Analysing the ‘900 papers supporting climate scepticism’: 9 out of top 10 authors linked to ExxonMobil
- 15 Apr 2011, 14:24
Post 1 of 3
'900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of
"Man-Made" Global Warming (AGW) Alarm'
announces the headline on the Global Warming Policy
The article references a blog linking to more than 900 papers
which, according to the GWPF, refute "concern relating to a
negative environmental or socio-economic effect of AGW, usually
exaggerated as catastrophic."
However, a preliminary data analysis by the Carbon Brief has
revealed that nine of the ten most prolific authors cited have
links to organisations funded by ExxonMobil, and the tenth has
co-authored several papers with Exxon-linked contributors.
The top ten contributors are alone responsible for 186 of the
papers cited by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. The data also
shows that there are many other familiar climate sceptic names
among the major contributors to the list.
Dr Sherwood B Idso is the most cited academic on the list,
having authored or co-authored 67 of the 938 papers we analysed,
which is seven percent of the total.
Idso is president of the Center for the Study of Carbon
Dioxide and Global Change, a thinktank which has been funded
by ExxonMobil. Idso has also been
), an energy industry PR campaign accused of
The second most cited is Dr Patrick J Michaels - with 28 papers
to his name. Michaels is a well known climate sceptic who has
revealed that he receives
around 40% of his funding from the oil industry.
Third most cited is Agricultural scientist Dr Bruce Kimball -
the list shows that all of his cited papers were co-authored with
Dr Sherwood B Idso.
Why is this important, and what does it indicate?
The "900+ papers" list is supposed to be proof that a large
number of different scientists reject the scientific consensus on
climate change. Climate sceptics do like big numbers: '
More than 500 scientists dispute global warming' was the story
a few years ago. In December it was '
more Than 1000 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made
Global Warming Claims'.
Once you crunch the numbers, however, you find a good proportion
of this new list is made up of a small network of individuals who
co-author papers and share funding ties to the oil industry. There
are numerous other names on the list with links to oil-industry
funded climate sceptic think-tanks, including more from the
International Policy Network (IPN) and the Marshall Institute.
Compiling these lists is dramatically different to the process
of producing IPCC reports, which reference thousands of scientific
papers. The reports are thoroughly reviewed to make sure that the
scientific work included is relevant and diverse.
Sceptic organisations have been successful in dumping large
lists into the public domain to suggest that there is significant
scientific divergence from the consensus. This is partly due to the
fact it is time consuming analysing such lists.
Luckily, there are now free tools online which help you
interrogate this kind of data. The screen-scraping website NeedleBase can turn the long
list of papers into a single database, while the free
data-processing tool Google Refine
allows for a rapid analysis.
This is the process used here. Because the screen-scraping
process is a little rough around the edges the citation numbers may
vary slightly. But they give a clear picture of the structure of
the list, which in this instance has been very revealing. Should
you wish to examine it, you can download the raw data here.
Using this method we could quickly see the ten most referenced
authors. We found that nine of the ten have direct links to
ExxonMobil. Eight are affiliated to Exxon-funded organisations,
while every paper written by Dr Bruce Kimball was co-authored with
The top ten include Willie Soon, a
senior scientist at the Exxon funded
George C Marshall institute, and John R Christy, also a Marshall
Ross McKitrick is
a senior fellow at the Exxon
funded Fraser institute and on the
academic advisory board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation
- funders unknown.
Dr Indur M Goklany is affiliated
with the Exxon
Funded thinktank the International Policy Network (US).
Sallie L Baliunas is listed by the Union of Concerned
Scientists as being affiliated with nine different organisations
who have all received funding from ExxonMobil, including the George
C Marshall Institute.
Richard Lindzen, a climate scientist and prominent sceptic who
notably has a degree of credibility in the scientific community, is a
member of the 'Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public
Policy', which has also received Exxon funding.
The final name in the top 10 contributors - David H Douglass -
has written several
papers with Singer, Christie and Michaels - six of the fifteen
papers he authored on the list were written with Michaels, Singer
Nevertheless, these authors do not make up the whole list. There
are plenty of other papers on the list which were not written by
this small group.
We'll examine some of those in more detail in Part 2...
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Read part 2: "Using our paper to support skepticism of
anthropogenic global warming is misleading."
Read part 3: Energy and Environment - "journal of choice for