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Inhofian Reporting: Peerless work?

December 21st, 2007 · 29 Comments

The Minority on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) http://www.bpsdb.orgCommitee (read James Inhofe (R-Exxon)) has just released a “report”: 0ver 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007

As a taxpayer, to start with, I am outraged that my taxes are used to support such truthiness and distortions.

As a human being, I am outraged that such deniers (Roadblock Republicans) are able to stand in the way toward moving the nation and the Globe toward a more sensible energy future.

And, as an analyst, I am outraged that such mediocrity is allowed to be pedaled as a “report” with the imprimateur of the US government and a US Senate Committee behind it.

A full throated examination of the mediocrity of this collection of misleading climate denier and climate skeptic and delayer material is beyond the ability of one single post. 

But, after the fold,  this posting provides just a taste of the reviews and examinations of just the first three of the “peer-reviewed studies” cited by James Inhofe and his staff-support for Global Warming Denial.

Take a look and join with me in questioning what “peer review” means when coming from James Inhofe’s mouth.

Inhofe calls on us to listen to the UN IPCC Chairman, Rajendra Pachauri:

Please listen to the voice of science

Inhofe’s “science” does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.  See what science has to say about these “peer-reviewed studies”.

Let us take the first three on the list.

1. Scafetta and West: RealClimate’s deconstruction:

The study by S&W has some suspicious results … their analysis is sloppy in the estimate of change, underestimating the observed temperature change … the paper oozes of vague but subjective and cherry-picked statements … paper also offers some incorrect references … Thus, S&W make a number of unjustified assumptions and sweeping statements which turns it into a mere speculation

2. McKitrick and Michaels; RealClimate analysis

One of my main concerns then was that their analysis had not taken into consideration the dependency between the data points, … they have not done it properly this time, and they still do not eliminate the effect of dependency. … The fact that they used sea-level pressure (SLP) data from (1974) because they could not find more recent data, suggest that they still are not up-to-date. Updated data, such as the National Center for Environmental Prediction SLP, have long been available … Their regression analysis appears to suffer from over-fitting, since they have thrown in a lot of variables (both ‘meteorological’ and ‘economical’) for various vague reasons.

Not surprisingly, their analysis produces some strange results as a result of this shortcoming. … M&M2007 is biased and gives an incorrect picture, as they do not discuss the fact that also the world oceans are warming up, and whether any economic activity can take the blame for that.

So in summary, I think the results of M&M2007 analysis and conclusions are invalid because
– They do not properly account for dependencies.
– They over-fit the regression.
– Their results look unreasonable.
– They “cherry pick” the MSU data that gives the lowest trend

3. Loehle … again RealClimate

Many people hold the mistaken belief that reconstructions of past climate are the sole evidence for current and future climate change. They are not. … the climate of the medieval period has received a very high (and sometimes disproportionate) profile in the public discourse … The Loehle paper was published in Energy and Environment – a journal notable only for its rather dubious track record of publishing contrarian musings. … What does this imply for Loehle’s reconstruction? Unfortunately, the number of unsuitable series, errors in dating and transcription, combined with a mis-interpretation of what was being averaged, and a lack of validation, do not leave very much to discuss.

It is a tiresome task, but simply using search at Real Climate provides the ability to show just how peerless the peer review process must have been for Inhofe’s cited “studies”.

Determining the right “peer”

James Inhofe is determined to highlight that these are “peer reviewed” studies and papers. As the material above suggests, real scholarly review of the works in question (at least three, chosen at random, e.g, the first three in the list) shows that they do not stand up to the rigor of serious review. Thus, how did they make it through “peer” review?  Perhaps the answer comes from how peer is defined.  After all, when it comes to the accused murderer, who are his (or her) peers?  Other citizens? Or murderers?  Thus, who are global warming deniers’ “peers” and how does a “peer-reviewed” publication like Energy and Environment determine reviewers?  Would Jim Hansen be asked to review a piece submitted to E&E and would his review be given weight? Or, are the reviewers chosen from a select few fellow-travelers in global warming denier, skeptic, or delayer circles?  Hmmm …

NOTE/UPDATE: For other perspectives, many written after this original post:

That blog provides a long list of names of people who disagree with the consensus, and I have no doubt that many on this list are indeed skeptics. The question is: does their opinion matter? Should you revise your views about climate change accordingly?

SEE ALSO: Another Notch on the Inhofe Scale and an Oily Christmas Gift courtesy of the US taxpayer. 

NOTE:  To be honest, such denier / skeptic / delayer disingenuous work and the necessity to battling it are serious obstacles to sensible efforts to Energize America to a prosperous, climate friendly future.

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Tags: Global Warming · Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change · politics · skeptic

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