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Ross McKitrick

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Ross McKitrick is an Associate Professor in the Economics Department at the University of Guelph, Ontario, and, since October 2002, has been a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Vancouver, British Columbia. His name also appears frequently as "Ross McKittrick".

McKitrick has made a name for himself in the last few years as a climate change sceptic since he co-authored the book Taken By Storm, which was published in late 2002. However, his support for conservative challenges to mainstream environmental policies stretches back some years prior to the book. For example in late 1999 defended the Fraser Institute when it criticised proposals for an Endangered Species Act in Canada.


Academic background

According to a biographical note McKitrick holds "a BA in economics from Queen's University, and an MA and Ph.D. in economics from the University of British Columbia. He was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Guelph in 1996 and Associate Professor in 2000."

"His area of specialization is environmental economics and policy analysis. His current research areas include empirical modeling of the relationship between economic growth and pollution emissions; the impact of economic activity on the measurement of surface temperatures; and the climate change policy debate," it states. [1]

A January 2000 profile of McKitrick in his hometown newspaper, the Guelph Mercury, described his PhD thesis as doctoral thesis as being on the possibility of taxing carbon emissions as a way to reduce payroll taxes which he considered to be too high.

The profile also noted that a current McKitrick study was on alternatives to government's and citizens suing corporations for pollution induced damage. It noted that McKitrick didn't support the proposal by the federal government that the federal government sue pulp and paper manufacturers for damage to fisheries. "What I'm interested in is looking at whether, in the end, this kind of system would be more costly to society on the whole than the good it would do," he told the Guelph Mercury.

According to his bio note McKitrick has briefed the Canadian Parliamentary Finance Committee, and to government staff at the US Congress and Senate but it does not state on what issues.

"He has published scholarly articles in The Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Economic Modeling, The Canadian Journal of Economics, Environmental and Resource Economics and other journals, as well as commentaries in newspapers and other public forums," it states,

McKitrick joined the Fraser Intitute as a Senior Fellow in October 2002.[2]

McKitrick on endangered species

In November 1999 the Fraser Institute disputed an estimate by the Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada that there were 339 endangered species. Instead it preferred its own estimate of 91. In a Canadian Press article on the report a spokesman for the Alberta Wilderness Association, Stephen Legault, described the report as "another effort at fearmongering and misinformation by a right-wing think tank."

In response McKitrick penned a letter to the editor of the Guelph Mercury, an Ontario newspaper, defending the think tank and accusing Legault of being "blinded by ideology." McKitrick claimed the U.S. Endangered Species Act "imposes draconian restrictions on use of private land on which rare species are present. Since these rules destroy property value, landowners across the U.S. now work to make their lands inhospitable to endangered species."

McKitrick the climate sceptic

While most of McKitrick's work in the late 1990's concentrated on modelling pollution abatement costs and environmental taxes from 2000 onwards he began to concentrate heavily on the Kyoto Protocol to cut the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

At a October 2000 briefing organised by the Cooler Heads Coalition, then a project of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, McKitrick joined other sceptics in criticising the Third Assessment Report (TAR) of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "Climate alarmists put the policy cart in front of the horse. Even if global warming is happening, or about to happen, and we decide its net effects are mostly bad, there are many feasible policy options to deal with it. In sharp contrast, the scale of policy intervention required to stabilize carbon concentrations would have far worse effects on human welfare than any known impact of climate change," the October 2000 editon of Power magazine reported McKitrick stating.

In 2002 McKitrick became regular contributor to Candian newspaper op-ed pages, particularly the National Post. His criticisms of the Kyoto Protocol lead to him being sought after by international critics of Kyoto too. He was invited to undertake a presentation of his criticisms of Kyoto to a Congreesional meeting in October 2001. Early the following year he made a submission to an Australian parliamentary inquiry into the Kyoto agreement.

Throughout 2002 McKitrick was featured in the Fraser Forum, a publication of the Fraser Institute and another conservative Canadian think tank, the C.D Howe Insiutute. McKitrick was particularly critical of the decision by the Canadian government to ratify the climate change treaty.

Despite McKitrick's outspoken criticisms of the IPCC's work there was relatively little questioning of his arguments. However, following the release of Taken by Storm in October 2002, his specific criticisms of climate change modelling and policies came to be assessed more critically.


  • Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick, Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming, Key Porter Books, Toronto, 2002. ISBN 1552632121

Publications and Papers by McKitrick

Newspaper articles and letters by McKitrick

Contact details

The University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 Canada
Tel: (519) 824-4120 ext. 52532
Fax: (519) 763-8497
Email: rmckitri AT uoguelph.ca
Web: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/ross.html

Other SourceWatch resources

External links

  • Ross McKitrick, "Ross McKitrick CV, accessed May 2005.
  • "Ross McKitrick", George C. Marshall Institute, accessed May 2005.
  • "Dr. Ross McKitrick, Senior Fellow, The Fraser Institute", The Fraser Institute, accessed May 2005.
  • Vik Kirsch, "U of G professor begins study; Looking for the best approach to clean up environmental pollution", Guelph Mercury (Ontario, Canada), January 19, 2000; page A4.
  • "Global warming critics blast UN climate report", Power, September/October, 2000 Volume 144, No. 5; Page 9.
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute, "Competitive Enterprise Institute holds a news briefing on 'The Science, Economics and Politics of Carbon Dioxide and Its Global Effects.'", Federal News Service, October 11, 2001. (The briefing featured McKitrick and Brian Fisher, the head of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics). The briefing, which focused on proposals to tax or limit carbon dioxide emissions, got a passing reference in Competitive Enterprise Institute, "New Briefings On Climate Change", CEI Update, Volume 14, Number 9, November 2001, page 14.
  • Fraser Institute, "Professor Ross McKitrick to Join Fraser Institute as Senior Fellow", Media Release, October 15, 2002.
  • "Cooler Heads Coalition Briefing With Christopher Essex And Ross McKitrick", Competitive Enterprise Institute, February 27, 2003.
  • Antonio Regalado, "In Climate Debate, The 'Hockey Stick' Leads to a Face-Off: Nonscientist Assails a Graph Environmentalists Use, And He Gets a Hearing Defenders Call Attack Political," Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2005, Page 1 (sub. req'd). Article notes McKitrick's association with Canadian climate researcher Stephen McIntyre.
  • Memorandum submitted to UK Parliament http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/387b/387we33.htm

Articles critical of McKitrick's claims

  • Tim Lambert, "Corrections to the McKitrick (2003) Global Average Temperature Series", Deltoid, April 28, 2004.
  • Tim Lambert, "More McKitrick", Deltoid, April 29, 2004.
  • Tim Lambert, "Tech Central Station flunks Physics", Deltoid, May 11, 2004.
  • Tim Lambert, "Corrections to the McKitrick (2002) Global Average Temperature Series", Deltoid, May 21, 2004.
  • Tim Lambert, "You Dirty Errata", Deltoid, July 9, 2004.
  • Tim Lambert, "McKitrick screws up yet again", Deltoid, August 26, 2004
  • John Quiggan, "McKitrick Mucks it Up", August 26th, 2004.
  • Michael Mann, "Rutherford et al 2005 highlights", RealClimate, November 22, 2004.
  • Michael Mann, "False Claims by McIntyre and McKitrick regarding the Mann et al. (1998) reconstruction", RealClimate, December 4, 2004.
  • Michael Mann, "Myth vs. Fact Regarding the "Hockey Stick"", RealClimate, December 4, 2004.
  • Rasmus E. Benestad, "Are Temperature Trends affected by Economic Activity?", RealClimate, December 8, 2004.
  • Michael Mann, "On Yet Another False Claim by McIntyre and McKitrick", RealClimate, January 6, 2005.
  • Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt, "Peer Review: A Necessary But Not Sufficient Condition", RealClimate, January 20, 2005.
  • Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt, "Peer Review: A Necessary But Not Sufficient Condition II", RealCimate, January 27, 2005.
  • Gavin Schmidt and Caspar Amman, "Dummies guide to the latest "Hockey Stick" controversy", RealCimate, February 18, 2005.
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