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April 05 2011

20:45

John Mashey to lecture in Vancouver, Victoria

DeSmogBlog Tutor Examines the Trail of Denial

Three or four years ago, when the DeSmogBlog's comments were still unmoderated (and too often unintelligent), we began to notice the consistent high quality of input from a frequent reader named John Mashey. His analysis was so sharp and his breadth of knowledge so impressive that we couldn't resist tracking him down - to find out: who the heck is this guy?

Well, his Wikipedia page announces him as a "computer scientist, director and entrepreneur, " a veteran of Bells Labs and Silicon Valley who has recently turned his prodigious energy and evident intelligence to the task of sorting out who's saying what in the world of climate change denial and who's paying them for their efforts.

Mashey has become a teacher, friend and contributor to the DSB in more ways than one. Aside from the remarkable research papers (1, 2)  that he has posted on our site in the last year, his was the greatest and most valued contribution to Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming.

So, we're thrilled he's in "the neighbourhood," speaking in our hometown of Vancouver tomorrow (Wednesday April 6, 7:30 p.m. in Theatre C300 at UBC Robson Square, 800 Robson Street) and  in Victoria (Thursday, April 7, 7:30 p.m. at the Bob Wright Centre, Rm B150). The trip, which included a lecture last night at the University of Northern BC in Prince George, was organized thanks to the good graces of Dr. Tom Pederson, Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.<!--break-->

The Vancouver poster is attached, and interested viewers can tune into the Victoria event via LiveStream here


AttachmentSize Mashey_Vancouver_Lecture.pdf123.05 KB

February 04 2011

19:53

Andrew Weaver Sues Tim Ball for Libel

University of Victoria Professor Andrew Weaver, the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis, has filed suit for libel against freelance climate change denier Tim Ball.

The suit (attached below) arises from an article that Ball penned for the right-wingy Canada Free Press website, which has since apologized to Weaver for its numerous inaccuracies and stripped from its publicly available pages pretty much everything that Ball has ever written.

In the article, Ball, a former geography professor at the University of Winnipeg with an indifferent academic record and a lifetime peer-reviewed literature output of just four articles (none of them in atmospheric physics), assailed Weaver as uninformed about climate, unqualified to teach and compromised by his lavish funding, accusations for which he offered no proof whatever.

Weaver, a member of the Royal Society of Canada who has authored more than 190 papers, was also a lead author on three of the four reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climage Change (IPCC), and is lined up as a lead author on the fifth. He's also won pretty much all the academic and teaching awards that are available to a Canadian professor who has not yet had his 50th birthday. Ball, famously slow to notice the obvious, apparently didn't realize that he was overmatched.<!--break-->

Of course, it's not the first time. Ball sued University of Lethbridge Professor Dan Johnson in October 2006 over imagined slights in a letter to the editor that Johnson had written to the Calgary Herald. When both Johnson and the Herald filed a devastating Statements of Defence, Ball turned tail and ran.

But regardless that the suit had exposed the numerous falsehoods that once coloured Balls resume - and regardless that a University of Calgary audit confirmed that Ball had been accepting money that had been sluiced through a university slush fund that had been set up to conceal the money's oil industry origins, Ball has continued to write and speak, claiming some higher knowledge of the workings of climate change - actually, of the lack of climate change.

Suddenly, however, he appears to have gone quiet.

AttachmentSize Weaver-Ball lawsuit.pdf820.57 KB

April 13 2010

01:20

Tim Ball in Concert: Battered by the Facts

Canadian denier-in-chief, the retired geographer Dr. Tim Ball, got seriously (though not physically) roughed up last week in a presentation to the University of Victoria Young Conservatives Club.

Apparently expecting a room full of docile Stephen Harper fans, Ball found himself instead in front of a group of burgeoning climate scientists - young people who were quick to challenge him when he said things that were pointedly untrue.

For example, after describing the effect of Milankovitch cycles on climate, Ball told the students that these predictable changes in Earth's orbit and tilt are not included in modern climate models.

"None of this is included in the computer models that are used to tell you that the climate is changing.56:24 It’s not even included. The models they’re doing here on campus. They’re not in there. Sorry."

But at 1:01:25, a student responds: "We do include it, though. I am with the UVic climate lab and we do include it in our models. It’s a standard parameter."<!--break-->

The conversation, and the attached recording (NB: With my apologies, the record exceeds the DSB capacity; I will convene with the tech experts tomorrow and try to get it posted), went on for two-and-a-half painful hours, with Ball dismissing all climate science as a fiction promulgated by a small group of ideologues and the students - laptops in hand - challenging and dismissing his arguments on the basis of ready information.

At times, though, it ground down to the typical denier debate, with Ball saying things that aren't true, being correcting, but refusing to acknowledge his inaccuracy.

 

For example, beginning at 1:21:20, he launches into a whole disquisition about how real scientists have been hamstrung by the IPCC because the politicians involved drew terms of reference that were ruinously restrictive:

"When it appears that the politicians are doing the honorable thing and having an arms length not political investigation, well they’re not doing that at all," Ball began.

"Here’s what Maurice Strong did with the IPCC: he defined a changing climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity. Don’t look at what nature’s doing, only at what the human causes are."

Student: (unintelligible)

Ball: "Yes, but they don’t look at the natural climate variability."

Student sotto voce “not true, we look at natural variation”

Ball, offering a new slide: "This is the definition produced by the United Nations Environment Program which was then adopted by the IPCC. This is the definition of what they’re directed to look at. They’re directed to only look at climate change that is due to human activity."

Student: “What about that whole second half (of the definition printed on the slide): ‘in addition to natural climate variability.’”

Ball: "Yeah, but they don’t do that."

Student: "But it just says to do it."

Ball: "You look at the list of forcings they have; it’s only those forcings caused by human activity."

Student: "You’re saying that volcanoes are caused by humans?"

Ball: "Well exactly. The volcanoes is one and look at the thing I showed you with Milankovich."

Student: "Yeah, but the IPCC accounts for volcanic activity AND Milankovich cycles."

 

Ball: "They identify them, but they do not consider them in their models …."

Student: "They certainly do …."

Ball: "No then don’t …."

Student: "Yes they do: I run models … ((interrupted)"

It's worth noting that Dr. Andrew Weaver, who is the Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis and whose models is one of the best in the world, works and teaches at UVic and employs some of his students to help run his models. If Tim Ball wanted to make up information about what is considered in computer models, he was doing it in the wrong venue."

Ball said many other silly things during the course of the "lecture." And many things that have previously been proved untrue. For instance, he said that it is "simply not true" that he has been paid by oil companies, regardless that time and again, people have tracked the source of his income to oil and gas companies or energy industry lobby groups.

But the most offensive moments come when Ball accuses OTHER people of irresponsibility.

"Don’t get me wrong, if you want to play with your models in the lab, that’s fine. But you have a scientific responsibility which I happen to think you’re not fulfilling. But when you go public with your models and say your model works and you have to base your whole policy for the world on this, that’s a whole different responsibility."

So, Tim Ball thinks it's okay to make public policy on the basis of uninformed criticism of models he has never studied. He argues that 17th century paintings are all the evidence he needs to demonstrate that current warming is natural and not a problem. He says things that are not true and then refuses to acknowledge his error when corrected. And he yet he feels confident to criticize the ethics of the best scientists currently working in the field.

It's appalling.

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