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Tim Ball, R.I.P.

28 Sep 2022 | News Roundup

Climate common sense lost a good friend this week with the passing of Timothy Francis “Tim” Ball, a climate scientist in both senses of the word, with a keen sense of real-world history as opposed to computer modeling and the courage of his convictions. As Mark Steyn put it in a moving “Ave atque vale,” his friend “Tim was a Canadian scientist who dissented from the global warm-mongering that has deranged our politics, and put out the lights at the Eiffel Tower, and is on course this winter to freeze and starve Europe’s elderly.” What better epitaph could a person want for their public life? Ball challenged alarmist orthodoxy and stood firm to the end in the face of a barrage of criticism that frequently descended so far into the personal level as to target his family, and of lawfare from Michael Mann of which Steyn has also been a target. Let us all honour his legacy by maintaining the highest possible standards of clarity, accuracy, courage and decency.

Ball passed away full of years and surrounded by his loving family at age 83. His was a life lived in full, not least because he found things worth believing in and stood by them. It is not a life or a death to regret. But there were things to regret in it, particularly the price he paid for standing up in pursuit of truth in open debate.

For a sense of the kind of innuendos that were aimed at him, look no further than the first paragraph of his Wikipedia entry, with its underhanded “Ball then became very active in promoting climate change denial, giving public talks and writing opinion pieces and letters to the editor for Canadian newspapers. He has been a member of energy industry funded lobbying groups, and wrote for the climate change denial website Tech Central Station.” But even Wikipedia is obliged to concede that “Ball received a bachelor's degree with honors in geography from the University of Winnipeg in 1970, followed by an M.A. from the University of Manitoba in 1971 and a PhD in geography with a specific focus on historical climatology from Queen Mary University of London in England in 1983” and that he then enjoyed a successful academic career culminating in full professorship at the University of Winnipeg.

DeSmog sneers that “Ball was a former professor of geography at the University of Winnipeg from 1988 to 1996. The University of Winnipeg never had an office of Climatology. His degree was in historical geography and not climatology.” And something called “Rational wiki” simply states that “Timothy Francis ‘Tim’ Ball is a credential-fudging denialist crank.” And it’s easy to say that such things come with the territory. But not everyone can stand them (even Judith Curry was driven from academia by the personal hostility of her colleagues) and it is far from clear why anyone should have to. Tim Ball did so, including having a grandchild stigmatized at school for Ball’s beliefs, which is especially outrageous. But a vital consequence of one person with courage is the inspiration it gives to others who see that they are not alone and that it is possible to face the storm and endure it.

We want to draw particular attention to Ball’s founding of the Rupert’s Land Research Centre as part of his interest in using actual historical data to determine whether current climate conditions are unprecedented. It’s part of the reason we called him “a climate scientist in both senses of the word”, that is, fully credentialled and also devoted to genuine scientific inquiry based on facts not speculation, especially not speculation disguised as rigorously certain computer modeling.

Despite nihil nisi bonum (“of the dead say nothing but good”) and Dr. Johnson’s maxim that “In lapidary prose, a man is not upon his oath” we will take issue here with Ball’s habit of describing climate alarmism as a hoax. He was a man who valued vigorous debate and do not think he would want us to shy away from points of disagreement. And we will also note that he could be curmudgeonly, though on that point we at least are in no position to cast stones. But the same strength of character that sometimes made him irascible also helped him stick by his beliefs in the face of adversity.

Of that there was plenty. Not just the usual rhetorical abuse, but a protracted lawsuit by Michael Mann over a pointed turn of phrase in which, as Steyn notes, “the plaintiff had refused, for years, to do the elementary things necessary to settle a legal matter, such as providing evidence of damage.” The drawn-out ordeal cost Ball his retirement savings. In the end Mann lost his suit against Ball who was awarded costs, which Mann did not pay. And anyone who has been through legal proceedings knows what sort of physical and financial strain they entail. It was dirty pool, and it took its toll. But as Steyn says, “Tim bore all this with great fortitude.” Anthony Watts is organizing a fundraiser to help the family cover funeral and other expenses.

In their last meeting Steyn reports that “Tim was on grand form that night, full of life and full of laughs. He had all the qualities of a true warrior: courage, integrity, indomitable resilience, and, in his quiet dignified bearing, a rueful acceptance of the costs they impose.”

May he rest in peace. And may we all hold up the torch he carried so long.

9 comments on “Tim Ball, R.I.P.”

  1. Professor Ball, despite all of the challenges he faced in educating people about the alarmist climate change deception and the law fare used against him, even took time to respond to the rural people of Ontario who had industrial scale wind turbines foisted on their quiet, pastoral communities. He made it clear that these monstrous intrusions were not the solution for anything that would be effectively beneficial. He.promoted his book as a thorough explanation for all who had been duped by the belief that industrial wind turbines would 'save the planet'.

  2. As a fellow Winnipegger here is my anecdote. Back the year 2000 I was part of a technical crew that was involved in an Environment Canada Ministry conference hosted by the Minister, the U of Winnipeg and the U of Manitoba. At the time it was Global Warming and anthropogenic greenhouse gases that were the Boogeymen (still are but slight variations). The Minister opened the conference with what can only be described as statist propaganda and fear porn, provided no scientific basis and essentially implied that anyone who disagreed was an eco-terrorist. The MP who was chairing the latest government committee on the environment also spoke and parroted the same. The first 'climate scientist' that presented basically stated that the 'debate' was over, the evidence so overwhelming that this conference was just a formality, his 'modelling' showed that global catastrophe was all but inevitable. The next presenter wasn't quite as bad but it was still doom and gloom. Then Professor Ball took to the podium and obliterated their arguments. Slide after slide, fact after fact he dismantled their research. From the little ice age to the medieval warming period, from historical temperature patterns, Arctic sea ice, Antarctic glaciers to polar bears and Great Lakes storms Professor Ball provided detailed, accurate evidence gleaned from multiple decades of official government data. What was indisputable was the fact that official government and institutional dogma was blatantly wrong and so far removed from what actually happening as to be considered scientific fraud. He wrapped up by pointing out that he had to formally complain to the U of Winnipeg that he was being denied presenter status and unduly discriminated against and argued that in science the debate is never over. At the time I was on the fence, after hearing Professor Ball I was off the fence. Great man, will be sorely missed.

  3. Very sad and he will be missed. Have had many conversations with Tim (on the science) and Marty and have been in this intellectual space for 25 years now. I immediately copied Marty with this post and she is very grateful for John Robson's and Mark Steyn's tributes. The SLAPP lawsuits by Mann and B.C.'s Andrew Weaver belonged in the annals of "Salem". Ironically B.C. has recently outlawed SLAPP lawsuit practices and recent local beneficiaries were equally obnoxious climate activists. When the boot was on the other foot, they were probably cheering on the likes of Weaver and Mann. Who knows the degree to which the stress of these practices shortened Tim's life.

  4. "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Rest In Peace. I came to look upon Tim Ball as a "guiding light". It was Tim Ball, indirectly, who captured my interest in the climate change controversy a dozen years or more ago . . . indirectly because I became aware of strident over-the-top opposition to the views he expressed, the data he profiled, and wondered why there was such nastiness/vindictiveness accorded an individual by fellow Canadians in a country that supposedly trumpets free speech and encourages the never-ending quest for learning that is at the core of science. Certainly over the years I have come to a firm understanding (not a belief) that anyone who still thinks that inevitable and unceasing climate change is a greater threat to humanity (and the environment) than the elitist generated climate policies is among those Thomas Sowell describes as do-gooders who are turning the pathway to "hell" into a superhighway.

  5. I'm surprised that the lawsuit was allowed to proceed without the plaintiff being required to post "security for costs" with the Court. That is, Mann should have been ordered to pay a significant sum into Court so that in the event that he loses, the defendant can recover his legal costs. First thing I would have done, after filing a statement of defense, would have been to make an application for security for costs, on the ground that the plaintiff lived and held all his assets in a foreign jurisdiction, where it would be difficult to impossible to obtain costs in the event the defendant won. Such an application seems to me a slam dunk under the circumstances, including the lawfare nature of the claim.

  6. I listened to Dr. Ball at a "Drought Conference" in Medicine Hat in March 2003 following three years of drought. There were five presenters. The first two were telling farmers how to cope with drought conditions. The next two were computer modelers from Saskatchewan who prophesied doom and gloom. Dr. Tim was the concluding presenter and as Gordon Higham said, Dr. Tim refuted everything that the "scientists had claimed, and he did it with confirmed and thoroughly researched science. I have used many of his comments in my discussions with Climate Change activists. I appreciated getting to know him and for his integrity. Thanks Dr. Tim for standing tall.

  7. Very sad news. A scientist through and through, and a principled, decent man. The same cannot be said of Michael M. Mann, who is the very opposite of a modest and fair-minded man devoted to truth, not supposition and theories based on manipulated "models," most of which have been so inaccurate that they have zero value at all. He helped me to see past the doomsaying, interest-driven egotists (like Mann) and to the conclusion that the only thing these mad theories have contributed towards is mass hysteria and fear, and catastrophic economic meltdown. If only they'd listened to the likes of Dr Ball. May he rest in peace.

  8. I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Ball (and now, sadly, never will), but I greatly enjoyed his recorded presentations and his book was a revelation. I also appreciated his sense of humor--what he said about Michael Mann was both true and funny as all getout. And now he joins with Fred Singer and Patrick Michaels as another luminary we must bid adieu.
    Requiescat In Pace Tim Ball.

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