Bogus climate course “a source of embarrassment to the institution”
– Richard Littlemore, in a DeSmogBlog repost
An energy industry public relations man and lobbyist with no background in climate science has infiltrated Carleton University in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, teaching a course on climate change denial that other Carleton professors describe as “a source of embarrassment to the institution.”
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.
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.”)
Harris’s ridiculous claims have been laid bare in a new report by the Canadian Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism (CASS), which has gone through videotapes of lectures from Climate Change: An Earth Sciences Perspective (ERTH2402), identifying 142 errors, exaggerations or outright prevarications.
The CASS report states:
“We have demonstrated that the Earth Sciences Department at Carleton University is currently running a course which obfuscates, down-plays, distorts and contradicts the overwhelming scientific consensus on dangerous, man-made climate change. This course is run by an instructor who has been actively involved in climate change denial for many years, and involves a number of other speakers who are similarly biased in their views. Whether the inaccurate information presented is the result of incompetence or malice we cannot comment, but we strongly advise that the course be withdrawn and corrections presented, with apologies, to the students who have previously taken the course.”
The existence of this course represents a coup for the climate change denial movement, which as documented with the release of internal documents from the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, has been trying to infiltrate the U.S. school system with a K-12 curriculum promoting the notion that climate change is not real, not caused by humans or just too confusing to understand. (Heartland, a prominent proponent on behalf of its tobacco industry sponsors, has, in fact, been promoting climate disinformation in schools for many years.)
In the Carleton course, Harris has promoted a series of irrelevant, misleading or flagrantly incorrect bromides, including: