There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff – we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.
If everyone who saw this today donated $5, we would meet our goal for 2020.
| Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.|
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with !
| It's gettin' hot in here|
McKitrick has a computer program that he uses. You too can mimic McKitrick's working procedure:
- Load some data into the program. It is helpful if at least some of the data is climate related, but anything will do.
- Perform the data analysis with the program. This involves:
- Clicking icons.
- Selecting menu items.
- Entering values in dialog boxes.
- Continue analysis until the desired result appears. This is easily recognised as a result that says global warming does not exist.
- (Optional) Make sure that there aren't any minor errors in the analysis, such as, say, forgetting to convert degrees into radians.
- Publish the results. If relevant journals will not publish them, put them in irrelevant journals and complain about a conspiracy to hide the truth.
After publishing the results, people will discuss them. The responses fall into two categories:
- Those who like the results. Invariably, these people don't understand what McKitrick has done or why, but they are happy that a professor is agreeing with them that global warming is bunk. These people are called "global warming deniers."
- Those who don't like the results. These people usually have some knowledge of statistics and try to understand why McKitrick has made inappropriate choices for the selection of the average. These people also know the difference between radians and degrees (see below). These people are, without exception, shills for the Illuminati and its project to subjugate humanity with the global warming hoax!
With the methodology described above, anybody can now go ahead and generate their own critiques of global warming. The examples below demonstrate the level of creativity that McKitrick brings to this genre.
McKitrick coauthored one of the cornerstones of denialism with Steve McIntyre (abbreviated as "M&M"). In this, they accused Mann et al., the authors of the original "hockey stick" paper, of "collation errors, unjustifiable truncations of extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculations of principal components, and other quality control defects." A bit harsh — Mann et al. acknowledged errors and published a correction, and the overall hockey stick was unchanged. Other authors have confirmed the basic accuracy of the hockey stick.
M&M have since tried other ways of discrediting the hockey stick by questioning the data used for the reconstruction. However, these have not been widely accepted. In fact, one critic has pointed out that M&M do not appear to know the difference between addition and subtraction when dealing with data sets.
No such thing as average temperature
One of the more inventive claims is that it is physically impossible to produce an average temperature. The justification for all of this comes in a book by Ross McKitrick and Christopher Essex. Many basic principles of thermodynamics are stated, considered, then thrown out of the window as being unsuitable to the point the authors want to make.
A particularly bizarre point is the use of various different means (root mean square, geometric, arithmetic, etc.) to calculate trends in the data. The different methods produce different results. By simply using different analysis methods without seemingly understanding if they make physical sense, the authors conclude that it is not possible to produce an average temperature.
Leaving the odd statistical decisions to one side, Tim Lambert looked at McKitrick's analysis. The raw data had several gaps — data points with no data. Rather than ignoring these points in the calculation, McKitrick's analysis treated these points as if they all represented a temperature of 0°C. Unsurprisingly, when including a load of false zeroes in the calculation, a cooling trend was produced. McKitrick's response was to invent his own temperature scale in an attempt to keep the changes he wanted. Spectacular!
Global warming does not exist because degrees are the same as radians!
A further attempt to explain away global warming is to claim that observed surface warming is due to economic effects, such as land use. This makes no comment on other temperature measurements, which also show a warming trend. As an economist, he might be on good ground here.
Ever on-mission, he managed to make a mess out of the calculation. The problem with his model was that for no good reason, he included the cosine of the latitude in the calculation. He seemed to be unaware that his program performed calculations with the angles in radians; McKitrick did not make the necessary conversion. Conclusion — global warming does not exist! Once the calculations were performed correctly, with the necessary conversion, McKitrick's new effect disappeared and the data agreed with all other trends.
Quite why he used the cosine in this way is not clear. It is possible that he was just playing around with numbers until he got a result that he liked, then ran with it.
Major population centres in Antarctica
As one of the inputs for his modelling, McKitrick has a file containing data such as population, GDP, etc., for different countries. Somewhere along the line, something went wrong with the coordinates in this file, so that it gave erroneous information such as:
- A population of 59 million on the Antarctic peninsula.
- The entire population and economy of France squeezed into French Polynesia, a small archipelago in the Pacific.
- A uniform distribution of population over the whole of the US, meaning that the population density in New York is the same as that in Alaska.
Most likely, some form of automation went haywire, with a computer assigning "France" to French Polynesia, "Britain" to the British Antarctic Territory, etc. McKitrick clearly never performed any sanity check on his input data and simply believed the results it produced.
This data file was used in producing data for his papers from 2007 until mid-2012, when the error was discovered by Steven Mosher. At a stroke, this renders worthless pretty much all of McKitrick's research in this timespan.
The real answer
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.
It would save everybody a lot of time and trouble if he just wrote this instead of inventing other poor objections to the theory.
- E. Calvin Beisner, who he co-authored some nonsense with
- Patrick Michaels
- Steve McIntyre
- Wegman Report
- Confirmation bias
- Heartland Institute — check his CV, he's in bed with them.
- Deltoid category - Lambert has been following the adventures of Ross McKitrick for many years now.
- Deep Climate category
- As a professor at the University of Guelph, he's also fully-funded by the Ontario taxpayer.
- McKitrick has built up a bad reputation for writing complete rubbish. It is unlikely that anything he writes will be published without extreme scrutiny. See Deep Climate as an example.
- The paper, published in the rather controversial journal Energy and Environment, is available from Steve McIntyre's Climate Fraudit website (PDF).
- Google archive of sci.environment
- Eli Rabett What is temperature…
- Eli Rabett T(emperature) Rex bites Essex and McKitrick in the butt…
- Tim Lambert Corrections to the McKitrick (2002) Global Average Temperature Series
- Tim Lambert You Dirty Errata
- Tim Lambert McKitrick screws up yet again
- Comments in Judith Curry's blog (Thanks to Eli Rabett)
- Cornwall Alliance See under "economists"
- Cornwall Alliance Text of the declaration