The latest story doing the rounds of the global warming deniers (Drudge, Andrew Bolt, etc), is this one from Lorne Gunter in the National Post:

Kenneth Tapping of our own National Research Council, who oversees a giant radio telescope focused on the sun, is convinced we are in for a long period of severely cold weather if sunspot activity does not pick up soon.

If you are feeling a little bit of deja vu right now, it’s because Gunter is making the same misrepresentation of Tapping’s views that we saw in the Investor’s Business Daily a couple of weeks ago.

Mind you, Gunter isn’t just misrepresenting Tapping, Gavin M checked and Gunter is misrpesenting the National Climatic Data Center as well:

Gunter, we don’t know about — but a conservative has to be pretty slovenly indeed, in this Internet age of ours, to write a column pretending that a publicly-viewable document says the opposite of what it actually says, while not even bothering to confound the issue, attack the messenger, or twist common English terms of fact into tortured balloon-animals.


  1. #1 Sir Oolius
    February 26, 2008

    Yes, and the arctic is re-freezing! See: it looks just as good as last year!

    And don’t worry about the gulf stream. The wind will save us!

    Finally, here’s the best video CEI ever produced! [shameless self-link warning].


  2. #2 andy
    February 26, 2008

    The NP is a really weird newspaper. It wins tons of awards for layout, design, graphics, etc. but is hopelessly palaeoconservative when it comes to politics and science policy. Its stances on global warming, ESCR, HPV, and such are pretty much taken directly from WND. Editorially, its politics are ultraconservative (GWOT, “rights” of detainees, people who get Tasered deserve it, GWB is too “compassionate”, criticizing the Police should be illegal, any criticism of Israel = denying the Holocaust, the polar bear population is actually increasing, Polar Ice is increasing, it’s been really cold this winter, and more!)

    Why do I read it? ‘Cause I’m a news junkie and I got a free subscription for life when it started up!

  3. #3 Brian D
    February 26, 2008

    As an Edmonton native, I’ve met Gunter myself, and if I had to pick any more well-known personality to describe him as, I’d say “Penn Jillette on Valium”. I wouldn’t characterize him as stupid (I’d prefer “willingly misinformed”; on nonscientific social issues he’ll make arguments that appear sound until you realize his premises are garbage and he has no interest in fact-checking them or revising them), but I will say he’s horribly, horribly jaded if anyone suggests anything that might be interpreted as implying that someone would prefer to slightly infringe on his personal liberties. As a result, if global warming comes up, he’ll jump on any argument that discredits it, lest it suggest that business-as-usual is causing a problem, even if it flies in the face of basic science — and if he can criticize liberals at the same time, he’ll do it at double-speed.

    Doesn’t surprise me that the National Post runs his stuff. ‘Paleoconservative’ is the best description I’ve heard of it in years.

    By the way, Tim, you’re missing a “not” up there. Gunter is mischaracterizing both Tapping and the NCDC. *[Fixed. Thanks. Tim]*

  4. #4 Sir Oolius
    February 26, 2008

    Forbes gets in on it now too. We have a trifecta!

  5. #5 bi
    February 27, 2008

    Sir Oolius:

    It seems YouTube took down the video. 🙁

  6. #6 bi
    February 27, 2008

    But here‘s another hilarious CEI ad. It’s discussed here.

  7. #7 mj
    February 27, 2008

    The Daily Telegraph is repeating the Tapping misrepresentation here –
    Catherine Elsworth reports on everything from the California fires to Britney Spears and the Spice Girls!

  8. #8 Graculus
    February 27, 2008

    Oh hell, I refered to it as the National ComPost from day one. Outside of the fact that “right-wing rag” would be a step up for them, they’ve destroyed a huge number of decent local dailies to keep thier bloated, bleeding corpse afloat. So much for the Invisible Hand Job of the market…

  9. #9 ~C4Chaos
    February 27, 2008

    thanks for the heads up and the links! i’ve riffed on this issue on my blog as well.

    bottom line: there are sensible arguments on Global Warming. but that National Post article is pure garbage.


  10. #10 Raheem
    February 27, 2008

    Why not just admit you were wrong?

  11. #11 Interrobang
    February 27, 2008

    The fact that the National Pissed was Conrad Black’s baby to start with should make “Don’t believe anything you read in it” self-evident from before the word “go.” If I read that up was up in the NP, I’d want to do experiments to check.

  12. #12 Hank Roberts
    February 29, 2008

    Note as of this posting, at cryosphere today:

    “We are experiencing some data problems with the current timeseries data. Please disregard the current timeseries data from mid-February 2008 to present until we rectify the data issues. The spatial maps should be fine.”

  13. #13 chris y
    March 3, 2008

    This sounds like it might go back to this lot. They have an interest: they’re a for profit company.

  14. #14 Rico
    March 3, 2008

    Not only did Gunter misrepresent Tapping and the NCDC, he also completely butchered Toggweiler and Russell’s data. In a grotesque bit of slight of mouth (hand?) Gunter makes it sound like they’re denialists predicting an impending ice age. The truth is exactly the opposite on both counts. Read this:

  15. #15 Thursday
    March 4, 2008

    Don’t forget: the current Conservative government (and folks in Alberta in particular) are very, very concerned about anything that may stop the flow of oil from that province.

    The fact that most of the oil – and almost all of the new production – is coming from tar sands. It’s expensive to process and an ecological nightmare, but it brings cash Cash CASH! As far as Gunter is concerned, he’s defending his homeland against evil outside forces, not putting forth a scientific argument.

  16. #16 Brian D
    March 4, 2008

    Speaking of the Alberta Conservatives (in power for 37 consecutive years now), they just won 70+ seats out of 83 in the provincial government (on ~20% of the population’s support, but that’s another issue). The province’s big issue on climate change didn’t get a lot of attention, but it amounts to stopping or slowing down tar sands development. The (same old) new government’s stance on tar sands development *literally* (in their leader’s own words) was “No brakes”.

    Given how many rural Albertans (the current power base of the province) are *still* bitter about decades-old federal liberal policies that were interpreted as a cash grab (literally, I have met several people personally who consider ANY money leaving the province to be theft, and ANY plan to slow development a liberal plot to screw the West), this policy, and Gunter’s behaviour, should appear a bit more in perspective.

    Doesn’t excuse him for not fact-checking, but it shows why he wouldn’t want to fact-check in the first place. More fuel to burn.

  17. #17 dhogaza
    March 6, 2008

    The fact that most of the oil – and almost all of the new production – is coming from tar sands. It’s expensive to process and an ecological nightmare

    I’ve seen a few pieces about it here in the US, and last year got to verify the nightmare bit with my own eyes, on a polar flight from Portland, OR to Frankfurt, DE.

    It wasn’t just the size of the actual scraping areas.

    It was the fact that an obvious processing plant, on a river, was turning the color of that river from a nice clear blue to an ugly, brownish-yellow color.

    The amount of pollutants going into that one river startled me more than the actually destruction of the ground, because my US background has led me to expect that mining is uncontrolled (mostly) on federal lands here (due to the 1872 mining patent law) but we can, at least, attack such efforts based on water pollution side-effects.

    But up there? Wow. The whole tar sands mining effort is so ill-conceived from any reasonable long-term point of view …

  18. #18 Tom Fiddaman
    March 7, 2008

    I wrote about this in a lengthy discussion on an MIT email list (where people ought to know better). A summary is at

    In addition to misrepresentations of Tapping & Toggweiler/Russell, the basic facts are pretty sloppy.


  19. #19 z
    March 7, 2008

    “Speaking of the Alberta Conservatives (in power for 37 consecutive years now), they just won 70+ seats out of 83 in the provincial government ”

    Well, of course this means they’ll dismantle that singlepayer healthcare system that the population are so disgusted with, eh? har har.

    You think having the Conservatives in power for 37 years is bad, as I posted previously elsewhere, there are two parties to the RIGHT of the Conservatives in Alberta now. They’re middle of the road, as long as the road is through the center of an oil field. More proof of my observation that noplace that gets its income from oil money has a functional government.

    But I grew up under the Social Credits, in power 1935-1971. Yet another of the parties which considered the Conservative party to be dangerous socialists (and whose remnants ended up merging with the remnants of the Conservatives to form the current Conservative party). And that was before the oil boom. Under Ernest Manning, no less, in power himself for 25 long years. Who was on the radio every Sunday when I grew up; not as Provincial Premier, but preaching on the Prophetic Bible Hour.

    And yet; he/they weren’t anywhere near the current crop of Bible-thumping troglodytic self-proclaimed conservatives (talking about the US now). For one thing, they lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, how should I say, oh yes MEAN BULLYING streak. For another, they weren’t hypocrites; but that sort of blends back into the first point, doesn’t it?

  20. #20 z
    March 7, 2008

    “MIT email list ”

    Might one enquire as to the cyberwhereabouts of said list? TIA.

  21. #21 Tom Fiddaman
    March 10, 2008

    Re 20

    I presume that it was an MIT Sloan list, but I don’t know whether or where it has an archive. A colleague forwarded me a message from the list, which asked whether scientists were all wet, linking the NP article, and I responded, but not direct to the list. – Tom

  22. #22 Dan
    March 19, 2008

    Oh, yes, Lorne Gunter. I brought a copy of one of his articles from the National Post class, to impress on environment students the importance of checking the meaning of a word before writing about it (in this case, apparently a sarcastic swipe at endangered species regulations).


    “Mock ballistic missiles were fired from Kodiak Island, Alaska. Yet on neither occasion did the Atoll-based interceptors make it off the ground – first because of a software glitch and then because of an environmental monitor in the interceptor’s underground silo shut off the rockets. (We regret to inform you that Seattle has been obliterated. But the good news is, vital habitat of the ring-necked tree slug was preserved on some spit of land no one has ever heard of in the middle of nowhere.)”

    End of quote. “Fighting the last war?”, by Lorne Gunter, page A12 of the National Post, Feb 21, 2005

    /// Excuse me? The “environmental monitor” that shut down the rocket engine wasn’t a bureaucrat or an environmentalist on a mission to protect endangered species (which the author represents with an invented endangered species name). It seems obvious that the environmental monitors in underground missile silos are devices that measure the environmental variables in the silo, related to the conditions and the readiness of the rockets. The other news services understood the event the way I did, but maybe we are all wrong, and Gunter is right.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.