Opening Climate Conference Gala Proves ‘Skeptics’ No Monolith

Published May 17, 2010

CHICAGO — Steve McIntyre, whose persistent inquiry into the data supporting an iconic graphic of global-warming disaster called the “hockey stick” led to the scandal known as Climategate, outlined the tell-tale footprints he followed for a rapt audience Sunday.

But at the conclusion of his 30-minute detailing of events before 600 dinner guests at the opening of the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change here, the Canadian scientist shunned audience pressure to proclaim a fraud or demand punishment for the scientists who in McIntyre’s estimation “offended” scientists and the public.

Citing a particularly controversial email in the Climategate emails that referred to hiding an unexpected but inconveniently inexplicable decline in global temperatures, McIntyre concluded, “To the extent that things like the ‘trick’ were common practice, the practices need to be disavowed. The scientists do not need to be drummed out, but there has to be some commitment to avoiding these sort of practices in the future.”

But the audience was having none of McIntyre’s forgiving rhetoric, and questioner after questioner pressed the Canadian to acknowledge legal, if not moral, culpability.

“I don’t even think in those terms,” McIntyre insisted.

Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, sponsor of the three-day conference, and moderator of the Q&A period, told the audience that McIntyre observed between questions that he had received a standing ovation even before his talk began in recognition of his Climategate work — but received applause from a decidedly seated audience at the conclusion of his remarks.

While the audience was familiar with the scandal of Climategate, few attendees knew the intimate email details McIntyre painstakingly revealed in slides. He quoted extensively from the emails revealed online by a known individual that demonstrated manipulation of data and a widespread agreement among global-warming alarmists to discredit opposing positions and scientists.

Even though McIntyre criticized as “lame” three separate exculpatory investigations into the veracity of the Climategate emails, he rejected the most recent efforts — and some hope the most effective efforts — by the attorney general of Virginia to investigate whether university professor Michael Mann, most closely identified with the now-discredited hockey stick graph, misused public funds to finance his research.

“Regardless of what one may think of the quality of Mann’s work,” McIntyre said, “he has published diligently. … [The Virginia AG’s actions] are an abuse of administrative prerogative that … is unfair to Mann.”

The audience was silent upon hearing that endorsement.

Earlier during the opening dinner event at the conference, Harrison Schmitt — former U.S. Senator from New Mexico and the last man to have set foot on the moon — preceded McIntyre with a brilliant examination of the U.S. Constitution and the powers it confers on the presidency.

Referring to recently introduced legislation that he characterized as “cap and tax” to reduce carbon dioxide emission through a new fee, Schmitt walked the audience through five Articles and sections of the Constitution. The former U.S. senator said he spent 18 months in intense study of the Constitution and he concluded to applause that, “There are no enumerated Constitutional powers related to energy and climate.”

Responding to a question from the audience, Schmitt said the most effective counterweight to the increased role of the federal government in climate legislation is to intensify public involvement in policy discussion and to recruit individuals of like mind to run for office.

The Fourth International Conference on Climate Change continues Monday with presentations by scientists, economists, public policy makers, and communicators under the theme ” Reconsidering the Science and Economics of Global Warming.” For more information visit the conference Web site at or call 312/377-4000.