David Suzuki misleads readers when he writes in the Beacon: “the revelation that Ottawa’s CarletonUniversity hired Tom Harris, a PR man for a number of “astroturf” groups with a mechanical engineering background, to teach a course on climate change.”
It is old news, not a “revelation”, that I taught a climate course at Carleton for the past three years. I was hired because of my teaching and science background as well as my decade of working with the course originator and primary author, Professor Tim Patterson, a leading academic and climate researcher at Carleton.
I am not a “PR man.” Like Suzuki, I engage in public education. I have solid training and experience in thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluid mechanics, all relevant to understanding the causes of climate change. How does David Suzuki’s biology background equip him to comment so loudly on the immensely complex atmospheric/oceanic climate system?
Calling me “a PR man”, and referring to those on our side of the debate as “deniers, as Suzuki does, are uncivilized ad hominem—against the man—attacks. The “deniers” label is usually an attempt to equate those who question political correctness on climate change to Holocaust deniers. Any of the 1,500 students who took my course at Carleton understand this to be a logical fallacy unworthy of serious debate. Regardless, we do not deny climate change—we simply question its causes.
The International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), the one (not “a number of”) group I have led since early 2008, is anything but an “astroturf” group. Contrary to the situation at the David Suzuki Foundation, ICSC has never been funded by industry.
As one of Canada’s leaders, Suzuki should be promoting an intellectual climate that encourages constructive debate. Attacks against groups and individuals are not helpful.
Tom Harris Executive Director International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC) Ottawa