A report detailing an audit of a course called “Climate Change: An Earth Sciences Perspective” (ERTH 2402), taught at Carleton University, has been compiled by a team of concerned individuals and was released a few minutes ago. From the report:
The course… provides an unbalanced and, in many cases, factually inaccurate view of anthropogenic global warming which detracts from the high quality of teaching at Carleton University. We highlight 142 incorrect or equivocal claims and cite the relevant scientific literature to correct those statements. While the principle of academic freedom remains paramount, it is nonetheless imperative that university students be presented with accurate scientific information.
… We describe a case in which noted climate change deniers have gained access to the Canadian higher education system through a course taught at Carleton University … These academics are closely associated with a number of organisations that have involvement with the energy industry.
… This course is taught with little reference to the primary literature and is largely presented to non-science majors. We note that other courses at Carleton University teach the established science on climate change, with instructors who have been involved with the IPCC and sharing in the Nobel Peace Prize that that organisation was awarded.
… We present our report to highlight how one extreme of the climate change debate is being taught in higher education and where that teaching diverges from the contemporary scientific consensus.
The course is taught by Tom Harris, who is affiliated with a number of climate change and science denialist organizations, including the Friends of Science (which asserts that “the Sun is the main direct and indirect driver of climate change”); the Natural Resources Stewardship Project (NRSP), ( which is “a proactive grassroots campaign to counter the Kyoto Protocol and other greenhouse gas reduction schemes while promoting sensible climate change policy”); the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), which is “an association of scientists, economists, and energy and policy experts working to promote better public understanding of climate change science and policy. ICSC is committed to providing a highly credible alternative to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and helping foster a more rational, open discussion about climate issues. Two panels of distinguished scientists and policy experts from more than a dozen countries oversee the ICSC’s research and educational efforts,” and which received $45,000 in funding from the Heartland Institute; and the Heartland Institute, which among other things has allocated $100,000 to develop a K-12 “curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science.”
The report documents the lack of actual scientific evidence used in the course. Scientific literature is replaced with frequent claims by Harris to have spoken to or emailed with various scientist to get their opinions on course related issues. One of the teaching tools Harris uses is a “blooper of the week” project, in which students search the mainstream media for claims made about climate change which are then refuted using Harris”s material. Students “win” the assignment with the best denilist rhetoric.
From the report:
Like much of the climate change denial movement, Harris’ course is structured around concentric sets of arguments. The first line of defence is to claim that climate change (more specifically, global warming) is not happening. This makes the title of our report accurate: as well as a role for humans in contemporary climate change, Harris disputes even the existence of and our ability to detect warming in global temperatures in the face of substantial scientific evidence and, therefore, qualifies as a climate change denier. Harris makes a variety of statements to support this, hinging on a combination of claims of a lack of scientific consensus, inference of fraud and dishonesty, and inaccurate critiques of established science…
The report makes use of 171 references, mostly peer reviewed scientific papers, to evaluate every aspect of the course, point by point, the entire narrative of this bogus course. In all, 142 specific claims made in the course are described and addressed. Here are a few examples, with the references used in them:
Claim 15. “Current resurvey of 1221 US Historical Climatological Network found 70% of stations severely compromised. Only 4% at proper standards.”
RESPONSE: Some existing climatological network stations do need to be brought in line with current standards. However, NOAA is aware of these kinds of problems and responded by comparing the best 70 stations with the full 1218 station dataset, and found almost identical trends . A recent, comprehensive, analysis of station quality further indicated that station quality did not alter the warming trends in temperature data .
Claim 25. [citing Nils Axel-Morner] â??The sea level has been significantly higher, to about a meter higher, in the Maldives seven times in the last 4000 years and it’s not particularly high right now and it’s not showing any trend of doing so. So I’m afraid the scare is in fact completely fabricated.â??
RESPONSE: Harris is correct in saying that sea level has been higher in the past, even during the present interglacial. This period is known as the “mid-Holocene hydro-isostatic highstand”, and occurred in the Pacific around 2,000-4,000 years ago, producing a large number of atolls which developed into islands as sea level later dropped over the next couple of millennia as a result of â??ocean siphoning” , . Late Holocene sea level rise is on the order of 120m but peaked at the highstand in the equatorial oceans and gave the modern atolls their height. However, Harris is incorrect with regard to current trends in sea level rise which in fact suggest that the highstand (and all the atolls that act as homes for human populations) will be reached once again by the end of the 21st century . Based on the various heights of the atolls, it is even possible to predict when each island will be inundated .
Claim 127. “One of the scientists told me, he said ‘you realize that once government gets involved things start to really change. They have what are called green runners, who run back and forth between the various meetings where the scientists are meeting and they basically look over their shoulders. And they tell them how they want things changed, “oh that doesn’t match the summary for policy makers’ and so the scientists are
expected to basically display their green credentials to these government people who are running around looking over their shoulder while they are preparing the third draft. So if you really want to see what the scientists prepared without government interference,you’ve got to go back to the second draft.”
RESPONSE: Harris seems to be relating hearsay to dispute the credibility of a major organisation. Governments have a role in ensuring the SPM is accessible, balanced and based on the underlying chapters. Nothing is approved unless the authors agree that it is agrees with the science. When it is approved it is owned by both the scientists and governments. The fact that all governments present during an IPCC Plenary agree with the final SPM is a strong indicator of the breadth of consensus.
 NOAA, Talking points related to concerns about whether the US temperature record is reliable. Washington DC: NOAA, 2009.
 R. A. Muller et al., “Earth atmospheric land surface temperature and station quality in the United States,” available online as a preprint.
 M. Vermeer and S. Rahmstorf, “Global sea level linked to global temperature.”â?? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 106, no. 51, pp. 21527-21532, 2009.
 W. R. Dickinson, “Impact of Mid-Holocene hydro-isostatic highstand in regional sea level on habitability of islands in Pacific Oceania,” Journal of Coastal Research, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 489-502, 2003.
 J. X. Mitrovica and G. A. Milne, “On the origin of late Holocene sea-level highstands within equatorial ocean basins,” Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 21, no. 20-22, pp. 2179-2190, 2002.
 W. R. Dickinson, “Pacific atoll living: how long already and until when?,” GSA Today, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 4-10, 2009.
The report is also discussed here:
Here’s a video of Tom Harris plying his trade, with footnotes added: