The Heretics: McIntyre and McKitrick

Rich Trzupek is a veteran environmental consultant and senior advisor to the Heartland Institute. He is the author of the new book Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry (Encounter Books).


When the infamous hockey-stick graph that purported to prove that human activities are causing runaway global warming was finally broken, there is some irony in the fact that a couple of Canadians did the breaking. Retired mining engineer Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph, have been a thorn in the side of global warming alarmists for years. McIntyre, McKitrick and, more often, the acronym “M&M” to refer to the pair, are the subject of many discussions in the e-mails released from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) last November.

Reading the e-mails, it quickly becomes clear that leading alarmist scientists, like Michael Mann at Penn State and Phil Jones at the CRU, seemed positively obsessed – almost to the point of appearing deranged at times – with discrediting McIntyre and McKitrick. For example, when the pair published their first hockey stick busting paper in 2003, Mann sent an angry e-mail to his colleagues, telling them how to deal with MM: “The important thing is to deny that this has any intellectual credibility whatsoever and, if contacted by any media, to dismiss this for the stunt that it is.”

Raymond Bradley, a climatologist with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and part of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), went even farther, suggesting that CRU should provide the “independent” voice that would discredit McIntyre and McKitrick: “…if an “independent group” such as you guys at CRU could make a statement as to whether the M&M effort is truly an “audit”, and if they did it right, I think that would go a long way to defusing the issue… If you are willing, a quick and forceful statement from The Distinguished CRU Boys would help quash further arguments.”

What did McIntyre and McKitrick do to put these climatologists on the defensive? To understand the significance of their work, we have to delve into global warming theory a bit. The disaster scenarios that alarmists predict can not be proven in real time. These scenarios are based on computer models that are horrendously complex and, even if modeling results match up with actual data during this year or that, it still proves nothing in terms of long-term trends.

The only way to prove that the models are accurate is to demonstrate that recent climatic trends are unprecedented. To do that, there are two choices: 1) compare recent climatic trends to actual temperature records, or 2) compare them to historic temperature records inferred using other, secondary sources like ice cores and tree rings, generically known as proxy data. The problem with first approach is that humans have only been recording temperatures across the globe for about the last century and a half, and many of those records are dubious. In terms of natural climatic fluctuations, this is much too short a period of time to conclude anything. So we’re left with proxy data and, when the IPCC issued its first report back in 1990, the committee was left with an embarrassing problem: the proxy data showed that the earth’s recent warming trend isn’t all that unusual. Specifically, proxy data showed the Medieval Warm Period, which ran from about 1000 to 1400 A.D., was much warmer than it is today.

Mann, Bradley and others then set to work on dissembling that set of proxy data, creating a new historical temperature record that “disappeared” the Medieval Warm Period and made it appear that planetary temperatures have been relatively stable over the last 2,000 years until they suddenly took off precipitously starting about 1970. The hockey stick graph was born.

Making the Medieval Warm Period disappear was an exercise in statistical manipulation, choosing “valid” data, eliminating “bad” data and using mathematical techniques to fill in the gaps. It’s complicated work, but precisely the sort of analysis that McIntyre and McKitrick are used to performing. For example, as a mining engineer McIntyre would have to study sets of core samples in an attempt to draw sound conclusions about the likely location and extent of mineral deposits. McIntyre and McKitrick set about closely examining how Mann, Bradley et al. had done their work. The pair reached the conclusion that, by manipulating the data in order to reach a foregone conclusion, alarmist scientists had incorrectly made the Medieval Warm Period go away. They published their work in 2003 in Energy and Environment and followed that up with a second paper in 2005, published in Geophysical Research Letters. Those two papers were instrumental in exposing the cracks in the shaky foundation upon which global warming alarmism has rested. McIntyre and McKitrick, working on their own, did what good scientists are supposed to do: they challenged conventional wisdom and they found it wanting. Al Gore received an Oscar and Noble Peace Prize. Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick haven’t been given any awards, outside of the thanks from an increasingly grateful public. Both of them, in this scientist’s opinion, deserve a medal.

Today, while McKitrick mostly remains in the background, McIntyre remains on the front lines of skepticism, appearing in documentaries and on the news. The release of the CRU e-mail and data files last November vindicated much of what the pair had said and also proved a boon for McIntyre’s website: climateaudit.org. A few days after the CRU story broke, traffic at climateaudit exploded to the point that McIntyre had to move the site to a new host in order to accommodate all of the traffic. Perhaps it was inevitable that two Canadians would be so instrumental in exposing the flaws inherent to alarmist arguments. Like many residents of the Great White North, surely McIntyre and McKitrick would welcome warmer temperatures, but they need only look out of their windows half of the year to know that such relief is not forthcoming.

  • davarino

    Are you kids starting to feel like useful idiots? Read your history, this is how it is done. You have to learn how to think for yourself. The left pride themselves for questioning authority, yet they never question their own. They have an ultimate agenda that requires them to make up phoney crisises. This has to be true because they are being found to be liars and frauds. What is their ultimate agenda? There will always be those who seek to enslave us for their own power hungry desires, and we must always fight for our freedom. Hopefully you wake up and finally realize how you have been used. If AGW were true I would be right there with you, but its not.

    Climate change happens

  • Stephen D.

    Lest we forget…there’s GOLD in them thar hills (ice). Cap & Trade, Carbon Credits, etc. There is a real opportunity for Gore and his ilk to really rape us and as an added bonus for those that support him, gain power of control via enforcement, policy making, passage of laws, regulations, international standards, etc. Intrusive monitoring of everyones life from how often you put the heat on to number of loads of laundry you do. Yep. GOLD for those that play along. Enslavement for the rest of us.

    • John H.

      Cap & tax revenues are already in Obama's new budget. The president and congress are counting on revenues from a bill that has yet to be passed and signed into law. All in the name of saving the planet. Unlike Obamacare, a budget reconciliation bill seems to be the perfect process to get a form of Cap & Trade passed.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Swemson Swemson

        You're right…

        Did you know that the total amount of CO2 currently in our atmosphere is 387ppm, the portion of that total that has been generated by our use of hydrocarbon based fuels, is only 16ppm, which translates into only 1 molecule of CO2 for every 62,500 molecules of nitrogen & oxygen in the atmosphere ?

        Did you know that CO2 isn't even a major GREENHOUSE gas. 95% of all greenhouse gases in water vapor !

        Everything they have been saying is a lie. For more proof, check out this article from Time Magazine (1974) and look on the 2nd page what scientists said back then the effect of "fuel burning" was having on our climate.

        http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,…

        PS: To add insult to injury, warming is good!

  • http://www.howtofinanceyourlife.com Paul Beaird

    Lesson? Government money + political ambitions = scientists turned liars.

    Solution: Get government completely out of funding science. . .or art, or education or teliing people what they may not or must put into their bodies, or road building or utility monopolies or interstate commerce or economic issues or personal life-style choices, or anything not specified in the Constitution.

    What is government to do? Your life as a natural-born human being in the universe makes it right for you to use your mind to gather information and decide what actions you are to take freely. It is the role of government to protect these rights and this freedom from anyone’s use of physical force to restrain or compel his actions. Thomas Jefferson, “. . .to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” That’s it! There is no other purpose for government.

    Science uncorrupted by government money and political ambitions is man’s mind at its best. Man’s mind at its best. THAT’S what we want to corrupt? Get government out of science!

    • judy

      Yes but if you let country's be run by big multi-nationals well I dread to think what might happen if they were all in charge. Possibly income from taxes would be a lot less.

      The fact is that we need both the Government and commercial industry.

      Judy Colclough
      Business Consultant http://www.dtmoving.com/

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/The_Inquisitor The_Inquisitor

    I enjoyed the article. A little science is fun. Seeing charlatans exposed is great fun.

    But the scientific question of whether or not man is causing global warming is beside the point. It's a distraction, a diversion from the real issue.

    Since when is controlling the climate one of the enumerated powers granted to the federal government by the Constitution? I suggest we concentrate on that issue and put a stop to government meddling with the climate.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Swemson Swemson

      Well put…

      Of course the government can't control the climate, no matter how hard they try, and all rational observers know this…. Including Gore, the IPCC, CRU etc…

      It's funny really…

      Did you ever notice that everyone complains about the weather, but only the democrats try to legislate it… ?

      Could it be their arrogance ?

      Hmmmm

  • Tom T

    The hockey stick has absolutely nothing whatsoever to with validating climate models. It is true that there are a lot errors in the instrument data ,but for the last 150 years it is fairly good and a lot better than any proxy data could ever hope to be. since climate models only run for 100 years or so the 150 year instrument data is more than adequate to validate the models. However,the strange thing is the models fail that validation.The significance of the hockey stick is that it showed that we are are in an unprecedented warm period. M&M proved we aren't, and now even Jones says they maybe right.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Swemson Swemson

      Jones, and his colleagues at CRU, are actually still lying.

      Did you see in his recent statement that he blamed his tendency to be careless about his record keeping for the fact that all the original data is missing. In an excellent article that appeared in the National Review Online in September 09', Patrick Michaels exposed the fact that Jones had then claimed that the CRU couldn't keep the original data due to data storage issues. All of that data could have fit on a 9" tape drive reel, which was in common use at that time.

      In other words folks, they destroyed the original data… Either that, or they have it hidden in a vault somewhere.

      If you want to read the original article "The Dog Ate Global Warming" it can be found here.

  • John C. Davidson

    Everything the government does seems to be an attempt to control the way we live. They forgot one thing, most of us still have the ability to know a con when it is perpetrated on us. Unfortunately, many are too busy trying to make enough money to maintain a decent lifestyle for their family and the extravengent wasteful spending of those they've elected to protect their freedoms.

    The mounting pressures put upon the common folks will begin to have disasterous effects if our leadership doesn't wake up soon. Nationwide, we are beginning to see these frustration manifest itself and calling a suicde hotline to listen to some more BS just isn't going to remedy the problem. I've been listening to that malarky for the past 20 years and developed an immunity to it. But I am old so, not to much longer will I have to listen to it anymore, The next generation,..I just can't think about that…sorry.

  • Bruce

    "Never let a crisis go to waste" Especially when you've worked so hard to make one up.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Swemson Swemson

      Exactly !

      And in addition to working on it for years, they have an enormous amount of money at stake as well.

  • marked red

    As a Guelph resident, I can assure you that the last passage in your article is spot-on. Neither one of these fellows, incidentally, have made any significant ripple in any local press coverage that I am aware of. Shame. At the very least, they should be given the 'Key to the City'. In other news, apparently Lake Erie ( one of the Great Lakes, of course), has frozen over completely. It is the first time that it has been entirely ice-bound in 14 years (The Weather Network – Canada). Hmmm…

  • http://www.computercablelock.net/ Dan

    The real unnoticed hero in this is Willie Soon from Harvard. He broke the hockeystick before McIntyre and McKitrick. He also scared Michael Mann and Phil Jones so much they and their ilk decided to hijack the peer-review process and take over climate journals.

  • http://www.computercablelock.net/ Dan

    The real unnoticed hero in this is Willie Soon from Harvard. He broke the hockeystick before McIntyre and McKitrick. He also scared Michael Mann and Phil Jones so much they and their ilk decided to hijack the peer-review process and take over climate journals.

  • Frank Lee

    Just started a new anti-environmental Facebook group, No More Environment. Reasoned debate welcome.
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=32137756105

  • bob k

    the AGW science (i.e. CO2 as an effective greenhouse gas) has been shown to be false in peer-reviewed articles. See "The AGW Smoking Gun" in "The American Thinker",
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/the_agw_sm… for a good review.

  • grundoon

    Thank God this fraud is finally being exposed. I'm starting a fund to build a statue of the person who hacked or released those emails whenever we find out who he/she is. Now pray for someone to do the same thing to the fraud in the white house.

  • karl golledge

    These two guys should be given a congressional medal of honor (USA) they should be knighted from the Queen. I would love to hear these guys confront Al Gore on the witness stand,when this moron goes to jail.

  • John Allen

    One thing I can't rap my head around is if as the IPCC claims there are thousands and thousands of scientists studying global warming how come only one man had (and lost) the raw data. Did they all lose their data or is everybody ignoring the question of how could they be studying global warming if none of them have the required data? Why have I not heard this question before? Does this mean that every supposed fact about global warming came from one man? …..John…..

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Swemson Swemson

      John;

      The answer is that the IPCC was lying when they made reference to the 2,500 scientists who generate their reports. Their last report of 2007, was based on only 4 papers written by "alleged" scientists. Gore, being a bigger liar than the IPCC once said they had 4,000 scientists. It's the biggest scientific hoax in history.

      If you look at the following link, you'll find out what the real scientific community thinks about it.

      http://www.petitionproject.org/

      As to what happened to the original data, the following article answers your question:

      http://www.tncd.com/ebs/dog.ate.data.pdf

      However, the bottom line is that a huge % of the original data was worthless in the first place because the recording locations weren’t positioned properly, and in some cases it was used selectively to create the desired results. An example of that is the ending years as displayed in the Hockey Stick, which used northern hemisphere data exclusively.

      Temperatures have indeed been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA), but man is not the cause, it's the sun. The biggest part of the big lie however is still ignored by most skeptics, which makes me furious. WARMING IS GOOD !

      Google the Medieval Warm Period and the LIA and read about the relative effects of warming vs. cooling… It's all a lie !

  • davarino

    And now the scientists are recanting their claim that the sea levals are rising. hehehehe

  • http://www.e-cigarettedirect.com prince

    McIntyre and McKitrick. in my opinion, did well for their contribution in the hockey-stick graph, However Global warming is here and we can't deny it

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Kibalchish Niederbrunnsulzen

    This article ignores the objective historical truths of scientific climatism and engages in several logical fallacies.

    Scientific climatism investigates the laws, patterns, ways, and forms of climate struggle and a climate revolution, and, ultimately, the establishment of a true climatist state.

    Scientific climatism achieves its goals by empowering the climate-aware working classes of proletariat, progressive peasantry and revolutionary intelligentsia.

    Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Raymond Bradley are members of the revolutionary avant-garde and acted in conformity with the principles of scientific climatism. Therefore it’s logically impossible for them to take actions divergent to the interests of the historically relevant classes. Their opponents on the other hand use science to achieve goals contradictory to these progressive goals and their ideas will be discarded in the course of history.

    Unterschrieben von:
    Dieter Niederbrunnsulzen