“Using our paper to support skepticism of anthropogenic global warming is misleading.” Part II of our analysis of the 900+ climate skeptic papers
- 18 Apr 2011, 16:00
Post 2 of 3
Three respected scientists have independently complained that
their climate studies have been misrepresented by sceptics in order
to bolster a list of papers thrown together to challenge the
consensus on global warming.
The authors of the list claim it includes more than 900
scientific papers which question human forced climate change, an
assertion which has been repeated on blogs and the Global Warming
Policy Foundation website. As we have already reported, nine
of the ten most prolific authors have links to oil giant
Some of the papers cited have been published in prominent peer
review journals, including 34 from Nature and 33 from Science.
However, our analysis also shows that many of the papers do not
focus on human-induced climate change - and so have little
relevance to the theme of the list.
Furthermore, some of the authors featured on the list surprised
us, so we contacted a selection to see whether they supported this
interpretation of their work - the responses confirmed their work
is being misappropriated by inclusion in lists such as this.
Professor Peter deMenocal, of the Earth Institute, Columbia
University, told the Carbon Brief when asked about the inclusion of
his paper on the list:
"I've responded to similar queries
over the years. No, this is not an accurate representation of my
work and I've said so many times to them and in print.
"I've asked Dennis Avery of the Heartland Institute to take my
name off [another similar] list four times and I've never had a
response. There are 15 other Columbia colleagues on there as well
... and all want their names removed."
A paper on the list by Zeebe
et al. published in the journal Nature Geoscience in 2009
studies the Palaeo-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which is a period
of rapid temperature rise around 55 million years ago.
The authors found that feedbacks such as increases in other
greenhouse gases were responsible for a substantial part of global
warming, alongside the direct impact of carbon dioxide.
The lead author, Professor Richard Zeebe, University of Hawaii,
"Using our paper to support skepticism
of anthropogenic global warming is misleading."
These two papers contribute to the scientific consensus on
climate change, rather than undermining it. Earth's climate
has changed throughout geological time. Studies like the papers
listed here have helped to explain why, broadening our
understanding of the climate system.
It is precisely our knowledge of these processes that allows us
to eliminate them as the cause of the current warming trend.
Manmade emissions of greenhouse gases are now the dominant factor
forcing today's climate.
A paper by Meehl
et al, also placed on the list, discussed how the 11-year solar
cycle has an amplified effect on climate signals in the tropical
Pacific. The author of the paper, Gerald Meehl, of the US National
Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), said:
"It's odd that our 2009 paper is on a
site about global warming. Our paper addressed specifically
the climate system response to the 11-year solar cycle. Thus it is
about decadal timescale climate variability.
"It said nothing about long-term warming trends, and in fact, in
the last sentence of the paper, we state, 'This response also
cannot be used to explain recent global warming because the 11-year
solar cycle has not shown a measurable trend over the past 30
The inclusion of a paper studying the sun's influence on climate
is in itself very odd. It's well established that solar irradiance
has contributed little to warming since the 1960s, whilst the
Earth's temperature has risen. For example, a paper by
Scafetta & West (2006) says:
"Since 1975 global warming has occurred
much faster than could be reasonably expected from the sun
The authors of the list at Popular Technology appear to believe
that studying the effect of non-human effects on the climate
provides evidence to undermine the theory of man-made climate
In fact, it is precisely such work which shows that the man-made
changes to our planet are unprecedented.
part 1: 9/10 top authors linked to Exxon
Read part 3: Energy and Environment - "journal of choice for