Dr. Ross McKitrick is a professor of environmental economics at the University of Guelph and is a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. His work with Stephen McIntyre — another Canadian — provides much of the basis for skepticism of the hypothesis of anthropogenic climate change. The “Hockey Stick” graph authored by Mann, Bradley and Hughes and published by Nature has come under renewed controversy after emails and data from the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit were hacked and leaked revealing smoothing, manipulation, clumsy patching and omission of data used to construct climate models based on direct and indirect temperate readings. The hockey stick graph provided basis for the 2001 IPCC report, and a significant foundation for the modern mainstream view on climate change. The emails also revealed a tightly controlled and collaborative peer-review process which appeared to be designed to suppress skepticism and debate.
Leaders from industrialized and non-industrialized nations will meet in Copenhagen in just over a week to discuss a new agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol and seeks to transfer GDP from richer nations to poorer ones under the guise of aiding the implementation of CO2 emission reduction capacity around the world. I emailed Dr. McKitrick to ask him about the CRU hack/leak, the news of a pending US Congressional probe into the revelations that came from it, his opinion if such a move is necessary in Canada and whether this will affect the “scientific consensus” and political track as we move towards Copenhagen and beyond.
ST: What is your opinion of Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) calling for a congressional probe into climate change and the Mann hockey stick graph?
RM: As time goes by the specific legal issues will become clearer, especially regarding deletion of emails subject to FOI requests and whether there was an intent to deceive governments and the public. The overriding issue right now is that we have more than sufficient evidence to establish that the reports produced by this group of people: Jones, Mann, Overpeck, Schneider, Solomon etc.; are tainted. They did not follow the assessment and review procedures they claimed to be following, they doctored graphs, deleted or hid contrary evidence, and worked to a set of foregone conclusions even though in private they admitted far more serious uncertainties and discrepancies than were communicated in the final IPCC reports. So in addition to any hearings, what is now needed is: governments rescind any acceptance of the IPCC 3rd and 4th Assessment reports and implement a large-scale independent audit of these reports. We need to know exactly which graphs were doctored, what evidence was deleted, and whether the authors concealed doubts and uncertainties when assembling the text.
ST: Do you believe that it behooves the Canadian standing committee on the environment to do the same? Would you testify?
RM: Yes, and yes.
ST: How do you believe this will affect the Copenhagen conference, if at all? Can you comment on the political vs. scientific motives of researchers implicated in the CRU leak story, and more broadly of the “scientific consensus” that will be presented at the conference?
RM: Hard to say. The recession and the plunging popularity of the Obama administration will probably have a larger immediate impact, but if there was any sanity in the world this would surely have a large impact. I liken this situation to the discovery of some discrepancies in that Ontario Pathologist’s work — Smith, I think his name was. So they had to reopen all his case files and they found a festering heap of fraudulent convictions and incompetent analysis. They didn’t demand that his critics prove all the fraud before they began reopening his files, they started the job when there was prima facie evidence that a re-examination was necessary. Same here. The prima facie case for a full audit of the science and the IPCC operating procedures has been met.