Professor Chris de Freitas, PhD, of the University of Auckland, died of cancer a few days ago, at the far too early age of 69. I mourn the passing of a respected climate scientist partly for selfish reasons: I noted last year in a filing to the sclerotic and dysfunctional dump that is the DC court system that their inability to expedite Michael E Mann's case against me (it moves into its second half-decade in a few days' time) means that key witnesses are dying off. In the case of Chris de Freitas, he was not merely a critic of the hockey stick but a victim of and witness to Mann's sleazy and vicious behavior, to which he reacted with a calm good grace few of us could muster in such circumstances.
Chris de Freitas is one of over a hundred scientists quoted in the book I edited, "A Disgrace to the Profession": The World's Scientists - in Their Own Words - on Michael E Mann, his Hockey Stick, and Their Damage to Science Volume One. He had one of those child-of-empire upbringings: born in Trinidad, educated in Toronto, a Commonwealth scholar in Queensland, and eventually the University of Auckland's Deputy Dean of Science, Head of Science and Technology and Pro Vice-Chancellor. He was also Vice-President of the Meteorological Society of New Zealand, a founding member of the Australia-New Zealand Climate Forum, and a four-time recipient of the Science Communicator Award from the New Zealand Association of Scientists.
In other words, he was a distinguished man in his field - until, in his capacity as editor of the journal Climate Research, he made the mistake of crossing Michael E Mann. "The Mann 'hockey stick' is nothing more than a mathematical construct," concluded Professor de Freitas. "Sufficient evidence exists to disprove it." That was enough to attract the ire of Mann and his cabal, and set in motion a campaign to ruin him.
The following is from "A Disgrace to the Profession":
In 2003, Professor de Freitas, then editing Climate Research, was interviewed by The New Zealand Herald. Simon Collins explained that de Freitas had once warned of "the dangers of global warming", but today he "features prominently in environmentalist demonology" :
Last week American climatologist Michael Mann told a US Senate committee: "Chris de Freitas... frequently publishes op-ed pieces in newspapers in New Zealand attacking the IPCC and attacking Kyoto... So that is a fairly unusual editor..."
IPCC's latest report in 2001, was compiled by the same Michael Mann who attacked de Freitas in the Senate last week... But the two Harvard scientists whose article got de Freitas into trouble believe Mann's hockey-stick is an oversimplification, driven by the same kind of "politics" of which they and de Freitas are accused.
The Harvard authors, Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, re-checked 240 studies of the same kind of evidence that Mann used, and found signs that it was warmer in most parts of Earth for at least parts of the medieval warm period than it is today... "The Mann 'hockey stick' is nothing more than a mathematical construct vigorously promoted in the IPCC's 2001 report to affirm the notion that temperature changes of the 20th century were unprecedented," de Freitas wrote. "The validity of this has been soundly challenged, and sufficient evidence exists to disprove it..."
Mann didn't care for the cut of de Freitas' jib and emailed Mike Hulme and Phil Jones to enquire how plans for payback were going - or, as he put it in the header, "Climate Research and adequate peer review":
Did anything ever come of this?
Clare Goodness was in touch w/ me indicating that she had discussed the matter w/ Von Storch, and that DeFrietas would be relieved of his position. However, I haven't heard anything...
It seems important that either Clare and Von Storch take imminent action on this, or else actions of the sort you had mentioned below should perhaps be strongly considered again. Non-action or slow action here could be extremely damaging...
Thanks very much for all your help w/ this to date, and for anything additional you may be able to do in this regard to move this forward.
best regards, mike
Mike got his way. De Freitas was removed as editor.
~The above is from my book on Mann, "A Disgrace to the Profession".
He was an honorable and principled man, who refused to subordinate the scientific method to political activism. For that reason, Michael E Mann demanded that he be punished. His early death from cancer is a tragedy, and I hope what he went through from Mann did not contribute to it. Rest in peace.