Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Climate Denial in Canada’s Classrooms

More bad news for the climate deniers at the Heartland Institute, which is still badly reeling from the controversial leak of information of its budget and strategy documents.

It has now been revealed that an associate of the Institute taught a course at a top Canadian university that contained over 140 false, biased and misleading claims about climate science.

Whereas the newly leaked documents revealed how it plans to spend $100,000 on a project countering established teaching of climate change to American school children, its affiliates have already been spreading misinformation in Canadian schools.

The 98 page report, entitled  “Climate Change Denial in the Classroom” was published yesterday by the Canadian Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Scepticism (CASS) and the Centre for Inquiry, Canada.

It depicts how “noted climate change deniers have gained access to the Canadian higher education system … These academics are closely associated with a number of organisations that have involvement with the energy industry.”

The course in question is at Carleton University in Ottawa and it was taught for four terms from 2009-2011 by Tom Harris, who is described by the Heartland Institute as one of its policy advisors on the environment.

Harris is not even a climate scientist but a mechanical engineer by training.

Richard Littlemore explains more of Harris’ background on DeSmogBlog: “Tom Harris, who originally trained as a mechanical engineer, has been a strategist for the climate change denial industry for at least a decade. A favourite presenter misrepresented as a PhD at the Heartland Institute’s regular climate change denial conferences, Harris has worked directly for companies like the international PR giant APCO Worldwide or for energy industry lobby firms such as Toronto’s High Park Group. More recently, he has launched or led at least three phony “grassroots organizations” – energy industry front groups that promote confusion or denial in climate science.”

Richard Littlemore continues: “Now, Harris is teaching at Carleton, passing on a mix of climate denial mythology and flat out fiction, telling students that the planet isn’t really warming, that (if it is), humans aren’t to blame, that (if they are) if might be a good thing and that, regardless, it’s just too complicated for mere scientists to figure out. (“The climate problem is so difficult that we might never solve it.”)

CASS report’s conclusions are equally damning. It argues that whereas “Carleton University teaches a range of courses on various aspects of climate change and the vast majority adhere to the highest academic standards … the content of this particular course is heavily biased against the scientific consensus concerning the anthropogenic causes of dangerous climate change.”

It continues: “Through an extensive audit of the course material, we identify 142 claims made during the lectures by the instructor, Mr Tom Harris, and various guest lecturers, that run counter to established scientific opinion. We review these claims and provide corrections, citing peer-reviewed scientific publications where appropriate.”

Finally it says that “it is important to note that the unbalanced nature of the course, the lack of peer-reviewed literature cited, and the non-science audience mean that the course fails to constitute ‘promotion of debate? and instead merely presents a biased and inaccurate portrayal of contemporary climate science.”

One of the team who wrote the report, Chris Hassall, told the Guardian the material was “fairly shocking really. To look through some of the claims and to find that he was spinning those things as either a scientific debate, or muddying the waters on the extent of the consensus in scientific literature, or providing theories that really lacked empirical evidence – it happened time and time again and we document it extensively.”

According to Littlemore, other Carleton professors describe the course as “a source of embarrassment to the institution.”

Not surprisingly, really.

Comments (5)

  1. klem says:

    “According to Littlemore, other Carleton professors describe the course as “a source of embarrassment to the institution.”

    And the institution has allowed the course to continue to be taught. Surely an entire department has has reviwed the course material and approved it. If it is such an embarrassment, why do they allow it? Because it is not the embarrassment that these professors claim it is. Simple as that.

  2. Werner Strasser says:

    CASS, the Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism, is criticizing the skepticism of a professor on matters of AGW by calling him a climate change dinier. Where is the proof that the professor denies that the climate changes?

    It would behoove CASS to criticize the fraudulent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports first before using this junk science as ammunition against the professor. This report undermines CASS’s credibility. CASS attempts to smear a professor who refuses to “accept scientific opinion”: Opinion is opinion and is not fact. Therefore, it is imperative the professor is allowed to voice his opinion while CASS shell not be allowed to tyrannically clamp down on the principle of academic freedom.

    CASS itself appears to be one of a number of smaller organizations that rely not on scientific evidence but on rhetoric and international PR tactics. Otherwise they would not have wasted pressures resources creating a 98 page report of propaganda in support of the AWG-hoax.

    I commend Professor Tom Harris for making his students think and analyze the AWG’s pseudo-scientific thesis that is paid for and served by arrogant, self-serving political organizations under the motto that it is “the generally accepted scientists’ consensus that human activity is responsible for the climate”.

    Hitler, the founder of this particular kind of science, recognized that there always will be some who just can’t be brain-washed and indoctrinated and those must be “neutralized” via special means. Is that’s what’s going on here?

  3. Cher Longman says:

    Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions, or in the distribution of weather around the average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change is caused by factors that include oceanic processes (such as oceanic circulation), biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions, and human-induced alterations of the natural world.-

    Kind regards

  4. Anonymous says:

    Regarding Mr. Tom Harris’ stint at Carleton University, MacLeans published an article called
    “Professor criticized for course denying climate change”
    Tom Harris IS NOT A PROFESSOR AND NEVER HAS BEEN ONE. MacLeans should publish a disclaimer to inform readers of this egregious mistake, since only highly educated academics with PhD’s deserve this title, not Mr. Harris (who has an MA in Engineering).
    His expertise in anthropogenic climate change – none.
    Mr. Tom Harris lectured for a short time at Carleton University before he was unceremoniously removed for teaching his anti-anthropogenic climate change rhetoric. MacLeans also doesn’t mention that Mr. Tom Harris and several organizations he has been affiliated with, have been funded by fossil fuel industries…clearly a conflict of interests. Money can make some people sell their souls apparently, even if it means regurgitating information and propaganda that flies against internationally accepted scientifically proven facts.
    For MacLeans to call Mr. Harris a professor is a travesty. A professor has the highest educational rank at universities and research institutions. They are experts in their areas of expertise and are accomplished and recognized academics. They are scholars with doctorate degrees (typically Ph.D. degrees) who teach in universities. They conduct original research and teach grads and undergrads in areas of their expertise. They publish advanced original research in peer reviewed journals in their fields. A professor may also serve as a public intellectual, offering opinions to media and in other forums on current issues and other complex matters that require expert illumination, which Mr. Harris endeavours to do but fails miserably at, owing to his lack of education on the subject and financial interests in the fossil fuel industry. After much work, a professor may become tenured which allows him or her academic freedom. It is beneficial for society and academy in the long run if scholars are at liberty to examine, hold, and advance controversial views without fear of dismissal, however it must be emphasized that only tenured professors are afforded this freedom since they have the education, peer reviewed publications, extensive experience and overall knowledge required to intellectually select and teach such materials.
    Mr. Harris has never put in the several years of education required to become a professor. He has never put in the hard work and time required for research or writing advanced scholarly studies that are published in peer reviewed journals. Mr. Tom Harris had the audacity to teach controversial ideas, without the required education, peer reviewed publications, experience or overall knowledge. Doing so is allowed only to tenured professors for reasons already discussed.
    This is all why Mr. Tom Harris was kicked to the curb of Carleton University…and rightfully so.

  5. anonymous says:

    Correction regarding Tom Harris’ background.
    Mr. Harris was not removed from Carleton Umiversity. He left after four terms. Owing to the fact there was such an uproar about the course subject matter when a report revealed that it contained a number of errors and exaggerations and some Carleton professors described the course as a “a source of embarrassment to the institution”, it was mistakenly believed to be true.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *