Canadian Geologists Embarrass Themselves on Climate

Wed, 2011-06-22 17:48Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Canadian Geologists Embarrass Themselves on Climate

The joint conference of the Geological Association of Canada (GAC) and the Mineralogical Association of Canada (MAC) included a DenierFest sideshow worthy of the Heartland Institute, with guest speakers flown in from as far away as Australia and Europe in an effort to address one organizer’s concern about an “unbalanced debate.”

Notwithstanding the manipulations of the deluded University of Toronto geologist Dr. Andrew Miall, the conference featured a full helping of honest-to-goodness science. There were occasions galore during which knowledgeable people spoke about matters with which they have legitimate expertise.

Then there were the sessions that featured the likes of Australians Bob Carter and Ian Plimer, people who do no actual work in climate science but who are only too delighted to tell you that everything we understand about human influence on global warming is a carefully constructed fiction. Organizers even brought in the Danish astrophysicist Henrik Svensmark - a man who will clutch his chest and fall to the ground rather than offer a straight answer as to why he insists the sun is causing climate change when the sun has been in a long weak cycle even as the earth continues to overheat. (The “heart attack,” reported above, was later confirmed to be a stress reaction.)This - all extremely well covered recently by the good folks at Friends of Gin and Tonic - is an embarrassment to the Canadian geological community. While the American Geophysical Union (AGU) has taken the trouble to actually check the science and come to an official position on climate change, the backwoods Canadian geologists are still prepared to entertain compromised confusers such as the oil patch geophysicist and Friends of Science director Norm Kalmanovitch.

The conference also featured the past president of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, A. Neil Hutton, whose abstract suggests that because CO2 was much more plentiful in the atmospher during the Cambrian period than it is today, we have nothing to worry about the current carbon spike that is occurring as a result of the burning of, well, petroleum. (Can’t someone please tell Dr. Hutton that the Cambrian period was 500 million years ago - a time when the sun was markedly cooler, and when the earth was still going to evolve for, uh, 500 million years before it would be habitable for humans?)

If you needed any further evidence to suggest that this whole exercise was either an oily put-up job or a mindless ideological intervention, undermining the reputation (and ambient IQ level) of the collected geologists, look no further than the National Post, the Canadian handbook for denier narratives. Its coverage of the conference came courtesy of Tom Harris, with no mention that Harris is an oily public relations guy who helped launch the Friends of Science, who created the energy industry front, the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, and who now fronts for something called the International Climate Science Coalition.



Something tells me they aren't the least bit embarrassed.

Afterall, geologists are probably some of the most knowledgable people there is on the topic, and they don't buy the CAGW scam at all....

Bravo to them for standing up against the hugh multi billion dollar AGW industy and holding to real science.

" ... rather than offer a straight answer as to why he insists the sun is causing climate change when the sun has been in a long weak cycle even as the earth continues to overheat."

The straight answer is - it isn't overheating. Levelled off and dropped over the last 6 years or so. I'm not a climate scientist, so I don't get a piece of the $US3 billion p.a. spent on AGW research, but I know about modelling, and I know about climate responsive design. The output of the GCMs failed to match subsequent observations, therefore they are junk. Urban Heat Islands are hugely underestimated. Here at 19°S 146°E EVERYONE knows about UHI. A handful of buildings in an adverse configuration causes UHI. The number of terrestrial weather stations has halved in the last decade or so, and most of the loss is in rural locations. Moving stations nearer to buildings (to shorten the data logging links), putting in concrete/bitumen instead of dirt access roads is enough to produce UHI.

Oh dear, another misinformer. Or maybe just misinformed.

See also:

Not a real salespitch there, Martin...

Actually the point Martin is making is valid.

Just a little research at the Surface stations site will show anyone but the FAITHFUL why the popular rethoric about recent temps is way out of the relm of reality.

UHI, enhanced by rural station closures along with Jimmys Adjustments combine to produce a silly and completely false image of a warming world when in fact it is now cooling.

the next 20 to 30 years are not going to be much fun as crop yield drops due to the shortening of the growing season.
Perhaps we should stop the shameful burning of our food?
Biofuel is immoral....!!!!

The surfacestations claims are just plain silly (and franky, downright stupid). Here's how to prove that:

Download the raw GHCN data and metadata.

Write a program that computes global-average temperature anomalies from the data, using the standard per-station 1951-1980 baseline approach. If you want to get a bit fancy, implement a simple gridding/averaging procedure; if not, just do a dumb average.

The metadata file allows you to sift/sort stations by rural/urban status.

With modern software tools, it's also quite easy to test the Anthony Watts' claims about rural vs. urban stations, raw vs. adjusted data, as well as his claim that the warming trend was exaggerated by "dropping" a bunch of stations back in the 1990s.

If you do the above (and do it correctly), you will find:

1) Simple "dumb average" global-anomaly calculations on *raw* data will give you results that look very much like NASA's "Northern Latitudes Temperature Index". (The reason is left as an exercise for the reader).

2) A slightly more complicated (but still simple) gridding/averaging approach (once again, using raw data) will give you results that are incredibly similar to NASA's "Land Station Temperature Index". That's right, folks -- a very straightforward gridding/averaging procedure peformed on raw data (without making so much as a single data "adjustment") gives you results almost identical to NASA's.

3) Rural stations and urban stations generate very similar results for (1) and (2) above.

4) Raw and adjusted data likewise produce similar global-average results.

5) Results generated by excluding the "dropped stations" are very similar to results generated from all temperature stations, thus falsifying Watts' "dropped stations" claim.

All of the above can be performed in a few days by a competent programmer/analyst (depending on programming speed/skill/motivation).

And yes, Virginia, before you ask... I have personally done all of the above.

And yet, the deniers who *for years* have been making these unfounded claims about the surface temperature record have been unwilling/unable to sit down and peform the few *days* of analysis work needed to test those claims.

You OPINION is noted.

and disagreed with.

I find the information at to be much more credible than your Blog opinion.

But you do have the right to be wrong.

A copy of the code that I wrote can be found here:

The code is very much an "under construction" hobby project (i.e not a finished/polished product), but it works and it allows someone with some command-line computer skills to run all of the tests I described above.

Compiles/runs on Unix/Linux, Mac, and Windows/Cygwin systems.

No formal documentation, but lots of notes in the header file. A computer-savvy person will be able to figure out how to compile and run it without much trouble.

More detailed information as to how to run the code can be found in the "Usage" statement that is displayed when the program is run with no command-line args.

Thats nice of you to provide and uqite impressive in an of itself.

and it is interesting...

However, (no offence intended) what credentials do you possess and what background do you have that would make me or anyone trust your methodology or even your premise?

From where we stand, you are another blogger with an opinion.

On the other hand, Watts and his associates are well respected, well known researchers.

The code is there for inspection.

Not pretty, but it works.

The algorithm is straightforward and well documented on the net.

To understand the code, you'll need to learn some C++/STL.

Watts has not produced *any* code/analysis to support his claims.

There is absolutely no "black magic" involved -- it involves high-school math and college-undergraduate programming techniques.

Yes... That is your claim.

I get that.

I still trust him and his collegues.

I still have no idea why I would trust your work.

Take an introductory C++ programming class and you will learn all you need to know to verify my work.

This is what frustrates scientists so much -- most of the "skeptics" who accuse them of being untrustworthy and hiding their data and code wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do with that data/code anyway.

I have presented you with every piece of information you need to verify that what I have done is on the "up and up".

It is now up to you to sit down and make an honest effort to do just that.

This is what frustrates real scientists.

Some nobody whips up some code that make some calculations that may or may not have any relevance to anything and they claim to be credible sources of answers on one of the most complicated subjects in all of science.

So are you really claiming that if I learn some C++ and run your magical code, I will all of a sudden understand climate science.

Hmmmmm... all those PHDs Wasted .

All they had to do was take a simple programming course....

Who knew...?

Computing global-average temperature anomalies is at the "easy" end of the climate-science scale. It is something that college undergraduates (and even advanced high-school students) can be taught to do.

Other aspects of climate-science, like radiation physics and GCM's, are much harder, and require years of postgraduate education/experience to master.

The fact that you are unwilling/unable to make an effor to learn about what isn't much more than straightforward averaging indicates to me that you, like the typical denier, are just too lazy to sit down and learn even the most basic science/math.

And as for Anthony Watts? He's lazy, dishonest, and not very bright. And if push were to come to shove, I'd be more than happy to repeat that under oath.

At this point, I'd think that I'd have better luck trying to teach C++ program to a cow.

They say that you don't need PhD in climate studies to see temperature trends aka the global cooling, and they are totally right - raw datas are available, and this is a statistic exercise rather than a climate exercise.
Now, if the credential suddenly matter, Anthony Watts has done only one paper vs the climate scientists crunching the datas and producing one paper a year. This is a slippery slope for you.

I sincerely advise you to analyse his code and (constructively) critic it, instead of appealing to authority. You want transparency and debate on ideas, not diploma, do you ?

the message above is not meant towards caerbannog. Mods, sorry for the problem.

Actually, I am just having fun with them.

I dont actually care enough about this silly scam to bother taking the time.
LOL.... It will all be done and forgotten soon enough.

since you won't dig that yourself, you will follow what people with the best credential say aka you appeal to authority ?
Just to be sure.

Not really....
I read a greate deal on the subject daily, both for and against. Some of it makes sense, some of it does not.
I do not believe any perticular source based on Authority.
IE: I dont trust much of anything from the UN. Very little from the IPCC since it is a political group. I do trust some of the scientists that contribute to the IPCC.

I find the statements of Science academies to be political propaganda.
Etc etc...

If it make sense I look deepeer, If it is just silly I dont.

And what he writes, especially the papers he is able to publish through peer review ?

This guy is a denier troll. Why DESMOGBLOG let's people like this post is beyond me. As this thread demonstrates, these guys don't think, hell he doesn't even understand what an average is. They're just machines working for the fossil fuel PR machine.

The warming in the global temperatures has been corroborated by independent data sets. I find it astounding that people in denial about AGW are still trotting out long debunked myths about the global temperatures.

Anon's opinion/belief is noted, but facts trump opinion. was a joint effort to see the "quality" of the stations. Mr Watts used the datas gathered from this site (note to myself : I shall check if the contributors were thanked / edit yup they are) and published a paper.
Yup, a paper, in a peer reviewed journal.
What does it say ?

It says that, even by taking into account the "bad quality" of the stations, the warming trend is not influenced and thus remains still statistically significant, and matches "mainstream" results ; selecting good stations can however help to get clearer results for short period signals.

We have to salute Mr Watt's efforts to produce once a peer reviewed paper with real science. His work was even quoted - a sure sign of the interest of his work, which draws the same conclusions as "mainstream" science.

I hope you are delighted to see that Watt's efforts were not in vain !


I would have been surprised if they had said anything else actually.


sooo delightful to see Watt's embarassment :]

Gee, one wonders why that diatribe of yours never made it into the actual paper that used this data. Oh, did Anthony not tell you that? How surprising...

Nearly all geologists in Canada work for the mineral and petroleum industries, just as most US geologists work in the oil and gas industry. The appropriate comparison of the attitudes of Canadian geologists is with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). While slightly more progressive than their Canadian colleagues, AAPG is still very reluctant to acknowledge the role of fossil fuels and anthropogenic greenhouse gases in global climate change

Actually that would be because they are very knowlegable on the subject and dont buy the CAGW hypothesis.
Who they work for does not alter the facts.

The American Meteorological Society, arguably a group with no profit from either position on AGW, and I think most people would argue, people who know something about both weather and climate, declare they acccept the facts that (1) climate is changing and (2) that human activity is its root cause:

The Geological Society of America, which is the sister organisation to GAC (and not AAPG), also has a similar position, here:

Then we have the American Physical Society, which represents physicists:

A quote from their website "The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring."

How about the Canadian Meteorological & Oceanograpic Society (peak body for meteorologists and climatologists in Canada)?

Seems these guys accept the science of AGW too.

Are they all communists and nazis like Lord Monkcton, the poster boy for the denier movement claimed this week? Cant do math like some here claim? Deluded, perhaps? In the pay of the UN and out to form a world govt? Are they so uneducated that unlike Andy Miall and the few who were there in Ottawa at his "The ice age is coming" symposium, they can`t see that the world is actually cooling? (not!) I think not.

PS Im a card carrying member of GAC, GSA, AGU, and several other geological societies, have been for over 20 years, and most of the geologists, climatologists, and paleoclimatologists I know and work with accept the scientific basis of AGW.

for telling it like it is!

Readers of this comment thread shoule also check out:

"Geologists and climate change denial" by John Cook, Skeptical Science

I dont believe for a moment that geologists deny that climate changes.

Its just that they are better trained to understand how and why it changes than say.... oh... Jimmy Hansen who is a physisist.
or Michael Mann or Al Gore who is a Divinity grad.

etc etc.

In 2007, Anthony Watts founded, to collect information on weather stations that are part of the United States Historical Climatological Network (USHCN) and Global Historical Climatological Network (GHCN). [21] Watts believed that, with the information collected via the website, "we will be able to demonstrate that some of the global warming increase is not from CO2 but from localized changes in the temperature-measurement environment."[22],[23]. But the results did not match Watts's expectations; a NOAA analysis of the Surface Stations data showed "no indication from this analysis that poor station exposure has imparted a bias in the U.S. temperature trends."[24]


Willard Anthony Watts (Anthony Watts) is a blogger, weathercaster and a climate change skeptic. Critics have described him as a politically-motivated college dropout with no climate credentials other than being a radio weather announcer. He runs the climate sceptic site


Typical of this smear site.

Do you really think anyone pays attention to your nonsense?

Readers of this comment thread will want to check out:

"Talking Points related to concerns about whether the U.S. temperature record is reliable," NOAA Climate Services, July 6, 2009

interesting OPINIONS

However I find Watts to be far more credible than bloggers on a Warmist propaganda site.

hands down... any day.

But your entitled to be wrong.

Best proof ? His peer reviewed article :

His conclusions shall be brought forth :
"Temperature trend estimates vary according to site classification, with poor siting leading to an
43 overestimate of minimum temperature trends and an underestimate of maximum temperature
44 trends, resulting in particular in a substantial difference in estimates of the diurnal temperature
45 range trends. The opposite-signed differences of maximum and minimum temperature trends are
46 similar in magnitude, so that the overall mean temperature trends are nearly identical across site
47 classifications."
Aka average trends are not significantly influenced by poor stations, and poor stations tend to underestimate the warming trend.
Aka, warming in US is statistically significant (see adj temperature trend on figure 10)

When Mr Watts says so, it must be right.

I was at the Geological Association of Canada meeting in late May in Ottawa, and unfortunately was coauthor on a paper presented in the climate session chaired by Miall. My grad student presented our paper, on climates of a past greenhouse period, presenting data on how at this time in the geological past CO2 levels were 4x present day and so temperatures were much higher than the last 40 million years. Our position from such analysis is not as Miall and other people present would have it, that higher CO2 then, now and in the future is therefore OK, but rather that we should see the geological past as a test case for examining the consequences for our future of uncontrolled anthropogenic increases in CO2. When Miall announced sotto voce that we were all there "to hear the truth" that we were in fact heading for another ice age (really!), my grad student and I looked at each other and left. Perhaps we should have stayed and challenged the nonsense being spouted. But having sat through Richard Alley`s wonderfully impassioned lecture on the "Biggest control knob: CO2 in Earths climate history" at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco Dec 2009, I was just embarassed. Embarassed that I had been duped, embarassed that GAC could allow this charade, and embarassed to be an Australian in Canada watching Australian and Canadian geoscientists make fools of themselves.

OK.. so One Cult member nutbar is embarrassed.

the rest are not that stupid. (probably paid by Suzuki)

Speaking of that lecture, the AGU has been kind enough to make it available on-line for anyone to watch:

Also, here's Richard Alley trying to teach a Republican congressman about Milankovitch cycles (he may as well have been reading Shakespeare to a cow):

As someone who studied Geology under Dr. Miall but no longer professionally active, I was deeply disappointed by his embrace of false arguments and misrepresentation.

The speakers were an unchallenged who's who of discredited denialists. How could anyone with any intellectual honesty put forth such a stacked one-sided "seminar" on a controversial topic?


Ask the nutbar warmists.

They put together one sided Propaganda fests all the time.

its all about pushing the scam.

Since when did science become a religion and people with a different opinion heretics. What happened to skepticism. The last time scientists were this certain, it was called eugenics and we had a genocide.

And what exactly are Mr. Littlemore's qualifications? He's a journalist for heaven's sake! If it bleeds, it leads. Oh, and all those environmental scientists? Well they are in the pay of foundations like Suzuki's or get funding from the environmental ministries of governments pressured to fund environmental research. Do they ever find anything other than what they are paid to find? Why only target the oil industry. The environmental industry is exactly the same. Interest determines scientific findings.

Credentials held
Watts held an American Meteorological Society Seal of Approval (a discontinued credential that does not require a bachelor's or higher degree in atmospheric science or meteorology from an accredited college/university)[7] with a status of "retired".[8]

Credentials not held
Some online lists incorrectly refer to Watts as "AMS Certified"[9], but this is incorrect; the American Meteorological Society reserves its "AMS Certified" designation for its Certified Broadcast Meteorologists and Certified Consulting Meteorologists[10], and Watts posesses neither certification.[11],[12]


Just a final note -- here's a plot of some results generated by the software I linked to above. The plot shows my results vs. NASA's official "Land Temperature Index" results (NASA numbers ware copied/pasted directly from the NASA/GISS web-site):

Note: My results were generated from completely non-manipulated, non-homogenized raw temperature data with a straightforward gridding/averaging program that a college-freshman engineering/comp-sci student should be able to code up.

As you can see, all the supposed "data manipulation tricks" that deniers have accused NASA of pulling barely affect NASA's results at all.

A reasonably competent programmer (heck, even a *student* programmer) should be able to figure this out for him/herself with just a few days of work, *at most*.

But the loudmouthed denier crowd hasn't been able to figure this out even though they have had *years* to do what a bright student should be able to do in a few days.

The latest Hokey Schtick; another farce;

Probably the best indicator for weather or not temps are rising at the claimed rate is sea level rise.

Read the above, then ask yourself if you really trust the claims about temps.

then look again at the measurement methods, Adjustments and claims about temperatures.

The article relies heavily on the words of a "retired meteorologist" who has no qualifications to speak on this particular topic. Generally "leading" people in their fields are not retired; implying that a retired is a leading authority still active in the field is a common denialist trick.

The article also misrepresents the views of Jens Schroter, who actually told one of the co-authors of the paper in question that the numbers in that paper were reasonable.

"We estimate that the NC data should track the global mean sea level to within +/- 10 cm (on the time scales we resolve), and so far nobody has challenged this estimate. Specifically, Jens Schröter, quoted in the Spiegel article, has confirmed to me that he also finds this a reasonable estimate. -Stefan]"

Folks, deniers are just downright dishonest -- time and time again, they demonstrate that they cannot be trusted.

Anon you are lying-- as demonstrated by the post below. Only a troll bot could lack any conscience. If lies and misinformation and distortion is all you have, then you have clearly lost.

And there are many Hockey Sticks out there, sad you are ignorant of that fact.

Oh Please.....

The Hokey Schtick has been so completely discredited so many times in so many ways it just isnt worth discussing anymore.

You Posting links to propaganda sites that generate complete crap (skepticalscience) does not help your case in any way.

You guys clearly have no moral conscience since you keep on advocating this distructive and immoral scam....


I was referring to that site for a discussion on a french board, and I got the same kind of reaction skeptical science = propaganda. It is not surprising that Anglosaxons know this site, but his reputation goes beyond that. Quite interesting.

Anyway, once again : which "hockey stick" do you refer to ? The 13 years old Mann one ? The 2008 one ? The McShane and Wyner one ?
Please be more precise.



It's amazing what qualifies for a tax break in Australia these days.

The climate science misinformation promotion unit at the Institute of Public Affairs, a Melbourne-based “free market” think tank, are currently passing the hat around to raise cash to publish a book on climate change.

The IPA has been pushing and promoting climate science denial since the...

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