIntyre and McKitrick 2003, showing a very clear example of Weaver employing one of the rhetorical techniques listed by Witt.
One of the more startling aspects of Andrew Weaver’s libel case was Weaver’s claim that it was defamatory in Canada to say, even in an opinion column, that Weaver had called for Pachauri’s resignation or even a change in leadership at IPCC. It was even more startling that novice judge Emily Burke found in Weaver’s favour on this point. Given the controversies surrounding Pachauri in 2010, one might ask of Weaver: if you didn’t call for Pachauri’s resignation, why didn’t you? The absurdity of Weaver’s libel claim on this point became particularly stark when Pachauri was charged in India with sexual harassment and finally resigned as IPCC chairman.
J Burke’s absurd acceptance of Weaver’s claim arose, in my opinion, from multiple legal errors, which I’ll summarize in the conclusions. To get there, I’ll briefly discuss the background of the Himalaya glacier controversy, which proves to be considerably more complicated than a single factoid error in an enormous report. Although today’s post is long, the material, closely examined, goes in many directions and is voluminous and the post in no way covers all the potential issues.
Some in India are also calling for Pachauri to step down from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), where he is currently on leave. “To safeguard the interest of global climate science Pachauri should step down immediately from the Chairmanship of IPCC and TERI,” Iqbal S. Hasnain, a former professor of environmental studies, told The Hindu.
The surname of Revkin’s informant ought to have attracted his interest.
Andrew Weaver has been taking a victory lap following the recent decision in his favor by rookie judge Emily Burke. In previous commentary about Mann v Steyn, I’ve made some snide remarks about the competence of D.C. trial court judge Combs-Greene, either implying or stating that Canadian courts have higher standards. I take it all back. As a Canadian, it’s embarrassing to discuss Judge Burke’s disorganized and muddled decision with readers from other countries. Unsurprisingly, beneath the muddled prose, there are (what appear to me) some bright-line legal errors over and above quixotic and often grossly incorrect findings of fact.
In fairness to Judge Burke, she was astonishingly inexperienced to have been assigned a relatively complicated libel case. She had been appointed as a judge on May 13, 2014 (h/t Hilary Ostrov) and the Weaver v National Post trial began in the first week of June 2014, only a few weeks after Burke’s appointment. Her resume shows that her professional experience over the previous 20 years had been as a labour arbitrator, with no apparent evidence of previous experience in libel law. It was very unfortunate that she was assigned this case.
If Burke’s decision accurately reflects Canadian libel law, then for opinion writing in Canada (including Climate Audit), it is more of a polar vortex than mere libel “chill”. To borrow a phrase, it would be a travesty if National Post did not appeal this decision.
In today’s post, I’ll set out an overview of the main issues. As CA readers are aware, I am not a lawyer and my article does not contain legal advice. However, I know the factual context very well and have familiarized myself with the relevant case law. I plan to re-review the “facts” with the legal context in mind, but will also comment on the legal implications. Readers should keep in mind that I also commented at the time (e.g. here) on some of the same events as National Post and that, at the time, I , like the National Post opinion columnists, believed that Weaver believed that the fossil fuel industry was responsible for the UVic break-ins that Weaver had asked the national and international community to be interested in.
A guest post by Nicholas Lewis
A new paper in Nature by Jochem Marotzke and Piers Forster: ‘Forcing, feedback and internal variability in global temperature trends’[i] investigates the causes of the mismatch between climate models that simulate a strong increase in global temperature since 1998 and observations that show little increase, and the influence of various factors on model-simulated warming over longer historical periods. I was slightly taken aback by the paper, as I would have expected either one of the authors or a peer reviewer to have spotted the major flaws in its methodology. I have a high regard for Piers Forster, who is a very honest and open climate scientist, so I am sorry to see him associated with a paper that I think is very poor, even as co-author (a position that perhaps arose through him supplying model forcing data to Marotzke) and therefore not bearing primary responsibility for the paper’s shortcomings.
In putting together this note, I have had the benefit of input from two statistical experts: Professor Gordon Hughes (Edinburgh University) and Professor Roman Mureika (University of New Brunswick, now retired). Both of them regard the statistical methods in Marotzke’s paper as fatally flawed.
The Marotzke and Forster paper analyses trends in simulated global mean surface temperature (GMST) over all 15- and 62-year periods between 1900 and 2012, and relates them to contemporaneous trends in model effective radiative forcing (ERF) and to measures of model feedback strength (alpha) and model ocean heat uptake efficiency (kappa).
The paper is very largely concerned with the behaviour of climate models, specifically atmosphere-ocean general circulation models used in the CMIP5 simulations. In discussing relevance to the actual climate system, it ‘assumes that the simulated multimodel ensemble spread accurately characterizes internal variability’.
The authors’ principal conclusions are:
The differences between simulated and observed trends are dominated by random internal variability over the shorter timescale and by variations in the radiative forcings used to drive models over the longer timescale. For either trend length, spread in simulated climate feedback leaves no traceable imprint on GMST trends or, consequently, on the difference between simulations and observations. The claim that climate models systematically overestimate the response to radiative forcing from increasing greenhouse gas concentrations therefore seems to be unfounded.
Marotzke claims to have shown that in model simulations the structural (alpha and kappa) elements – which encapsulate model GMST responses to increases in CO2 forcing – contributed nothing even to recently-ending, longer-term GMST trends. It is difficult to see how that can be so if the models work properly. It is certainly possible (in fact likely) that over the period 1900–2012 the combined contribution of alpha and kappa to model GMST trends was largely obscured by countervailing variations in model ERF trends: high sensitivity models tend to have more negative aerosol forcing than lower sensitivity models, enabling both to match 20th century GMST trends. But aerosol levels have changed little over the last 35 years and higher sensitivity models have been warming much faster than observed GMST over that period.
In order to show why the paper’s conclusions are not justified, I need to explain what Marotzke has done.
One of my long-standing interests is the location of ocean sediment series that enable apples-to-apples comparison of the 20th century to the mid-Holocene. These are not nearly as common as one would think. Ocean sediment series covering the Holocene typically stop prior to the 20th century due to core recovery problems and, on the other hand, high-resolution series (especially from box cores) that provide detailed 20th century information are not necessarily accompanied by corresponding Holocene information (even on “intermediate” resolution.)
Last week, Sicre and coauthors archived two very high resolution alkenone series from Placentia Bay and Bonavista Bay, offshore Newfoundland (5 and 9 years respectively), covering the last two millennium, with their most recent portion dated through the 20th century. While the proximity is not ideal, the cores do appear to be close enough to three Holocene alkenone SST series from Sachs et al 2007 to compare 20th century and mid-Holocene SSTs on the North American East Coast, an exercise that I will carry out in today’s post. The exercise has some added interest because the three Sachs 2007 series were used in Marcott et al 2013 (though their recent portions were foolishly re-dated by Marcott.) As high resolution ocean SST data over the past two millennia, the new Sicre data is also relevant to the popular two-millennium reconstruction period, but the new data is about as opposite to a Hockey Stick as one can imagine. Unsurprisingly, the new data was not press released and has thus far attracted no attention. Continue reading →
The MD99-2275 core offshore Iceland is a very high-resolution ocean sediment core, results of which over the past millennium have been discussed here from time to time. Alkenone and diatom results for the last millennium have been available for about 10 years. MD99-2275 results were used in PAGES2K Arctic and Hanhijarvi 2013, also Trouet et al 2009, but not Marcott et al 2013. Because of their high resolution and because of their extension through box cores into the 20th century, it’s gratifying that high resolution results are now becoming available through the Holocene. In 2012, alkenone results were extended back at high resolution to 4500 BP and last week, Jiang et al archived their diatom results back to 9271 BP in the early Holocene. In today’s post, I’ll show the new results from Jiang et al and show an interesting comparison to Marcott.