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Climate Change 

January 30, 2012

The Wall Street Journal could find only 16

the_scream2

The Wall Street Journal published an “Opinion” on January 27, entitled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming“, with sub-title “There’s no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy.” The article has 16 signatories, claimed by the editor to be scientists. The piece itself is a whiny, soap opera-type yarn detailing the horrors supposedly faced by the “growing” number of scientists who disagree with: the overwhelming consensus within the scientific community that global warming is ongoing, and that it is primarily the result of human greenhouse gas emissions. The story rambles from that of Dr. Ivar Giaever, Nobel Laureate in Physics who resigned from the American Physical Society in disgust at its embrace of the global warming consensus, to the lack of warming over the past decade (never mind measurement to the contrary), to a defence of carbon dioxide as “not a pollutant” (reminds me of Arnold in that movie with the kids). One could spend some time picking at these well-worn stories for their personal myopia, abuse and distortion of empirical data, and reliance on public misunderstandings of greenhouse gases, but I don’t have time for that. Instead, what I would like to take issue with is the notion, promoted by that Wall Street Journal, that the signatories represent, in any way, an august body of sixteen. Who are these signatories anyway, and how should they be received? As expected, the qualification of the group is dubious (I’m being generous here) and most of the members are absolutely not qualified to issue a scientific opinion of any weight regarding climate change. Some, however, are quite qualified. So what I did was to devise a very crude and simple scoring system to help you to sort them out. Scores are based on whether a signatory has: (1) a Ph.D. (yes, sorry folks, but it really does help to have one), (2) a Ph.D. in a science directly related to climate change (e.g. Meteorology, Geology, Oceanography), (3) a Ph.D. indirectly related to climate change (e.g. Ecology, many areas of Physics, Mathematics), (4) holds or has held a position requiring the conduct of original research, (5) holds or has held a position requiring the conduct of original research into climate change, (6) published research on climate change in a peer-reviewed journal within the past 10 years, and (7) has published any research in the past 10 years. The maximum score possible is 8, but realistically, with most individuals earning a single Ph.D., it’s 7. Here’s how they stacked up:

  • Claude Allegre – 4
  • J. Scott Armstrong – 3
  • Jan Breslow – 3
  • Roger W. Cohen – 2 (being a big cheese in Exxon earns you no extra points)
  • Edward David – 3
  • William Happer – 4
  • Michael Kelly – 6 (finally, someone actually qualified to say something!)
  • William Kininmonth – 3
  • Richard Lindzen – 7 (yes, quite qualified it seems)
  • James McGrath – 4
  • Rodney Nichols – 1 (and I am being very generous here)
  • Burt Rutan – 0 (generosity has its limits)
  • Harrison Schmitt – 3
  • Nir Shaviv – 4
  • Henk Tennekes – 6 (qualified)
  • Antonio Zichichi – 4

What should we make of this? In my opinion, this is a list of 3 (folks ranked 6-7). I must question their judgement, however, based on the company that they have chosen to keep, but to each his/her own. (Oh wait, no women are on the list, but this is science after all). I’m not sure how to judge the significance of the rankings, since that would require a lot of random selecting and leg work on my part, and I do have a day job. But just for fun, I applied the scoring to that old lightning rod, Michael Mann, and myself (shoot away).

  • Michael Mann – 7 (I would hope so!)
  • Peter Roopnarine – 6 (I dabble)

Filed under: Climate Change — Peter @ 11:35 pm

5 Comments »

  1. [...] “The Wall Street Journal published an “Opinion” on January 27, entitled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming“, with sub-title “There’s no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy.” The article has 16 signatories, claimed by the editor to be scientists. The piece itself is a whiny, soap opera-type yarn detailing the horrors supposedly faced by the “growing” number of scientists who disagree with…”(read more here) [...]

    Pingback by Climate Change Blog: The Wall Street Journal could find only 16 « Roopnarine’s Food Weblog — January 31, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

  2. Ironic how the WSJ advocates following the money as an argument, while the employers of the 16 scientists named clearly have an incentive to perpetuate the argument that global warming is nonsense. It doesn’t sound to me as if the scientists in question are really acting in good faith – more like blind faith.

    Comment by Be Green — March 6, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  3. there will be fossil brcaon corporations and governments of states with large fossil brcaon extraction industries who see climate action as a real threats to their profits, employment levels and tax revenue.The climate action opponent attack fronts include:1. The risks are exaggerated: a. Climate science is grossly exaggerating the effect of rising greenhouse gas levels on climate. b. The impact of temperature increases and higher CO2 levels are exaggerated.2. The action required to slow climate change will destroy our country’s/the world’s economy.On each of these fronts what is being put forward by climate action supporters is complex. There is the inherently complex science and complex action plans based on ETS or brcaon taxes. There is not a great deal that can be done about the science at this stage although some of the communication might be improved.On the other hand there are things that can be done about the action plan. It is pointless getting sucked into arguments about long term targets. All that is doing is convincing people that it is all too hard. What we need at the moment is a simple action plan for the next 5 to 10 years. An action plan that can at least convince people that there are easy things that can be done to at least slow down the rate of climate change until we are better prepared to do something about it.

    Comment by Laura — March 18, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

  4. Scientists with climate requirements (2) through (7) are on the payrolls of government-funded labs, agencies, and academies. They’re paid to get the right answers, removing them from the realm of any unbiased scientific inquiry at all.

    Comment by Mary Contrary — August 14, 2012 @ 10:29 am

  5. Mary Contrary, your comment is a tired, over-used, and strictly false one. There is no evidence in support of what you say, and obviously you know none of the scientists involved in this work, including some of the “16″ who signed the letter, for they work at some of the same labs/agencies/academies! And for the record, I am not on a government payroll, my own climate research has never been funded by a government, and my academy is a private institution. Like the signatories of the letter, you should get your facts straight. But thanks for the comment.

    Comment by Peter — August 14, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

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