Tom Harris (Canadian engineer/PR specialist)
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."
Tom Harris, described as "an Ottawa-based engineer and science and technology communications specialist" is the Executive Director of International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), a group of climate change skeptics. Harris started in the position in approximately March 2008. From late 2006 until he started with the ICSC Harris was the Executive Director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project (NRSP), another group of climate change skeptics. Prior to the launch of the NRSP Harris was a Director of Operations of the Ottawa office of the High Park Group (HPG), a Canadian PR and lobbying firm.
The Natural Resources Stewardship Project (NRSP), which launched October 12, 2006.  NRSP is a Canadian non-profit group that includes a number of leading climate change sceptics and describes itself as a group that "will promote responsible environmental stewardship". . Two of the three founding directors of the NRSP are registered Canadian energy sector lobbyists.
Harris was, until approximately late October 2006, listed as a Director of Operations of the Ottawa office of the High Park Group (HPG), a Canadian PR and lobbying firm. His biographical note states that he "specializes in strategic communication and media relations and has 28 years experience in science and technology in the energy and environment, aerospace and high-tech sectors. He has worked with private companies and trade associations to successfully position these entities and their interests with media and before government committees and regulatory bodies." Harris holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from Carleton University (1975) and a Master of Engineering (Mechanical - thermo-fluids) from McMaster University.
In August 2006, Charles Montgomery wrote in The Globe and Mail that Tom Harris was then a senior associate with HPG, which was a "registered lobbyist for the Canadian Electricity Association (web) and the Canadian Gas Association (web)."
Note that, as of November 22, 2006, Tom Harris is not listed as a lobbyist in the Lobbyists Registration System, Government of Canada. (Records accessed November 22, 2006.)
Prolific Op-Ed Writer ... and "editor"
"Tom Harris is everywhere in the blogosphere these days posting comments wherever anyone is saying positive things about the recent CBC climate change documentary, The Denial Machine," Richard Littlemore of DeSmogBlog commented November 21, 2006.
"Harris has popped up here, here and again here, cutting and pasting the same batch of criticisms of CBC's reporting and attempting to salvage something of the NRSP's battered reputation," Littlemore wrote.
Editing the Wikipedia and SourceWatch
"In other Tom Harris news," Tim Lambert of Deltoid (ScienceBlogs.com) wrote November 7, 2006, "he's been editing the Wikipedia page on the Natural Resource Stewardship Project in an attempt to remove the fact that as well as heading the NRSP he works for the High Park Group a PR company that lobbies for energy companies."
- "It gets better. Harris is editing Wikipedia denying that he is associated with High Park Group. Meanwhile the HPG website says:
- Tom Harris, Director, Ottawa Operations
- Tom specializes in strategic communication and media relations and has 28 years experience in science and technology in the energy and environment, aerospace and high-tech sectors. He has worked with private companies and trade associations to successfully position these entities and their interests with media and before government committees and regulatory bodies. Tom holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from Carleton University and a Master of Engineering (Mechanical - thermo-fluids) from McMaster University.
- "Telephone: (613) 234-3039
"So apparently there are two Tom Harrises in Ottawa with identical qualifications and connections to the oil industry," Quiggin wrote.
See a similar discussion with Harris on the SourceWatch Talk page for the NRSP. Harris made numerous attempts to either change or debate SourceWatch articles on himself, Friends of Science, and the NRSP.
Climate Change Writing Privately Funded
- "My climate change writing is currently funded entirely by an elderly Toronto-based private philanthropist who also funds scientific research and so wants to see the results of this research publicized."
Bruce Perens at Technocrat.net pulled Tom Harris's June 12, 2006, Canada Free Press article "Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe" from his webite "after reviewing the author attribution (he's from a paid political PR agency), and the venue's other coverage on this issue."
Harris's NRSP Executive Directorship
It appears that Tom Harris, while still employed by HPG -- a company which lobbied for Canadian energy companies -- simultaneously served as NSRP executive director.
In a November 8, 2006, Deltoid posting at ScienceBlogs.com, Harris stated in the comments section that he left "the HPG Ottawa Director position on September 8  and have [sic] been NRSP ED since then."
Harris's claim of having become NRSP Executive Director in September 2006 is contrary to his self-identification in this Canada Free Press article published June 4, 2006, and this article published June 12, 2006, under his byline as "Tom Harris is a mechanical engineer and Executive Director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project (www.nrsp.com), a new Canadian environment and natural resources non-profit group."
During the same period, Harris's byline for a June 5, 2006, The Windsor Star article, a June 8, 2006, Vancouver Sun article, a June 14, 2006, Hawaii Reporter article, and a June 15, 2006, Canada Free Press article all read "Tom Harris is a mechanical engineer and Ottawa director of High Park Group, a public affairs and public policy company."
Harris's work for APCO Worldwide
A biographical profile of Harris which used to be on the APCO Worldwide website, but is still cached at Zoominfo.com, states that:
- "Tom Harris, senior associate in APCO Worldwide's Ottawa office, specializes in strategic communication and media relations and has 25 years experience in science and technology, specifically in the energy and environment, aerospace and high-tech sectors. Mr. Harris has worked with private companies and trade associations to successfully position these entities and their interests with media and before various government committees and regulatory bodies. Specifically, he has worked with oil and gas, coal, nuclear, environmental and aerospace clients for whom he has conducted effective media and public relations campaigns."
"Prior to joining APCO, he served as media relations and science and technology advisor to [Bob Mills] the Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada's House of Commons." 
Campaign Against Kyoto
In November 2002, Tom Harris was listed as one of the organizers of an event in Ottawa at which prominent climate change skeptics were slated "to reveal the science and technology flaws of the Kyoto Accord."  At the time, Harris was listed as an "Associate APCO Worldwide (Canada)." The cost of the event, The Globe and Mail reported, was being borne by "Imperial, Talisman and a group of Canadian lime producers."  Many of those attending had previously been involved in TASSC. (View interactive map of participant's networks)
APCO in Canada was involved in advising and supporting the climate change sceptics group, Friends of Science.
Friends of Science Still #1
In response to a Yale Project on Climate Change blog question posted April 6, 2006—"What do you think of climate change action through shareholder pressure on corporations?"—, Tom Harris responded in the comments section on October 4, 2006. Harris referred readers to the Friends of Science online video ""Climate Catastrophe Cancelled: What You're Not Being Told About the Science of Climate Change" to conduct research, stating that "I think most investors would sensibly conclude that until the science is more mature, pressuring companies to do something, or not to do something, about GHG emissions is a costly gamble and that they should wait until the verdict is in before deciding what to do (if anything)."
The following biographical statement for Tom Harris comes from his Iosphere.net website, accessed November 21, 2006, and which was last updated December 29, 2000:
- "Tom Harris has Bachelor and Master's degrees in Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering and worked for 15 years as an aerospace propulsion and aerodynamics engineer for various Canadian organizations. Following this, he spent four years working as a full-time professional speaker and freelance writer in space exploration, presenting to audiences of all ages and backgrounds ranging from aerospace professionals and science teacher associations to groups of young children. In 1994, Tom moved back into engineering and now works as an automation systems specialist. He continues to speak and write about space exploration on a part-time basis."
Advocacy for the environment (i.e. climate change skepticism)
Tom Harris's byline for the March 8-14, 2001, European Voice article "Is the UN guilty of exaggerating fears over climate change?" co-authored with geologist Dr. Tim Patterson, identified Harris as "an environmental specialist who has worked in the aerospace and computer sector."  Patterson was Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa.
In November 2000, in one article co-authored with Patterson on global warming, Harris was identified only as a "freelance writer".  In another by Harris and Patterson, from October 2000, Harris's byline states that he "is a freelance writer and professional speaker in space exploration and environment" who "now works as a systems analyst in Ottawa's high-tech sector." 
Advocacy for space exploration
During the 1990s, Tom Harris was an enthusiastic advocate for an expansion in space exploration, publishing articles such as "Saving The Home Planet By Exploring Other Worlds". According to a list of articles on his website, he has not published on the subject of space since 2001.
According to his byline for an August 12, 1989, Winnipeg Free Press article, Harris had "lectured on astronomy and space exploration at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa" and had "worked as an aeronautical engineer for several corporations." 
Harris's byline in 1993 through 1996 stated that he was an "Ottawa-based professional speaker and freelance writer in space exploration, environment and human survival."  By 1999, Harris's byline stated only that he was "an Ottawa-based professional speaker on space exploration". 
In 2001, Harris no longer referred to space exploration and his byline identified him as an "Ottawa-based freelance writer and speaker".  In 2002, his byline read that he was an "Ottawa-based freelance science and technology writer." 
Speech at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change
At the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, ICSC Executive Director Tom Harris gave a speech in which he discussed what he called "information sharing" and "coordinated local activism":
- [...] We need regular high-impact media coverage of the findings of leading scientists — not just one or two publications, but we need to have hundreds all over the world. We need to have a high degree of information sharing and cooperation between groups, so that when Vincent Gray for example has an article published in New Zealand, we can take the same piece and we can (say) submit it to newspapers all over North America and Europe.
- Then we have a nicely well-coordinated response, where letters to the editor and phone calls are made. "Congratulations on publishing that article!" You know, it's interesting because I've had many of my articles opposed so strongly, by environmentalists through phone calls and letters to the editor, that they just simply dry up, they just won't publish us again. So this does have feedback, I mean, these are people that run these newspapers, and they're scared, and impressed, and encouraged, depending on the feedback they get.
- We have to have grassroots organizations doing exactly that kind of thing: coordinated local activism.
Email: tharris AT iosphere.net
Related SourceWatch Resources
Biographical Notes & Profiles
- ^ "Tom Harris , Director, Ottawa Operations", High Park Group website, November 7, 2006. Via the Google cache. The biography has now been removed from the High Park Group's website and will likely soon disappear from the Google cache.
- "Kyoto's Fatal Flaws: International Climate Experts Speak Out Against Climate Change Myths Revealed", Media Release, November 12, 2002. (This lists Harris as being an Associate of APCO)
- Rebuttal to WxDan from Jeff Masters Blog on 'Science Consensus Study'," Wunder Blog, June 22, 2006. Includes numerous links to Tom Harris bios.
- ^ APCO Worldwide's biography of Tom Harris, March 26, 2006. Cached by ZoomInfo.com.
- Profile of Tom Harris at zoominfo.com. Note that this profile is machine-generated. Although nearly all the links clearly do refer to Harris, it seems likely that zoominfo's identification of him as a director of Hillwood Development Company, and as having the middle initial "J", is incorrect.
- "Astronomy Programs 2006-2007," Canada Science and Technology Museum, accessed November 22, 2006. For November 25, 2006: "aerospace engineer Tom Harris gives an overview of the coming century of space exploration."
Articles by Tom Harris
- Archived articles by Tom Harris/Thomas Harris linked on Harris's iosphere.net website. Topics include space exploration, climate change, climate change and alternative energy propaganda, and nuclear power.
- "Antiaircraft Missile Defence of Nuclear Sites Unnecessary and Dangerous," Canadian Nuclear Association, undated. Tom Harris, "an Ottawa-based freelance writer"
- "The Time is right for Nuclear Power Expansion. Global terrorism, Kyoto Accord increase urgency of world-wide conversion to nuclear," Canadian Nuclear Association, undated.
- "Scientists Throwing Cold Water on Theories of Climate Catastrophe," Canadian Free Press, June 4, 2006.
- "Scientists call for 'reality check' on climate change," The Windsor Star (Canada), June 5, 2006.
- "The gods are laughing. Scientists who work in the fields liberal arts graduate Al Gore wanders through contradict his theories about man-induced climate change," National Post (Canada), June 7, 2006. Printed in the The Weekly Closer, U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Majority Press Office, and reposted November 7, 2006, as "Al Gore, Global warming, Inconvenient Truth. The gods must be laughing" by the Canada Free Press.
- Editorial: "Environmental Heresy. Failing to question the scientific assumptions underlying Kyoto isn't fair to citizens concerned about climate change," Vancouver Sun (Canada) (FF.org), June 8, 2006.
- "Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe. 'The Inconvenient Truth' is indeed inconvenient to alarmists," Canada Free Press, June 12, 2006; Hawaii Reporter, June 14, 2006.
- See Toby Kincaid's June 20, 2006, Hawaii Reporter response "Climate Changes Caused By Many Factors".
- "Gore's Bad Science," Canada Free Press (FrontPageMag.com), June 15, 2006.
- With Tim Ball, "Environment Commissioner should stick to auditing. Gelinas' environmental evangelism based on a misunderstanding of her role and the fundamentals of climate science," Canada Free Press, October 21, 2006.
- "Al Gore, Global warming, Inconvenient Truth. A sample of experts' comments about the science of 'An Inconvenient Truth'," Canada Free Press, November 7, 2006.
- Tom Harris, & Dr. Tim Ball, "UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC NRSP cautions against relying on February 2 UN climate report: IPCC documents have a history of bias and misrepresentation of actual science findings", 'CanadaFreePress, February 2, 2007.
- Tom Harris, & Dr. Tim Ball, "Auditor General right to remove Environment Commissioner: Gélinas' environmental evangelism conflicted with her role as auditor", CanadaFreePress, February 4, 2007.
Articles & Commentary about Tom Harris
- John Bennett, "Climate skeptic’ misinterprets global warming," The Hamilton Spectator (Sierra Club), March 21, 2002.
- "Alberta's Response to Kyoto 'Realistic' Says MLA. . . . Klein Has It Right, Says Scientist," The Provost News (Canada), October 23, 2002.
- "Kyoto's Fatal Flaws Revealed - Nov 12, 2002. International Climate Experts Speak Out Against Climate Change Myths," ClimateChangeDebate.com (posted by ClimateSearch.com), November 12, 2002. Contact: Tom Harris, Associate, APCO Worldwide (Canada).
- Steven Chase, "Foes of Kyoto Protocol aim to stir up doubts" The Globe and Mail, November 13, 2002.
- BruinKid, "Carter & Harris: Gore 'an embarrassment to U.S. science'," Daily Kos, June 14, 2006.
- Tim Lambert, "An embarrassment to Australian science," Deltoid (ScienceBlogs.com), June 15, 2006.
- Tim Lambert, "The gods are laughing at Tom Harris," Deltoid (ScienceBlogs.com), June 16, 2006.
- "On Fox's Your World, CEI's Horner misled on Kyoto, global warming," Media Matters for America, June 16, 2006.
- Coby Beck, "Climate Change NewSpeak: Warming is Cooling, Economists are Climatologists," Ill Considered Blogspot, June 20, 2006.
- Judd Legum, "The Climate Skeptic Playbook," Think Progress, June 21, 2006.
- BruinKid, "Exposing 'Friends of Science' as Big Oil mouthpiece, Part 2," Daily Kos, June 26, 2006.
- BruinKid, "How to debunk the Right's lies on global warming, Part 3," Daily Kos, June 30, 2006.
- S. Perisic, "A Climate of Convenient Truthiness. Dismantling the doubt-mongering journalism of corporate activists," Guerrilla News Network, July 6, 2006.
- Denny, "The Inconvenience Continues: Al Gore's Manic, Misinformed & Misleading Movie," Vital Signs Blog, July 10, 2006: "Canadian aerospace engineer and veteran writer, Tom Harris"
- Charles Montgomery, "Mr. Cool. Nurturing doubt about climate change is big business," The Globe and Mail (Canada) (CharlesMontgomery.ca), August 12, 2006.
- Declan, "A Vote for the Conservatives is a Vote For This," Crawl Across the Ocean Blogspot, August 13, 2006.
- Mark Holland, "Petroleum money drives Conservative climate change skepticism," MarkHolland.ca, August 15, 2006.
- Terence Corcoran, "Hockey sticks and hatchets. Inside the Globe's 4,200-word hatchet job on climate skeptics," National Post (posted by Frontier Centre for Public Policy), August 23, 2006.
- mandot, "Debunking climate change and national security myths," Daily Kos, October 10, 2006. Lead for article entitled "Climate of Convenient Truthiness".
- Tim Lambert, "New Canadian Astroturf Group," Deltoid (ScienceBlogs.com), October 13, 2006.
- Peter O'Neill, "Climate-change 'skeptics' hopeful Harper accepts their view," CanWest News Service (The Vancouver Sun), October 16, 2006.
- Poster: Tom Harris, "money comes after group starts," Forums at Macleans.ca, October 24, 2006.
- Matty Matt, "United States of Canada," Matty Blogspot, November 19, 2006. Comments by Tom Harris follow.
- "don't believe climate change is junk science? just ask exxon," where'd that bug go? Blogspot, November 20, 2006. Includes comment by Tom Harris.
- "Who In Hell is Tom Harris?" The Mound of Sound Blogspot, November 20, 2006.
- Richard Littlemore, "NRSP Director a 'Freelance Writer' for Hire," DeSmogBlog, November 21, 2006.
- M.J. Murphy, "Tom Harris Walks Abroad," BigCityLib Strikes Back Blog, November 21, 2006.
- Comments: "Global warming and charlatan," The Left Coaster, November 22, 2006.
- Richard Littlemore, "NRSP's Tom Harris Sucker Punches a Rookie," DeSmogBlog, November 25, 2006.
- Jim Hoggan, "NRSP Controlled by Energy Lobbyists," DeSmogBlog, January 18, 2007.