Andrew Weaver: It was “defamatory” to say that he called for Pachauri Resignation

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.

Himalaya Glaciers

In January 2010, at the time of the National Post opinion column referring to a change in IPCC leadership, there had been considerable publicity about IPCC errors about Himalaya glaciers – an interesting topic that warrants a lengthy re-examination.   Although Pachauri and IPCC adherents have minimized the controversy as merely a single error in a very large report, the recession of Himalayan glaciers and, especially, their impact on riverflow and agriculture in the Ganges and other rivers had been a signature AR4 issue. While most of the subsequent publicity pertained to the 2035 prediction, arguably a more substantial – and uncorrected error – was IPCC’s attribution of significant portions of annual river flow to glacier diminution and its dire warnings that the Ganges and other rivers would become merely “seasonal rivers” in the future with serious consequences on the food supply of the subcontinent.

Prior to these claims being adopted by IPCC, these false claims, mostly originating with Syed Iqbal Hasnain, had been convincingly challenged by Gwyn Rees and others as early as 2004. See Richard North in January 2010 for the back history.

The false claims, in their IPCC AR4 incarnation, had been convincingly challenged as early as February 2009 by Alford and Armstrong in a paper for the World Bank Water Week 2009, entitled “The role of glaciers in stream flow from the Nepal Himalaya”, (later published in 2010 here). They began as follows:

The view that a significant volume of the annual flow of the Ganges River, and its principal tributaries in the Indian and Nepal portions of the Himalaya, may be derived from the melting of the glaciers of these mountains appears to be widespread.

They observed that most of the annual volume of the Ganges came from annual precipitation rather than diminished size of the glaciers, the latter contribution to total streamflow being inconsequential. They minced no words in their conclusion, stating that even the “complete disappearance” of the glaciers would “most probably be undetectable” at hydrometric stations:

At the scale of the Ganges Basin, the complete disappearance of the glaciers would most probably be undetectable from measurement of the annual streamflow at current hydrometric stations, and would have little, if any, impact on current water use practices or for existing water resources planning or management procedures.

Nonetheless, dire warnings of both glacier recession and water shortfalls, already present in 2008 (e.g. glaciologist Geoffrey Boulton here), continued unabated through 2009.  In April 2009, the New York Times published predictions of a 75% loss by 2035. In May 2009, the European Union announced a major study program on the issue, with Pachauri’s TERI turning out to be one of the major beneficiaries. Subsequently, the EU dryly conceded that the original rationale for the program was not “only alarmist but downright wrong” but do not appear to have withdrawn any grants, even to TERI:

But by the time it began in May 2009, the original extreme urgency of the HighNoon project had ‘melted’ so to speak. Indeed, this EU funded project focuses on assessing the effect of Himalayan glaciers retreat on water distribution in Northern India, as it may create droughts. It also studies the possible consequences on the famous Indian summer monsoon. The urgency to study Himalayan glaciers stemmed from a 2007 International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report—later proven not only alarmist, but downright wrong—claiming that they would have disappeared by 2035.

Over time, there has been a certain amount of turnover in IPCC Working Group 2’s spotlighting of issues: Himalayan glaciers and their impact on water supply were definitely issues de jour following AR4 and in the lead-up to Copenhagen 2009.  For example,on November 3, 2009, in his presentation to UNFCCC entitled “Policy-relevance of the Working Group II Contribution to IPCC AR4”, IPCC vice-chair van Ypersele’s leading examples of adverse impacts were glacier recession in the Himalayas and Andes.  (Subsequently, van Ypersele expunged the section on the Himalayas from the online version but the Himalaya section remains in the archive.org version.)

The issue more or less disappeared without a trace in AR5, which focused on other causes for alarm.   The AR5 chapter on the cryosphere did not even mention the controversial error in AR4.  Nor did it cite Alford and Armstrong 2010 (or Raina 2009 – see below).  AR5 estimates of glacier area and volume for South Asia (Table 4.2: 14- West and 15-East from Arendt et al 2012) bore little to no relationship to the AR4 figures that had occasioned so much alarm.  Whereas AR4 had reported Himalaya glacier area and volume at 500,000 km2 and 12,000 km3 respectively, the corresponding AR5 totals for South Asia were 55,665 km2 and 4,096-5,067 km3 – about 10% and 37% respectively of the values in the earlier report. A more recent estimate (Frey et al 2014) lowers the Himalaya estimates even further: to an area of 40,775 km2  and a volume of 2,955-4,737 km3.  By way of comparison, the total volume of the Great Lakes is 22,671 km3, nearly 6 times greater than the most recent estimates of ice volume in Himalaya glaciers (area – 244,106 km2).

And whereas AR4 had darkly projected the Ganges and Brahmaputra as merely “seasonal rivers” in the future, AR5 quietly postulated an “increase in [Ganges] river runoff” due to a projected large increase in average rainfall:

In the Ganges, an increase in river runoff could offset the large increases in water demand due to population growth in a +4ºC world GCMs), due to a projected large increase in average rainfall, although high uncertainties remain at the seasonal scale (Fung et al., 2011).

Pachauri vs the Indian Ministry of the Environment 

On November 9, 2009, Jaimar Ramesh, minister of the environment, released a report by V.K. Raina, a senior Indian geologist, described as a comprehensive “start-of-the-art” review. It flatly contradicted the IPCC line on Himalaya glaciers, adopting a view more or less identical to that Alford and Armstrong.  Raina said that “as long as we have monsoons we will have glaciers” and that he was prepared to take on “the doomsday scenarios of Al Gore and the IPCC”.

Although Pachauri would later say that he could not be expected to be familiar with every detail of the large IPCC report, at the time, Pachauri immediately opposed Raina’s findings in an extraordinary public outburst.  In an interview with the compliant Guardian, Pachauri described the Raina report as “unsubstantiated research”.  In contrast to the supposed excellence of IPCC procedures,  Pachauri stated that Raina’s report was not “peer reviewed” and had few “scientific citations”.   Pachauri said that Raina’s statements were reminiscent of “climate change deniers and school boy science” and, in a follow-up interview with the BBC on December 5, as “voodoo science”.  Pachauri sneered at the competence of both Raina and minister Ramesh, saying: “With the greatest of respect this guy retired years ago and I find it totally baffling that he comes out and throws out everything that has been established years ago.”   This is not the sort of language typically used by managers who do not have personal familiarity with the detail.

The issue more or less remained under wraps during the Copenhagen conference in December 2009 but was a central topic at an expert workshop on December 28-29, 2009.

In early January, primarily through the interest of the UK press, it was conclusively established that it was the IPCC statement that was not only incorrect, but based on flimsy and unreliable sources.  On January 20, 2010, the IPCC issued a grudging acknowledgement of an error in relation to the date of disappearance, while ignoring the more fundamental issue that diminution of glaciers played an inconsequential, rather than “crucial” role in the volume of large monsoon rivers, stating as follows:

The Synthesis Report, the concluding document of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (page 49) stated: “Climate change is expected to exacerbate current stresses on water resources from population growth and economic and land-use change, including urbanisation. On a regional scale, mountain snow pack, glaciers and small ice caps play a crucial role in freshwater availability. Widespread mass losses from glaciers and reductions in snow cover over recent decades are projected to accelerate throughout the 21st century, reducing water availability, hydropower potential, and changing seasonality of flows in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges (e. g. Hindu-Kush, Himalaya, Andes), where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives.”

This conclusion is robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science  and the broader IPCC assessment.

It has, however, recently come to our attention that a paragraph in the 938-page Working Group II contribution to the underlying assessment refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly

However, this correction was far short of the required correction, as Alford and Armstrong sharply pointed out as follows:

What has not yet been corrected is a statement in this same section of the IPCC report that, as a result of this retreat, the Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra and other rivers that criss-cross the northern Indian plain could likely become seasonal rivers in the near future.

Despite considerable pressure, Pachauri refused to apologize for the error on the basis that he could not be held “personally responsible” for every word:

t would be hypocritical to apologise for the false claim that ­Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035, because he was not personally responsible for that part of the report. “You can’t expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report,” he said.

While I entirely agree that Pachauri cannot reasonably be held “personally responsible” for every word of the IPCC report, it had been Pachauri who had personally attacked the Indian minister of the environment and geologist Raina, both of whom were owed apologies.

Glaciers and Return to Almora

In addition, out of all the issues in the IPCC report, Himalaya glaciers were uniquely personal to Pachauri himself.  Pachauri had been born in Nainital in the foothills of the Himalayas  – as also “Sanjay Nath”, the protagonist of Pachauri’s “Semi-autobiographical” Return to Almora.   Almora itself is in the foothills of the Himalayas and a staging point for treks to Gangotri glacier, the classic source of the Ganges – prominently featured in the EU grant.

While the “scientific” interests of Sanjay Nath are mainly things like “transcranial magnetic stimulators” , Nath was also interested in Himalaya glaciers:

Sanjay had brought four bottles of good California wine, which he gave Pooja. They drank the first of these, a smooth merlot, that evening. While Pooja prepared a Chinese meal, he read a frightening report on the retreat of the Himalaya glaciers as a result of global warming and climate change.

Nath’s investigations into transcranial magnetic stimulators took him to Svalbard, where yet another beautiful young woman with”generous breasts” threw herself at his feet:

 He found it a strange sensation to have this beautiful young woman hugging his legs while her generous breasts pressed against his body… For a brief instant, he was sexually aroused…. As she rose, she looked at Sanjay with her blue eyes, which he could see were full of worship of him. She was exquisitely beautiful with the most expressive eyes he had ever seen… Perhaps she harboured a feeling of reverence for him, bordering on worship… She bent and touched his feet, while wishing him goodnight.

Should Andrew Weaver and the climate community have later been surprised when Pachauri was later exposed, so to speak, as expecting the right to grope young female employees?

The “climax” of Return to Almora was Nath’s visit to a swami at Gangotri glacier – this glacier also being the highlight of the TERI glacier application.  The swami, like the beautiful young Otelia in the prior scene, professed his reverence for Nath:

He bent low but Swami Chidananda lifted him up before he could touch his feet.. Sanjay felt the swami’s powerful arms around him as he stood up raising Sanjay to his full height and embracing him. “I should be touching your feet” he said softly. You are a great soul. So many all over the world revere you, just as I do.”

The swami turned out to be up-to-date on glacier retreat, “particularly in the Himalayas”:

Sanjay was amazed at the swami’s knowledge and command over a variety of subjects. He was particularly concerned about the impact of climate change on the ecology of mountains across the globe and the retreat of glaciers everywhere, but particularly in the Himalayas. “I’m amazed and saddened at the insensitivity and indifference of the United States to the problem of global warming, for which they are responsible to a large extent., he said. It will cost them dearly. They don’t realize that America’s dependence on fossil fuels will doom their prosperity, Any society that loses its sense of fairness and pursues an agenda that is narrow and selfish will reap the harvest of its moral degradation in the end. History teaches us this very clearly,  but a society drunk on its own power, has no time or respect for the profound lessons of history.”

It seems off that the swami in the cave was supposedly more up-to-date on scientific literature on Himalayan glaciers than the chairman of IPCC. Or maybe not.

The Der Spiegel Editorial

Back to the Weaver chronology. One of the more extraordinary aspects of the Pachauri controversies at the time was the almost total solidarity of the climate community. While IPCC-ists like William Connolly now pretend that Pachauri was never one of them and George Bush’s fault, when Pachauri was challenged in January 2010, no one in the IPCC community broke ranks: that’s one of the reasons why Weaver’s apparent call for a change in IPCC leadership attracted attention.

There were, of course, a number of calls for Pachauri’s resignation in January 2010 (before the IAC panel) and later in September 2010 (after the IAC report and before the October 2010 IPCC meeting in Busan), but most of these calls were from environmental journalists (e.g. Geoffrey Lean, Charles Clover and later Fred Pearce) or “moderate” scientists (e.g. Hans von Storch, Roger Pielke Jr and Richard Tol in a prominent Der Spiegel editorial (January 25, 2010) unequivocally calling for Pachauri’s resignation. One of the very few NGO activisits to do so was John Sauven of Greenpeace UK, but he just as quickly backed off – see below.

The Der Speigel editorial is central to the Weaver libel case, as it was under discussion at the time of the Foot article and Weaver told Foot that “in the case of Pachauri, I agree with what is being said in Der Spiegel”.  The sub-headline of the Der Spiegel editorial stated:

In the following editorial, climate researchers Richard Tol, Roger Pielke and Hans von Storch call for a reform of the IPCC and the resignation of its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri.

The Der Spiegel editorial summarized many of the contemporary complaints about Pachauri. They challenged Pachauri’s “overt political advocacy” –  something that Weaver later termed “crossing the line”:

In recent months, Pachauri has participated in overt political advocacy, such as by calling on people to eat less meat and on the United States government to pass a certain climate policy. He has endorsed 350 parts per million as the right target for the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, despite the IPCC offering no recommendation on such a target. Being a scientific advisor sometimes means recusing yourself from engaging in the political processes that you are advising.

They criticized Pachauri for his “vicious” attacks on scientists who had done nothing more than correct an IPCC error:

When the latest IPCC report said glaciers could disappear from the Himalayas by 2035, with major ramifications for the water supply in South Asia, it generated headlines around the world. That prediction proved to be grossly in error. It revealed a serious breach of the organization’s own standards of review.When the error was initially publicized, Pachauri declared that the IPCC does not make mistakes and viciously attacked people who disagreed

They also drew attention to financial involvement of Pachauri’s TERI in the error and IPCC’s lack of conflict of interest policies:

The whole situation became more bizarre when it emerged from the investigations of Richard North that Pachauri’s Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has built a large research effort on Himalayan glaciers on the back of the error in the IPCC report. TERI is also the beneficiary of considerable sums from companies with a financial interest in climate policy, resulting from payments for Pachauri’s advice or authority. Astoundingly, it appears that Pachauri has not broken any rules for the simple reason that there is no code of conduct governing conflicts of interest for IPCC participants and leaders.

The Daily Mail and Murari Lal

At the time, the UK press was fascinated by the question of who knew what and when in respect of the false glacier claim.  On January 23,  an article in the Daily Mail alleged that the IPCC lead author of the controversial section, Murari Lal, knew that the glacier claim did not rest on peer reviewed literature but included it to put pressure on world leaders:

The scientist [lead author Murari Lal] behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders. Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action. It had importance for the region, so we thought we should put it in.’

Lal’s comments were distributed even more widely by Science News (here) on January 24. In an article entitled “IPCC’s Himalayan glacier ‘mistake’ not an accident: Newspaper reports that unsubstantiated numbers were used intentionally”, reporter Janet Roloff stated:

A London newspaper reports today that the unsubstantiated Himalayan-glacier melt figures contained in a supposedly authoritative 2007 report on climate warming were used intentionally, despite the report’s lead author knowing there were no data to back them up.

Until now, the organization that published the report – the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – had argued the exaggerated figures in that report were an accident: due to insufficient fact checking of the source material.

Uh, no. It now appears the incident wasn’t quite that innocent.

The Sunday Mail’s David Rose reached Murari Lal, the coordinating lead author of the 2007 IPCC report’s chapter on Asia. Lal told Rose that he knew there were no solid data to support the report’s claim that Himalayan glaciers – the source of drinking and irrigation water for downstream areas throughout Asia – could dry up by 2035. Said Lal: “We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.” In other words, Rose says, Lal “last night admitted [the scary figure] was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.”

A noble motive, perhaps, but totally inexcusable.

The Science News article was further distributed by U.S. News and World Report here.

This incident was referred to soon afterwards in both Foot’s news article and the disputed National Post opinion columns.

Richard Foot’s Article

On January 24, Richard Foot, an experienced reporter for Canwest (National Post’s parent), was assigned to write about the growing IPCC controversy. On January 24 and 25, 2010,  Foot conducted two long interviews with Andrew Weaver.  Before the second interview, Weaver sent Foot a copy of the Der Spiegel editorial, which had called for Pachauri’s resignation, and told Foot:

in the case of Pachauri, I agree with what is being said in Der Spiegel [which had called for Pachauri’s resignation]

During the interview, Weaver had also told Foot that he did not think that Pachauri should have been re-elected and that it was time for Pachauri to “move on”:

“I would have argued he was the wrong appointments to begin with and I think he has crossed the line, and I would agree it’s time to move on. So let’s have them move on, not because of the latest Himalayan thing, because he should have moved on two years ago after last IPCC report was done. With too much power at helm for too long there is a danger you start to believe you’re invincible. But I agree he should move on….

Some might argue we need a change in some of the upper leadership of the IPCC, who are perceived as becoming advocates. I think that is a very legitimate question.

The re-appointment “two years ago” alluded to by Weaver here was Pachauri’s appointment to a second term as IPCC chair – an appointment which was effective until the delivery of the fifth assessment report, then anticipated to be complete by 2014 (now 2015).

These statements later became integral to J Burke’s decision and will be discussed further below.  Relying on Weaver’s statement that “in the case of Pachauri, I agree with what is being said in Der Spiegel” (which had unequivocally called for Pachauri’s resignation) and Weaver’s explicit call for Pachauri to “move on”, Foot reported in an article of January 26, 2010 that Weaver had called for Pachauri’s resignation:

A senior Canadian climate scientist says the United Nations’ panel on global warming has become tainted by political advocacy, that its chairman should resign, and that its approach to science should be overhauled.

Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of Victoria, says the leadership of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has allowed it to advocate for action on global warming, rather than serve simply as a neutral science advisory body. “There’s been some dangerous crossing of that line,” said Weaver on Tuesday, echoing the published sentiments of other top climate scientists in the U.S. and Europe this week.  “Some might argue we need a change in some of the upper leadership of the IPCC, who are perceived as becoming advocates,” he told Canwest News Service. “I think that is a very legitimate question.”

Later in the article, Foot continued:

Weaver says Pachauri, the panel’s chairman, should resign, not only for his recent failings but because he was a poor choice to lead the IPCC to begin with.

Weaver says the vast majority of the science in the IPCC reports is valid, and that the glacier revelations —”one small thing,” in a 3,000 word document, as he calls it — shouldn’t be used to discredit other parts of the report. “There is not a global conspiracy to drum up false evidence of global warming,” he says.

But Weaver admits the IPCC needs to change, for the sake of climate science, and for its own credibility.  He also says the IPCC must stop producing huge, all-encompassing reports on every aspect of climate science and instead re-organize itself into a series of small, highly-focused groups, each tasked with examining a single specific scientific question and none required to publish their conclusions on quick deadlines.

And he says IPCC officials must cease being “over enthusiastic” in pushing for policy changes. “Nobody should be using particular pieces of information to advance an agenda,” says Weaver. “The IPCC cannot be an advocate, because it’s not tasked to do that.”

Corcoran’s Opinion Column

In the evening of January 26, subsequent to Foot’s news article was published, Corcoran of National Post published an opinion column (clearly marked as an “Opinion Column”),  based in part on Foot’s article, but also relying on other recent news, especially the reports from the UK that IPCC lead author Murari Lal had knowingly used sub-quality information about glaciers in order to impact policy makers:

The latest IPCC fiasco [about Himalayan glaciers] looks even more damaging [than Climategate]. In the 2007 IPCC report that Mr. Weaver said revealed climate change to be a barrage of intergalactic ballistic missiles, it turns out one of those missiles — a predicted melting of the Himalayan ice fields by 2035 — was a fraud. Not an accidental fraud, but a deliberately planted piece of science fiction. The IPCC author [Murari Lal] who planted that false Himalayan meltdown said the other day “we” did it because “we thought … it will impact policy makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.”

Undoubtedly Corcoran was dumbfounded by the apparent admission by Weaver, with whom Corcoran had long sparred, that there had been a “dangerous crossing” of the line between advocacy and science by IPCC:

For him [Weaver] to say, as he told Canwest News yesterday, that there has been some “dangerous crossing” of the line between climate advocacy and science at the IPCC is stunning in itself.

Up to that point, no IPCC insiders had broken ranks. Weaver’s reported call for Pachauri’s resignation was (or at least appeared to be) the first case of an IPCC insider breaking ranks.  If even Weaver was breaking solidarity with Pachauri, Corcoran interpreted the turn of events as evidence of real “stress” at IPCC:

How hot is it getting in the scientific kitchen where they’ve been cooking the books and spicing up the stew pots? So hot, apparently, that Andrew Weaver, probably Canada’s leading climate scientist, is calling for replacement of IPCC leadership and institutional reform.

If Andrew Weaver is heading for the exits, it’s a pretty sure sign that the United Nations agency is under monumental stress…

Corcoran did not presume, state or imply that Weaver had changed his opinions on climate change:

 Mr. Weaver told Canwest that the Himalayan incident is “one small thing” and not a sign of a “global conspiracy to drum up false evidence of global warming.”

In the column, Corcoran also took issue with Weaver in respect to his (alleged) belief that the fossil fuel industry had been responsible for UVic break-ins, his supposed attribution of temperature events and his participation in the Copenhagen Diagnosis, issues that arise in the Burke opinion, but which are distinguishable from the second “main area of factual disagreement” pertaining to the Pachauri resignation call. The opinion column in full is here.

Weaver’s Interview with Nature, Jan 26, 2010

In the morning of January 26, while Foot was writing his article, Weaver was contacted by Quirin Schiermeier, a reporter for Nature who was working on an article about the IPCC controversies.  While these emails were not available to Foot, they shed some light on Weaver’s thinking at the time.  Weaver told Schiermeier that IPCC needed “reform”, but described the required reform as “procedural” rather than “institutional” – though the distinction between the two was not spelled out:

I don’t know that I would describe the IPCC as needing “institutional reform”. Rather I think “procedural reform” is a better way of putting i[t]

Weaver also told Schiermeier that Pachauri had “crossed the line” and that “perhaps” he had failed, in which case, he should “step aside”:

In my opinion, Pachauri crossed the line with some of his statements. I also don’t think he should’ve been re-elected for a second year term …  Perhaps Pachauri has failed, but then he should step aside.

On February 2, Schiermeier quoted Weaver in his article about the controversy, but left out the comment that Pachauri had “crossed the line”.  Schiermeier’s quote from Weaver had far less edge:

Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in Canada, wants more far-reaching procedural changes. Rather than carrying out “monolithic” assessments, he says, the IPCC should focus on more specific problems such as describing emissions pathways required to avoid a given temperature rise. The distinction between different working groups should also be revised, he suggests.

“If you have diverse interdisciplinary teams working on specific problems, then you can have scientists, economists and engineers all looking at a particular problem through the lens of their expertise,” he says. “There is so much science out there to assess; it needs to be better focused.”

Foot and Mouth

In the late evening of the publication of the Foot article and Corcoran column, Weaver emailed Foot, contesting Foot’s characterization of his views.

J Burke placed considerable weight on Weaver’s prompt objection to Foot’s article (though she did not discuss Weaver’s failure to object promptly or at all to Megan O’Toole’s article – another issue.) However, it seems entirely possible to me that Weaver’s email rang off the hook with pressure from other activists when it seemed like he was breaking solidarity with IPCC leadership at a seemingly critical time. One need only think of the pressure put on Lennart Bengtsson in a less stressful circumstance. Be that as it may, it is also possible that Weaver didn’t want to stick his neck out as far as he had and was looking for ways to walk back his earlier comments, as apparently happened a week or so later with John Sauven of Greenpeace UK.

In Weaver’s email to Foot, Weaver said that he was “NOT call[ed] for Pachauri to resign”, now saying that Pachauri’s tenure was “something the UN should decide”:

I saw the story today and wanted to follow up. I am surprised about this first paragraph: “a senior Canadian climate scientist says the United Nations’ panel on global warming has become tainted by political advocacy, that its chairman should resign, and that its approach to science should be overhauled.”

You and I both know that I specifically and pointedly stated that I am NOT calling for Pachauri to resign. That is something that the UN should decide.

All you have to do is review the tapes of the interview. Of course the quote attributed to me in the article is accurate. It is a measured statement. I stated “I think that is a very legitimate question.” To ask. The whole nature of our discussion was with respect to the IPCC leadership (not the IPCC itself) sometimes crossing the lines into advocacy which the IPCC as an organization is not tasked to do.

Although J Burke’s decision included excerpts from Megan O’Toole’s interview notes, it did not include any excerpts from Foot’s interview notes evidencing that Weaver had “specifically and pointedly stated that [Weaver] was NOT calling for Pachauri to resign” – a statement that is obviously at odds with his demonstrated statement that he agreed with the Der Spiegel editorial, which had called for Pachauri to resign.

Foot appears to have carefully considered whether he had misunderstood and misrepresented Weaver and, after such consideration, flatly rejected Weaver’s claim that Foot had misrepresented Weaver.  (An exercise that arguably demonstrated that a person could honestly believe on “proved facts” that Weaver had called for Pachauri’s resignation).  Foot reminded Weaver that Weaver had told Foot that “in the case of Pachauri, I agree with what is being said in Der Spiegel“, which, as Foot pointed out, clearly called for Pachauri’s resignation and that Weaver had directly said that Pachauri should “move on”:

Thanks for your email. I’m sorry to hear you feel I misrepresented you. Obviously that was not my intention. My understanding from our second interview is that you were indeed calling on Pachauri to resign – that you decided to make that statement, qualified by the fact that you felt Pachauri wasn’t right for the job to begin with. I didn’t make that nuanced point in the first paragraph – which is a summary of the story that followed – but I was careful to point it out later in the article as I went through various points. Here’s what I wrote further down the piece:

“Weaver says Pachauri, the panel’s chairman, should resign, not only for his recent failings but because he was a poor choice to lead the IPCC to begin with.” I carefully reviewed my notes from our second interview before writing the story. Here’s what you said:

in the case of Pachauri, I agree with what is being said in Der Spiegel. [The Der Spiegel’s piece you sent me, and endorsed, clearly called for his resignation].

“I would have argued he was the wrong appointments to begin with and I think he has crossed the line, and I would agree it’s time to move on. So let’s have them move on, not because of the latest Himalayan thing, because he should have moved on two years ago after last IPCC report was done. With too much power at helm for too long there is a danger you start to believe you’re invincible. But I agree he should move on.”

Please call me today, or send me the time I can call you, if you’d like to discuss this further

Weaver then tried to wiggle out of his apparent endorsement of the Der Spiegel editorial, by saying that the “substance of the criticism” in Der Spiegel was its distinction between science advisory and advocacy, as opposed to, presumably, its call for Pachauri’s resignation in its subheadline.

As you noted below, I sent you the Der Spiegel piece as I agreed with the substance of the criticism. That is, when you are a chair of an organization tasked with informing policy you should not be prescribing policy. The example of telling people not to eat meat is a case in point raised in that article.

I did state that I did not think Pachauri should have been reappointed for a second term. But I also was careful to point out that my opinions have nothing to do with the Himalayan thing. The way the first paragraph is spun without context is definitely misleading.

I was concerned about Pachauri advocacy not the IPCC’s [which is an institution] reporting to the UNFCCC [that is not made clear]. (SM Note: these are Weaver’s square brackets.)

Weaver purported to distinguish between calling for Pachauri to “move on” (which he conceded that he had done) and calling for Pachauri to “resign”:

I did not call on him to resign. Me “agreeing that he should move on” is absolutely not the same as “my calling for him to resign”. In my opinion, this is the spin that was manufactured.

Foot was unconvinced by Weaver’s argument and did not respond further.

A few days later, Weaver published a statement in Canwest papers saying that Foot’s article did not “accurately reflect” Weaver’s views. Weaver stated that he had agreed that it was “legitimate to question” whether recent statements by Pachauri were “appropriate”, but said that this did not mean that he was “calling for Pachauri’s resignation”:

A recent article published on Jan. 27 in many Canwest papers suggested I believe that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was tainted by political advocacy, that its chairman should resign, and that its approach to science should be overhauled. These statements do not accurately reflect my views…

They are not tasked with prescribing policy outcomes. As such, any policy recommendations put forward by the chair of the IPCC or any of its working groups represent their individual views, rather than the view of the IPCC itself. Some have been questioning whether certain statements by the current chair are appropriate. I agree that these are legitimate questions to ask, but that does not mean that I am calling for the chair’s resignation.

Weaver’s conclusion clearly does not square the circle of his earlier statements. Neither Foot nor Corcoran nor anyone else had extrapolated the resignation call simply from Weaver’s raising questions about whether IPCC officials should “be using particular pieces of information to advance an agenda”. They had done so because of Weaver’s explicit agreement with the Der Spiegel editorial and his equally explicit statement that it was time for Pachauri to “move on”.  Weaver’s revisionist statement papered over the difference, without resolving it.

For the defence of fair comment in Canada, the matter is considerably simplified when one looks at the requirements of the WIC Radio test.   A judge is not supposed to try to read Weaver’s mind as to what he actually meant – as J Burke tried to do.  Instead, a judge is supposed to determine whether a person could have had an honest belief on proved facts that Weaver had called for Pachauri’s resignation – as Foot clearly did.

Perhaps Weaver made a mistake in what he said to Foot and meant to convey something different. Or maybe Weaver got cold feet.   Under the circumstances, it seems to me that Foot and/or Corcoran, based on the “proved facts” of what Weaver said to Foot, could have had an honest belief on January 26 that Weaver had called for, at least, a “change in leadership” at IPCC, as Corcoran expressed it.

Greenpeace UK Resiles on Call for Pachauri Resignation

Before further analysing Weaver’s comments, I think that it is worthwhile to consider a contemporary incident in which another activist, John Sauveen of Greenpeace UK, also temporarily broke the solidarity of the climate community in respect to Pachauri. (Remarkably this is the only other such incident in winter 2010 involving an activist that I was able to locate – other calls at the time came from environmental journalists and more moderate climate scientists.)

On February 4, Sauven was reported to have called for replacement of Pachauri and review of IPCC procedures, calls that were more or less identical to those reported to have been made by Weaver a week earlier:

The IPCC needs to regain credibility. Is that going to happen with Pachauri [as chairman]? I don’t think so. We need someone held in high regard who has extremely good judgment and is seen by the global public as someone on their side.  If we get a new person in with an open mind, prepared to fundamentally review how the IPCC works, we would regain confidence in the organisation.”

The next day, Greenpeace walked back from its statement, denying that it had suggested that there were fundamental issues or that it had called for Pachauri’s resignation. In its walkback statement,  Greenpeace UK stated that the issue was one for IPCC itself to resolve and that it “trusted” IPCC to “manage itself” – very similar to the position in Weaver’s “clarification”:

Greenpeace is not calling for the resignation of the IPCC Chair nor do we believe that there are fundamental issues with the way the IPCC conducts its business.   “Greenpeace is not calling for Pachauri’s resignation. We believe the IPCC is an open and transparent organization, and we trust it to manage itself.”

It’s interesting that the “clarifications” from both Weaver and Sauven took the position that they were not “calling for the chair’s resignation” (using very similar words) and that they trusted the institution to manage itself.  I can understand why IPCC, as an institution, would prefer to wash its laundry in private. It also seems entirely possible to me – or actually probable – that both Weaver and Sauven received considerable pressure from their allies to back off their apparent public criticism for fear that such criticism would hurt the cause.

Shortly afterwards (March 10, 2010), the IPCC announced a review to be carried out by the InterAcademy Council.  Announcement of this review more or less punted criticism of Pachauri down the road.  The IAC report was delivered on August 30, 2010 and contained a variety of criticisms of Pachauri and IPCC processes.  Pachauri’s chairmanship was not challenged at the October 2010 meeting and IPCC officials ignored or subverted the most substantial IAC recommendations (see CA discussions of Thomas Stocker’s subversions of these recommendations – Stocker now a candidate for chair.)

Errors in Burke’s Decision

1. A Gross Factual Error

Findings of fact by trial judges are notoriously hard to overturn, but, on this count, J Burke made a gross factual error on a critical matter, which can be demonstrated beyond in any cavil. Her main findings of fact in respect to the call for Pachauri’s resignation are set out in paragraph 207 below:

[206] The second area of significant factual disagreement is whether Dr. Weaver criticized the IPCC and called for a change in leadership. They maintain the accuracy of Mr. Foot’s article is confirmed in an email exchange between Dr. Weaver and Mr. Foot and Dr. Weaver’s testimony in cross-examination. The only article at issue, Climate Agency Going up in Flames, merely said Dr. Weaver was calling for change in leadership, which he clearly was doing. He was also calling for reform of the institution.

[207] With respect to Climate Agency Going up in Flames, I find Dr. Weaver did not call for the resignation of Mr. Pachauri, but rather as noted indicated he should “move on”. I conclude this on the basis of the emails sent by Dr. Weaver to Nature, which said something completely different, and those immediately sent to Mr. Foot, which indicated he was surprised by this comment. Mr. Foot had the Nature article and, in my view, simply referenced that opinion when writing the article, as reflected in his email in response to Dr. Weaver’s correction.

There are multiple problems here, but I intend to focus on the “Nature article” which Foot was supposed to have “referenced” when writing his article and in his email responding to Weaver’s complaint.  The “Nature article” in question was the Schiermeier article not published until February 2, 2010, a week after the publication of Foot’s article on January 26.  Foot obviously did not have the “Nature article” while writing his article on January 26 nor when he was replying to Weaver’s complaint.  In his response to Weaver, Foot did indeed refer to an article, but it was the Der Spiegel editorial of January 25, 2010 – an article which had unequivocally called for Pachauri’s resignation.

While Weaver may have intended to make a distinction between calling on Pachauri to “move on” and calling on Pachauri to “resign”,  it’s not J Burke’s job to try to figure out what Weaver might have meant, but whether Foot could have had an honest belief that Weaver had called on Pachauri to resign and/or whether he had called for a “change in leadership” – the phrase actually used in the Corcoran opinion column. It seems impossible to me to preclude such a possibility especially when it is undisputed that Foot was in receipt of a communication from Weaver expressing his agreement with the Der Spiegel editorial (which called for Pachauri’s resignation) – NOT the Nature article, as J Burke incorrectly found.

2. Words not capable in law of claimed inferential meaning  

In his Statement of Claim, Weaver claimed (para 39) that the words listed below (there are many other claims, I’m focusing here on the Pachauri issues) were defamatory in their “literal meaning” as follows:

b. The plaintiff is not/not “calling for the replacement of IPCC leadership. ” In his interview with National Post reporter Richard Foot, the plaintiff specifically told Mr. Foot that he is not calling for the leadership to change.

c. The plaintiff is not/not “calling for . .. institutional reform” of the IPCC. This statement in the Defamatory Corcoran January Expression is a fabrication.

Oddly, J Burke did not actually rule on whether these (or any other) statements were defamatory in their “literal meaning”, though this is an ordinarily an important aspect of the case.  Perhaps this was because the statements were manifestly not defamatory in their literal meaning.

Secondly, Weaver claimed the following (extravagant) “inferential meaning” (the “natural and ordinary meanings to the ordinary, reasonable reader”) of the words concerning Weaver’s supposed call for Pachauri’s resignation:

40. Further, and in the alternative, the Defamatory Corcoran January Expression was understood to bear, and was intended by the defendants to bear, the following inferential meanings of and concerning the plaintiff, which are the natural and ordinary meanings to the ordinary, reasonable reader:

a. The plaintiff knows or believes that the IPCC reports concerning global warming are unscientific and fraudulent and he now deviously seeks to avoid personal accountability for hype, manipulation and distortion in IPCC reports by dissociating himself from that organization and calling for replacement of its leadership and institutional reform of the IPCC;

Although a longstanding practice of judges in libel cases is to first examine whether the words are “capable in law” of bearing the defamatory meaning and, only for those capable in law, deciding whether they do so in fact.  In cases decided by judges alone, the distinction is not always carefully observed, but, in complicated cases, experienced judges will commonly parse the alleged defamatory words according to the two-step procedure.  It is too bad that novice judge Burke felt that she could dispense with such niceties.

With even the most minimal reflection, it ought to have been clear even to a novice judge that the words “calling for the replacement of IPCC leadership” or  “calling for . .. institutional reform” of IPCC did not bear the extravagant inferential meaning imputed by Weaver.    Consider the various people, other than Weaver, who had publicly called for replacement of IPCC leadership/Pachauri’s resignation and/or institutional reform, many/most of whom were strong IPCC supporters:  John Sauven of Greenpeace UK, Geoffrey Lean, Charles Clover, Hans von Storch, Roger Pielke Jr, Richard Tol, V.K Raina, Fred Pearce, Timothy Yeo, Mike Hulme and even Sir Brian Hoskins who said:

But it probably would be better for the future of the IPCC if Dr Pachauri were to resign of his own accord, taking great care to ensure that there is no question of India losing face as India is such a major country for mitigation (of emissions) and adaptation (to climate change).”…

The IAC report called for institutional reform of IPCC and “most other commentators contacted by BBC News shared the view that the IAC intended Professor Pachauri to leave now rather than wait until the end of his term”.

In each and every case, it is ludicrous and impossible to say that “calling for the replacement of IPCC leadership” and/or “calling for . .. institutional reform” of IPCC bears the inferential meaning that, for example, Brian Hoskins “knows or believes that the IPCC reports concerning global warming are unscientific and fraudulent and he now deviously seeks to avoid personal accountability for hype, manipulation and distortion in IPCC reports by dissociating himself from that organization and calling for replacement of its leadership and institutional reform of the IPCC”.

It was absurd for Weaver to have made such a claim in the first place and ludicrous for novice judge Burke to have accepted Weaver’s claim.

Further, not only is the claimed inferential meaning not possible, but Corcoran clearly and explicitly precluded such an inference when he said the opposite as follows:

Mr. Weaver told Canwest that the Himalayan incident is “one small thing” and not a sign of a “global conspiracy to drum up false evidence of global warming.”

There is simply no way that Corcoran’s words imply that Weaver “now deviously seeks to avoid personal accountability for hype, manipulation and distortion in IPCC reports by dissociating himself from that organization and calling for replacement of its leadership and institutional reform of the IPCC”.

The obvious and natural interpretation of Corcoran’s words – and the impression that I obtained – was that Weaver, as a strong believer in IPCC as an institution, was somewhat dismayed by Pachauri’s conduct as an advocate and believed that Pachauri continuing as chairman would be a detriment to IPCC.  Obviously Corcoran took some satisfaction in Weaver’s discomfiture with Pachauri’s conduct, but his actual words do not, in my opinion, even remotely bear the inferential meaning here claimed by Weaver.

3. Burke Flunks Fair Comment Test

In 2008, the Supreme Court (Canada) adopted the following test for fair comment, a test that had previously been a minority opinion (Cherneskey):

the comment must satisfy the following objective test: could any person honestly express that opinion on the proved facts? 

J Burke’s purported to dispense with the WIC Radio fair comment test as follows:

[241] I have concluded fair comment does not protect the defamatory statements about Dr. Weaver. The facts upon which they rely are not true. As such, I do not need to address whether any person could honestly express those opinions on the proven facts.

In respect to the Pachauri incident, J Burke’s assertion that the “facts upon which [the defendants] rely are not true” is itself not only untrue, but nonsensical and unsupported.   Weaver did not deny making various statements to Foot in his interviews. Whether these proved statements can support honest belief is the task set out in the WIC Radio, but it is deranged for J Burke to assert that “facts” such as the following are “not true”:

I [Foot] carefully reviewed my notes from our second interview before writing the story. Here’s what you said:

in the case of Pachauri, I agree with what is being said in Der Spiegel. [The Der Spiegel’s piece you sent me, and endorsed, clearly called for his resignation].

“I would have argued he was the wrong appointments to begin with and I think he has crossed the line, and I would agree it’s time to move on. So let’s have them move on, not because of the latest Himalayan thing, because he should have moved on two years ago after last IPCC report was done. With too much power at helm for too long

Now Weaver did not use the exact words “resignation” or “change in leadership”, but Der Spiegel had used the word “resignation” and Weaver had used the word “move on”.  Further, although Weaver later said that directly told Foot that he was “NOT calling for Pachauri’s resignation”, no excerpts have been provided that show such statements, and, I think that it is reasonable to conclude that they don’t exist. I happen to think that a reasonable person could, from this interview in the context of contemporary events, have had an honest belief that Weaver had called for Pachauri’s resignation.  Foot himself appears to have been one such reasonable person.  And while Weaver subsequently claimed that he directly stated that he was “NOT calling for Pachauri’s resignation”, no document was shown in the decision that supports Weaver’s claim to have directly made such a statement.

J Burke seems to have gone astray in her reasoning by apparently trying to read Weaver’s mind as to what he “really” meant, rather than applying the WIC Radio test which focuses on what Foot (and/or Corcoran) could honestly believe.  I do not agree with J Burke’s deductions on what Weaver “really” meant, but believe that the larger error is her attempt to do this at all. Burke purported to justify her departure from the WIC Radio test by appealing to older and other authorities, which either do not accomplish what she claims or which have been superceded or over-ruled by WIC Radio. For example, she says:

[196] The defence of fair comment is only available for fair comment made upon true facts. It is not available if it is based on facts which are untrue or misstated. As noted in WIC Radio, “if the factual foundation is unstated, unknown, or turns out to be false, the fair comment defence is not available”: at para. 31. Where the defendant cannot prove the truth of the facts upon which the comment is made, the defence of fair comment will not be available: Lawson at para. 44. [Lawson v. Baines, 2012 BCCA 117]

The quotation from WIC Radio above is not from the final test, but from the first paragraph of a section providing an exposition of the requirement of a “factual foundation”, referring to a doctrine in Price v Chicoutimi Pulp, 1915

If the factual foundation is unstated or unknown, or turns out to be false, the fair comment defence is not available (Chicoutimi Pulp, at p. 194)

Since Price v Chicoutimi Pulp, there have been many developments and modifications in Canadian libel law. The correct interpretation of WIC Radio is surely the explicit test set out in the summary and headnotes, rather than its characterization of a 1915 case in exposition of “Factual Foundation”. Nor does J Burke’s other citation shed any light on her intention. Lawson v Baines, 2012 (B.C. C.A.) nowhere considers the defence of fair comment and paragraph 44, in particular, deals with an entirely different topic. Nor is the defence of fair comment discussed in the preceding trial court decision Lawson v. Baines, 2011 BCSC 326.  So, on this point, as so many others, it’s impossible to tell what is actually on J Burke’s mind.

Excursus: Trying to Read Weaver’s Mind

While I do not agree that there is any judicial purpose for the libel case in trying to read Weaver’s mind about what he “really” meant,  the topic is not without interest for readers who have encountered Weaver in other context.

I can envisage two different possibilities as to what “really” happened (and do not believe that we can ever know for sure):

  • first, that, when Weaver said that he agreed with the Der Spiegel editorial (which had called for Pachauri’s resignation) and when he said that it was time for Weaver to “move on”, he really did agree with the Der Spiegel call for Pachauri’s resignation (this was hardly an unreasonable thing to do. Pachauri had become an embarrassment to IPCC and von Storch et al had already broken the ice by calling for Pachauri’s resignation and a number of other prominent people would later do so as well), but later got cold feet,  perhaps on his own or perhaps due to pressure from other activists to lay off Pachauri to avoid hurting the cause.  From this perspective, Weaver’s subsequent emails to Foot and “clarification” shed no light on his state of mind at the time of the original interview.
  • second, that Weaver “really” meant only to dog-whistle, i.e., he meant to call for a leadership review by IPCC, not the election of a new leader (this seems to be his “clarified” position). The implication of this is that he mistakenly told Foot that he agreed with the Der Spiegel editorial and mistakenly told Foot that he thought that it was time for Pachauri to “move on”.   There is no clear explanation of these documents in J Burke’s decision, but I see no other way to square the circle. (Perhaps readers will have other views.)

Ironically, if Weaver only meant to dog-whistle, his argument seems comparable to that of Rand Simberg and CEI, who said that they had merely asked a rhetorical question about academic misconduct as a question:

We saw what the university administration was willing to do to cover up heinous crimes, and even let them continue, rather than expose them. Should we suppose, in light of what we now know, they would do any less to hide academic and scientific misconduct, with so much at stake?

In that case, Mann vehemently argued that an accusation was implied by the rhetorical question just as much as a direct statement, citing several U.S. precedents (on a point that is unlikely to differ much between jurisdictions.) Mann’s position contradicts Weaver’s.

Or was Weaver trying to be over-cute, like Greg Laden in an online petition seeking that Willie Soon be fired.  One of his readers opposed Laden, saying “I do not think that it is a good idea to try to get scientists fired that one does not like. That would be a severe attack on the freedom of science.”  In response, Laden tried a tactic seemingly similar to Weaver’s “clarification”, saying: “note that I did not suggest signing it, I suggested looking at it.”  Laden’s protestations were too much even for Willard, a frequent online ClimateBaller, who (reasonably) said:

Come on, Greg. You promote the petition. Your title contains a question that presumes the petition will get signed. You have not disapproved the peitition. Now you’re invoking plausible de[n]iability. This is dog whistling.  Please own your schtick.

A comment that ought to have been to Weaver long ago: please own your schtick.

4. Public Sphere Comments

National Post also argued that the words were not defamatory in law because they were “statements about his public actions and words, not his character” – a defence accepted in B.C. in Lund v Black Press, a case in which Weaver’s lawyer represented the defendants.  In addition to the comments about Pachauri’s resignation, this argument applies to various other items in the Corcoran opinion column, including, for example, whether Weaver had made television appearances “linking current weather and temperature events with global warming, painting sensational pictures and dramatic links”.   J Burke acknowledged this argument as follows:

[138] The defendants say there is a live issue as to whether any of the words are defamatory. The defendants maintain the statements are about Dr. Weaver’s public actions and words and, even if false, do not impugn his character. The defendants argue, indicating Dr. Weaver resigned from the IPCC, even if false, is not defamatory. It does not go to his character as there is no moral fault or turpitude that flows from that statement. There is also nothing in the nature of an attack on a person’s character when Dr. Weaver is said to have blamed the fossil fuel industry for attempts to breach security; that he criticized the IPCC and its chairman; that he wrote an article which fails to address key arguments and made some dodgy ones; or that he has distracted from the Climategate issues by focusing on the hackers. These are statements about his public actions and words, not his character.

J Burke purported to distinguish by saying that the allegations in the opinion columns were about character, as, for example:

[143] The impression created by Climate Agency Going up in Flames, the third article at issue, was that Dr. Weaver knew or believed the IPCC reports concerning global warming were unscientific and fraudulent and sought to avoid personal responsibility by disassociating himself from that organization.

However, as noted above, this was unequivocally not the literal meaning of the opinion column, but only an extravagant and unjustified inferential meaning fantasized by Weaver and accepted by J Burke: many other commentators, as noted above, had also called for Pachauri’s resignation precisely because they were concerned that Pachauri controversy would adversely impact their message about global warming. The above statement by J Burke should be firmly rejected.

At the time of Corcoran’s opinion column, there was enormous controversy over the Murari Lal controversy (Daily Mail), reported by Science News as follows:

A London newspaper reports today that the unsubstantiated Himalayan-glacier melt figures contained in a supposedly authoritative 2007 report on climate warming were used intentionally, despite the report’s lead author knowing there were no data to back them up. ..

Said Lal: “We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.” In other words, Rose says, Lal “last night admitted [the scary figure] was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.”

A noble motive, perhaps, but totally inexcusable.

Corcoran directly referred to this controversy as “the latest IPCC fiasco”, directly quoting from the Lal interview with the Daily Mail, seguing immediately to a statement in which Weaver clearly disassociated the controversy from the overall picture:

it turns out one of those missiles — a predicted melting of the Himalayan ice fields by 2035 — was a fraud. Not an accidental fraud, but a deliberately planted piece of science fiction. The IPCC author [Murari Lal] who planted that false Himalayan meltdown said the other day “we” did it because “we thought … it will impact policy makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.”

Mr. Weaver told Canwest that the Himalayan incident is “one small thing” and not a sign of a “global conspiracy to drum up false evidence of global warming.”

This incident is previewed in the lead to the Corcoran opinion column as the IPCC “cooking the books and spicing up the stew pots”, the “spicing of the stew pots” presaging the distinctly Indian aspect of the controversy:

A catastrophic heat wave appears to be closing in on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. How hot is it getting in the scientific kitchen where they’ve been cooking the books and spicing up the stew pots? So hot, apparently, that Andrew Weaver, probably Canada’s leading climate scientist, is calling for replacement of IPCC leadership and institutional reform.

The “latest fiasco” was Murari Lal’s statements about using information about Indian glaciers without backup to influence policy makers – an incident in which Weaver had no involvement whatever. Nor, in my opinion, would any reader of the article draw such a conclusion.   As written, Weaver is represented as objecting to unethical practices in India, rather than endorsing them.   The sting of Corcoran’s opinion column was not that Weaver was complicit in the Indian glacier and Climategate controversies, but that these incidents had caused even an activist like Weaver to call for changes in IPCC leadership. Needless to say, Corcoran took some pleasure in the apparent discomfiture of his long-time sparring partner.

But despite arguments from the defence that the allegations of “cooking the books and spicing the stew pots” – allegations that in context clearly refer to the Indian glacier controversy – had nothing to do with Weaver, the judge found that they had a “clear impact” on Weaver’s character. J Burke’s later reasoning on this topic is as disorganized and incoherent as her reasoning on pretty much everything else. I’ll try to return to the topic on another occasion.  For now, I simply want to note that Burke’s denial of the public sphere comments argument is based on flimsy reasoning.

Conclusions

J Burke’s absurd acceptance of Weaver’s claim arose, in my opinion, from (at least) four substantial errors in respect to the libel count involving the Pachauri resignation (alone):

(1) Burke did not consider whether the words in their “literal meaning” were defamatory (presumably because they obviously were not). Burke skipped the standard step of determining whether the words involving the Pachauri resignation were capable in law of bearing the (extravagant) “inferential” meaning claimed by Weaver.  Had she done so properly, she ought to have found that the words were not in law capable of bearing the inferential meaning claimed by Weaver.

(2) while deference is owed to trial judges on matters of fact, Burke got so completely (and provably) mixed up on an important factual issue that this particular finding of fact must be overturned. Burke found that, on January 26, 2010, Canwest reporter Foot was in possession of a Nature article that was not published until February 2 and relied on his possession of the Nature article to interpret Foot’s comments. In fact, the article in question in Foot’s possession was the Der Spiegel op ed of January 25 that unequivocally advocated Pachauri’s resignation, not the Nature news article of Feb 2,2010, which didn’t.  Her gross error on this point contaminates her analysis.

(3) Burke did not properly consider whether the words concerning the Pachauri resignation were made by Weaver in a public capacity. Had she done so, she ought to have found that the words pertained to matters entirely within the public sphere and were not defamatory in law in British Columbia.

(4) Burke failed to carry out the WIC Radio test to see whether a person could have honestly believed that Weaver had called for Pachauri’s resignation and/or a change in IPCC leadership on the “proved facts”, which included Weaver’s statements to Foot, including his indicated agreement with the Der Spiegel editorial.  Burke falsely stated that all the “facts” were “not true”, but this assertion was self-evidently untrue in respect to the Pachauri call, since Weaver did not contest Foot’s interview notes nor did J Burke find Foot’s notes to have been “not true”.

Aftermath

In Weaver’s interview with Foot, Weaver had expressed concern that Pachauri would start to feel “invincible”, but then Weaver and others shrank from challenging Pachauri. Five years later, Pachauri finally fell. Not because of acts of courage from tenured academic climate scientists, but from an oppressed young woman at Pachauri’s fiefdom in India.  Pachauri’s emails quickly caused universal derision.

In September 2013, while policy makers and the public around the world was waiting for WG1 to address the growing discrepancy between models and observations, IPCC chair Pachauri was mooning over the uninterested young woman, sending her absurd love poems and texting her while he was supposed to be chairing IPCC meetings.

Just as Weaver could split hairs between “move on” and “resign”, Pachauri purported to be able to distinguish between “reverential” groping of a young female employee based on the degree of fondling:

And you have hurt me so often by being inconsistently cold on so many occasions. Not letting me touch you, even though I have always treated your body with reverence and as sacred. Perhaps, you regard a physical relationship as a matter of expediency and convenience. Well I don’t, and certainly not with your body which I worship, as you should have found out by not. Even when I “grabbed you body” I had my left hand over your right breast. Did I make even the slightest attempt to hold it in my hand or fondle you there?

Pachauri wondered why a young woman might be repulsed by advances of an elderly man who looked like the villain in a Disney movie:

But is a little show of tenderness so difficult for you? At the end of a long day is it so alien to your nature to sit on the sofa next to me and hold my hand, and possibly even give me a hug? Or do you want to confirm to me that you are bereft of any emotion…You are either deliberately behaving in a manner that prevents you from getting closer to me…or you are truly a cold individual, whose emotions are only aroused by a nice looking young guy who you can take to bed with you. [p. 10, line 367+]

As Donna Laframboise observed, how is a young employee supposed to react when a leering boss texts:

I dreamt last night that I did the preliminaries of making love to you, but woke up at the critical moment.

When the desperate young woman tried to evade Pachauri, the vain Pachauri demanded an apology from her:

 you should reflect on the massive insult you heaped on me by indicating that I was so toxic that you would prefer not to sit next to me on the plane. If that be the case there is no room for any interaction between us…To me that act of yours represented the ultimate in haughtiness, arrogance and insulting behaviour. If you had any human sensitivity you would have realised what you have done, and possibly apologised.

While the Pachauri emails were somewhat unexpected, anyone who had read Return to Almora could hardly say that they were completely taken by surprise.  The Almora protagonist expected “reverence” from young women with voluptuous and heaving breasts.  Pachauri’s subsequent conduct doesn’t seem like a very big step from the Almora manifesto.

Weaver said that it was defamatory to Weaver to have said that he had called for Pachauri’s resignation.   But surely Weaver’s greater shame is that he didn’t call for Pachauri’s resignation or that he shrank from the opportunity.


122 Comments

  1. Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

    “…the EU dryly conceded…” Indeed 😉

  2. bernie1815
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    Steve: It strikes me that you have laid out such a strong and clear argument that the NP and their columnists have substantial grounds for an appeal. Do you know if such an appeal is being pursued?

  3. John Francis
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    Steve: fabulous last sentence!

  4. Craig Loehle
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

    Never admit a mistake. Just move on and pretend you never claimed the glaciers would be gone by 2035 and dry up the rivers. Just disappear your mistakes by scrubbing your web pages. Reminds me of the disappearing soviet leaders, erased from photos, erased from history books. Just awful.

    • Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

      snip – overeditorializing

    • oeman50
      Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

      Indeed, just put them down the memory hole….

  5. Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

    Weaver made a big deal out of the fact that he did not call upon Pachauri to resign, but to “move on”. I find it difficult to draw a distinction between the two phrasings. Pachauri had 5 years or so remaining in his term of office. In my experience, not completing one’s term is caused by (a)resigning the post; (b)being fired, demoted or promoted; or (c)death. “Moving on” would seem to eliminate (b). And (c) is inconceivable as an interpretation. Which leaves resignation.
    Has Weaver or his legal team profferred an alternative explication of “moving on” which does not involve resignation?

  6. Craig Loehle
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 2:51 PM | Permalink

    It is baffling to me how Patchy could “move on” except by resigning. What else could that possibly mean? It is like saying two words are not the same because they are spelled differently even though they mean the same thing.

    • Jeff Norman
      Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 8:52 PM | Permalink

      Me too. I don’t get.

      • Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

        Even though I’d rather not confuse ignorance with malice I have trouble believing Lou Costello, Laural & Hardy, Jerry Lewis, all of the Three Stooges along with the Keystone Kops have been put in charge of the laws and the money.

  7. Craig Loehle
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    An almost infinite number of people, from politicians to celebrities to athletes, have regret over what they said on camera or to a reporter. To demand that reporters be able to read minds is simply insane. It is up to the interviewee to choose his words carefully.

  8. Etudiant
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    In an ideal world, Steve could offer Judge Burke the opportunity to expand on her ruling.
    Maybe there are dimensions that we are missing.
    Failing that, Steve sure makes a case.

  9. Frank Cook
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

    Something seems to have gone awry in the following sentence – did you mean to write “Foot” instead of “Weaver”, or is the second ‘mistakenly’ misplaced, or perhaps something else is out of kilter?

    “The implication of this is that he mistakenly told Foot that he agreed with the Der Spiegel editorial and mistakenly told Weaver that he thought that it was time for Pachauri to “move on”.”

    Steve: fixed

  10. palmer
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

    where’s Brandon?

    • Brandon Shollenberger
      Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

      I was barely at home this weekend, and to be honest, I nearly skipped this post when I started catching up on things today. I kind of wish I would have. This post resorts to the exact same sort of misrepresentation as the last one. I wrote a comment about it, but I can’t link to it because it is currently in moderation,

      For a short version, the last post misrepresented what the ruling said about a quotation. The post acted as though the only issue at play with the quotation was whether or not the quotation was changed (it was). This misrepresented things by pretending no other issue existed. In actuality, there was a significant issue of whether or not the context given to the quote was false (it was).

      The current post claims the interpretation advanced by Andrew Weaver and accepted by the judge was absurd because it cannot arise from the issue of whether or not Weaver called for Pachauri to resign. In actuality, several other points were cited to support that interpretation.

      In both cases, Weaver’s position was portrayed as weaker than it actually is. This was accomplished by taking parts of arguments and portraying them as the entire arguments. Not only is the troublesome because it is wrong to misrepresent things, it is obnoxious because the misrepresentations are so obvious. Anyone who looks at what was actually said can easily see them.

      Steve: Brandon, if there’s something that I’m misunderstanding, as always, I welcome correction. I have tried very hard to understand the decision from the perspective of the judge and plaintiff and have certainly not intended to omit relevant lines of argument. However, as I observed, the material is voluminous and (as most lawyers who’ve looked at it agree) the decision is disorganized and poorly written. So if I’ve missed a relevant line of argument, please let me know so that I can amend any omissions.

  11. Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 5:12 PM | Permalink

    It’s interesting that the “clarifications” from both Weaver and Sauven took the position that they were not “calling for the chair’s resignation” (using very similar words) and that they trusted the institution to manage itself. I can understand why IPCC, as an institution, would prefer to wash its laundry in private. It also seems entirely possible to me – or actually probable – that both Weaver and Sauven received considerable pressure from their allies to back off their apparent public criticism for fear that such criticism would hurt the cause.

    Probable indeed.

    Shortly afterwards (March 10, 2010), the IPCC announced a review to be carried out by the InterAcademy Council. Announcement of this review more or less punted criticism of Pachauri down the road. The IAC report was delivered on August 30, 2010 and contained a variety of criticisms of Pachauri and IPCC processes. Pachauri’s chairmanship was not challenged at the October 2010 meeting and IPCC officials ignored or subverted the most substantial IAC recommendations (see CA discussions of Thomas Stocker’s subversions of these recommendations – Stocker now a candidate for chair.)

    How much of this deflection of criticism and protection of Pachauri was already planned out when the (probable) pressure was applied to Weaver and Sauven?

  12. juan Slayton
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    The “Nature article” in question was the Schiermeier article not published on February 2, 2010, a week after the publication of Foot’s article on January 26.

    Is ‘not’ a typo?

  13. bobdenton
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

    In the UK, High Court judgments are delivered in draft to counsel for the parties a week before they’re handed down so factual inaccuracies, such as incorrect reference to a document, can be corrected. Does anyone know if this is the practice in Canada?

    • bobdenton
      Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

      Correction. Not in the High Court.

    • bobdenton
      Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 6:30 PM | Permalink

      In the High Court it’s two days for a judgment which is reserved and to be delivered in writing.

  14. Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

    Pachauri has not been arrested.

    Steve: thx, amended.

  15. thisisnotgoodtogo
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    This:

    “Corcoran did not presume, state or imply that Weaver had not changed his opinions on climate change:”

    Steve: fixed

  16. David Brewer
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 7:38 PM | Permalink

    Foot’s notes:
    “…he should have moved on two years ago after last IPCC report was done. With too much power at helm for too long there is a danger you start to believe you’re invincible. But I agree he should move on.”

    Weaver’s response:
    “I did not call on him to resign. Me “agreeing that he should move on” is absolutely not the same as “my calling for him to resign”. In my opinion, this is the spin that was manufactured.”

    The upshot is that Weaver admits agreeing that Pachauri should move on, and does not deny the rest of Foot’s account of what he said – too much power at the helm, danger of believing you’re invincible, should move on (reprise).

    Weaver was clearly talking about Pachauri and thus does not dispute that he WISHED Pachauri to leave his post, and that he made his wish known to Foot, a journalist, in an interview.

    IMHO Weaver’s insistence that this is “absolutely not the same as “my calling for him to resign”” is just a hairsplitting technicality.

    • Don Monfort
      Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 1:55 AM | Permalink

      Well, let’s be fair to Weaver. He didn’t literally call for Pachy to “resign”. When he said Pachy should “move on”, he obviously meant that Pachy should move on without mentioning his departure to anybody. Just move on. They would eventually stop paying him and find a replacement.

  17. thingadonta
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

    Lal: “We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.”

    The oldest problem in science, those who fail to distinguish ‘is’ from ‘ought’.

    To Lal, it doesnt matter whether soemthing ‘is’ true, or how reliable it is, what matters is someone ‘ought’ ‘to take concrete action’.

  18. Follow the Money
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

    I find Dr. Weaver did not call for the resignation of Mr. Pachauri, but rather as noted indicated he should “move on”.

    Canadian judging…is that something like Australian Climate Science?

    Steve: up to this case, I’d always assumed professionalism on the part of Canadian judges. As CA readers know, one of my grandfathers was a chief justice of the trial court in Ontario and chaired a prominent law reform commission, so I grew up respecting the institutions. From my high school class of about 70 graduates, there are 6 or so judges. It embarrasses me as a Canadian to read J Burke’s decision. I suspect that any Canadian lawyer who takes the time to read her decision would be embarrassed as well, but it’s hard for a practising lawyer to criticize a sitting judge as severely as she deserves.

    • bernie1815
      Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 9:27 PM | Permalink

      Cruel!!

  19. AntonyIndia
    Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

    India’s ex-Environment minister Jairam Ramesh (INC) was and stays one of the most vocal of the Indian Greens; he just published a book about his stint called “Green Signals”. http://odishachannel.com/index.php/3344/green-signals-by-jairam-ramesh-to-hit-stands-soon/
    It must have been really tough for his to castigate Pachauri.
    His no.2, Minister of State Ms. Natarajan recently confessed that she took many environmental decisions under pressure from her party biggie Rahul Gandhi. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/i-honoured-rahuls-requests-jayanthi-natarajan/article6835930.ece

  20. Posted Mar 8, 2015 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

    As someone who covered the broad sweep of the Himalayan controversy and TERI (also relying on North to a goodly extent), I want to thank you for (once again) laying out the timeline and published record so methodically and plainly. Your explanations seem cogent and very much to the point.

    When do you hang out your shingle as attorney with a little mining experience?

    Steve: there was much else that I could have included in the chronology. It was hard to keep it to a reasonable length. I also have notes in progress on the UVic break-ins, where Weaver’s position is equally absurd.

    • Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 10:52 PM | Permalink

      Yeah, I find my posts getting longer and longer as I am better able to anticipate claims and counter arguments from those on the other side of the fence. Or maybe I’m just getting longer-winded as I get older 🙂

  21. Jimmy Haigh
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 2:33 AM | Permalink

    A tour de force! The “…young employee…” is obviously in denial of her true feelings…

    • Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

      I was on the same track by the end. Gorgeous defender of the consensus slapped back by an ignorant and malicious d****r. Her breasts were generous, her right hook wasn’t. The climate debate in sordid microcosm.

  22. MikeN
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 2:43 AM | Permalink

    I now understand what Weaver is saying. He is not arguing ‘resign’ vs ‘move on’ so much as that he did not CALL for the resignation, but merely agreed with someone else’s making that statement. He is a follower, not a leader.

    • observa
      Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 3:29 AM | Permalink

      Perhaps he’s heard being an accomplice after the fact was not a good place to be in front of a beak and wanted to clear matters up.

  23. Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 5:32 AM | Permalink

    Steve, once again I applaud your thoroughness and perseverance in documenting the errors in Judge Emily’s (highly unlaudable) “judgement”.

    That your assessments in this matter focus (albeit far more comprehensively) on – and mirror – some of my own gives me no small measure of comfort and satisfaction. Although I will readily confess that, in addition, you are far more diplomatic than I have been!

    The only thing I might have added to this post (particularly for the benefit of those who may not be familiar with Weaver’s history of antics both past and more recent) is that his penchant for hyperbole is far from limited to his “barrage of intergalctic ballistic missiles”. Some examples of which I had noted when he first launched this suit, and more recently Weaver’s (bordering on the dictatorial?!) 7,000+ word parliamentary effusions and profusions, which included:

    Shame on the government. Shame on the people who voted for this government. This bill needs to be delayed, and I urge you to support this hoist motion today. [… and emphasis added -hro]

    “Shame on the people who voted for this government”?! So much for “democracy” in the $50,000 award-winning gospel according to Weaver (and Judge Emily?!), eh?!

  24. knr
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 7:01 AM | Permalink

    Its worth remember that the ‘proof ; if there by no conflict of interests between Pachauri roles in the IPCC and TERI was a ‘audit ‘ which fact according to those that did not was not audit has it was possible to do one given Pachauri only give them the information he wanted to not the information they needed.

    Should the day ever come that we see an ‘climategate ‘ within the IPCC a great deal of dirt would come out of an organisation that considers smoke and mirrors to be standard way to work.

  25. Tom O
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

    An interesting article, really. I found Weaver’s interpretations a bridge to far for me. I can’t get there from what was written. I can, however, see that in his argument of what other’s might get from it that he was, in fact, actually subconsciously stating his own beliefs. That is, he stated his true feelings in his interpretation.

    As for “resign” and “move on,” all I can say is that in order to “move on,” one must “resign” their current position. What else can one do? I’m not sure, but I think an average 5th grader would be able to interpret the arguments and do a better job of legally interpreting this case based on defamation. I trust this judge won’t be for long.

    • Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

      I trust this judge won’t be for long.

      Rapid advancement would be the other scenario. Blinder played as we say in the old country.

  26. David Jay
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    “The Almora manifesto”

    Another fine piece of McIntyre wordsmithing…

  27. JD Ohio
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

    I find it hilariously ironic that Weaver went to all of the trouble to file a defamation suit to make clear that he wasn’t calling for Pachuri’s resignation, and then at about the time the case is decided, Pachuri has to resign because of sexual harassment allegations. Now Weaver probably would wish that he could say that he actually supported resignation. Only in the bizarro world of climate science.

    One interesting legal issue to me is why the judge tried the case. Cases I read from 20 years ago indicated that defamation cases were tried by juries. In the U.S., when there is a right to a jury trial, typically both parties have to waive the right for the case to be submitted to the judge. If that is what in fact happened, obviously, the defendants’ counsel made a mistake.

    Secondly, I don’t ascribe the judge’s mistakes to her neophyte status as a judge. In my experience, defamation cases are relatively rare, and even an experienced judge would have little practical experience. However, I would make the subjective guess that the judge has strong green beliefs and/or is an ideologue. It is a judge’s job to decide a case, not necessarily to give expansive explanation, so I am alert to the possibility that the judge may be trying to persuade people as well as decide the case by writing such a long opinion. For example, Sotomayor wrote a very long (almost incomprehensible) dissent to an affirmative action decision that she didn’t like because she thought she was being persuasive to a wider audience than the parties to the case and the judges who decided the case.

    JD

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

      I would make the subjective guess that the judge has strong green beliefs and/or is an ideologue. It is a judge’s job to decide a case, not necessarily to give expansive explanation, so I am alert to the possibility that the judge may be trying to persuade people as well as decide the case by writing such a long opinion.

      British Columbia is a very green jurisdiction, so your surmise on this point is very possible.

      Also as Hilary Ostrov pointed out, her previous work was an arbitrator. Here are a couple of her arbitration decisions:
      http://www.mbwlaw.ca/cases2010/BURKE%20Decision%20-%20July%209,%202010.pdf
      http://iwa.steelworkers.ca/arb_directory/north/n400.pdf
      They turn on matters of contract interpretation, rather than common law.

      In spending too much time on Burke’s decision, I think that there’s an element in which she approached this case as though it were a sort of arbitration, trying to figure out the language that Weaver “really” meant, rather than what someone could honestly believe from Weaver’s words.

      In several other occasions, Weaver complained that he had been misinterpreted by Post news reporters (who were reporters, not opinion columnists like Corcoran and Foster). After a number of such incidents, one wonders why Weaver is so regularly “misunderstood” by reporters. My surmise is that he sometimes expresses himself in a way that lends itself to misdirection. Think of the number of climate science incidents where you have to watch the pea – you thought that the climate scientist said one thing, but when parsed, he’d changed topics slightly.

      • Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

        In spending too much time on Burke’s decision, I think that there’s an element in which she approached this case as though it were a sort of arbitration, trying to figure out the language that Weaver “really” meant, rather than what someone could honestly believe from Weaver’s words.

        That seems plausible and implausible at the same time. Because although the judge may be used to trying to get at what someone “really meant” in arbitrating an industrial dispute she surely understood that a case of libel is a totally different, indeed almost opposite animal?

    • joe
      Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

      JD ohio – I believe you are referring to the Shuette case, the Michigan constitutional amendment that banned discrimination based on race, in which Sotomayor wrote the dissent which she claimed was unconstitutional to have a state amendment . The prior case was the Ricci case, which was the CA3 case where she was involved in the dismissal of an appeal of a district court dismissal on a summary judgment which dealt with employment discrimination. Both reflect poorly on her temperament, impartiality and qualifications to be a judge.

      Steve: Is this it: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/12-682#writing-12-682_DISSENT_7

      • joe
        Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

        typo correction “….Sotomayor wrote the dissent which she claimed it was unconstitutional to have a state amendment banning discrimination consistent with 14A.

      • JD Ohio
        Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 10:05 PM | Permalink

        Joe, you are correct about the Michigan case. Didn’t have time to look it up. If I remember the Ricci case correctly that was a very complex case, where she simply adopted the trial court’s opinion and wrote nothing herself. This is an indication to me that she doesn’t have a good, logical handle on the issues. If she did, she wouldn’t have punted in Ricci.

        JD
        Steve: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2009/05/the_sotomayor_mystery.html

  28. mpainter
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

    Regarding the glaciers of the Himalayas, these accumulate snow during the hot season ,i. e., the summer monsoon, which provides most of the annual precipitation to the plain and the mountains, the other seasons being quite dry (the monsoons are caused by the heating of the plain)
    So, it’s a fact that the glaciers grow during the melt season, an equilibrium condition.
    This is fundamental to the climate of that area. Interesting that it took geologists to correct the world’s climatologists on this basic point, and seriously calls into question the competence of many in this field who style themselves as climatologists.

  29. leafwalker
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    Steve: The reporter for Science News is Janet Raloff (written as Roloff). I appreciate your fine work.

  30. Brandon Shollenberger
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

    This post says:

    Roger Pielke Jr and Richard Tol in a prominent Der Spiegel editorial (January 25, 2010) unequivocally calling for Pachauri’s resignation. One of the very few NGO activisits to do so was John Sauven of Greenpeace UK, but he just as quickly backed off – see below.

    The Der Speigel editorial is central to the Weaver libel case, as it was under discussion at the time of the Foot article and Weaver told Foot that “in the case of Pachauri, I agree with what is being said in Der Spiegel”. The sub-headline of the Der Spiegel editorial stated:

    Then quotes a sub-headline which says:

    In the following editorial, climate researchers Richard Tol, Roger Pielke and Hans von Storch call for a reform of the IPCC and the resignation of its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri.

    The problem with this is headlines are generally not determined by the authors of articles, and the text of the editorial never calls for Pachauri’s resignation. That means this post claims the editorial “unequivocally call[s] for Pachauri’s resignation” based on text not present within the editorial which was likely not written by the editorial’s authors in order to say things like:

    [which had called for Pachauri’s resignation]

    (which had unequivocally called for Pachauri’s resignation)

    Weaver then tried to wiggle out of his apparent endorsement of the Der Spiegel editorial, by saying that the “substance of the criticism” in Der Spiegel was its distinction between science advisory and advocacy, as opposed to, presumably, its call for Pachauri’s resignation in its subheadline.

    an article which had unequivocally called for Pachauri’s resignation.

    I think it is perfectly reasonable for Weaver to distinguish between agreeing with the “substance of the criticism” of the article and something which was said only in a headline for the article. For all I know, he might have done so when he discussed the article (I haven’t seen a copy of the full e-mail so I can’t tell).

    Leaving aside little things like accuracy and precision, this bothers me because I would have agreed with the article at the time just like Weaver did. Also like him, I wouldn’t have agreed with the headline. Back then, I didn’t think Pachauri should have resigned. I thought he should have been fired.

    In any event, I just don’t see how one can claim an article “unequivocally” says something which is said only in a headline. If I write a letter to a newspaper and they publish it with an inaccurate headline, does that mean I’ve said what is in the headline? If you say you agree with what I wrote, does that mean you must agree with the headline too? Heck, if you say you agree with “what is being said” in my letter, does that mean you agree with every single thing my letter said?

    • Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 3:47 PM | Permalink

      Brandon,
      You write that “the text of the editorial never calls for Pachauri’s resignation.”

      The editorial says, “…it seems obvious that the IPCC would need a new chairperson.” How would you interpret this but as a call for Pachauri’s resignation? [Except perhaps as a call that he should be fired.]

      • Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 3:57 PM | Permalink

        Yes, as the article had just pointed out Paucheri’s huge conflict wherein TERI got major funding to study the glaciers based on the error, and never addressed the larger error about river source water.
        There is an additional point. Foot was entitled to rely on the headline, same as one is entitled to rely on any newspaper article headline.
        Lets hope this appalling result is appealed and overturned.

      • Brandon Shollenberger
        Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

        HaroldW, I wouldn’t interpret it in any specific way. I would assume if a specific interpretation were intended, the authors would have provided it. That they didn’t seems an intentional decision to not take a position on the details of the process of Pachauri ceasing to be the chairperson. There are many reasons they might have done that, none of which matter. Whether the authors believed Pachauri should have resigned, been fired or simply not been re-appointed is impossible to tell given what they wrote.

        People don’t always state their precise view on every issue one might be interested in. That doesn’t justify stating a personal interpretation as fact.

        • Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 8:26 PM | Permalink

          Brandon, I usually give you the benefit of the doubt, but your position is ridiculously strained. You are seriously trying to say that Weaver meant to say that Pachauri should be fired and that being cited as wanting Pachauri to merely resign was defamatory? Come on.

          The legal question is whether Foot might reasonably think that Weaver’s statement of endorsement of the DS editorial included its subheadline. Not to mention the passage cited by HaroldW above calling for “a new chairperson.” Not to mention his own stated desire for Pachauri to “move on.” Any of those is defamation-equivalent to calling for his resignation, and any of these could reasonably (and I would argue most plausibly) interpreted as calling for Pachauri to resign.

          I guess he could have been wishing for a lightning strike or a well-timed sexual harassment complaint but I fail to see how either of those would have reflected better on Weaver than what Foot said Weaver wished.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 2:36 AM | Permalink

          stevepostrel:

          Brandon, I usually give you the benefit of the doubt, but your position is ridiculously strained. You are seriously trying to say that Weaver meant to say that Pachauri should be fired and that being cited as wanting Pachauri to merely resign was defamatory? Come on.

          I have no idea why you think I that is my position. I said I wouldn’t interpret Andrew Weaver’s statement in any specific way. That would seem to preclude me “trying to say that Weaver meant to say that Pachauri should be fired.” I think if you gave me the benefit of the doubt, you’d realize the most appropriate way to interpret my position is, “If a person isn’t clear about what they believe, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.”

          The legal question is whether Foot might reasonably think that Weaver’s statement of endorsement of the DS editorial included its subheadline.

          If you wish to examine that question, I’d argue you need to do more than look at a single, unverified quote given without any context that could easily have been cherry-picked or otherwise misrepresented. That Foot could find a sentence fragment which might support one interpretation doesn’t automatically mean he was justified in stating that interpretation as fact.

        • Posted Mar 11, 2015 at 7:14 PM | Permalink

          You say: “I have no idea why you think I that is my position. I said I wouldn’t interpret Andrew Weaver’s statement in any specific way. That would seem to preclude me “trying to say that Weaver meant to say that Pachauri should be fired.” I think if you gave me the benefit of the doubt, you’d realize the most appropriate way to interpret my position is, “If a person isn’t clear about what they believe, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.””

          The guy admits he said Pachauri should “move on,” no? You are running out of alternatives to him advocating resignation since you now rule out being fired. Assassination? Kidnapping? The point is that he wanted Pachauri gone, and any “defamation” would have to relate to that desire, not to the precise mechanism that accomplished that desire.

    • Brandon Shollenberger
      Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

      On a related note, I decided to stop reading this post before finishing it largely because of it saying:

      Secondly, Weaver claimed the following (extravagant) “inferential meaning” (the “natural and ordinary meanings to the ordinary, reasonable reader”) of the words concerning Weaver’s supposed call for Pachauri’s resignation:

      40. Further, and in the alternative, the Defamatory Corcoran January Expression was understood to bear, and was intended by the defendants to bear, the following inferential meanings of and concerning the plaintiff, which are the natural and ordinary meanings to the ordinary, reasonable reader:

      a. The plaintiff knows or believes that the IPCC reports concerning global warming are unscientific and fraudulent and he now deviously seeks to avoid personal accountability for hype, manipulation and distortion in IPCC reports by dissociating himself from that organization and calling for replacement of its leadership and institutional reform of the IPCC;

      This was too misleading for me to bear. This post portrays this quotation as being based solely upon whether or not Weaver called for Pachauri’s resignation. This portrayal is further cemented when the post later says:

      [143] The impression created by Climate Agency Going up in Flames, the third article at issue, was that Dr. Weaver knew or believed the IPCC reports concerning global warming were unscientific and fraudulent and sought to avoid personal responsibility by disassociating himself from that organization.

      However, as noted above, this was unequivocally not the literal meaning of the opinion column, but only an extravagant and unjustified inferential meaning fantasized by Weaver and accepted by J Burke: many other commentators, as noted above, had also called for Pachauri’s resignation precisely because they were concerned that Pachauri controversy would adversely impact their message about global warming. The above statement by J Burke should be firmly rejected.

      This is simply too much for me to stand. Weaver’s Statement of Claim cited a number of things as support for what the “impression by Climate Agency Going up in Flames” was. This post quotes cites a couple while pretending the rest don’t exist.

      I had a long weekend so I don’t have the energy to include the appropriate rhetoric in-line with this post’s. Suffice to say, the tone of my comments does not accurately depict my feelings at the moment.

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 2:58 AM | Permalink

        “This is simply too much for me to stand. Weaver’s Statement of Claim cited a number of things as support for what the “impression by Climate Agency Going up in Flames” was. This post quotes cites a couple while pretending the rest don’t exist.

        I had a long weekend so I don’t have the energy to include the appropriate rhetoric in-line with this post’s. Suffice to say, the tone of my comments does not accurately depict my feelings at the moment.”

        this might capture the feeling

        • Hoi Polloi
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 4:55 AM | Permalink

          Or this one:

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

      Brandon, I appreciate your parsing of the details and will reply to them, but don’t agree on your specific parsing. Nor do I see the connection to any major points in the post – by this, I mean that it seems to me that minor tweaks to the text could accommodate your points if I were convinced of their validity.

      I take your point that the headline of an editorial may not have been written by the authors of the editorial. But for a reader, the editorial consists of the text plus the headline. For what it’s worth, Quirin Schiermeier, the Nature reporter, similarly understood the Der Spiegel editorial as calling for Pachauri’s resignation (as noted in J Burke’s decision when she commented on his email to Weaver.

      SO if Weaver wanted to disagree with the headline while agreeing with all or part of the running text, he ought to have directly stated this disagreement rather than objecting after the fact. Or if he had inadvertently misexpressed himself, he should have apologized for doing so and asked for an opportunity to clarify himself. Once he said that he “agreed” with the editorial, I just don’t see that he has much right to complain about someone taking his words at face value. I don’t see where you end up with this line of argument.

      As to the separate issue of whether the subheadline goes beyond the text, I’m not convinced that there is much of a gap, though, re-parsing, I see what you’re driving at. On the call for “institutional reform”, I don’t see any gap at all between the running text of the article and the subheadline, as shown by the following from the text:

      Without significant institutional reform, the IPCC, and climate science as a whole, risks more than just bad press. It risks losing its credibility and trust.

      It may be advisable to pause for wholesale institutional reform.

      As to Pachauri, the text says that Pachauri’s behaviour illustrates “IPCC’s shortfalls” and that “it seems obvious that the IPCC would need a new chairperson”. In order to make room for a new chairman prior to 2014-2015, Pachauri would have to resign. I don’t see a relevant gap between calling for a “new chairman” and calling for “Pachauri’s resignation”:

      With a policy on conflict of interest similar to those in place in leading scientific advisory institutions, it seems obvious that the IPCC would need a new chairperson. The IPCC needs to adhere to its own standards for appointing experts and reviewing material that it reports.

      The IPCC’s shortfalls are illustrated with the behavior of Pachauri, its chair since 2002. In recent months, Pachauri has participated in overt political advocacy… Being a scientific advisor sometimes means recusing yourself from engaging in the political processes that you are advising. We expect no less from intelligence agencies advising the military and medical professionals advising governments on health and safety.

      Bot of these points, the larger one is that I don’t accept the idea that the subheadline is not part of the editorial or that anyone could reasonably close their eyes to the subheadline, having said that they agreed with the editorial.

      • Brandon Shollenberger
        Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

        Steve McIntyre, you say:

        Brandon, I appreciate your parsing of the details and will reply to them, but don’t agree on your specific parsing. Nor do I see the connection to any major points in the post – by this, I mean that it seems to me that minor tweaks to the text could accommodate your points if I were convinced of their validity.

        But I have not made any claim to be trying to rebut the posts you’ve written. Indeed, I believe I specifically said I wasn’t during the discussion of the last post (I know I wrote it, but I might have edited it out of my comment before submission).

        My policy is simple. If people cannot reach an agreement on simple details, they cannot be expected to reach agreements on more complicated matters. I’m not going to bother discussing all the complexities of a case I find largely uninteresting if discussing even the simplest of details proves pointless.

        SO if Weaver wanted to disagree with the headline while agreeing with all or part of the running text, he ought to have directly stated this disagreement rather than objecting after the fact. Or if he had inadvertently misexpressed himself, he should have apologized for doing so and asked for an opportunity to clarify himself. Once he said that he “agreed” with the editorial…

        But you don’t know what he actually said. After refreshing my memory, I realized Weaver’s statement wasn’t even in an e-mail like I thought when writing these last couple comments. It was during a verbal interview for which the tapes are not available (to us). Who knows what context there was for Weaver’s statement?

        Heck, were the tapes even reviewed during the case? I don’t see any reference to such. All of the talk of Weaver’s agreement seems based entirely upon a single sentence fragment given by Foot without any context or verification.

        As to Pachauri, the text says that Pachauri’s behaviour illustrates “IPCC’s shortfalls” and that “it seems obvious that the IPCC would need a new chairperson”. In order to make room for a new chairman prior to 2014-2015, Pachauri would have to resign. I don’t see a relevant gap between calling for a “new chairman” and calling for “Pachauri’s resignation”

        Really? You pointed out the relevant gap in your post. You suggested there was pressure being applied to shift positions from calling for Pachauri’s resignation to something weaker. If pressure would be applied to cause a change between two positions, the difference between the two positions must be relevant. Why else would there be pressure to switch between them?

        Bot of these points, the larger one is that I don’t accept the idea that the subheadline is not part of the editorial or that anyone could reasonably close their eyes to the subheadline, having said that they agreed with the editorial.

        And if we had a statement giving a clear endorsement of the editorial, not just a sentence fragment removed from all context which expresses general agreement with part of the editorial, I might agree with you. As it stands though, I have no way to tell how well that fragment reflects Weaver’s views. As far as I know, immediately after saying it, Weaver might have said, “Though I don’t agree with the headline.”

        I obviously have no reason to think he said that, but it seems likely Weaver said more about his position than that single sentence fragment. If not, Foot did a terrible job. No decent journalist would say what he said based solely upon a single sentence fragment like that. Even the sentence fragment we have shows Weaver wasn’t endorsing the entire article. Any decent journalist faced with that would try to clarify to what extent Weaver agreed with the article. If Foot didn’t, he was probably just mining for a quote he could cherry-pick. If he did, we should see what clarifications were given before drawing conclusions.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

          “Brandon, I appreciate your parsing of the details and will reply to them, but don’t agree on your specific parsing. Nor do I see the connection to any major points in the post – by this, I mean that it seems to me that minor tweaks to the text could accommodate your points if I were convinced of their validity.”

          But I have not made any claim to be trying to rebut the posts you’ve written.

          now that is hilarious.

          Steve:
          1. I dont agree with your parsing
          2. i see no connection to any major points
          3. If I were convinced of your parsing, I could easily change the text

          Brandon:
          1 But I didnt claim to rebut you.

          durrrrrrrr.

          This exchange is hilarious in light of debates over what “move on” means.
          and the parsing of headlines and articles.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 9:24 PM | Permalink

          Brandon, I agree 100% about the need to see the transcript of Foot’s interview. It seems doubtful that the tapes would have been lost or destroyed, so at some point they should be available. Hopefully, one of the parties will make them available online. Obviously, without the transcript, one is forced to make estimates and I try to do so reasonably. As you observe, we don’t “know” exactly what Weaver told Foot.

          One other issue in regard to Weaver. On at least two other occasions, he complained that news reporters misunderstood him. Precisely why Weaver was so consistently “misunderstood” invites analysis. As I’ve said on several occasions now, at the end of the day, the question in Canadian libel law is not trying to read Weaver’s mind, but to decide whether someone could have had an honest belief that Weaver had called for Pachauri’s resignation. Whether Foot ought to have carried out more due diligence is not germane to that test. It is evident that Foot had an honest belief in what he wrote.

        • j ferguson
          Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 9:26 PM | Permalink

          I was hoping for a succinct explanation of how “move on” could be construed to not mean resign. I would think that in addition to clarifying that “move on” does not mean resign insight would be offered on what it does mean. Whatever could Weaver have meant?

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 2:54 AM | Permalink

          Steve McIntyre:

          One other issue in regard to Weaver. On at least two other occasions, he complained that news reporters misunderstood him. Precisely why Weaver was so consistently “misunderstood” invites analysis.

          I don’t know what examples you have in mind, but I know of multiple examples involving the National Post. That the National Post misrepresented Andrew Weaver again and again obviously does not show Weaver is unclear about his views.

          I assume there are other examples you have in mind, but I still don’t find this position compelling. I wouldn’t find it any more compelling if someome suggested the fact your critics consistently misrepresent you means you are unclear in your arguments.

          As I’ve said on several occasions now, at the end of the day, the question in Canadian libel law is not trying to read Weaver’s mind, but to decide whether someone could have had an honest belief that Weaver had called for Pachauri’s resignation. Whether Foot ought to have carried out more due diligence is not germane to that test. It is evident that Foot had an honest belief in what he wrote.

          Having an honest belief in what you say is not sufficient to be immune from a libel suit. Your honest belief must be supportable by the proved facts. After the article was published, Andrew Weaver clearly indicated to Foot he didn’t believe he had called for Pachauri’s resignation. Foot’s response does not demonstrate otherwise.

          Based upon the evidence we’ve been given, it is understandable one would interpret Weaver’s statement the way Foot did. However, that evidence was provided by Foot, and it is extremely selective. We have no way to know it is representative of the actual facts. For all anyone here can tell, a full copy of the interview could show Weaver’s claim is completely correct.

          Foot provided a single, unverified sentence fragment without any context or clarifying information. That is not sufficient to show his interpretation can be derived from the proved facts.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 9:23 AM | Permalink

          Brandon writes:

          Based upon the evidence we’ve been given, it is understandable one would interpret Weaver’s statement the way Foot did. However, that evidence was provided by Foot, and it is extremely selective. We have no way to know it is representative of the actual facts. For all anyone here can tell, a full copy of the interview could show Weaver’s claim is completely correct.

          Foot provided a single, unverified sentence fragment without any context or clarifying information. That is not sufficient to show his interpretation can be derived from the proved facts.

          Brandon, the evidence of the Foot interview that we’ve seen was provided by the judge in her decision and were not selected by Foot (other than inclusion in the email correspondence). I presume that Foot’s interview notes/transcripts were part of the trial record and available to the judge, though we haven’t seen them – only the email correspondence referring to them.

          As you observe, on the record made available by the judge, it is understandable why Foot interpreted Weaver the way that he did. On that we agree.

          Also, as you observe, we haven’t seen the full record of the interview: you raise the possibility that the full interview will give something that is exculpatory for Weaver. If so, that should have been in the decision. That raises the question why the judge failed to provide money quotes from the interview proving Weaver’s evidence. (She provided excerpts from O’Toole in the other count).

          My surmise, based on the dog that didn’t bark, is that there is no such money quote in the Foot interview and there is nothing in the full interview that would change the impression that it is understandable why Foot interpreted Weaver the way that he did. I agree that this is a circumstantial deduction, but I submit that it is more defensible than assuming that there is a money quote in the interview that the judge failed to adduce.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 3:05 AM | Permalink

          Steven Mosher, your comment does not prove I am a caped supervillain who goes around town spraypainting giant squids on the sides of buildings in bright, neon colors. I’ll find it hilarious if you say that doesn’t address what you actually said.

          For those who don’t see the parallel, I said what Mosher quotes because I never claimed to be addressing any major points made in this post or the previous one. That meant McIntyre’s remark saying he doesn’t see a connection between my comments and any major points was non-responsive to anything I said. It is fine for McIntyre to point out I did not do something, but it is also fine for me to point out I never claimed to be trying to do it.

          I pointed out a minor factual mistake in a different post on this site a while back. Someone responded by making a point of the fact the mistake didn’t change any of the post’s conclusions. They were right that it did not, but their response gave the impression I thought it did. That impression was wrong. I said so to avoid people being given the wrong impression. The same thing is true here.

        • MikeN
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

          >Having an honest belief in what you say is not sufficient to be immune from a libel suit. Your honest belief must be supportable by the proved facts.

          I don’t think there is anything that makes you immune from a libel suit, but an honest belief is a solid defense from a libel judgment. The burden of proof is in the other direction.

          Steve: the devil is what are the proved “facts”. in this case, I think that it is a mistake to regard the issue of whether Weaver called for Pachauri’s resignation (or not) as a “fact”. It seems to me that it is a conclusion that is drawn from lower-order facts, including whatever exact words can be documented. In Canadian libel law, judgements, opinions or conclusions are “comments”, not “facts”.

        • Don Monfort
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

          I am not calling for it, and I will sue anybody who claims I am, but I think that Brandon ought to move on.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

          “I am not calling for it, and I will sue anybody who claims I am, but I think that Brandon ought to move on.”

          no this is way too funny bordering on pathological.

          Steve: I would appreciate it if people would dial back on Brandon. Some of it is teasing, but a little bit goes a long way.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

          I’ll find it hilarious if you say that doesn’t address what you actually said.

          Your sense of humor as well as your sense of what is important is no standard to appeal to

        • Don Monfort
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 3:02 PM | Permalink

          Sorry, Steve Mc. I didn’t see your reply to Mosher. As far as picking on Brandon, he pretty much begs for it. He’s a smart kid, but takes himself way too seriously.

          Steve: my request stands.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

          MikeN:

          I don’t think there is anything that makes you immune from a libel suit, but an honest belief is a solid defense from a libel judgment. The burden of proof is in the other direction.

          That’s a good point. I misspoke. It’s mostly impossible to be immune to lawsuits. All you can do is make it so you have an easy time winning the suits (which usually means getting them dismissed quickly).

      • Brandon Shollenberger
        Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 5:34 PM | Permalink

        I let myself get distracted from the main point when writing that last comment. Let me refocus:

        Bot of these points, the larger one is that I don’t accept the idea that the subheadline is not part of the editorial or that anyone could reasonably close their eyes to the subheadline, having said that they agreed with the editorial.

        Suppose a writer gets asked to write an editorial. He submits it with his idea for a headline. The editorial goes through five different editors/reviewers/fact checkers and gets approved. The proposed headline is kept throughout the entire process. Then the editorial gets sent to the person handling the layout for the page who finds it won’t fit in the spot he wants it. To solve this, he makes a quick change to the headline and quickly runs it by an editor who signs off with a quick glance.

        Would the writer of the editorial say the new headline was part of his editorial? No. In fact, he might complain that the new headline completely misrepresents his editorial. He might even quit his job over it. I know one person who has done exactly that. I also know of articles whose headlines said things nothing like the articles they were for. Given things like that, I don’t see how one can claim an article unequivocally states something which is said only in the headline.

        That is the main thing which bothers me. That it has a knock-on effect for how one should interpret any agreement with an article is a more minor point to me. I think it would be relevant, but I think the lack of information/context on what Weaver actually said has a far larger role.

        • AndyL
          Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

          Brandon
          If someone tells you they agree with an editorial, which of these is it reasonable to believe and which of these is it not reasonable to believe?
          1) The person agrees with the body of the text but not the headline
          2) The person agrees with the headline but not the body
          3) The person agrees with both the headline and the body

          In my opinion, in absence of anything to the contrary, the most reasonable thing to believe is 3.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 7:16 PM | Permalink

          AndyL, it is reasonable to believe 1 or 3, but that doesn’t mean it is reasonable to report either as fact. No decent reporter would use a single, passing remark agreeing with an article as endorsing every single thing said in that article (and that article’s headlines). That’s the reason we have follow-up questions.

          If Foot wanted to report Weaver felt Pachauri should resign, he could have easily verified that’s what Weaver believed. I’m willing to bet he didn’t even try. I’m willing to bet if Foot had said, “So you think Pachauri should have resigned?” the answer would have been a cagey no in the same fashion as Weaver’s later remarks.

          Foot might not have asked because he’s bad at his job. He might not have asked because he’s good at his job, and he knew if he did ask, he wouldn’t have as good a story. He might have actually asked the question. I don’t know. What I do know is no decent journalist should report a person believes something as fact based upon a single sentence fragment with no context like that.

        • AndyL
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

          AndyL, it is reasonable to believe 1 or 3

        • AndyL
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 2:02 AM | Permalink

          Apologies for above mis-post

          Brandon, You said
          AndyL, it is reasonable to believe 1 or 3

          Sorry Brandon I disagree. In my opinion, 1 (the reader agrees with the body but not the headline) is the least reasonable thing to believe. If someone told me they agree with an editorial without any further qualification, I would assume that as a minimum they agree with headline and the main thrust of the article as written in the first and last paragraphs.

          I would not assume that they agree with every item of the body of the editorial.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 2:26 AM | Permalink

          AndyL:

          I would not assume that they agree with every item of the body of the editorial.

          So you would accept they might not agree with everything in the piece, but you would assume they agree with the headline? Why couldn’t the headline be one of the things they don’t agree with?

          My view is agreeing with an article involves agreeing with the main thrust of the article. If the headline doesn’t reflect the main thrust of the article, then agreeing with the article doesn’t inherently imply agreeing with the headline.

      • bobdenton
        Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

        Steve McIntyre
        Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 4:35 PM

        “SO if Weaver wanted to disagree with the headline while agreeing with all or part of the running text, he ought to have directly stated this disagreement rather than objecting after the fact. Or if he had inadvertently misexpressed himself, he should have apologized for doing so and asked for an opportunity to clarify himself. Once he said that he “agreed” with the editorial, I just don’t see that he has much right to complain about someone taking his words at face value. I don’t see where you end up with this line of argument.”

        Weaver did, indeed, expressly tell Foot that he wasn’t calling for leadership change when interviewed prior to publication. He gave evidence to this effect and the judge found as a fact that he’d done so.

        “[230] With respect to Climate Agency Going Up in Flames, I conclude that Dr. Weaver:
        (a) was not “heading for the exits” nor was he “getting out” of the IPCC, nor was he “calling for replacement of IPCC leadership.” In his interview with Mr. Foot, Dr. Weaver specifically told Mr. Foot he was not calling for the leadership to change;”

        Had you heard both Weaver and Foot give evidence in chief, be cross-examined and re-examined, can you be sure you wouldn’t have come to the same conclusion?

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 9:04 PM | Permalink

          Bob,
          you observe that the judge made the following finding of fact:

          In his interview with Mr. Foot, Dr. Weaver specifically told Mr. Foot he was not calling for the leadership to change

          That’s an important finding of fact that ought to be discussed in more detail.

          Like many others, I am baffled as to how one reconciles this finding with actual information on what Weaver said. We know with considerable confidence that Weaver said:

          I think he [Pachauri] has crossed the line, and I would agree it’s time to move on

          in the case of Pachauri, I agree with what is being said in Der Spiegel

          We also know that Weaver said:

          Some might argue we need a change in some of the upper leadership of the IPCC, who are perceived as becoming advocates. I think that is a very legitimate question

          After considerable effort trying to parse this, I believe that the above sentence is what Weaver has in mind when he claimed that he had “expressly” said that he was not calling for Pachauri’s resignation. I do not believe that Weaver ever said something as clear as:

          I am not calling for Pachauri’s resignation

          However, as you accurately observe, the judge’s finding of fact, as it stands, is very adverse to National Post and not easy to overturn. However, this finding is also discussed in paragraph 207 somewhat inconsistently:

          [207] With respect to Climate Agency Going up in Flames, I find Dr. Weaver did not call for the resignation of Mr. Pachauri, but rather as noted indicated he should “move on”. I conclude this on the basis of the emails sent by Dr. Weaver to Nature, which said something completely different, and those immediately sent to Mr. Foot, which indicated he was surprised by this comment. Mr. Foot had the Nature article and, in my view, simply referenced that opinion when writing the article, as reflected in his email in response to Dr. Weaver’s correction.

          As I observed in the post, the chronology described in this paragraph is provably impossible, so I don’t believe that anyone should regard these findings as very solid. Whether they can be contested at appeal is outside my knowledge.

        • MikeN
          Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 10:36 PM | Permalink

          Steve, I think the two points are resolved if you take the meaning of ‘calling on Pachauri to resign’ with an emphasis on calling.

          Steve: Is your idea that Weaver is saying that he thought that Pachauri should resign/move on but was not publicly calling for Pachauri should resign/move on. Seems like a thin distinction. Also one easily misunderstood so that if Weaver said that he thought Pachauri should resign/move on, it would be easy enough for Foot to honestly believe that Weaver was calling for him to resign.

        • MikeN
          Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

          For example, Robert Way calls for Michael Mann’s paper to be retracted vs Robert Way says I think McIntyre’s criticism is valid.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 7:34 AM | Permalink

          MikeN: Very unconvincing analogy. “Move on”, “resign” and “be sacked” in effect mean the same thing in a high profile job like this. Whereas there is a significant semantic gap between the two things you suggest Robert Way might have said.

          bobdenton:

          Weaver did, indeed, expressly tell Foot that he wasn’t calling for leadership change when interviewed prior to publication. He gave evidence to this effect and the judge found as a fact that he’d done so.

          Where did Weaver expressly tell Foot that he wasn’t calling for leadership change?

        • MikeN
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 12:04 PM | Permalink

          I agree that defamation or libel is not the proper ruling, but my reading of what you’ve posted leads me to believe that is the distinction Weaver is making.

        • MikeN
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

          Richard, Steve has posted that the paper should be retracted.

        • Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

          Mike: Sure. So the parallel to “I agree with what is being said in Der Spiegel” would be “I agree with what Steve says in [a post where he says the paper should be retracted]”.

        • bobdenton
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 6:05 PM | Permalink

          Richard Drake Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 7:34 AM

          “Where did Weaver expressly tell Foot that he wasn’t calling for leadership change?”

          Probably in the recorded interview which Foot did not review at Weavers behest, but which will have been reviewed by the Defendants’ lawyers before their Defences were drafted. The Statement of Claim pleads as follows:

          “ [the “Defamatory Corcoran January Expression”]
          ……
          [39]b. The plaintiff is not/not “calling for the replacement of IPCC leadership. ” In his interview with National Post reporter Richard Foot, the plaintiff specifically told Mr. Foot that he is not calling for the leadership to change.”

          We haven’t seen the Defences, but there are only three ways this averment can be dealt with: by admission, non-admission or denial. My inference, from the way the Defamatory Corcoran January Expression was dealt with in the judgment, is that it was admitted.
          No reference is made to the Foot tape, which indicates its contents were not in issue. Contrast the way the O’Toole tape was considered, where the contents were definitely in issue.

          Note also the judge’s description how the defence of fair comment was put in court.

          “ [214] While the defendants note if there is an alleged error in the factual foundation, it must be substantive to the point it would alter opinions, I conclude this is a significant error.”

          This suggests to me that they accepted that there was an error ie, that Weaver had not called for resignation of the IPCC leadership, but claimed they were entitled to rely on other parts of the interview, which Weaver agreed were accurate (the measured statement – perhaps move on) as a foundation for their comment. The judge disagreed … “[213] …Calling for the replacement of a high profile individual in the area he was working is clearly more significant and indeed [was] utilized as such.”

          Finally, the finding of fact is dealt with as follows:

          “[230] With respect to Climate Agency Going Up in Flames, I conclude that Dr. Weaver: (a) was not “heading for the exits” nor was he “getting out” of the IPCC, nor was he “calling for replacement of IPCC leadership.” In his interview with Mr. Foot, Dr. Weaver specifically told Mr. Foot he was not calling for the leadership to change.”

          The last sentence appears to follow the wording of the Statement of Claim, as though it had been unchallenged.

          It’s a guess, but the way the matter is dealt with in the judgement is consistent with an admission.

          Steve: there is no such admission in the Statement of Defence and I’d be astonished if it were admitted. The defences were that the statements were not defamatory and/or in the alternative, fair comment. One of the odd features of the lawsuit is that the two news articles that published the “false facts” – the O’Toole article and Foot article – were not named in the litigation and therefore not addressed in the statement of defence. As mentioned previously, I am very dubious of Weaver’s claim to have “expressly” said that he was not calling for Pachauri’s resignation without evidence from the interview notes.

        • bobdenton
          Posted Mar 11, 2015 at 3:02 AM | Permalink

          Bobdenton Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 6:05 PM
          Steve comments:

          “ there is no such admission in the Statement of Defence and I’d be astonished if it were admitted. “

          Since you’ve seen the Statement(s?) of Defence it would be helpful to know exactly what they say in relation to P39(b) of the Statement of Claim. If it’s not not-admitted or denied, and you don’t mention that it is, it’s admitted.

          O’Toole and Foot aren’t parties to the litigation. Weaver doesn’t allege that their articles were defamatory, merely erroneous. He says the opinion in the articles containing the defamatory inferences was founded on these errors.
          In the Statement of Defence where Fair Comment is pleaded, what facts do they particularise as the foundation for their comment?

    • Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 1:14 AM | Permalink

      Brandon, I believe you are mistaken in your insistence that it is merely the headline which notes a call for Pachauri’s resignation. In the body of the article, in which a number of shortcomings with the IPCC process (as well as Pachauri’s conflicts of interest) had been articulated, one finds:

      The IPCC needs guidelines for the behavior of its officials, and those guidelines must be enforced. With a policy on conflict of interest similar to those in place in leading scientific advisory institutions, it seems obvious that the IPCC would need a new chairperson. [my bold -hro]

      See also Science magazine’s interview which took place on 25-Jan-2010, which the interviewer had introduced by noting:

      Pachauri defended IPCC’s work and shot back at critics who want to see him ousted as panel chair

      As anyone reading this (rather long) interview might note, Pachauri unscripted could easily rival Weaver unscripted!

      I wish I could understand why you have chosen to take issue with the headline (actually the subhead), when there is ample evidence (in addition to that which Steve had noted) that there was considerable dissatisfaction with Pachauri’s performance – and numerous calls for his resignation.

      But even if this were not the case, I fail to see how the attribution of any such call can be construed as libellous or defamatory on the part of the caller. Well, certainly not by any stretch of a democratic imagination.

      Mind you, Andrew “We are the vote” Weaver seems to be somewhat challenged in the democratic imagination department (viz his not too long ago, “Shame on the people who voted for this government“)

      Not to mention that even in his own riding, where the total number of valid votes cast was 26,517, newly-minted Green Party MPP, Weaver garnered 10,722 votes; i.e considerably less than the clear majority one might reasonably expect from someone who (so vacuously and with his typical hyperbole) claimed, “We are the vote”.

  31. Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

    There is an interesting additional back story twist to the Himalayan glacier goof that Steve has not pointed out. The sole AR4 source document for the scary prediction was a 2005 WWF lobbying submission, worse than grey literature. And in it, the sole source for its assertion was a single 1999 MSM report quoting Syed Hasnain.
    When confronted as part of the kerfuffle that led to the 1/2010 erroneous ‘errata’ on timing only (by then at TERI), Hosnain said he had been badly misquoted by the media. He had been speaking only about some glaciers, not all of the Himalayas
    .
    So there is a larger context about the quality of the IPCC process. The ‘erratum’ ignored the larger error that had been pointed out. The retraction was forced by media exposed reliance on a single dubious un-peer reviewed WWF document, itself relying on what a single MSM article said an expert had said. And, IPCc also ignored a written draft error warning submitted in 2006 by AR4 lead author and Austrian glaciologist Georg Kaiser that the draft was “not just a little bit wrong, but far out of any order of magnitude”. And as a result of AR4, Pauscheri’s TERI received millions to study Himalayan glaciers, the conflict pointed out by Der Spiegel which the article plainly said should require Pauscheri’s removal. References in essay Himalayan Glaciers.

  32. Rick
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 5:36 PM | Permalink

    ‘I think it is perfectly reasonable for Weaver to distinguish between agreeing with the “substance of the criticism” of the article and something which was said only in a headline for the article’
    Gee Brandon, have you never submitted a letter to the editor for publication? I have and often the headline that appears at the top of my article promises the precise opposite of what I have written below. This sort of device has been used by editors since newspapers were first printed.

    • Brandon Shollenberger
      Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

      Rick, I don’t understand your question. You seem to be saying something which makes the same point I made: Articles and their headlines are different beasts; agreeing with one does not inherently mean agreeing with the other.

      • Rick
        Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

        Sorry Brandon, I must have missed that. By the time I had parsed your dense interpretation of this case with its many nuances and shadings I probably found myself close to ‘parsed out’.

        • Brandon Shollenberger
          Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 6:36 PM | Permalink

          No problem. When there’s lots of text, it’s easy not to miss points in it.

  33. PhilH
    Posted Mar 9, 2015 at 9:09 PM | Permalink

    $50,000 for defamation? For this? You have got to be kidding.

    Steve: there are other issues – see my overview post.

  34. Ian H
    Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 12:40 AM | Permalink

    Apparently Pauchuri moves in mysterious ways.

  35. Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 7:41 AM | Permalink

    Hilary Ostrov:

    But even if this were not the case, I fail to see how the attribution of any such call can be construed as libellous or defamatory on the part of the caller.

    Rud Istvan:

    There is an interesting additional back story twist to the Himalayan glacier goof that Steve has not pointed out…

    Thanks to both posters. Such wider issues are of much more interest to me than quibbling over Steve’s wording when he’s done such a terrific job of opening up one inexperienced Canadian judge’s apparent missteps and putting them in their very important context.

  36. michael hart
    Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    Weaver seems to have got what he wanted, for the present. Next time perhaps he’ll be more careful what he wishes for.

  37. AndyM
    Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 9:13 AM | Permalink

    Steve’s mention of van Ypersele’s presentation of Nov. ’09 caught my eye only
    because I’d seen that name recently somewhere else. It seems a little odd to
    me that he’d be using the Himalayan thing so prominently in a presentation only
    a couple months prior to the embarrassing articles of Jan. ’10. I also found it
    amusing that he and his “kind collaborator”(from the presentation), Chris Field,
    are both in the running for Pachy’s vacated chairmanship. I saw a couple of his
    campaign signs over at Mann’s twitter place the other day.

    “JPascal van Ypersele
    ‏@JPvanYpersele
    If elected #IPCC Chair, I will work to involve more women in our #climate work. Gender balance & inclusiveness are important #IWD2015”

  38. PhilH
    Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    “JPascal van Ypersele
    ‏@JPvanYpersele
    If elected #IPCC Chair, I will work to involve more women in our #climate work. Gender balance & inclusiveness are important #IWD2015″

    more women? Okay, how about Judith?

  39. AJ
    Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 9:34 AM | Permalink

    Steve, Why are you so intent on defaming Disney villains?

    Steve: were Jafar and Pachauri separated at birth?



    pachauri1.jpg

    • Michael Jankowski
      Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 4:46 PM | Permalink

      Grafting is a principle component of climate science, be it via photoshop or spaghetti diagrams!

    • AJ
      Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 6:16 PM | Permalink

      Jafar…
      calls lawyer…
      has the…
      last laughter

  40. Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    Great explanation of the dog that didn’t bark Steve. Can’t we now move on. Though not of course resign.

  41. Ripantuck
    Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    Essentially, the argument here seems to revolve around whether a case can be made that Weaver’s vague wording and subsequent “clarifications” can change the apparently obvious meaning of what he stated in the interview. Nice subject for a debate club.

    However, here we are talking about the State penalizing the loser, while appointing an inexperienced debate judge who probably is biased (based on political background). This is exactly the reason that making freedom of the press and freedom of speech inalienable rights is considered basic in many countries. I live near Washington, DC, and can verfy that it is rare that the Wash Post does not commit libel for a whole week based on the principles of this case.

    I suspect the $50,000 penallty is not significant to the National Post, but the precedent is downright chilling.

    Steve: the combined cost of the litigation and penalty are significant to National Post and the impact will be chilling. Its parent, Canwest, was in creditor protection a couple of years ago. Toronto has 4 newspapers, plus there are free “short” newspapers at the subway, and the economics of newspapers are fragile.

    • Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

      the impact will be chilling

      Thanks for this sobering context Steve. What are the chances Canwest will not have the resources to think it worth appealing?

      • Brandon Shollenberger
        Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 6:49 PM | Permalink

        I can’t see this case being large enough the legal costs would be prohibitive for an appeal if they think they have a good chance of winning it, especially since the paper should have insurance for libel lawsuits. The cost of an appeal should be significantly smaller than their costs thus far.

        Of course, winning on appeal wouldn’t guarantee them victory overall as Weaver might appeal the decision. It’d likely still be worth it though as winning an appeal could likely let them resolve the case by settling.

      • JD Ohio
        Posted Mar 11, 2015 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

        Richard,

        In my view the newspaper is virtually forced to appeal because the judge ordered a complete retraction. So far, I see very little in real terms to retract, and I believe it is Orwellian for a judge (who at best did a mediocre job in analyzing the facts) to order a complete retraction.

        To me, assuming for the sake of argument that Weaver was defamed in some meaningful way, I would find that the court has the right to impose damages and that future damages could be awarded for continuing violations. However, in a practical sense, I can see no justification whatsover for giving any court the right to order a complete retraction. The judge is assuming a god-like role and assuming her own infallibility and complete correctness, which is clearly not true with respect to her or other judges.

        JD

        • Posted Mar 11, 2015 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

          Thanks JD. I’d not got on to considering the implications of the order for a complete retraction. But assuming a god-like role, as you put it, has always been a high-risk strategy. Hubris or something dafter, I’m very glad the judge seems to have made it impossible not to appeal and that National Post are doing so.

    • Paul Courtney
      Posted Mar 11, 2015 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

      Steve: I’ll honor your request and resist the temptation to mock Brandon on various points. I do hope he’ll engage on the elephant in the room, which Ripantuck aptly states more succinctly than I. Brandon seems like the sort who will think about this. Brandon, even the NYT was so close to broke, it needed a bailout from a billionaire from so of the border. If NYT was sued by Rush Limbaugh, backed by evil Big Oil money, for libel on the same points made by Weaver, legal costs of trial/appeal/appeal could put the NYT out of business! It would be obvious that Rush isn’t looking to win, he wants to stop them from saying things about him or shut them down. I despise the NYT, but would reserve the innermost circle of hell for the judge who lets such a suit get past the pleadings (particularly where Plaintiff’s quibbles about “move on” vs. call to resign in the pleadings-even if other points are made, this alone indicates those other points can’t be very strong). You are far too comfortable with the NP being forced through this, you don’t see what’s really at stake. We don’t see Rush or any other conservatives suing for libel, the elephant is a pattern of climate activists suing conservative media for libel TO SHUT THEM UP! A pol or activist suing a newspaper for libel is a red flag, a judge with an elementary grasp of free speech and press (not necessarily 1st amendment, just the English civ. traditions) must see that up front, or those freedoms are diminished. The obvious answer is to dismiss and tell Weaver to respond in other media outlets (which, if I understand, Canwest published his response, right?). The “damage to his reputation” (the most risible facet of this sorry affair) is then countered with more free speech, not by reliance on courts to enforce a “decency” standard for journalists and newspapers. “Free press” in any country does not guarantee “decent” journalists, it only guarantees that there will be more than one journalist. Please think on this-it’s far more important than the details you think Steve missed.

  42. Craig Loehle
    Posted Mar 10, 2015 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    If subtle mistakes by an opinion columnist are grounds for defamation, then the media are screwed. Advice for scientists: if you are going to wrestle with pigs you will get muddy. If you are going to be a public figure then act like one.

    • Posted Mar 11, 2015 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

      If subtle mistakes by an opinion columnist are grounds for defamation, then the media are screwed.

      Agreed Craig but I’m not sure this does justice to the current situation. For we have no evidence that Foot made a mistake, even a subtle one. The chilling impact of these rulings, if not successfully appealed, would surely be to deter all commentary that was deemed to intrude on the private grief of the climate elite. In this case the ridiculous and very public wrong predictions for Himalayan glaciers and the rivers said to be dependent on them. As my own prime minister put it in October 2009, based no doubt on the best advice available to him: “And in just twenty-five years, the glaciers in the Himalayas which provide water for three-quarters of a billion people could disappear entirely.” Questioning this highly catastrophist point of view was then called voodoo science by the head of the IPCC – until after Copenhagen it turned out the whole thing was one of the worst examples of scare non-science in the climate field and the IPCC had had multiple warnings of this.

      Weaver’s language about Pachauri in January 2010 happened to include a few fig-leaves of deniability but taking it as a whole Foot and colleagues made no mistake at all. In February 2015 Burke has added a few big ones on behalf of the Canadian legal system, for reasons unknown. Intentional or not the impact would be to make any journalist think twice about reporting or commenting on anything that put the IPCC and its minions in a bad light, however deserved that was and however important the political implications of men like Gordon Brown being convinced of such make-believe.

    • mpainter
      Posted Mar 12, 2015 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

      So it would seem. Have any of the Canadian media commented on these issues?

  43. Brandon Shollenberger
    Posted Mar 11, 2015 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

    I really haven’t been able to get interested in this topic or the discussions about it, but since I’ve made claims about problems in a couple of these posts, I figured I ought to go ahead and write them up. I wound up doing so in a separate post.

    I know people might argue the problems I point out don’t matter because they don’t change any central arguments of the posts here. I hope they won’t though. I didn’t pick the examples I picked because I was seeking to rebut the posts. I picked them because they were what made me stop reading the posts.

    I don’t think it’s worth my effort to examine all the details of a post if I find obvious problems with the claims I am able to judge quickly. This is especially true if those problems go uncorrected after being pointed out.

  44. Don Monfort
    Posted Mar 11, 2015 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for your non-exhaustive, disinterested, non-rebuttal, Brandon. It would be interesting to see just how far you would go with this, if you were really interested.

  45. pgtgco
    Posted Mar 11, 2015 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    Steve, I hope J. Burke’s decision is overturned on appeal but I am not surprised at the poor reasoning. I don’t attribute her poor reasoning to the fact that she is a novice judge, but to the fact that she is a judge.

    When judges are appointed they are immediately overcome with the idea that their opinions are important, and that they are now smart enough to decide the issues on almost any matter brought before them. Humility disappears. In the U.S., we call this “black robe fever.” Not sure what color J. Burke’s robe is, but I am quite sure she now thinks she is much smarter than she thought she was before she became a judge. It’s just human nature.

    Judicial power breeds judicial arrogance which sabotages rational thinking. You don’t have to think clearly or write persuasively, when your opinion carries the weight of the law.

    So one should never expect clear or rational thinking from a judge – or from a panel of judges. Judges can twist any set of facts, ignore inconvenient facts, torture the meaning of any text, pretend not to understand the facts, or an argument, or a legal principle, and reach whatever conclusion they wish. Any conclusion can be rationalized. And they get away with it because the law is what comes out of their mouths.

    It’s best to avoid judges and lawyers and courts, whenever you can. You might get lucky, and get an honest and rational opinion, but don’t bet on it.

    This case and Mann’s libel suit, illustrate how dangerous libel and slander laws are to free speech. The only cure for such legal intimidation, is more speech. Bury them in speech, including the judges who aid and abet the speech suppressors.

    By the way, it was defamatory for Foot to write that Weaver called for Pachauri’s resignation. Even if the statement was true, this did hurt Weaver’s reputation in his community (IPCC and its supporters). He “misspoke,” but now he has shifted the blame. It’s a shame that the law can be used for such purposes.

    Steve: I agree with most of what you said. BUt when you say “it was defamatory for Foot to write that Weaver called for Pachauri’s resignation”, I disagree under B.C. law. Comments about people in the public sphere without imputation on character are held not to be “defamatory” in law: Lund v Black Press Co 2009.

  46. Posted Mar 13, 2015 at 2:56 AM | Permalink

    Reblogged this on I Didn't Ask To Be a Blog.

  47. Gary Lohr
    Posted Mar 16, 2015 at 6:31 PM | Permalink

    Patchy’s novel would have been more accurate if he moved the “L” to the end of the title.

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