What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 5, 2011

I Guess The Braintrust Really DOESN'T Read The News!

Note this editorial in today's Tribune-Review. It begins:
NASA satellite data from 2000 to 2011 analyzed by the peer-reviewed journal Remote Sensing reveal that the atmosphere is releasing far more heat into space than the United Nations' so-called computer models have predicted.

And that throws a big bucket of ice on the overheated argument that man-made CO2 emissions cause significant increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds that trap heat.
This was published today, September 5.

I guess they missed what the BBC reported three days ago on September 2:
The editor of a science journal has resigned after admitting that a recent paper casting doubt on man-made climate change should not have been published.

The paper, by US scientists Roy Spencer and William Braswell, claimed that computer models of climate inflated projections of temperature increase.

It was seized on by "sceptic" bloggers, but attacked by mainstream scientists.

Wolfgang Wagner, editor of Remote Sensing journal, says he agrees with their criticisms and is stepping down.
But before we go further on that, let me quote the braintrust's next paragraph:
New NASA Terra satellite data show real-world atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds are not increasing as predicted by the computer models, writes James M. Taylor, managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
Hmm. You'd think that in an editorial touting the scientific work that runs counter to the accepted science of Climate Change, that James M Taylor was some sort of scientist and that "Environment & Climate" was some sort of scientific journal (peer reviewed, perhaps).

You'd be wrong.

Environment & Climate News is a "A 20-page monthly newspaper reporting on free- market, sound-science approaches to environment issues" published by The Heartland Institute.

Huh. So it's not a science journal at all. And Taylor isn't a scientist, either. His bio (again at the Heartland Institute) says:
Taylor received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his law degree from the Syracuse University College of Law, where he was president of the local chapter of the Federalist Society and founder and editor-in-chief of the Federalist Voice.
Not only a lawyer, but a federalist society lawyer. So what's this stuff doing on a "science" editorial at the Tribune-Review?

I think that question answers itself.

Do I need even need to point out the hundreds of thousands of dollars in Scaife Foundation money (all not mentioned in the editorial) shuttled to the Heartland Society?

But back to our story. Is there any idea why the editor of Remote Sensing is stepping down?

Luckily, he's published his reasons:
Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.

After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.
I'll whittle it down for you. He says that peer reviewing is supposed to make sure that papers with "fundamental methodological errors or false claims" be filtered out and that the Spencer and Braswell paper had both. Furthermore he states:
With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements, e.g., in a press release of The University of Alabama in Huntsville from 27 July 2011, the main author’s personal homepage, the story “New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism” published by Forbes, and the story “Does NASA data show global warming lost in space?” published by Fox News, to name just a few.
Or like this editorial from Scaife's braintrust.
But trying to refute all scientific insights into the global warming phenomenon just based on the comparison of one particular observational satellite data set with model predictions is strictly impossible. Aside from ignoring all the other observational data sets (such as the rapidly shrinking sea ice extent and changes in the flora and fauna) and contrasting theoretical studies, such a simple conclusion simply cannot be drawn considering the complexity of the involved models and satellite measurements.
But that's what the Trib just did. Had they been keeping up on the news (or the science) they'd have known this.

Which leads to a troubling conclusion for Scaife's braintrust. Either they don't bother being up to date on the news (an odd policy to take given they're sitting on top of a newspaper) or they do and they just don't bother passing it along the truth to their readers (another odd policy given they're sitting on top of a newspaper).

So which is it? Ignorance or dishonesty?

We report - you decide.


Winding down said...


Now, as to mike259259’s second point that conservatives are anti-science, well, at least two things come to mind. Which ideology is it that throws a hissy fit over genetically modified organisms and childhood vaccinations? Or files lawsuits to stop de-listings of recovered species (like the gray wolf) even after the government’s science advisory bodies say “the science” says they should be de-listed? Who’s not respecting science now?

But rather than stopping with the simple observation that ideology or politics drives acceptance or rejection of certain domains of science, it is worth pressing on to ask why liberals dislike some kind of science, and conservatives other kinds.


Winding down said...

See my blog for another take on the Spencer//Braswell controversy