"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Global warming's unscientific method

The Washington Times has an editorial on Ross Mckitrick's attempts to get his paper on UHI measurements published.
Recent attempts to silence Mr. McKitrick illuminate the extent to which the alarmists have abandoned proper scientific method in their pursuit of political goals.

Mr. McKitrick has spent the past two years attempting to publish a scientific paper that documents a fundamental error in the 2007 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. This U.N. document serves as the sole authority upon which the Environmental Protection Agency based its December "endangerment finding" that will allow unelected bureaucrats to impose cap-and-trade-style regulations without a vote of Congress. The cost to the public in higher gas and energy prices will run in the billions.
One might think that the scientific community would be extra diligent in double-checking the conclusions of a report carrying such weighty real-world consequences. In fact, the opposite happened. Seven scientific journals circled the wagons to block publication of Mr. McKitrick's explosive findings.
The IPCC report argued that temperatures rose one degree Celsius over the course of a century as a direct result of man-made carbon-dioxide emissions. This tiny change in temperature was calculated through the use of an "adjusted" set of global surface-temperature readings. Mr. McKitrick found that factors unrelated to global climate contaminated this data set, resulting in a higher temperature reading. He showed a statistically significant correlation between the change in temperature readings and socioeconomic indicators. It makes sense, for example, that replacing trees and forests with concrete and glass skyscrapers might contribute to the .01 degree annual increase in local temperature readings. This "urban heat island" effect would not be present in readings taken outside the asphalt jungle.
Scientific journals evaluate arguments of this sort using a peer-review process by which purportedly impartial experts in the relevant field verify the paper's accuracy and suitability for publication. By addressing issues raised by reviewers, researchers are able to present an improved and refined final product. In Mr. McKitrick's case, the process appears to have been abused to stifle dissent.

The leading journals Science and Nature both rejected the paper as too specialized and lacking in novelty. The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society did not respond. Reasons given for refusing the paper in other outlets frequently contradicted one another.
One of the famous leaked e-mails from the former head of the Climatic Research Unit at Britain's University of East Anglia sheds light on what really happens behind the scenes. "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report," professor Phil Jones wrote in reference to a 2004 journal article by Mr. McKitrick. "Kevin and I will keep them out somehow - even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is

It is sad to think that even after Climategate the Alarmist lobby is still using the same tactics , having learned nothing from the whole exercise.


  1. It's the Washington Times, not the Washington Post. The Post would never publish such an intelligent editorial

  2. Thx for that - typo corrected!

  3. You're welcome. I like your blog. Keep up the good work.