Monday, 20 July 2009

The Great Climate "Skeptics" Swindle

In my laboriously gathered list of climate scientists and people making claims about climate science, I've completed several milestones recently. I filled in the number of papers matching the word "climate" for the great majority of the list, including all 619 IPCC AR4 wg1 authors, all signers of the Cato ad, the 3 skeptics letters to Canadian PMs and to UN SG Ban Ki-Moon and all of the "scientist" signers of the Manhattan Declaration - basically nearly every skeptic I've had time to catalogue (though far from every name that Marc Morano has been accumulating - maybe he's just able to type faster than I can - but consider that this is his full-time job, while I've got both a day job and a life outside of work and the web - I spent last weekend adding insulation to my house.)

I've also started providing two versions of each listing: one sorted in descending order of number of citations (starting with the fourth-most-cited paper for each author, then sub-sorting on the #3 paper and the #2 paper as needed); the other version, new this month, is sorted on the number of papers mentioning "climate" by that author. I found this addresses the issue of people with long careers in some other field who begin making pronouncements on climatology without ever having published on climate themselves - such as phycists Antonio Zichichi and (particularly) Freeman Dyson. Both ranked in the top 100 when sorting on most citations to their entire published works - but these guys published very little academically actually talking about climate. Freeman Dyson has just 23 hits on "climate" in Google Scholar, versus over 435 in total, and a high-ranking 318 cites to his fourth-most-cited paper (which was nothing to do with the climate.) Zichichi? He's got six.

Sorted on matches for "climate," the list now gives more of an indication of which names are in fact climate scientists themselves. It also highlights just how far down the barrel the skeptic groups are digging to find names to fill out their open letters and political ads.

I've made separate pages for just the Cato ad signers, the "scientists" who signed the Manhattan Declaration, and one specific to Martin Durkin's overwrought documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle." In this page I list those who appeared in the film, plus the (larger) list of scientists who signed a letter of complaint to BBC4 Channel 4 critiquing the film and asking that it not be promoted until some of the most glaring inaccuracies are somehow addressed. The outcome of the sort for this list is particularly striking: the complaint letter drew three of the ten most widely published authors on climate - Philip Jones, Stephan Harrison and Sir John T. Houghton - and of the 21 authors with over 100 papers mentioning "climate" in this subset, seventeen were signers of the complaint letter and just four appeared in the film: John Cristy (186 "climate" papers), Pat Michaels (149), Richard Lindzen (140), and Fred Singer (110). I also note where each author ranked in my overall listings. None of these four even made it into the top 200. Meanwhile the skeptics featured in the film include three names with zero hits on "climate" and another two with just one match.

A similar trend carries through to other new sub-tables I've set up, including the one limited to just Canadian authors. The median number of papers mentioning "climate" for this group is 39. Four Canadian contributors to AR4 wg1 fall below this median value, while around 30 meet or exceed that level; AR4 wg1 included five of Canada's ten authors with the most papers on "climate" (of those I've catalogued, anyway).

Only three of the top 50 Canadians by number of articles on "climate" have signed skeptic declarations or letters: Cornelius van Kooten, Jan Veizer and Ross McKitrick. Of these, only Veizer is a scientist; the other two both write on economics.

I'll leave for another post the particulars of my table of signers of the 2009 Cato Institute ad directed at President Obama's stance on climate.


Anonymous said...

Veizer does not sign any declarations or letters with political connotations as a matter of principle, regardless of his views on a particular subject

hengist mcstone said...

Hi Jim, small point, it's Channel 4 not BBC4 that broadcast GGWS. Great stuff Jim. BTW Could you tell me when was the the paper with Dr Anderegg concieved ? Im curious 'cos it is the subject of a correspondence of my own with the BBC.

Jim Prall said...

Thanks muchacho. I've corrected the network name in the post. I first heard from Bill Anderegg in August 2009; my wife had been prodding me a little while before this, saying "Jim, why don't you try to publish something on your list?"

I was starting to ponder how to approach that, when Bill emailed me asking to collaborate. We worked on the design of our data selection in September, and Bill did the statistical analysis from that. The paper had been out for peer review for quite some time when word came through in late April 2010 (IIRC) that it had been accepted with revisions.