Esteemed climate scientist, Tim Ball faces two costly courtroom libel battles. Here he reveals his concerns and appeals for help with his legal fees.
Dr. Tim Ball is widely recognized as one of Canada’s first qualified climate scientists and has long taken a brave stand in speaking out on corruption and unethical practices. Two global warming doomsayers Ball has targeted, professors Michael Mann and Andrew Weaver are now suing Tim for libel with the backing of Big Green donors.
Many suspect the deep-pocketed David Suzuki Foundation is bankrolling Weaver and Mann. Suzuki is reported as wanting skeptics like Ball “put in prison.” Vancouver libel lawyer, Roger D. McConchie is the well-paid legal attack dog.
Critics suspect that the Suzuki Foundation is throwing money at the case in the hope that his target, who has no big corporate backers, will quit as his legal fees spiral. But Ball is determined he won’t be bounced out of this contest.
Below is this author’s (JOS) forthright interview with Dr. Ball (TB).
JOS: Now that you’ve been hit with two very expensive libel suits in very short time it appears that well-funded environmentalists are gunning to gag climate skeptics using the law. Is this a new strategy by Big Green and what impact do you believe this will have on the wider climate debate?
TB: I am not aware of specific evidence of such a campaign or the financing. The practice of bringing lawsuits has been going on for some time but it was spasmodic. More recently, that is over the last year or so, it has increased, particularly with the charges by Weaver through McConchie against the National Post. One change was the addition of important people to the Suzuki Board back in 2009, such as John Lefebvre, but also included Westport Innovation CEO Elaine Wong, that brought additional money as Chris Horner pointed out. Another addition to the Board was equally disturbing, not because of the money but because of the compromise of integrity. George Stroumboulopolos is the host of a weekly program on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
Other increased activities centered on publication of Hoggan and Littlemore’s book Climate Cover Up. This book includes attacks on specific people including me. It makes the usual list of false charges including that I am paid by the oil companies. Then there was Weaver’s book Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a warming World, with a cover note by Suzuki that says, A gripping narrative, this should be the final alarm.
JOS: Desmogblog, funded by the Suzuki Foundation, has been ‘showcasing’ such legal attacks on scientists like you. Do you fear this new trend towards litigation is the inevitable course for the climate debate, and if so do you see any positive outcome for science?
TB: As noted above this is not new litigation but the intensity has increased. As you also know, people like Fred Singer received such threats a few years ago like me. I have mixed feelings about the activities. Personally it is intimidating because of the costs involved if nothing else. Legally it is a threat to free speech and, in my opinion, a misuse of the law to silence open debate. What has been interesting is the cultural reaction to the legal challenges. Americans immediately recognize it as a threat to free speech, while Canadians are slower to acknowledge that threat. In the long term I think exposure of these tactics, particularly in the context that they are losing the scientific debate will backfire. It will be seen for what it is a use of the law as a form of ad hominem attacks.
I am also concerned that the credibility of science in general is in jeopardy because too many scientists, including Suzuki, Weaver, Mann and others have been involved directly or indirectly in the process.
JOS: You obtained your doctorate in climatology from the University of London, Queen Mary College way back in 1983 before much of the hype began about global warming. Yet your critics say you merely shill for ‘Big Oil’ and that’s why you “attacked” Dr. Weaver and the IPCC. Is that true?
TB: This is absolutely false. Here is the story. Several years ago a group of professional people in Alberta, including engineers, hydrologists, geologists were very angry about the bad science involved in climate research a particularly through the IPCC and the Kyoto Protocol. We met at Calgary Airport and out of that came the group Friends of Science (FOS). Their problem was they were based in Calgary, Alberta, the Canadian centre of the oil industry. Also some of them, because of their expertise had worked in the oil patch. I warned them to focus solely on the science and to make sure all funding was at arms length. They did both, with funding being handled through the University of Calgary. I acted as an advisor and contributed articles as well as spoke a couple of times at their AGMs.
David Anderson, The Minister of Natural resources said that all Canadian climate experts had been consulted on the Kyoto Protocol. Eight of us, all climate experts travelled to Ottawa and held a press conference to say we had not been consulted. The Minister counteracted us by announcing that he would release the governments Kyoto policy in the house at the same time as the press conference. This was amazing since no previous mention was made despite questions by the media. His move had the effect of drawing away virtually all media attention.
I received $800 for travel and expenses and incorrectly thought FOS paid it. Subsequently it turned out that it was paid by APCO a PR company. Then it was disclosed that FOS had received a donation of, as I recall $12,000 from an energy company. It was I understand about 7% of their total donations, the rest was from private citizens. Very quickly my belief that I was paid by FOS was converted to the charge that I was therefore in the pay of FOS who were in the pay of the oil companies. The fact that $800 was about 6% of the $12,000 was of no consequence. The issue, as it appears with everything they do is to take something and distort ti or use it out of context knowing that once it is out there is not pulling it back. Hoggan’s skills as PR expert are manifest. It is also why I find it amusing that the very property of the internet they exploits is being attacked by McConchie in his charges against the National Post on behalf of Weaver and his demand that I contact web sites that have repeated my article. The futility of that exercise was that most were not interested and also some of the sites they listed indicated they had merely googled keywords and came up with completely inappropriate places like a tennis site apparently because my name is ball.
JOS: It appears Weaver and Mann have been given a ‘blank check’ to use expensive lawyers against you. Are you and your lawyer confident you can win, and if so why?
TB: I am confident that if it comes down to a science debate I can carry the day. I am encouraged in this because to date all have consistently refused or avoided debate. I base this claim on the almost five year challenge the cross-Canada Roy Green radio show has held out for someone to debate, with no takers. My lawyer’s main concern is whether I can afford the defense. The problem is I have no choice because if I don’t respond or say I was completely at fault they would pursue damages for defamation and all costs.
I am also confident that my lawyer says that all charges of defamation are unfounded and the only error was the incorrect claim that Weaver had resigned from the IPCC. I believe it was an honest mistake because the information was provided in the article with citations. We have acknowledged and pre-emptively apologized for this error.
JOS: Who is paying your legal bills?
TB: I am. I have paid out about $10,000 so far and am rapidly depleting my savings, these are meager because the only research funding I received during my career was from the National Museum of Canada. This occurred primarily because my research of reconstructing past climate records was deemed historical climatology. At that time it did not fit the very definitive line between Arts and Science research. The museum understood the problem.
JOS: I’ve heard you’ve started your new blog and you’ll be selling climate science pamphlets to help raise donations to pay your legal fees. Is this true?
TB: Yes. I had worked through other blogs and web pages to date, but disappointments, including being fired from a magazine that I wrote a column for monthly for 17 years led me to go it alone. The firing was just one of many instances where I know from direct reports that it was due to pressure on management because of my skeptical views. The blog allows me control and the opportunity to point out what is wrong with many of the stories appearing in the media. I am planning a series of booklets of about 80 to 100 page in length that provide explanations of major issues in the debate. The idea is that they are short, will fit in a pocket, and deal with one issue at a time. Since they will appear as a series people will be able to have in hand the answers to major issues in the debate in language that non-scientists can understand. I hope to sell these booklets through the web site and use the money to offset the legal costs. Meanwhile we continue to survive on pensions (wife and mine) and small amounts made from public presentations.
JOS: You were the lead author of the successful yet controversial new book, ‘Slaying the Sky Dragon.’ What is your focus in the next ‘Slayers’ book due out later this year?
TB: I am pleased to be associated with the Sky Dragon book. It has raised controversy and that is healthy because the big problem has been the complete suppression of debate, even among the so-called skeptics. My chapter in the second book speaks to the deception within a deception that gives lie to the scientists involved in the IPCC. The science report itemizes all the problems including limitations of data, lack of understanding of mechanisms compounded in the inadequacies of the computer models. The public perception is that the IPCC science is solid and certain that human CO2 is causing global warming and climate change. The difference between the public perception and what the Science report attest is deliberately achieved by the structure of the IPCC system that has a Summary for Policymakers released before the Science report is available. It is understandable that the Mainstream Media and the public are unaware of the differences but it is not credible that the scientists involved are unaware. Their silence is deafening.
JOS: What else has really struck a chord with you in the Great Global Warming Debate?
TB: People find it hard to believe that the entire world could be so easily misled by so few people. They, particularly Maurice Strong, established control of all government weather agencies by co-opting the World Meteorological Organization. This gave them control of data collection and archives within each nation then its global dissemination. Each national weather agency controlled politicians and funding of research. They directed funding to one side of the science debate thus allowing later the circular arguments that claims that most scientists and most publications prove the science. The national agencies also determined who served on the IPCC thus providing complete control. The group of scientists who controlled the entire process became so small that Professor Wegman was able to name names in his report to the US Congress. As he demonstrated, they controlled the peer-review process thus allowing them to further control the publication process.
JOS: What has been toughest part of your skeptic’s journey so far?
TB: It is very difficult, especially when you have paid such a high price financially, emotionally, and in people’s public and personal views. It is not easy when your children, wife and friends hear a radio person say, “Oh, Tim Ball, he is that nut job paid by the oil companies that doesn’t believe in climate change.” It is not easy when people tell you that you are a fool for not using your knowledge and abilities to go with the flow and make a lot of money. As someone said after Climategate it must be nice to be vindicated. I replied there is no pleasure in I told you so. It is not easy when you are very aware of the sacrifices your family has been subjected to because you are determined to demand proof and the truth. As Voltaire said, It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong.
Thank you, Dr. Ball and good luck with the fund raising for both your cases.
Visit Dr. Ball’s site ‘A Different Perspective’ where you can read more of Tim’s expert insight and donate to his legal fund that is being handled independently by the Frontier Centre and Tim’s attorney (‘Donate’ button is in top right corner of Tim’s page).
Note: Donors will be issued with a tax receipt on request.