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Ross McKitrick - The McKi 'trick'

Rebuttal to Ross McKitrick, an economics professor sowing the seeds of doubt regarding human caused climate change and global warming? Much like John Coleman, McKitrick uses red herrings and appeals to your 'the living the good life' theme in order to say the climate scientists are wrong and that they can't really prove anything. Like others, he uses facts out of context to support his unsubstantiated opinions.
Ross McKitrick - The McKi 'trick'

Ross McKitrick

Ross McKitrick is a Canadian economist at the University of Guelph in Ontario. He also a Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute, a Canadian free-market public policy lobbyist organization.

The Hockey Stick Controversy

Ross McKitrick, along with Stephen McIntyre both attacked the math and modeling of the 'Mann, Bradley, Hughes, Hockey Stick. Consequently, the MBH 1999 became probably the most peer reviewed science paper in history.

The end results were that the adjustments McIntyre and McKitrick suggested were statistically insignificant and did not degrade the meaning of the MBH 1999 paper.

In the global warming denialist world, many claimed that McIntyre and McKitrick were right and the IPCC removed the Hockey Stick from their assessments. This is not true.

The Hockey Stick MBH 1999 was added to the aggregate models (click here and note MBH 1999 in upper left hand corner of IPCC graph from AR4 report.).

The McKitrick Carbon Tax (A Paper Tiger Proposal)

Ross McKitrick is proposing a carbon tax that will raise the price of carbon after the planet warms. Of course this is absurd due to the problems of thermal inertia in the climate problem. This is similar to the red herring/straw man approach of Bjorn Lomborg.

By placing the application of the solution after the problem manifests, on a scaling progression, we commit economies to progressively higher costs as meaningful solutions become less and less unaffordable. Eventually, meaningful solutions become unaffordable in his solution.

The economic costs of coping with global warming increase exponentially. Tackling the problem after the fact would be a disastrous approach. In fact, it is reasonable to say that if we adopted the plan Ross McKitrick is proposing, the monetary economic system itself, combined with resource economics in relation to supporting human infrastructure, will fail.

The McKi 'trick'

One graph that Ross McKitrick has presented (on his web site) circumstantially and further supported by 'some data' as specified by Joe D'Aleo, from, the notion that stations dropped out in Russia caused some sort of change in the temperature record?. The graph is interesting because it uses some real temperature data and then misrepresents the temperature by increasing the representation numbers as a calculation based on a change in the number of sampling points. Does that sound confusing? It should. Because in reality, it makes no sense at all in relation to the temperature record.

Station Drop Out Fake Image


If the McKitrick solution (see above carbon tax proposal) is as misleading as this graph (any reasonable assessment shows that it is), then one would be wise to avoid advice from this source.

"The data Joe obtained were put into 3 categories, urban, suburban and rural. In the spreadsheet I used to generate the graph I construct the average temperature as weighted by the number of stations in each group."

Of course this means the chart results don't show the real global mean temperature (GMT), but rather the result of the calculation, which has nothing to do with the actual temperature. Denialist web sites are using the chart to say it proves global warming is a result of a change in the number of stations taking temperature readings. This is a false assumption.

The global mean temperature did not change as one might be led to believe the graph indicates.

Note: It does not seem McKitrick ever claimed the graph was a temperature graph. But that is part of the deceptive nature of the method. Ambiguity and lack of specificity allow the rumor to grow in the fertile ground of paranoia.

But, McKitrick never stated that it did, or did not, represent temperature. That's the McKi 'trick'. All he has to do is present the facts out of context, and then allow others to misinterpret the data. In other words some people simply believe what they think they are seeing, even though it has nothing to do with the reality of the temperature record.


Ross McKitrick continues to use out of context assertions and opinion to delay the imposition of effective, or meaningful legislation that would reduce the risk of human caused global warming: Including a tax he is proposing that attempts to address the preventability of higher costs by saying we should try to prevent the problem after it occurs. While this logic is completely absurd, it is effectively what he is proposing. Bizarre, but true.

The known reality of global warming combined with associated costs due to infrastructure immobility and expected resource scarcity issues, render McKitrick's opinion not only irrelevant, but immoral. He seems completely ignorant of the economic reality that is now in process.

The irony is that he thinks he understands economics. Unfortunately McKitrick seems to have missed an important point of economics:

the thrifty and efficient use of material resources : frugality in expenditures


When one is discussing economic sustainability one must consider current and future costs simultaneously. This is apparently not a consideration of Ross McKitrick as he myopically ignores relevant understanding to favor his biased views.

It is not about how to exploit resources to the point of depletion or demise, but rather the thrifty and efficient use of material resources in a sustainable manner. In fact the definition of economy includes the balance of systems and methods. Allowing exploitation of a resource to our own detriment and cost is not economics, but rather the opposite: the destruction of economic capacity.


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