An excellent question from an article on Slate which had never occured to me.
I am not a climate change denier, largely thanks to the Berkeley Earth study and findings. Even when I was (much) more skeptical, it didn’t occur to me to wonder about the ratio of published studies. I won’t get in to my skeptical reasoning, but I assumed, as the article says, that there were actually climate scientists who did not favor anthropogenic global warming.
Obviously, if there were such scientists…and they had any reasonable findings they’d publish in a heartbeat.
The dearth of legitimate skeptic papers is, for me, just one more nail in the coffin. I honestly don’t see how anyone could come to a different conclusion.
The simple answer is that the peer-review process conducted by legitimate journals keeps out junk science. Some of them do publish, but they end up in third-rate vanity journals. A surprising number of them make up for the lack of publishing by running personal Internet blogs, where they don’t have to deal with pesky peer reviews and often have a following of fawning acolytes. To those who can’t tell the difference between science and bullshit, this constitutes a vibrant “debate” and is proof of how much disagreement there is on the basic facts of AGW!
Climate change denial is more of a political position. I myself have recently learned that I am a climate change denier. I believe the Earth’s atmosphere is warming, I believe man-kind may be causing it, however I believe that it is a good thing overall (at least it better be). So far I see only two reasons that could possibly make me a climate change denier:
1] I absolve women from responsibility, and
2] I see nothing in the science that would predict the end of life on Earth.
It’s like my great grandfather was [insert racist term here] and so they don’t want me in their ‘club’.
The basic counter-argument is that none of this is proved and that it’s just good money after bad. I personally don’t buy that hogwash, all the mitigation programs I’ve seen look to be right, good, and we should pursue them regardless of man-made global warming. It is a cash cow, but no way would a scientific journal risk their credibility for some useless conspiracy … let the science speak for itself.
It’s not complicated. Vanity journals will publish anything. Legitimate journals publish based in general on two criteria: research relevance, and quality. “Quality” is a fairly objective set of criteria and is based on the use of accepted scientific methodologies and an assessment of the quality of the data. Denialist papers tend to be sorely lacking in either methodological rigor or data quality, and often both.
Any legitimate journal would love to publish a good solid paper in its relevant area of research that challenges accepted scientific opinion, and indeed they often do, though mostly in specific areas that most of us would regard as technical minutiae. A paper that presumes to challenge really fundamental established conclusions – like the role of AGW in 20th century warming – would be expected to meet a correspondingly high burden of proof for its claims. Such has not been forthcoming, and the truth is that even most denialists tend to exhibit a sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde persona, poking away at relatively obscure areas in the published journals, and turn into ranting frothing-at-the-mouth Mr. Hydes when they pontificate on their denialist blogs or guest-star in those of others. I have often seen a perfectly legitimate paper published by a marginal denialist, who then proceeds to offer a complete distortion of it in his blogs, saying things that he would never dream of saying under the scrutiny of peer review.
The cash cow is research funding, 999 out of 1,000 published papers about climate are about man-made global warming. I’d take that position if I was a Climatologist with student loans.
Does it matter who says that, simply refusing to believe it makes me a climate change denier. Remember, I think global warming is a good thing … I don’t know why I should be rejected and condemned for that.
Actually, a prominent, lettered scientist published an analysis in a respected publication that amounted to denialism. The net result was that the analysis was found to be deeply flawed, the editor was deeply embarrassed for not having properly vetted the material, to the extent that he resigned tail-between-his-legs. Lamentably, the damage was done, the anti-warming crowd latched onto this piece of substantiation and waved it furiously in triumph.
The scientist in question was, of course, Dr. Roy Spencer, his source was from NASA satellites he was overseeing as part of his position (after all, are you saying NASA data is wrong ???), the publication was called Remote Sensing. Spencer has continued to erode the shreds of his credibility by taking up the banner of creationism.
Just as a side note, Spencer is quite honest about the fact that he is politically motivated and is hell-bent on ensuring that the evil gubbermint is never empowered to regulate emissions. Aside from the pseudo-scientific ranting on his blog and the occasional bad paper in low-grade journals, he barely even pretends to be a serious scientist.
You are obviously not aware that as part of their initiation into the Great Global Conspiracy Club™, where climate scientists learn the Secret Handshake and receive their Secret Decoder Rings, they also get the right to publish whatever they like in the scientific journals. Those who are not part of the club are locked out. Thus, there are many good hard-working scientists with conclusive evidence that CO2 has no effect whatsover on climate, and that global warming is caused by space aliens from the planet Gazoomba, who simply cannot get their work published and are ruthlessly censored and suppressed. Fortunately, they can get the word out on Internet blogs and late-night talk radio.
Very few credentialed climatologists would bite the hand that feeds them either. Why in God’s Name would Big Oil publish their findings? They might be way ahead of the pack laying in their bribes years before the information becomes public. That’s certainly what I would do if I was Big Oil.
And before Gigo comes in claiming Curry isn’t a real scientist or something similar, the U.S. government apparently thinks enough of her to have her testify in upcoming hearings on the Presidents Climate Action Plan. Link.
Additionally, Curry who is a real climate scientist and not just someone who plays one on the 'Dope had this to say about ‘deniers’ and publishing:
John Christy is another ‘denier’ who publishes. Link to papers. He is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Additionally, he was a lead author on IPCC 2001. Here is a linkto his testamony to congress. Warning, pdf.
Or there is Petr Chylek, a researcher for Space and Remote Sensing Sciences at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Linkto his wiki.
More importantly, a link to an open letter he wrote about the climate science community. Link.
A quote from that letter:
For a list of sceptical scientist who publish, just check this out. Link.
Now, apparently, those who do not agree 100% with the catastophic AGW line need to be singled out.
There are more out there. However, contrary to what Gigo says, there is pressure within the climate science community to toe the party line.
I highly suggest reading Curry’s site, Climate Etc. Another site, though Gigo’s head will probably explode if I meantion it, is Watts Up With That.
Contrary to what some climate scientist scream at the world, the science is much more complicated than the models they rely on and it certainly isn’t settled.