Gerrit Cornelis van Kooten

Gerrit Cornelis van Kooten

 Credentials

  • Ph.D. Agricultural and Resource Economics, Oregon State University (1982) 
  • M.A.(Economics), University of Alberta (1974)
  • B.Sc. (with distinction), Geophysics, University of Alberta (1972) — Thesis Topic: “The Canadian Coal Industry”

Source: [1], [2]

Background

G. Cornelis van Kooten teaches climate change economics at the Department of Economics at the University of Victoria, Canada. Cornelis van Kootan has previously held positions at the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Saskatchewan, School of Management at Groningen University in the Netherlands, Departments of Agricultural Economics and Forest Resources Management and Agricultural Economics at the University of British Columbia and at the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics at the University of Nevada. 

As Canada Research Chair in Environmental studies, Cornelis van Kooten claims that “Climate science often ignores economic considerations, and climate models do not usually include interactive economic sectors, making it difficult to explore cost-effective policy responses to climate change and its consequences.” He is described as a leader in “devising effective economic measures for analyzing various aspects of the environment.” [3]

According to his CV, van Kooten's professional experience is in the field of natural resource economics including non-market valuation, bio-economic modeling of wildlife populations, economics of carbon sequestration, managing lands for multiple tradeoffs, and the economics of renewable energy. [1]
 

Van Kooten is a climate change skeptic affiliated with a number of groups that actively dispute the existence of man-made climate change. He has been an “Expert” at the Heartland Institute and is currently a senior fellow of both the Fraser Institute and the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

Stance on Climate Change
 

“It might come as a surprise to many, but there is no consensus regarding global warming. The science underpinning the view that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are leading to runaway global warming is unsettled. There never was a consensus. Nor does science operate on the basis of consensus. If anything, the scientific evidence has sharply turned against the idea that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is underway.” [4]

Key Quotes

“[Carbon dioxide] has no relation to temperature rises.” 

“Using the U.S. weather rating system, only 8,000 of the 22,000 weather stations [used to document global temperature rises] are reliable.” 
 
“[Gross domestic product] is a non-climactic factor that causes temperature to go up. There is no statistical relationship between CO2 and temperature.” 
 
“You can't do policy without reading the other side. [… ] I'm becoming a denier more and more, the more I listen to these guys [climate scientists in agreement about global warming]. It’s a religion to them.” [5]
 

“I am more convinced that changes in solar activities (whether sunspots, various types of cycles, etc.) are a better explanation of changing temperatures and possible global warming than CO2.” [6]

“If anything, it is [David] Suzuki who has abandoned science, not the scientists who question the IPCC, whether of the religious right or not. Suzuki has become post modern.” [7]

Key Deeds

March 27, 2013

B.C. Auditor General John Doyle released a report (PDF) damning B.C.'s carbon trading system. The only academic paper mentioned in the audit was on page 27, and was a study done by Cornelis van Kooten that related to forest carbon credits. The report pulls the following quote form van Kooten's 2012 report, titled “Rent Seek and and the Smoke and Mirrors Game in the Creation of Forest Sector Carbon Credits: An example from British Columbia” (PDF)

Because commercial exploitation was the counterfactual used to justify the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) carbon offsets, offsets were subsequently sold to non-arms-length buyers, and numbers of carbon offsets are highly sensitive to assumptions, one can only conclude that the carbon offsets generated by this (and probably many other) forest conservation projects are simply spurious. [8]

Cornelis Van Kooten's study is listed as “working paper” at research group Resource Economics and Policy Analysis (REPA) where van Kooten is Director. Van Kooten's report criticized international climate negotiators for allowing certified emissions-reduction credits. These credits were designed to maintain biodiversity and improve indigenous standard of living. 

John Doyle's report examined two projects that the government had purchased to achieve carbon neutrality (the Darkwoods Forest Carbon project and the Encana Underbalanced Drilling project), and he concluded that “this claim of carbon neutrality is not accurate, as neither project provided credible offsets.”

Vancouver's Georgia Straight reports how Doyle criticized Pacific Carbon Trust, a Crown corporation, for buying carbon credits and claimed that both projects would have succeeded had there been no offsets. [9]

The Government rejected Doyle's report, saying that it was not valid due to the fact that the auditor general's office is not an accredit expert in carbon offsets. [10]

August 2012/2013

Cornelis van Kooten published a book titled Climate Change, Climate Science and Economics (Springer, 2013). His book includes a chapter on “Alternative Explanations” of climate change that include cosmological origins, as well as a chapter on implementing policy (“government intervention […] worsens rather than helps the situation.”) and a chapter on the possibility of “avoiding emissions reduction” by using carbon sinks. 

January 28, 2011

The Martlet, An independent newspaper at the university of Victoria, reported on one of Cornelis van Kooten's regular lectures on the “Economics of Climate Change.” During his lecture, van Kooten said that “CO2 has no relation to temperature rises,” and also pointed to a case study of two rooftop weather stations on Victoria Elementary schools that he said were examples of the Urban Heat Island affect. In the case study, van Kooten suggested that the hot air vents and nearby woodworking shop influenced the accuracy of the weather stations. [11]

Cornelis van Kooten also claimed that “Using the U.S. weather rating system, only 8,000 of the 22,000 weather stations [used to document global temperature rises] are reliable.” A similar claim has been made by climate change skeptic and founder of SurfaceStations.org Anthony Watts. These claims were recently examined and proven to be false by the Berkeley Earth project.

Near the end of van Kooten's lecture, Tom Pederson (director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions) interjected and challenged van Kooten's methods:

“If one is going to draw deductions based on global warming trends, one needs to be very familiar with expert literature and speak to experts, many of whom are on this campus,” he said. 

Rob McDonald, a student who had previously dropped out of van Kooten's Climate Economics class, also disagreed with van Kooten's teaching methods. He had this to say to The Martlet:

“An economics professor should not be trying to dispute science in an economics class. Also, he shows little academic integrity by using a book that he wrote that has not been reviewed as the textbook, and also by giving his very one-sided and narrow view of climate change without letting people know all the different things scientists are saying on the issue.”

April 2006

Cornelis van Kooten was a signatory to a 2006 open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The letter, titled “Open Kyoto to Debate” was signed by “accredited experts in climate and related scientific disciplines.” According to the letter, “Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes” and “allocating funds to 'stopping climate change' would be irrational.” 

2006

G Cornelis van Kooten is a signatory to the “Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming,” a document put forth by the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation of which he is a Senior Fellow. The declaration describes Earth as “created by God's intelligent design,” and as such is “robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting” and that “Earth's climate system is no exception.” [12]

Here are some key points of the declaration [emphasis added]:

  • “We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God's intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history.”
  • “We believe mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, achievable mainly by greatly reduced use of fossil fuels, will greatly increase the price of energy and harm economies.”
  • We deny that Earth and its ecosystems are the fragile and unstable products of chance, and particularly that Earth’s climate system is vulnerable to dangerous alteration because of minuscule changes in atmospheric chemistry. Recent warming was neither abnormally large nor abnormally rapid. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.”
  • “We deny that alternative, renewable fuels can, with present or near-term technology, replace fossil and nuclear fuels, either wholly or in significant part, to provide the abundant, affordable energy necessary to sustain prosperous economies or overcome poverty.”
  • “We deny that carbon dioxide—essential to all plant growth—is a pollutant. “
  • “Reducing greenhouse gases cannot achieve significant reductions in future global temperatures, and the costs of the policies would far exceed the benefits.”
  • “We deny that such policies, which amount to a regressive tax, comply with the Biblical requirement of protecting the poor from harm and oppression.”

The declaration also leaves a call-to-action for Christian leaders to “embrace Biblical thinking, sound science, and careful economic analysis in creation stewardship” and for political leaders “to adopt policies that protect human liberty, make energy more affordable, and free the poor to rise out of poverty, while abandoning fruitless, indeed harmful policies to control global temperature.”

Affiliations

 Publications

According to his C.V., van Kooten has published 180 peer-reviewed journal articles and 40 book chapters and is the author or co-author of four books on land and forest economics, two books on climate change, and co-editor of three books. According to a search of peer-reviewed literature, most of his peer-reviewed articles are in the area of economics (his books also appear to focus on the Economics of climate change). 

A full list of his peer-reviewed literature is availabe on Google Scholar. 

 Resources

  1. Curriculum Vitae,” vkooten.net. Accessed March 31, 2013.

  2. “Curriculum Vitae: G. Cornelis van Kooten” (PDF), retrieved from the University of Victoria website.

  3. G. Cornelis van Kooten,” Canada Research Chairs (chairs-chaires.gc.ca). Accessed March 31, 2013.

  4. Climate Change and Poverty,” G Cornelis van Kooten, September 20, 2011.

  5. Prof raises eyebrows for contesting climate change,” Canadian University Press, February 2, 2011.

  6. Climate Confusion,” G Cornelis van Kooten, December 10, 2012.

  7. Response to David Suzuki Critique of Scientists,” G Cornelis van Kooten, April 9, 2012.

  8. An Audit of Carbon Neutral Government” (PDF), bcauditor.com, Report 14 (March, 2013)

  9. Charlie Smith. “Climate skeptic's research laid foundation for B.C. auditor general's report on carbon trading,” The Georgia Straight, April 1, 2013. 

  10. “Auditor general delivers damning report on B.C.'s carbon trading system, Crown corporation that managed funds,” Vancouver Sun, March 27, 2013.

  11. Mark Worthing. “Professor raises eyebrows for contesting climate change,” Martlet, Volume 63, Issue 21 (February 3, 2011).

  12. “Prominent Signers of An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming,” Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, January 14, 2010.

  13. Cornwall Alliance Scholars,” Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. Accessed March 31, 2013. 

  14. About the REPA Research Group,” Resource Economics & Policy Analysis. Accessed March 31, 2013.

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