More McKitrick

Chris Mooney notes that McKitrick defended Inhofe’s claim that “manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated”

I’m not the only one who has found problems with McKitrick’s writings on climate. Robert Grumbine has some comments on another McKitrick paper:

He was fooling around with correlating per capita income with the observed temperature changes. He concluded that the warming was a figment of climatologists imaginations, as there was a correlation between money and warming. ‘Obviously’ this had to be due to wealth creating the warming in the dataset, rather than any climate change—his conclusion.

Along the way he:

  1. selected a subset of temperature records
    1. without using a random method
    2. without paying attention to spatial distribution
    3. without ensuring that the records were far enough apart to be independant—ok, I shouldn’t say ‘he’ did it, because he didn’t. He blindly took a selection that his student made and which was—to my eyes—distributed quite peculiarly.
  2. Treated the records as being independant (I know William knows this, but for some other folks: Surface temperature records are correlated across fairly substantial distances—a few hundred km. This is what makes paleoreconstructions possible, and what makes it possible to initialize global numerical weather prediction models with so few observations.)
  3. Ignored that we do expect, and have reason to expect that the warming will be higher in higher latitudes
  4. Ignored that the wealthy countries are at higher latitudes

Hence my calling it fooling around rather than work or study. He was, he said, submitting that pile of tripe* to a journal.
*pile of tripe being my term, not his.


His main conclusion was regarding climate change—namely that there isn’t any. His secondary conclusion was that climate people studying climate data were idiots. Neither of those is a statement of economics, so my knowledge of economics is irrelevant (though, in matter of fact, it is far greater than his knowledge of climate; this says little, as his displayed level doesn’t challenge a bright jr. high student.).

Grumbine’s correspondence with McKitrick is here


  1. #1 Louis Hissink
    April 29, 2004


    Measuring the temperature of “what” – what physical object have these temperatures measured?

  2. #2 Tim Lambert
    April 29, 2004

    Louis, weather stations measure the temperature of the air.

  3. #3 Louis Hissink
    May 4, 2004


    I wasn’t paying too much attention to what either McKitrick or Grumbine wrote, and I will have to look at it in detail.

    From what I have scanned, it confirms experience that economists and geographers share a common trait when it comes to hard science – inexperience, and that is not a fault.

    Do an ore reserve calculation using your mathematical principles and then wonder why the wolves bay at your door – all I will say at this moment.

  4. #4 Eli Rabett
    May 30, 2004

    Louis, inexperience combined with a big mouth can get one in large trouble. McKitrick qualifies as an economist, since Grumbine is not a geographer, that pretty much identifies your field I guess.

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