RESPONSE TO BENESTAD ET AL (2015)
Last year, Rasmus Benestad and a list of coauthors published a paper called "Learning from Mistakes in Climate Research." While purporting to be about scientific methodology, the bulk of the paper was a trojan horse-like Supplement that disparages a long list of papers the authors dislike. I first encountered this study in 2012 when I was asked to referee it for Climatic Change. I requested the authors revise the many errors in it, and when they failed to do so, the editors rejected it. I was then asked to review it for another journal, where I again pointed out the same uncorrected errors, and it was rejected. It was also submitted to a handful of other journals where I was not the reviewer, but the editors rejected it based on other referees' comments. Finally the authors (the list of which now includes some new names, even though the content is little changed since 2012) found a willing host in the form of Theoretical and Applied Climatology, which published it last fall.
On September 1 2015 I sent a detailed critique to the editor (Hartmut Grassl) and managing editor (Robert Doe) requesting retraction of the most obviously false statements in the Supplement to the article. I never received even an acknowledgment of receipt of my email, so I have today re-sent it to the journal.
January 20, 2016
RESPONSE TO BENESTAD ET AL. (2015)
Newspaper Columns, Commentary and Other
SUMMER 2015 OP-EDS ON ENVIRO POLICY
A FIRST LOOK AT THE KARL ET AL. (2015) REVISED TEMPERATURE DATA SET
The team from NOAA released (June 4 2015) a new global temperature data set that shows an upward trend after 1998 of similar magnitude to the post-1950 trend, thus eliminating the "hiatus" observed in other data sets. The source of this change is the revision from the ERSSTv3b to the ERSSTv4 ocean surface data set. In order to help readers understand what i think the changes mean, or don't mean, I have prepared a commentary (June 8: Revised version posted):
THE PRINCIPLE OF TARGETING
I published a brief essay through the Fraser Institute called
ENERGY POLICY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP: RISK MANAGEMENT NOT RISK AVOIDANCE
I was invited to speak at the 2015 Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum held annually at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. This year's debate was on climate change and environmental policy. My task was to present a paper that would then be responded to by two other invited speakers, Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance and Bill McKibben of 350.org (representing two opposing positions on the climate issue). It being a seminary I organized my thoughts around the parable of the faithful and unfaithful stewards from the gospels. My paper can be downloaded here. The parable of the stewards (also known as the parable of the talents) is a warning against our tendency to exaggerate the downside risks inherent in putting our resources and talents to work, even when we know they have the potential to yield great benefits and rewards for others. I explain why I see this playing out around the climate change issue.
THE CON IN CONSENSUS
I published an op-ed in the Financial Post on May 11, 2015 looking at the reality behind claims of a 97% consensus on global warming. The online version did not include inks to sources. For those, see the PDF version here.
UPDATE: John Cook's response is here. My response to him is here.
ALSO: See this column by Richard Tol on Cook's methods.
ASSESSING THE PROSPECTS FOR A BINDING, EFFECTIVE, GLOBAL CLIMATE TREATY
I was an invited speaker at the 2014 Global Business Forum in Banff, Alberta, September 18-19. I was asked to be on a panel discussing climate and energy policies. The format allowed me about 10 minutes to present my perspective on these issues to an audience of CEOs, business leaders, a few academics and other VIPs from Canada and around the world. I decided to eschew powerpoint and simply give a short speech, which is available here.
Journal Articles and Discussion Papers
PIPELINE UNCERTAINTY AND THE MARKET VALUE OF CANADIAN ENERGY FIRMS
Elmira Aliakbari and I looked at the question of whether unanticipated events that have bearing on whether pipeline projects get approved affects the market value of Canadian oil and gas firms. The working paper version of our study is here:
CLIMATIC VARIATIONS AND THE MARKET VALUE OF INSURANCE FIRMS
Bin Hu and I published a study looking at how climate variations, in particular indicators of extreme weather, have historically affected the share prices of major insurance firms. The insurance industry has raised the concern that climate change poses a financial risk due to higher payouts for weather-related disasters. However, if extreme weather is increasing, presumably that means they have an opportunity to sell more insurance products as well, which may increase profitability. In our paper:
TRADE LIBERALIZATION AND POLLUTION HAVENS
Bin Hu and I published a study looking at whether the distribution of consumption-generated pollution changes in a different way than production-generated pollution between rich and poor countries under trade liberalization. Previous work has focused on production-generated ("smokestack") emissions rather than consumption-generated ("tailpipe") emissions, and finds pollution intensity tends to rise in rich countries relative to poor countries after trade liberalization. We present a theoretical model in which the opposite pattern is predicted for tailpipe emissions, and we find empirical support for this in an international panel of data on carbon monoxide emissions.
I am very pleased to announce the launch of yourenvironment.ca, a new project of mine. The idea is very simple: to present the complete environmental record of every community across Canada. The site currently shows air emissions by source (back to 1985), air contaminant levels (back to 1974) and monthly average high temperatures (back to 1900) for hundreds of places across the country. Water pollution data are coming this summer.
The layout is self-explanatory and it's very easy to use. The data are all from government agencies, but most of it has not hitherto been disseminated in a usable form to the public. All my sources are, or will soon be, linked and the data I use will all be easily-downloadable.
So the next time you find yourself in a conversation with someone who (i) is convinced that Canada does nothing to protect the environment, or (ii) thinks winters around here used to be a lot colder/longer/snowier; or it never used to be this warm/cold in April/October/ etc, or (iii) worries/guffaws about the alleged/obvious ecological disaster all around us, and you wonder what, if any, of this is true, look at yourenvironment.ca and find out.
While browsing, check out the new lyric video for the single Waste My Time by my friend Joni NehRita.