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April 30, 2005

Getting warmer

UPDATED: If there’s one thing every climate scientist agrees on, it’s that global warming is a Big Problem, and that mankind is to blame. OK, that’s not actually true, but it was the claim made in a paper published by Science late last year. As the Daily Telegraph reports:

The author of the research, Dr Naomi Oreskes, of the University of California, analysed almost 1,000 papers on the subject published since the early 1990s, and concluded that 75 per cent of them either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, while none directly dissented from it.

Dr. Oreskes certainly appears to have warmed up the debate, with many scientists expressing surprise at her dissent-free findings:

They included Dr Benny Peiser, a senior lecturer in the science faculty at Liverpool John Moores University, who decided to conduct his own analysis of the same set of 1,000 documents—and concluded that only one third backed the consensus view, while only one per cent did so explicitly.
Prof Dennis Bray, of the GKSS National Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany, submitted results from an international study showing that fewer than one in 10 climate scientists believed that climate change is principally caused by human activity.

Science and Nature are certainly feeling the heat. When Dr. Peiser submitted his findings for publication in Science earlier this year, they were rejected. Professor Bray didn’t have any better luck. And Professor Roy Spencer, a leading authority on measuring global temperatures, says that when his University of Alabama team cast doubt on man-made global warming, Science and Nature stopped sending them papers for review.

Both publications deny any bias, but Dr. Peiser isn’t buying it:

Dr Peiser said the stifling of dissent and preoccupation with doomsday scenarios is bringing climate research into disrepute. “There is a fear that any doubt will be used by politicians to avoid action,” he said. “But if political considerations dictate what gets published, it’s all over for science.”

UPDATE: Seems that Dr. Peiser’s dissenters may not be as, uh, disagreeable as early reports suggested. Judge for yourself [October 2005: link dead, no substitute available].

Posted by Stephen at 11:21 PM in Energy + environment | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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