Greenpeace Confirms ExxonMobil Funded Climate Deniers, But Change May Be Coming

By The Intersection | July 1, 2011 6:12 pm

This is a guest post by Jamie L. Vernon, Ph.D., a research scientist and policy wonk, who encourages the scientific community to get engaged in the policy-making process

The winds of change may be a blowin’.

A report from Greenpeace, U.S.A. has confirmed that ExxonMobil has been funding several prominent groups that have openly challenged the science behind global warming.  The report largely focuses on grants provided to Dr. Willie Soon, a prominent climate denier.  It reveals an elaborate “scientific” enterprise designed to distort the science of climate change.  While Greenpeace focuses on findings that support their assertion that climate denialism has been historically sponsored by “Big Coal and Big Oil,” Leslie Kaufman over at the New York Times’ Green blog has uncovered a more optimistic side of the story.

Kaufman reports that ExxonMobil has followed through on a promise made to shareholders in 2008 not to fund groups that have become a “distraction” in the climate debate.  According to her article, ExxonMobil has cut off funding to Dr. Soon and others.  I’m not quick to praise ExxonMobil for these decisions because the motivation seems to be largely due to negative press rather than a genuine commitment to environmental issues.  However, I was heartened by comments from Alan Jeffers, an ExxonMobil spokesperson who said, “I am not prepared to talk about the individual grant requirements, but if their positions are distracting to how we are going to meet the energy needs of the world, then we didn’t want to fund them.”

In light of the fact that several prominent Republican politicians have recently come out in support of the science behind anthropogenic global warming, it seems that the political currents may be turning in the right direction.  Two of the top Republican Presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, have individually commented that humans are contributing to the problem.  In addition, popular conservative Republican and New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, has expressed similar sentiments.  It’s a good thing, too, because a recent Stanford poll reveals that the American public prefers political candidates who believe that humans have contributed to global warming and that the nation should move away from fossil fuels by investing in renewable sources of energy.

I have expressed my optimism on this issue throughout my posts here at the Intersection.  It seems to me that America is moving toward a political environment where we might be able to establish a green energy plan for the future.  Chris, however, is much more skeptical.

Let’s just hope for the best.

Follow Jamie Vernon on Twitter or read occasional posts at his personal blog, “American SciCo.”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Global Warming

Comments (72)

Links to this Post

  1. The Rogue Blogger » Keeping an Open Mind | July 13, 2011
  1. Chris Winter

    On this question I have to go with Chris: I am skeptical that Republicans will really embrace the reality of AGW.

    However, depending on how you read it, the fact that Jim Inhofe bowed out of the Heartland Conference at the last minute may be a good sign. He said that he’s “under the weather” and couldn’t make the conference, where he was scheduled to give a keynoter.

  2. The “consensus” was perception, not truth because both denier and believer scientists agreed that;
    A-there will be effects, and
    B, -those effects will vary from nothing to negligible to complete and out of control unstoppable warming of the planet turning us into more like the planet Venus.
    Gee, what’s not to agree with? That explains why every organization and every single scientist being paid to study the effects, (not causes), has their own unique definition of climate change. It was a free pass and a consultant’s w&t-dream and a free pass for lab coat consultants calling themselves saintly scientists. It was perception, not fact because how else would you explain the thousands of consensus scientists vastly out numbering the protestors.
    And here is absolute proof that scientific consensus of climate change was a perception and not fact. If it WERE true, the countless thousands of consensus and concerned scientists would be marching in the streets themselves and scrambling to get on CNN to warn the world of this comet hit of a global and planetary emergency they have said it is for 25 years now. The climate change mistake has done to science what abusive priests did to the Catholic Church and wasn’t it scientists who polluted the planet in the first place with their cancer causing chemicals and pesticides?
    Climate change was a comfortable lie turned criminal exaggeration fueled by political correctness on steroids. It comes home when you look your own children in eyes and warn them that they will die an unspeakable death on a CO2 ravaged planet if they don’t start turning the lights out more often.
    While Obama wanted one time promised to lower the seas and make the weather colder with taxes, he never even mentioned the “crisis” in his last State of the Union Address. Perception is politics and politics is perception.
    Not admitting our mistake of needless panic and crisis exaggeration has made lying and fear mongering neocons out of all of us.

  3. Nullius in Verba

    Seems like old news. Everyone already knew Soon had received oil company funding – it was in the acknowledgements of all his papers – just as a lot of pro-AGW climate scientists have received oil company funding. They fund science in areas that interest them, generally because they want to know the answers; as do a lot of businesses.

    If sceptical science isn’t funded, then you can’t tell if pro-AGW research is the mainstream because it’s right or because only pro-AGW science can get funds. Blocking all funding sources to sceptics just plays into the hands of those who claim the consensus only exists because sceptics are systematically being driven out of the profession by funding/publication bias. Very helpful.

    It also establishes the moral principle of cutting funds to scientists you don’t like, which is of course a precedent the Republicans can use as well. You can scarcely complain, after having supported it yourself.

    And no, of course it isn’t going to make a difference. But I don’t see that it matters if people want to think so.

    Here’s another ‘Exxon funding climate research’ story you might like better.

  4. Jamie Vernon

    @2 meme – “Perception is politics. Politics is perception.”
    Perception is that Republicans are caving on the issue of climate change. If this is the perception, I suppose that means it is also the politics. I’ll take it.

  5. Paul S

    I wish that I thought this would help. But having many conversations with people who deny that man has any role in climate change, and even the basic physics I don’t think there is any chance for many in the general public to change there mind. To them reality doesn’t matter if it goes against what they believe or how they think the world should work. Even basic physics, it really doesn’t matter what it is.

  6. Susan Anderson

    Science is funded on its merits. The argument that skeptics can’t get funding is just nonsense. Get some real data and prove the “skeptic” view (I call it fake skeptic because it lacks the signs of real skepticism) and you’ll be the most famous scientist ever. Meanwhile, the earth is providing increasing evidence that something is awry. How long before the truth is so obvious that billions are in trouble? Oh wait, we’re already there. Nothing is going to work – we are too stubborn and opinionated.

    The idea that a discipline based on evidence is busy providing an anti-Ayn Rand model of socialist behavior in our polity is just silly, but not too silly to be believed.

  7. Susan Anderson

    I was hopeful in the last go-round that evidence would begin to rise to the surface, but despite the author’s optimism, the signs I see show the balance going against reality, not for it.

  8. Al Cibiades

    to: captured by a memeof6D9 –
    If the view of the causal nature of reality becomes too great, you can always retreat 10 miliion million lightyears away, thus shrinking all earthly distinctions to nothing…oh, wait.
    You’ve already done that.

  9. NikFromNYC

    Oh his real world data was just seething with oil corruption. Yup. That’s it. It’s some sort of postmodern world you live in where money decides even raw data! Might I suggest you are projecting? There is 1000X as much funding for AGW as there is for skeptics, so you “money corrupts” argument makes a mockery of itself.

    Fact is, basic data falsifies claims of surging seas, Ts and ice melt.

    NASA: http://k.m­in.us/idFx­zI.jpg
    Thermomete­rs: http://i.m­in.us/idAO­oE.gif
    Earth: http://k.m­in.us/ibtB­8G.gif
    Ice: http://k.m­in.us/ibtZ­ec.jpg

  10. Incredulous

    Dr. Soon has the connections to wheedle some pretty small grants from Exxon totaling about $335K over 10 years that with indirect costs probably end up netting the princely sum of $16-17K /year and it is supposed to be some evidence of vast evil conspiracy when Exxon was giving $100,000,000 to Stanford at the same time?

    For those that don’t know how this works, indirect costs are where the institution where someone works, like the Smithsonian, takes a big bite out of grant monies to the tune of 50% or so.

    Just out of curiosity, what kind of smoking gun are we supposed to see in this?

  11. Chris Mooney

    Jamie I’m skeptical we’re going to make much progress soon on climate solutions…

    but this is a great post for keeping the role of Exxon, and industry in general, in perspective. Industry funding has clearly helped support careers in climate skepticism and denial. At the same time, though, that story is shifting–even as the role of ideology, entirely distinct from funding, is coming to the fore as very central in fueling denial.

  12. Jamie … you’re being naive (and maybe Chris is too). You said:

    However, I was heartened by comments from Alan Jeffers, an ExxonMobil spokesperson who said, “I am not prepared to talk about the individual grant requirements, but if their positions are distracting to how we are going to meet the energy needs of the world, then we didn’t want to fund them.”

    Note that eXXXon’s Jeffers said zip, zilch, nada about AGW. He said eXXXon was worried about “if their positions are distracting to how we are going to meet the energy needs of the world.”

    In other words, for eXXXon, the bottom line is still the bottom line. IF the Soons of the world threaten its massive profits in trying “to meet the energy needs of the world,” then they’re a problem. If not, not.

    ====

    @Nullius … Big fat fail … that’s a 9-year-old story that you link. Not even close. Big #fail. At least you willfully, rather than naively, believe the eXXXon PR.

  13. Nullius in Verba

    “Science is funded on its merits.”

    Science is funded on the perception of merits of the funders.

    “The argument that skeptics can’t get funding is just nonsense.”

    One would like to think so. But here we have an article looking forward to the changes to result from Exxon cutting off funding to sceptics. If they can still get funding, how will it change the political climate? If you think it is right that sceptics should be funded, why so happy about Exxon saying (several years ago) that they would stop funding?

    What does Jamie think Exxon’s move will achieve?

    The truth is that some sceptical science does get funded, but a much smaller proportion and with much greater difficulty than if it was pro-AGW. However, that will have no effect because most scepticism is entirely voluntary, anyway. Scepticism doesn’t exist only because oil companies fund it. That has always been pure ad hominem.

    However, it helps us if people think funding to sceptics is now being cut off, for the reasons I gave previously, so I don’t really mind if the argument stands.

    “Get some real data and prove the “skeptic” view (I call it fake skeptic because it lacks the signs of real skepticism) and you’ll be the most famous scientist ever.”

    They did. They couldn’t get it published because the article was “too long”, (even though it was shorter than other articles in the same journal). So they shortened it, to which they responded it was “too terse”. After going back and forth several more iterations, it was eventually rejected by the journal on the basis that it was too complicated to be explained in the space the journal allowed.

    Another sceptic tried to get a paper published, and the reviewer wrote about it to one of his colleagues complaining “It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically”. He was appealing for private data through a backchannel to help him try to come up with an argument to prevent it being published.
    The rules are different for sceptics.

    If a sceptic proved their case, they wouldn’t become the world’s most famous scientist; they’d be called a denier, smeared as oil-funded, and shunned. That’s precisely what we’re complaining about.

    “Meanwhile, the earth is providing increasing evidence that something is awry. How long before the truth is so obvious that billions are in trouble? Oh wait, we’re already there.”

    There is no evidence that something is awry. Nobody is in trouble. So far, science cannot even detect a change except by averaging over whole continents for decades – even the IPCC says so. At a local level, the weather is indistinguishable from what it has always been. And it’s only the local weather that affects people.

    There’s plenty of propaganda trying to make the connection, but no science. Weather is not climate.

    If the CAGW claims are right, that might change in the future, but it’s not true now.

  14. Nullius in Verba

    #12,

    Yes, I knew it was 9 years old – that was the point. Exxon have always funded pro-AGW science. (And of course, you don’t regard pro-AGW science as discredited because it is funded by big oil. Double standard there, I think.) Why do you think that’s a failure?

  15. Johan Fruh

    I’m having trouble understanding what a sceptic is.

    They seem to be this oppressed group of people that try to warn the world that there are no dangers (a small group that used to be financed by humble and benevolent companies such as Exxon)… but their message is stopped from attaining the world by big evil institutions that have lots of money and power, such as greenpeace and WWF.

    Wow, I just love the way the world if turning out :).

    @Nullius
    “There is no evidence that something is awry. Nobody is in trouble. So far, science cannot even detect a change except by averaging over whole continents for decades”

    Ok, so directly measuring the temperature is not evidence?
    Polar ice surfaces shrinking aren’t evidence either? Glaciers retreating worldwide since early 1900’s..
    Kilimanjaro’s ice cap, which has remained intact for 11’700 thousand years, surviving doughts, has diminished by 80% in volume, since 1912.

    And here I was thinking that climate change WAS a universally accepted phenomenon. Even many republicans accept it.
    Was I naive in thinking that the real debate was linking man to the change of temperature?

    Suddenly… not only is man NOT linked to climate change… but there isn’t even any climate change whatsoever.

    Wow.. I feel better already :).

  16. Nullius in Verba

    #15,

    Directly measuring temperature doesn’t generally show an increase. (Some places it increases, others it decreases, yet others it wobbles around at random.) It is only by averaging many measurements taken over large areas and smoothing that anything consistently shows up.

    When you say polar ice surfaces do you mean both the Arctic and Antarctic? But the surface ice in Antarctica has been increasing.

    Glaciers have been retreating since about 1850. And yet the IPCC only claims warming since 1950 as anthropogenic. Temperatures go up and down naturally. There was a warm period in Roman times, followed by cold weather in the dark ages, a warm period in medieval times, followed by a cold period commonly known as the little ice age. As we emerge from that, the temperature naturally goes up. It’s not a big surprise. And glaciers are affected by precipitation and other factors as well. They’re not good thermometers.

    Kilimanjaro’s ice retreat is well-known to be due to deforestation reducing humidity. The temperature measured there hasn’t increased.

    There are examples of glaciers that have gotten longer, many locations where the weather has got colder, and as I said, the Antarctic ice area is increasing. You can’t pick a few locations where there are signs of warming, ignore all the rest, and think that proves the case.

    And I haven’t said climate doesn’t change. I’ve said that there’s no evidence that anything is “awry” (unless you’re saying natural climate changes count as being awry?) or that the weather locally is more troublesome than it always is. Why did you alter my argument that way?

  17. 1985

    3. Nullius in Verba Says:
    July 1st, 2011 at 7:21 pm
    If sceptical science isn’t funded, then you can’t tell if pro-AGW research is the mainstream because it’s right or because only pro-AGW science can get funds. Blocking all funding sources to sceptics just plays into the hands of those who claim the consensus only exists because sceptics are systematically being driven out of the profession by funding/publication bias. Very helpful.

    When you apply for funding, you don’t do so by declaring that you are a “skeptic” or pro-AGW, you propose to study the effects of X on Y. What conclusions you reach after you have studied it and what you publish is completely independent from the decision to fund you, because those things happen after that. Once you have a track record of denying well established science without the evidence to back up your position, then there may be bias against you although nowhere as severe as most think. But during the early decades of global warming research such reputations had not yet been established and there would have been absolutely no barrier to skeptical scientists getting funded, doing the research, publishing the papers and debunking the AGW myth. So where are those papers?

    It is very easy to talk such nonsense and have people who don’t know how science funding works believe you. But it doesn’t make it true.

  18. Johan Fruh

    Nullius,
    thanks for the stimulating reply.

    So we do agree that temperatures are rising, right?
    I’m just a bit confused as you seem to go against science that tend to show temperatures rising.

    Kilimanjaro, yes humidity are considered a factor. But the true cause is still up to debate. However what is pushing the idea of climate warming being behind Mount Kilimanjaro, is how it is paralleled with other african ice peaks retreating, as well as the glaciers globally retreating.

    Antarctica’s size was increasing, ya. Again, there’s an idea of humidity levels around the problem. Increased moisture arriving in Antarctica would add more ice in areas, whereas ice would melt away from other areas.
    However in the recent years, the overall volume of antarctica’s icecap has been said to be decreasing.

    As for my altering of your argument. I’m sorry if you took it this way. I was maybe confused by your way of affirming that scientists haven’t been able to detect any rise in temperatures, followed by arguments that affirm that temperatures are rising. And then, stating that:
    “At a local level, the weather is indistinguishable from what it has always been”.
    And then declaring ” Weather is not climate.”

    So we do agree that temperatures are overall on the rise?
    (If I understood your statements correctly, regarding glaciers retreating, emerging from the little ice age etc…)
    You just seem to counter your own arguments a lot, so it’s a bit confusing.

    So scientists have already come to a conclusion that you seem to accept. Temperatures are rising.
    Yet it’s this same science that allows us to have an idea of a normal temperature rise, and declare that, with the information at our disposal, the rise is seems abnormal.

    Why is it, when science shows a natural fluctuation in temperatures, it’s all very acceptable. You confirm it yourself, announcing it as fact.
    Yet, when science link human emissions to temperature rise, it’s suddenly propaganda, and we have no means of detecting temperatures changing globally, and weather hasn’t changed locally, ever.

    Sorry for the long reply, have a good hot sunny day ;).

  19. Mike Mangan

    The fossil fuel industry funds “deniers”? Who woulda thunk, eh? Good. They are publicly traded corporations who see their industry being attacked by crazed environmental fascists. They haven’t spent nearly enough combating the George Soros funded haters of Western civilization. But then again they don’t have to because the Alarmists are opposed by hundreds of thousands of free men and women around the globe.

    Mooney, you’re just now figuring out that ideology shapes belief? Why do you think that the far left has always embraced CAGW so strongly? If you hate capitalism and individual freedom then global warming is a godsend. What better way to obtain control over the smelly masses with all their disgusting consuming and breeding then to be given reign over their co2 emissions?

  20. Incredulous

    #17 1985:

    “When you apply for funding, you don’t do so by declaring that you are a “skeptic” or pro-AGW, you propose to study the effects of X on Y.”

    Actually, you do. Unfortunately. There is very little money available to fund basic research. People want *RESULTS* not null hypotheses. If you don’t have some preliminary results that lead the funding agencies to believe that you will have something real to show for it, you go begging.

    #12 SocraticGadfly

    To be fair, the link that Nullius in Verba posted at #3 was for the same time period that Dr. Soon received money from Exxon.

    Do we discredit *all* research funded from companies we don’t like, or just the research we disagree with?

  21. Nullius in Verba

    #17,

    “Once you have a track record of denying well established science without the evidence to back up your position, then there may be bias against you although nowhere as severe as most think.”

    True. If you’re pro-AGW, you can deny well-established science without evidence with no bias against you at all. But sceptics can and do get papers published – it’s just a lot harder.

    I was just giving a couple of examples of how sceptics who “Get some real data and prove the “skeptic” view” are commonly treated. They don’t get immediately declared the most famous scientist in the world, that’s for sure.

    “So where are those papers?”

    Here.

    “It is very easy to talk such nonsense and have people who don’t know how science funding works believe you. But it doesn’t make it true.”

    This discussion started from the position that a Greenpeace report had just said that sceptics had been getting funded, and expressed hope because there were indications that the funding had recently dried up. This was going to change the political environment, apparently.

    I didn’t consider it a valid reading of the situation anyway; but I felt it worth pointing out that even if it were so, it would play into the hands of those who claimed that there is a funding bias causing the appearance of consensus. If you don’t want to strengthen the impression that sceptics can’t get funding for their work because of the conclusions they reach, don’t cheer when sceptics get their funding sources cut off. It hurts your own case for being science-based. That’s all.

  22. Incredulous

    #18 Johan Fruh

    The temperature has never been in question. Arguing with a thermometer is rather pointless. It is the causality that is the problem. When you are looking at statistical correlations rather than direct causal relationships, things get fuzzy. There are many contributing factors and to single out one as being the root cause when you cannot prove it experimentally, all we are left with is opinion. We can make models and make it an educated opinion but we still have a grey area of uncertainty. Are the models 100% accurate? Is the data set truly representative? Are all the mechanisms accounted for? The pro-AGW people tend to ignore that uncertainty and raise it to the level of religion and attack anyone who looks at that uncertainty with the same fervor that the religious have when confronted by atheists.

  23. Sean McCorkle

    @13
    They couldn’t get it published because the article was “too long”, (even though it was shorter than other articles in the same journal). So they shortened it, to which they responded it was “too terse”. After going back and forth several more iterations, it was eventually rejected by the journal on the basis that it was too complicated to be explained in the space the journal allowed.

    Another sceptic tried to get a paper published, and the reviewer wrote about it to one of his colleagues complaining “It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically”. He was appealing for private data through a backchannel to help him try to come up with an argument to prevent it being published.
    The rules are different for sceptics.

    No they’re not. What you’re describing above happens a lot to a lot of scientists. Those kinds of stories, unfair treatment, erratic reviewers and journal editors etc. are a dime a dozen. Its part and parcel of the fights in the scientific arena. It’s not a pretty, or even rational process. It’s subject to the vagaries of the editors and the few (maybe 3) reviewers one happens to draw. Often writers will be outright rejected or give up with one journal and then try another, and then another after that. Good research can go unpublished because of these reasons. Experienced scientists write and submit papers expecting a nasty battle, and do their best to prepare accordingly.

    @20
    I was just giving a couple of examples of how sceptics who “Get some real data and prove the “skeptic” view” are commonly treated. They don’t get immediately declared the most famous scientist in the world, that’s for sure.

    Another possibility for the rejections you describe is that they were just substandard work or poorly written. Just collecting data and doing analysis doesn’t mean that it was done properly or that conclusions were correctly drawn. Another hurdle which may not have been passed is the “so what?” barrier: “yeah, thats correct, but so what?”, as in “so what if so-and-so didn’t correctly estimate their error bars: their conclusion still stands regardless”. No journal will want to publish that—they’re going to devote their limited space to what they consider are more important stories.

    Also, the link you provide in #20 seems to disprove your point: 900+ peer-reviewed skeptic papers.

  24. Nullius in Verba

    #18,

    “So we do agree that temperatures are rising, right? I’m just a bit confused as you seem to go against science that tend to show temperatures rising.”

    One of the problems with this debate is the common stereotypes of people’s positions. You can say one thing, and people read it as meaning what they expected you to say. I don’t mind it, but it helps to know if it’s accidental or intentional. If you were just assuming that’s what sceptics think, I don’t mind it at all – I’m happy to be able to correct the misunderstanding.

    I agree that global average temperatures over the 20th century have risen slightly. They often do – it doesn’t mean anything is “awry” with the Earth. It doesn’t mean billions are already in trouble – except to the extent that they have always had trouble with the weather, and are actually in far less trouble today (because of technology) than they have ever been in the past.

    The change (over and above normal background variation) cannot be detected locally, it can only be detected globally. The website CO2Science used to do a series called “USHCN Temperature Record of the Week” where they would pull out a cooling temperature record from the US, just to show they exist. (They’re archived somewhere, now.) Of course, they prove nothing, because local weather is not the same thing as global climate, but it works both ways round.

    Jamie did a good post recently where he made the point that short-term local weather events could not be directly connected to climate change. But it’s a hard lesson to learn, and those desperate for a way to motivate to a sceptical public are still sorely tempted to connect them anyway. (That’s the bit that’s propaganda.) But it isn’t propaganda to link human emissions to temperature rise, and we can just about detect global changes, although with considerable measurement uncertainty.

    Does that clarify things?

  25. Nullius in Verba

    #22,

    Thanks for the confirmation that this is normal. Yes, it doesn’t just happen in climate science. This is another amusing example:
    http://scienceblogs.com/catdynamics/upload/2009/08/how_to_publish_a_scientific_co/How%20to%20Publish%20a%20Comment.pdf

    Whether it is absurdly easy or ridiculously hard depends on the views of the editor. Science fitting a popular consensus is generally easier to publish.

  26. Sean McCorkle

    @24
    My point is, it even happens to researchers who are “in the consensus”. The best chances for success are having 1) a broadly interesting result (broadly with respect to the journal readership) 2) a well written, well communicated work and 3) an unassailable argument. Generally all of these are difficult to accomplish, and present major hurdles to one publishing in a field for the first time. I think your perception of victimhood of “skeptics” is more like a case of amateurs going into the ring with professionals, unprepared for the level of fight, and getting pummeled.

  27. Paul S

    Do skeptic’s believe greenhouse gasses don’t have an effect on global temperature? I could understand not believing in AGW if it wasn’t for greenhouse gasses and the huge contribution man makes to them. Or is it that skeptics don’t believe that man contributes much to the greenhouse gasses?

  28. Nullius in Verba

    #25,

    To draw such conclusions about the reasons, one would have to read the papers and reviewers’ comments themselves. For those for which I’ve done so, I’m persuaded that the papers of the professionals were of often poor quality and passed essentially unchecked, and those of the “amateurs” (who in many cases were academic professionals too,) were much more tightly argued, and were more often rejected for spurious reasons. We can see reference to several examples of reviews done by the professionals for each other and for sceptics in the Climategate archive, and standards are definitely different.

    In both the examples I mentioned, the reviewers did not find problems with the correctness of the work. For the first case, the paper was published at greater length in another journal with no such arguments. For the latter, we don’t know.

    But as for all the other papers where this disparity has been claimed, it’s not a case I have the time or assembled material to argue here in detail, so I won’t insist.

    (Incidentally, if you want an example where the professionals did get put through the mincer for a change, see “Caspar and the Jesus Paper”. I’m not sure if it helps your argument much, though.)

  29. A scientist

    As much as I hate climate deniers, I really hate greenpeace. They are a bunch of loons and are equally as irrational as the conservatives.

  30. Sean McCorkle

    @28
    To draw such conclusions about the reasons, one would have to read the papers and reviewers’ comments themselves. For those for which I’ve done so, I’m persuaded that the papers of the professionals were of often poor quality and passed essentially unchecked, and those of the “amateurs” (who in many cases were academic professionals too,) were much more tightly argued, and were more often rejected for spurious reasons.

    And you are a better judge than the climate science community because …? Reading doesn’t necessarily imply comprehension.

    We can see reference to several examples of reviews done by the professionals for each other and for sceptics in the Climategate archive, and standards are definitely different.

    A few cherry-picked examples which demonstrate that the system isn’t perfect, but don’t demonstrate widespread bias.

  31. Nullius in Verba

    #27,

    “Do skeptic’s believe greenhouse gasses don’t have an effect on global temperature?”

    Generally speaking, no. A few do, but the other sceptics usually argue with them. The problem is that the physics of the greenhouse effect itself is more complicated than it is usually portrayed, and this leads to confusion. (I can go into that in more detail if you like.)

    However, if you consider the effect of CO2 changes on the greenhouse effect itself, it has been calculated that the effect is about 1.1 C surface temperature rise per doubling of CO2 concentration. (i.e. 2xCO2 gives 1.1 C, 4xCO2 gives 2.2 C, 8xCO2 gives 3.3 C, etc.) This is not regarded as particularly alarming.

    But the change in temperature brought about by CO2 potentially has other effects on the weather that can themselves drive temperature change. Some of these tend to increase it further, others tend to reduce it. These are collectively known as ‘feedbacks’.

    If the feedbacks are large and positive, that 1.1 C/2xCO2 gets trebled to about 3.5 C/2xCO2. That’s the big and scary number the IPCC put out. Sceptics, on the other hand, point to evidence that the feedbacks are small and possibly negative. The 1.1 C/2xCO2 is reduced to perhaps 0.7 C/2xCO2. (That would be the conclusion of recent published work like Spencer and Braswell 2010, for example.)

    The greenhouse effect still exists, and it still causes warming, but a much smaller amount of it. It would get buried under the natural variations which may be up to a couple of degrees C anyway (another disputed number, by the way).

    For what it’s worth, the observed rise is about 0.6 C for about half a doubling (CO2 has risen 40% over the 20th century, and 1.4 x 1.4 = 2, so we expect about half the warming.) If that rise was all due to CO2, that would indicate a sensitivity of 1.2 C/2xCO2 (i.e. almost no feedback), but since we think part of the rise was natural, it might be less than that. (There are other issues like time lags and transient responses I’m skipping over here. It’s complicated.)

    It’s a contentious subject still and the debate isn’t over yet. However, that’s the area where the best of the sceptics are arguing.

  32. Nullius in Verba

    #30,

    “And you are a better judge than the climate science community because …?”

    Do you expect me to claim to be a more trustworthy expert?! No, you’ll have to make your own decision.

    Or were you just asking why the climate science community hasn’t already noted it and responded?
    I can’t tell you the answer to that one – I’m not a mindreader – but you’re not the only one to wonder. It’s one of the biggest concerns in this whole affair.

  33. Incredulous

    #27 Paul S

    Well, from the other perspective, I find it odd that people in the pro-CAGW camp disregard the feedback mechanisms that have for millions of years have handled excess CO2 at much higher concentrations with plant growth and carbonate formation. I also find it odd that they disregard the fact that climate has varied in much broader ranges before mankind figured out the whole fire thing but claim the only thing that can possibly be effecting any change now is mankind’s activity.

    Trying to tie everything to the level of greenhouse gasses released without accounting for how they are kept in balance by the rest of the system is a gross oversimplification. Do I think that our activity has made some subtle changes in the cycles? Maybe some. Do I see us teetering on the precipice at risk of falling to our doom? No. A couple of degrees one way or another is not going to make much more difference than what day crops are planted or disrupt some marginally arable production. It will also make some areas that are not arable now, productive. I think that we are at much greater risk of killing ourselves off by other mechanisms, namely warfare and disease.

  34. Sean McCorkle

    @32 I ask because I suspect a variant of the Dunning-Kruger effect on your part.

    @31
    With this statement
    However, if you consider the effect of CO2 changes on the greenhouse effect itself, it has been calculated that the effect is about 1.1 C surface temperature rise per doubling of CO2 concentration.

    and this
    For what it’s worth, the observed rise is about 0.6 C for about half a doubling (CO2 has risen 40% over the 20th century, and 1.4 x 1.4 = 2, so we expect about half the warming.)

    which implies a 1.2C increase per CO2 doubling, you demonstrate that net feedback effects, if any, are small, which in turn makes this

    The greenhouse effect still exists, and it still causes warming, but a much smaller amount of it. It would get buried under the natural variations which may be up to a couple of degrees C anyway (another disputed number, by the way).

    nonsense.

  35. Mike F

    @Nullius

    As would be expected for temperature increases caused by heat trapping gases, winters are warming faster than summers, nights faster than days, oceans are warming from the top down, temperatures over land are increasing faster than those over oceans, and while the troposphere has been warming the stratosphere has been cooling. What is the source of this natural variation you refer to? It’s not the sun, the stratosphere would be warming. It’s not the oceans. What is it?

  36. @24 … the detection, on a global level, isn’t with “considerable uncertainty.”

    @20 … We “follow the money” when the funder has given us a good reason to follow the money. As eXXXon’s PR person has indicated, the bottom line for eXXXon is still the bottom line, so we “follow the money” with eXXXon and ask, ultimately, what the PR angle is.

    @33 … define “handled” … especially in reference ot the current rate of rise, etc. And, your claim that a couple of degrees won’t even disrupt marginally arable areas? Totally ignorant, in light of things like the Norse settling Greenland in the Late Medieval Warming, then losing those settlements as the Little Ice Age approached.

    See, Incredulous, that’s why I don’t get into these discussions; even when there’s past evidence to refute claims people like you make, you’re still going to make them.

  37. Nullius in Verba

    #34,

    “I ask because I suspect a variant of the Dunning-Kruger effect on your part.”

    :-)

    “which implies a 1.2C increase per CO2 doubling”

    Only if the other forcings are zero. If they’re not – and nobody I know of thinks they are – then this is not implied.

  38. Sean McCorkle

    @36

    Only if the other forcings are zero.

    I said “net feedback effects”. Whatever they are, they are totaling up small if anything.

    If they’re not – and nobody I know of thinks they are -

    Argumentum ad populum.

  39. Mike F

    As would be expected for temperature increases caused by heat trapping gases, winters are warming faster than summers, nights faster than days, oceans are warming from the top down, temperatures over land are increasing faster than those over oceans, and while the troposphere has been warming the stratosphere has been cooling. What is the source of this natural variation that’s responsible for the increased global temperature ? It’s not the sun, the stratosphere would be warming. It’s not the oceans. What is it?

  40. Paul S

    33. Incredulous

    “Well, from the other perspective, I find it odd that people in the pro-CAGW camp disregard the feedback mechanisms that have for millions of years have handled excess CO2 at much higher concentrations with plant growth and carbonate formation. I also find it odd that they disregard the fact that climate has varied in much broader ranges before mankind figured out the whole fire thing but claim the only thing that can possibly be effecting any change now is mankind’s activity. ”

    The problem is the time frame, and unlike before there weren’t humans pumping huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Also no one is disregarding that the climate has varied in the past by huge amounts. There have been reasons for climate change in the past obviously, and there are reasons for the current climate change also. It’s just we are a new variable in the climate change mechanism.

    “Trying to tie everything to the level of greenhouse gasses released without accounting for how they are kept in balance by the rest of the system is a gross oversimplification. Do I think that our activity has made some subtle changes in the cycles? Maybe some. Do I see us teetering on the precipice at risk of falling to our doom? No. A couple of degrees one way or another is not going to make much more difference than what day crops are planted or disrupt some marginally arable production. It will also make some areas that are not arable now, productive. I think that we are at much greater risk of killing ourselves off by other mechanisms, namely warfare and disease.”

    A couple degrees one way or another can cause huge changes, just look at parts of the globe where they are having problems because of the change. And sure certain areas might get “better” while others get “worse” but it’s all relative, and the problem is that the people living there may have a hard time adapting to the changes.

    You didn’t answer, do you believe that greenhouse gasses cause a change in global temperature?

  41. Incredulous

    #35 SocraticGadfly

    re @20 We are supposed to “follow the money” when it is $300K to someone we don’t like but not follow the money when it is $100 million to someone we do like? I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. It sounds like a witch hunt to me.

    re @30 Yes, they moved to Greenland when it was warm and moved away when it was cold. This is exactly the kind of shift I am talking about. Our farming has and will adapt to climatic change. We also farm many places that we didn’t have the technology to farm previously. We develop drought tolerant crops. We devise new methods of cultivation.

    As to the definition of being handled, it as when there is excess CO2 it gets fixed (put into one place) by plant life like grass and trees and forms calcite and aragonite by phytoplankton which when they die form beds of calcium carbonate in it’s various forms. There are beds of it thousands of meters thick of it all over the world where it happened before. If you don’t believe me, since I am so ignorant, go to the gulf coast of Florida, Cancun, or Belize (the closest places) and wiggle your toes in it. Take a look at pictures of it:

    http://www.universetoday.com/39903/earth-from-space-plankton-bloom/

    Please explain how they are going to refute the dunes of it in Florida, Belize, Cancun and many other places in the world? Pretend they are not there? Is the picture of it in the above link just Photoshopped? The European Space Agency is in on the conspiracy as well? Maybe they were paid off by Exxon?

  42. Nullius in Verba

    #37,

    Feedbacks are not the same as forcings. You have one equation with two unknowns.

  43. Giantsquid

    @Nullius

    You can’t calculate human impact on global temperature by simply comparing the level of carbon dioxide increase caused by human activity to the increased temperature over the same period. We are also putting tons of aerosols into the atmosphere everyday. So not everything other than greenhouse gases is a merely a matter of positive and negative feedback.

  44. Sean McCorkle

    @39
    it also says the net feedbacks + forcings are small if present. One equation with many unknowns, but one which tells us that the net sum of those unknowns is small.

    @38
    As to the definition of being handled, it as when there is excess CO2 it gets fixed (put into one place) by plant life like grass and trees and forms calcite and aragonite by phytoplankton which when they die form beds of calcium carbonate in it’s various forms.

    Because atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing, we know that natural sequestration processes are not keeping up with our injection of previously underground carbon. A further concern is that increasing ocean acidification hurts the ability of things like coccolithophores to actually form calcium carbonate.

  45. Nullius in Verba

    #40,

    Forcings add, feedbacks multiply.

    Thus, we have:
    net feedback x (GHGs + Aerosols + Clouds + Insolation + …) = Change in temperature
    or, substituting in the values we know:
    net feedback x (1.1 + other forcings) = 1.2

    If other forcings are -0.7, then net feedback = 3, and the contribution of CO2 is 3.3 C.
    If other forcings are +0.8 then net feedback is 0.63 and the contribution of CO2 is 0.7 C.
    If other forcings are 0.0 then net feedback is 1.1 and the contribution of CO2 is 1.2 C.
    and so on.

    Depending on the sum of the other forcings, the feedback and hence the sensitivity to CO2 can take any value. That’s part of why it is so difficult to determine.

  46. Incredulous

    #40 Sean McCorkle

    “Because atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing, we know that natural sequestration processes are not keeping up with our injection of previously underground carbon”

    No, it shows that it is not an immediate reaction. It does not follow that it will not react. The fact that it has in the past indicates that it will continue to do so. We are not in some magic age where the laws of physics and biology have changed. It builds up to a certain level and then there is a threshold at which the reaction takes place.

    As to the coccolithophores, we are not talking about only one species of plankton or only one form of carbonate. At some pH levels, calcite forming plankton dominate, at others, aragonite, siderite, and at others calcium magnesium carbonate, potassium carbonate and other variations. When the calcium based plankton may not be able to thrive, the silica based ones like Diatoms take over. When the water is really nasty, then the blue-green algae takes over.

    We are not dealing with simple systems. There are a whole range of organisms quite ready to exploit prevailing conditions.

  47. Giantsquid

    @Incredulous

    Presently, oceans sequester approximately one-third of the carbon dioxide produced by humans. This carbon sink is almost completely dependent on the solubility of carbon dioxide, with little input from biological processes. Eventually, these sinks will be saturated. Already the Indian Ocean has become less efficient at sequestering carbon dioxide. And as the atmosphere warms, permafrost releases more methane and carbon dioxide. Rather than tempering increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, natural processes are likely to lead to ever increasing levels.

    @Nallius

    As would be expected for temperature increases caused by heat trapping gases, winters are warming faster than summers, nights faster than days, oceans are warming from the top down, temperatures over land are increasing faster than those over oceans, and while the troposphere has been warming the stratosphere has been cooling. What is the source of the natural variation that’s causing an increase in global temperature? It’s not the sun, the stratosphere would be warming if it was. It’s not the oceans, warming would not be top down. What is it?

  48. Incredulous

    #47 Giantsquid

    That is only considering the CO2 in solution. The majority is taken out by phytoplankton creating their hard parts. Take a look again at the link I posted in #41. That particular bloom is the size of the country of Greece.

    Here are some more images:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=phytoplankton+bloom&hl=en&safe=off&prmd=ivns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=g6kPTp7rFZCDtge-6ZTvDA&ved=0CFMQsAQ&biw=1194&bih=750

    As these plankton die, they fall to the bottom of the ocean taking the carbonates and other things with them. The decomposition of the rain of their bodies on the ocean floor is where all this oil and gas we use comes from. To a lesser extent, it is also taken out of solution by corals and mollusks to form shells and reefs of carbonates. A small portion also goes to worms who build calcareous tubes. There are also calcium fixing bacteria and algae. That is all the pretty stuff you see when you go to Yellowstone Park around the hot springs. It is also what you see when you see the stromatolites in Shark Bay in Australia. Once the water reaches supersaturation, The carbonates starts precipitating. When there are no organisms to pick it up, it will also come out of solution as oolites. These little pieces of carbonate build up in layers much like tiny hailstone or pearls.

    Just because this CO2 goes into the water doesn’t mean that it stays there. Take a look at the stalactites and stalagmites from caves. That travertine is calcium carbonate coming out of solution from the water. It happens all the time.

  49. Incredulous

    # 47 Giantsquid

    That is only considering the CO2 in solution. The majority is taken out by phytoplankton creating their hard parts. Take a look again at the link I posted in #41. That particular bloom is the size of the country of Greece.

    Here are some more images:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=phytoplankton+bloom&hl=en&safe=off&prmd=ivns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=g6kPTp7rFZCDtge-6ZTvDA&ved=0CFMQsAQ&biw=1194&bih=750

    As these plankton die, they fall to the bottom of the ocean taking the carbonates and other things with them. The decomposition of the rain of their bodies on the ocean floor is where all this oil and gas we use comes from. To a lesser extent, it is also taken out of solution by corals and mollusks to form shells and reefs of carbonates. A small portion also goes to worms who build calcareous tubes. There are also calcium fixing bacteria and algae. That is all the pretty stuff you see when you go to Yellowstone Park around the hot springs. It is also what you see when you see the stromatolites in Shark Bay in Australia. Once the water reaches supersaturation, The carbonates starts precipitating. When there are no organisms to pick it up, it will also come out of solution as oolites. These little pieces of carbonate build up in layers much like tiny hailstone or pearls.

    Just because this CO2 goes into the water doesn’t mean that it stays there. Take a look at the stalactites and stalagmites from caves. That travertine is calcium carbonate coming out of solution from the water. It happens all the time.

  50. Sean McCorkle

    Incredulous@48

    No need to hammer the point about carbonate sequestration with me (and I daresay with Giantsquid—I hope I’m not out of place speaking for him/her on that). I’ve done the estimates myself: using the depths of the White Cliffs of Dover, there’s something like half the atmosphere of Venus locked up in carbonates (one of the things that makes us different from Venus and Mars is that we have life—there’s plenty of geologic evidence that the planetary atmosphere was oxygen-poor a few billion years ago.)

    However, Giantsquid makes some important points: in order for the CO2 to get to the phytoplankton, its got to be in the water in the first place, and that can prove to be a limiting bottleneck even if there’s an exponentially growth in the organisms. Another potential bottleneck is the calcium – it takes one Ca atom for every carbon to make CaCO3. How much Ca can the oceans supply for permanent (or semi-permanent) sequestration?

    (You’re hitting on one of my loves—deep down I believe that some sort of microbial/algal/etc sequestration solution could be achieved, maybe not with Ca, but with Si – there’s no shortage of silicon on the earth, and silicon carbide is really useful stuff.)

  51. Incredulous

    #49 Sean McCorkle

    No problem, I am not here on a crusade. It is just an interesting topic to talk to people about. Beats watching American Idol and such.

    Calcium is easy to come by from weathering of igneous rocks. It is the 5th most common element on earth. The increased acidification of the ocean speeds the release of calcium from rock along with other elements which are then free to bond with the CO2. The agitation caused by wave action does a great job of loading the CO2 into the oceans. The phytoplankton just speed up the process. The sequestration will happen regardless. It was going on before the phytoplankton were using it. The availability of the calcium and CO2 is the reason they developed the use of it to make their hard parts. Handy stuff to build a shell from to keep other animals from eating you.

  52. Sean McCorkle

    @51
    The increased acidification of the ocean speeds the release of calcium from rock along with other elements which are then free to bond with the CO2.
    Is that Ca coming from calcium carbonates? If so, then CO2 is being released, with no net gain from recombining with CO2, no?

  53. Nullius in Verba

    #47,

    I’m happy to discuss at greater length. First, a general point, and a question just to set a baseline for the discussion.

    There are two fallacies – confirming the consequent and argument from ignorance – that we have to be careful of. If A implies B and B is observed, it is tempting to see that as confirmation of A. And if we have an explanation A for B, and cannot think or do not know of any alternative explanations, it is tempting to assume that this means that no such alternatives exist. It is true that if we don’t know of an alternative, we should not assume there is one. But the probability of there being unknown alternatives should depend on our assessment of the complexity and the depth of our understanding of the system under study. I venture to suggest that the climate system is so complex and so poorly understood (relatively) that we should not be surprised to find factors we had not considered. There are observations that GHG-based models can explain, and many others that they can’t. We shouldn’t pick out all those that they do well on as the sole basis for the assessment.

    So, that understood, why do you think winters warming faster than summers and nights faster than days follows from the presence of heat-trapping gases? What’s the mechanism?

  54. 1985

    21. Nullius in Verba Says:
    July 2nd, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Here.

    I hope you realize that half of these are in Energy & Environment which immediately disqualifies them from being called peer-reviewed scientific papers, and the of the other half the vast majority aren’t actually debunking AGW. Because if you do, you are at least lying on purpose, while if you don’t you are better at deceiving yourself than I thought which is very hard to cure…

  55. Incredulous

    #53. Sean McCorkle:

    “Is that Ca coming from calcium carbonates? If so, then CO2 is being released, with no net gain from recombining with CO2, no?”

    There is a tiny percentage of calcium carbonate that is of igneous origin. Rare like diamonds are rare. The majorityof the calcium is from weathering of plagioclase feldspars. They are where the sodium comes from to make the ocean salty too.

  56. Nullius in Verba

    #55,

    I hope you realise that all the statements you just made are wrong. You didn’t read the notes, did you?

  57. Phineas

    The whole GW fandango is a depressing waste of resources and effort. There are problems environmental policy could be addressing that, unlike GW, would make a real difference – like third world ocean dumping, or developing some basic and inexpensive pollution mitigation for the dirty coal-fired power generation growing so rapidly in Asia (that alone would eliminate vastly more CO2 and pollution than international policy – which is projected to do very little and which the emerging world would ignore in any case). Or accelerating deployment of the next generation of nuclear energy, the one free lunch in all of energy generation.

    The scientific claims behind GW are very easy to disprove. Just for starters:

    1 – The temperature data on which AGW claims for the last century are based are nowhere near sufficiently universal or accurate. They are not ‘global’ by any stretch, as they cover a few tiny areas of land and nothing on the oceans that cover 3/4 of the earth. They contain many known and uncorrectable sources of error which far exceed the supposed AGW temperature changes.

    2 – It is not disputed that global temperatures have always fluctuated by far more than the amounts claimed for AGW. The considerable geologic and historical evidence ranges from temperature-dependent mineral chemistry to Viking farms on Greenland.

    3 – Claimed AGW temperature increases are inferred SOLELY by comparison with computer climate models which are hopelessly deficient. The models do not even come close to predicting the known past correctly. It is irrational to believe they predict the future.

    4 – The records that exist, poor as they are, do not show a temperature correlation with the last century’s growth of fossil fuel consumption. In fact, for 1935-1975 and 1998-2011, the data on which the original AGW claims are based show cooling (that is, even if the data were adequate, it would not support the claims).

    5 – The only credible data which really are global and sufficiently accurate (satellite temp. after 1980) show a 13-year cooling that flatly contradicts AGW’s core assertion.

    6 – Current AGW fever was triggered by Mann’s ‘hockey stick’ paper, now acknowledged universally as wrong (actually it was a fraud). Contemporary work in the field was done by people who have since been exposed as unscrupulous and untruthful. Some of those making AGW claims the most loudly – the very same individuals – were making catastrophic claims to the press about global cooling in the seventies.

    Incidentally, there have been two earth-warming and two earth-cooling fads in the last century.

    Nos. 1-5 are individually sufficient to discredit AGW claims, and 6 is a major ‘smell test FAIL’.

    There is no reason whatever to believe AGW. The people who are committed to AGW will never listen to science because a faith-based cultural narrative resonates too deeply – the green religion.

  58. 1985

    I read the notes and I looked at a few of the papers. That’s enough. I am not doing more than that against Gish gallops like this one.

  59. Nullius in Verba

    #58,

    It wasn’t intended as a Gish gallop, and you wasn’t expected to do anything against it. The question proposed that sceptics ought to have been able to get published initially, and asked where those papers were. I answered the question – no more. (I suspect the rhetorical intent was based on the belief that there weren’t any, implying that even without publication bias sceptics still couldn’t get published.) The only point I expect you to read into this is that peer-reviewed sceptical papers do exist.

    I have repeatedly argued here against the practice of citing peer-reviewed science without explaining or understanding the contents – a form of Argument from Authority – and directing people into the maze of literature (like saying “go read the IPCC reports”) instead of answering their questions – which is argument by obscurity. Neither is a form of argument I would want to use myself.

    I don’t vouch for the correctness of those papers, I disagree in general with journal peer review as any kind of mark of high quality or authoritative science, I don’t expect anyone to accept any conclusions without thorough examination of the evidence, and I certainly don’t expect anyone to answer a list of 900 scientific papers in a blog comment! I’m not unreasonable.

    We were talking about whether sceptics could gather their own data and get it published (and whether they would be declared most famous scientist in the world if they did). On that point, I think the link is legitimate.

    Does that help to clarify?

  60. Incredulous

    #59 Nullius in Verba

    I take issue with the way the peer reviewed literature is used as a club. Being published in peer reviewed literature is a matter of novelty and the possibility of being true rather than being true in fact. The whole basis of peer reviewed literature is to put forth an idea and stand back and say: “Take your best shot.” Sometimes it stands. Sometimes it is disproved.

    The way it is being used in this whole debate is: “It has been published and don’t you dare question it.” This goes against the entire process. The publishing process in peer reviewed literature is just the preliminary gauntlet before it is put out to the rest of the world for review, not the final say. Scientific literature is full of things that have been disproved subsequently. When something gets published, it is just a report of findings and not chiseled tablets handed down by God on the mountaintop.

    The big stuff isn’t listed as “proven” for a long time. Sometimes people are just sitting around scratching their heads trying to understand it because there are very few people with enough background to test it. For example, they are still trying to prove or disprove parts of Einstein’s work.

  61. Brian Too

    @19. Mike Mangan,

    Does not compute, “…the George Soros funded haters of Western civilization”. Unintelligible and unsupported by any evidence.

  62. 1985

    60. Nullius in Verba Says:
    July 4th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
    #58,
    It wasn’t intended as a Gish gallop, and you wasn’t expected to do anything against it. The question proposed that sceptics ought to have been able to get published initially, and asked where those papers were. I answered the question – no more. (I suspect the rhetorical intent was based on the belief that there weren’t any, implying that even without publication bias sceptics still couldn’t get published.) The only point I expect you to read into this is that peer-reviewed sceptical papers do exist.
    I have repeatedly argued here against the practice of citing peer-reviewed science without explaining or understanding the contents – a form of Argument from Authority – and directing people into the maze of literature (like saying “go read the IPCC reports”) instead of answering their questions – which is argument by obscurity. Neither is a form of argument I would want to use myself.

    Peer-review is by no means perfect, and whoever takes everything that’s passed it as truth set in stone, doesn’t understand how the process works. But it does help to weed out the thoroughly incompetent outright crazy stuff that absolutely should have never been published. A lot of the climate denial stuff falls exactly into that category.

    That peer-review on its own is not a criteria for anything is actually very well demonstrated by the papers you linked to. Every bozo can set up a journal with his buddies and call it peer-reviewed, but that doesn’t make it worth anything. That list contained several such journals, Energy & Environment being the most blatant example, but there were a lot of papers in economics journals, in various petroleum geology journals, etc., all fields that either have nothing to do with climate or have very strong ideological/economical incentives to be against the idea of global warming. Or both. So yes, they may be peer-reviewed in the technical sense but it doesn’t make them worth anything as far as acceptance in the portion of the scientific community that actually matters is concerned. Of the rest of the papers that were published in respectable places the vast majority do not actually contradict AGW, it is just that they are spun this way by whoever compiled that list, in exactly the same manner that the typical creationist will use a perfectly legitimate biological paper to claim that it proves evolution wrong when the authors neither had any intention to do so nor do they think it does that in any way

    It is exactly the same situation with the various lists of thousands dissenting “scientists” – when you look at the list, it turns out that many aren’t scientists at all and of those who are, the vast majority are in fields that have nothing to do with the subject.

    I don’t vouch for the correctness of those papers, I disagree in general with journal peer review as any kind of mark of high quality or authoritative science, I don’t expect anyone to accept any conclusions without thorough examination of the evidence, and I certainly don’t expect anyone to answer a list of 900 scientific papers in a blog comment! I’m not unreasonable.
    We were talking about whether sceptics could gather their own data and get it published (and whether they would be declared most famous scientist in the world if they did). On that point, I think the link is legitimate.
    Does that help to clarify?

    I still maintain that the sceptics haven’t been able to do so. And I was specifically referring to the period of the until the 1990s when most of the basic research on the subject that laid the foundation was done and when the publication and funding bias that exists (rightfully so) now didn’t exist and when the issue wasn’t so politicized.

  63. Nullius in Verba

    #63,

    This is a fairly standard tactic – having lost on the “peer-reviewed” criterion, additional criteria are introduced to distinguish between “respectable” and “non-respectable” peer-reviewed journals – the definition apparently being whether they keep out sceptical papers or not. By this means, sceptics cannot get published in respectable journals by definition, since any journal that would publish them is ipso facto disreputable. (“Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”) There’s nothing wrong or different about the peer-review at E&E, except that the editors aren’t ardent warmists.

    Any journal that would publish MBH98/99 effectively unchecked – with a catalogue of basic errors pages long – is clearly not applying any special quality standard compared to ones like E&E.

    “but it doesn’t make them worth anything as far as acceptance in the portion of the scientific community that actually matters is concerned.”

    The part of the scientific community that actually “matters”?! You mean, the part that believes in AGW, that sits on committees making pronouncements, that advises politicians, that gives media interviews. You mean the part that matter politically. As far as the science goes, none of it matters. All that matters is the evidence – whether the paper is correct or not. As soon as you start dividing the scientific community up into “respectable” and “non-respectable”, the same way you just did the journals, you’ve lost touch completely with evidence-based scientific standards are into the domain of academic politics.

    It’s OK, I’m not expecting you to accept any of this. Once you buy into the system, views from outside it are not considered worth listening to. Reputation, prestige, authority, respect, publication counts, citation counts, committees, control of funds, access, contacts, tenure, career – the whole merry-go-round. This is what “Science” comes to mean, and nothing else matters.

  64. TTT

    There’s nothing wrong or different about the peer-review at E&E, except that the editors aren’t ardent warmists.

    The editor of E&E has publicly admitted that it is not a science journal at all and they do not claim their information is actually right.

    Instead they self-identify–with what seems like pride!–as a FoxNewsian “other side” that deserves to be heard, as befits the postmodernist affirmative-action trappings of entitlement that comprise 99+% of climate “skepticism.”

    http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=407763

  65. Nullius in Verba

    #65,

    No, it’s a journal about energy and environmental policy – not that that makes any difference. The peer-reviewers were selected appropriately for the subject. And Sonja was discounting any claims of authority – precisely what every journal’s position should be. Science progresses not by consensus but by trial, and trial is by what is contrary.

  66. 1985

    64. Nullius in Verba Says:
    July 5th, 2011 at 2:08 pm
    #63,
    This is a fairly standard tactic – having lost on the “peer-reviewed” criterion, additional criteria are introduced to distinguish between “respectable” and “non-respectable” peer-reviewed journals – the definition apparently being whether they keep out sceptical papers or not. By this means, sceptics cannot get published in respectable journals by definition, since any journal that would publish them is ipso facto disreputable. (“Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”) There’s nothing wrong or different about the peer-review at E&E, except that the editors aren’t ardent warmists.
    Any journal that would publish MBH98/99 effectively unchecked – with a catalogue of basic errors pages long – is clearly not applying any special quality standard compared to ones like E&E.
    “but it doesn’t make them worth anything as far as acceptance in the portion of the scientific community that actually matters is concerned.”
    The part of the scientific community that actually “matters”?! You mean, the part that believes in AGW, that sits on committees making pronouncements, that advises politicians, that gives media interviews. You mean the part that matter politically. As far as the science goes, none of it matters. All that matters is the evidence – whether the paper is correct or not. As soon as you start dividing the scientific community up into “respectable” and “non-respectable”, the same way you just did the journals, you’ve lost touch completely with evidence-based scientific standards are into the domain of academic politics.

    You can not be serious telling me that a bunch of neoclassical economists or petroleum geologists are qualified to judge the merits of climatology papers. Because this is just what you just said. They may be experts in their areas (the pseudoscientific nature of most of economics aside), but they have no clue of the specifics of climatology research. This applies even to extremely narrow subfields in certain broader discipline. Math is the most dramatic example where it is not rare for only a dozen or so people in the whole world to be able to understand a paper, but the observation applies for all of science. Typically only a small group of people are qualified to review any given technical paper. That’s not because that small group of people are consciously participating in some secret cabal that aims to deceive everyone else, it is because the science is very complex and the geeky technical details that few people know matter a lot. The accusation of conspiracy is absolutely ridiculous anyway, because for it to be true, it would have to have encompassed scientists from all over the world during the Cold War era when the foundations of the science were laid. I find that quite hard to believe.

  67. Nullius in Verba

    #67,

    There are some scientific topics that are difficult, but climate science isn’t one of them – at least, not the way these guys do it. I’m guessing from the way you said that you don’t know much climate science, or you’d be a lot less impressed. A dozen or so people in the world able to understand it?! They couldn’t even get the location of Paris, France right.

    I’m not making any accusations of conspiracy, either. This seems to follow from the expert-based belief system – that the only possible explanation for all the experts getting it wrong is some sort of organised conspiracy. A far simpler explanation is that they all did exactly what you’ve just done – trusted the experts.

    A theory becomes accepted without being properly examined, everybody learns it as the accepted theory, and everybody assumes somebody else must have checked it – so they don’t need to. The longer it goes on, the harder it is for anyone to believe it could be wrong, and so the less likely it is anyone will check. Past a certain threshold, the accepted narrative becomes self-sustaining, and immune to challenge even when somebody does eventually try to confirm it. Nobody can believe so many could have got it wrong. It’s happened time and time again – no conspiracy required, just humans being human. That’s why science abandoned authority arguments in the first place.

  68. Guys where is the twitter and G+ link?

    Check out

    Roy Spencer: And all this time, we thought you were a scientist. Weird.
    http://climateforce.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/roy-spencer-and-all-this-time-we-thought-you-were-a-scientist-weird/

  69. TTT

    @66: [E&E admitting they are not a science journal and should not be viewed as such]No, it’s a journal about energy and environmental policy – not that that makes any difference.

    It makes a difference to your own Appeal to Authority argument, because if they’re not a science journal why should it matter if they’re peer-reviewed at all or which panel of experts likes what they publish? Even if they WERE a science journal, you are in effect just validating the arguments being used against you–and effectively re-validating all the peer-reviewed research of the mainstream community that stands in opposition to E&E. Since they can’t both be right, and since pretty much nobody has direct access to the raw data and results of *any* of these articles, once you have validated the peer-review process most of your audience will back the strongest horse, as it were. So, thanks.

    SEE ALSO: self-styled “skeptics” gushing over the academic bonafides of Fred Singer and the thousands of footnotes printed by Bjorn Lomborg. They don’t deny the worth of the meritocratic academic status-quo, far from it: they want it all for themselves, but by and large haven’t earned it and so are trying to fake it.

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