The Globe and Mail reports
CALGARY — The skeptic at the centre of the heated debate about climate change that has been taking place in Canadian newspapers is moving the dispute to the courts, where Tim Ball is seeking $325,000 in damages for a letter to the editor that he says amounted to a “malicious attack” on his reputation.
Mr. Ball, who is the country’s most well-known critic of global-warming theory, is suing the Calgary Herald and its editors, the University of Lethbridge and one if its professors, Dan Johnson, for defamation, according to documents filed this month with the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.
The dispute stems from an opinion piece on global warming that Mr. Ball wrote for the Herald last April and a published letter written by Prof. Johnson, an environmental scientist at the southern Alberta institution, who subsequently questioned the credentials attributed to Mr. Ball at the end of his article.
Here is Johnson’s letter
Whatever one may feel about Tim Ball’s denial of climate change science, newspapers ought to report factual summaries of authors’ credentials. You note he “was the first Climatology PhD in Canada and worked as a Professor of Climatology at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years”. Ball received a PhD in Geography in the UK in 1982, on a topic in historical climatology. Canada already had PhD’s in climatology, and it is important to recognize them and their research. Examples include Kenneth Hare, who received his PhD in 1950, also in the UK. Climatologist Andre Robert (PhD from McGill, 1965) conducted research that laid the groundwork in atmospheric models and climate. Timothy Oke, a leader in the study of urban climate, received his PhD from McMaster in 1967. According to Ball’s website, he was not a climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years. How could he have? He did not even have an entry-level PhD until 1983, which would allow even Assistant Professor status. During much of the 28 years cited, he was a junior Lecturer who rarely published, and then spent 8 years as a geography professor. His work does not show any evidence of research regarding climate and atmosphere and the few papers he has published concern other matters. There are great gains to be made in science from conjectures and refutations, but sometimes denial is nothing more than denial.
The Globe and Mail continues:
Although Mr. Ball acknowledges that he only became a professor at the university in 1988, in his court documents he accuses the Herald of being negligent for not checking the accuracy of other contents of Prof. Johnson’s letter.
The letter suggests Mr. Ball “falsified his professional and academic credentials” and that he does not have the qualifications to make “serious comments” about global warming, according to the lawsuit.
So Ball admits he falsified his credentials but is suing anyway? The Calgary Herald is being sued despite publishing this “clarification”:
“Clarification On Sunday, April 23, 2006, The Herald published a letter from Dan Johnson, a professor in environmental science at the University of Lethbridge. Johnson was responding to an article of April 19, 2006, written by Dr. Timothy Ball. In his letter, Johnson criticized Ball’s lack of research regarding climate and said he rarely published while teaching at the University of Winnipeg. According to Ball’s curriculum vitae, he has conducted research on climate and has published 51 papers – 32 directly related to climate and atmosphere. The Herald wishes to clarify that information.”
However, hardly any of those 51 publications are in scientific journals but include things like gardening magazines. I looked in Web of Science and could only find four papers by Ball, all on historical climatology, none on climate and atmosphere. I don’t see how Ball can possibly win his case, but I guess that’s not the point.