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Climate Hustle

Just who are these 300 'scientists' telling Trump to burn the climate?

Posted on 27 February 2017 by John Abraham

If you read my articles regularly, you may have noticed multiple times I have stated that the scientific argument is over; there are no longer any reputable scientists that deny the overwhelming human influence in our climate. An open letter published last week by the anti-environmentalists proves my point. 

If you read the headlines, it might have seemed impressive: “300 Scientists Tell Trump to Leave UN Climate Agreement.” Wow, 300 scientists. That’s a lot right? Actually, it’s a pitiful list.

First of all, hardly anyone on the list was a climate scientist; many were not even natural scientists. It is almost as though anyone with a college degree (and there are about 21 million enrolled in higher education programs just in the USA) was qualified to sign that letter.

Okay but what about the signers of the letter? Surely they are experts in the field? Not so much. It was very difficult to find the list of signers online however I was able to acquire it with some help. See for yourself - Google “300 scientists letter climate change” in the past week. You will see many stories in the press, but try finding the actual letter or the list of names. The version I obtained was dated February 23, 2017 which helps narrow your searching. In an era of Dr. Google, it is unbelievable that the letter itself was not made more available. 

Okay but let’s get to the central issue. These 300 scientists must be pretty good at climate science, right? Well let’s just go through the list, alphabetically. Here is a sampling (text copied verbatim from the version of the letter I obtained).

Example 1:

ADAM, A.I.: (Ph. D.); Retired Geologist/Palynologist/Academic/Public Servant/Industry Professional; publications include papers on palaeoenvironmental studies and a book, New Emperors’ Novel Clothes: Climate Change Analysed. 

A retired geologist and a public servant? I performed a google scholar search on “AI Adam” to find out what is picked up as any studies written by someone named “AI Adam.” Nothing. If you can find his book on Amazon, you will see his biography states he’s a retired geologist, got a degree from a university in the UK (discipline not specified), he worked in fossil fuel and mineral industries in Australia and other countries. Oh, and currently he has “wide interests”.

Example 2:

ALEXANDER, Ralph B.: (Ph.D., Physics, University of Oxford); Former Associate Professor, Wayne State University, Detroit, author “Global Warming False Alarm” (2012) 

Surely it gets better right? I mean this signer was an Associate Professor? Again, not much there. I was able to find this part of a biography on DeSmogBlog:

Ralph B. Alexander is a former Associate Professor of Physics at Wayne State University and former President and co-founder of Ion Surface Technology, a small high-tech materials company. He is currently the owner and president of R.B. Alexander & Associates Inc., an independent consulting firm specializing in advanced materials and surface engineering. 

No evidence of any expertise in climate science that I could find. Let’s move to Example 3:

ALLEN, D. Weston: (MB. BS.); FRACGP Australia

Whoa, what does FRACGP stand for? A quick online search revealed that FRACGP is likely Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. What is the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners you ask? Well if you have more patience than I do, let me know. This may be their website. Once again, no evidence whatsoever of any expertise in climate science.

Example 4:

ALLISON, Jock: (Ph.D., Animal science, Sydney University, 1970); Previously Research Director, Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, New Zealand.

Well, someone in animal science may have studied climate change. Perhaps the effect (or lack of effect) of climate change on animals, right? Not likely. I performed an academic search using the name “J. Allison” and I found many papers in high-energy physics, certainly not the same person. So I added the word “Climate” to the search and found - you guessed it - nothing. 

Example 5:

ANDERSON, Charles R.: (Ph.D. in Physics); Anderson Materials Evaluation, Inc., President & Principal Scientist, Expert in the use of radiation to characterize materials, many publications on materials science, frequent on-line posts on the essential physics of the atmosphere and radiation.

President of a company and an online writer - not very impresive climate credentials. You can read his posts at websites like this one. The only Google Scholar hit I found using the name “CR Anderson” and the keyword “climate” wasSchool Climate for Transgender Youth: A Mixed Method Investigation of Student Experiences and School Responses. Interesting reading I assure you, but not quite what I was looking for. Probably a different “CR Anderson.”

Example 6:

ARMSTRONG, J. Scott: ( Ph.D. MIT); Professor, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. My area of expertise involves forecasting methods. I have been involved to preparing and evaluating forecasts relevant to climate change since 2007.

This last cosigner I will discuss is a professor at a business school in the United States. As I understand his expertise, it is in business forecasting. What does that have to do with climate forecasting? Not much. Perhaps there is some crossover though? I recall that JS Armstrong was an author on a polar bear forecasting paper a few years ago. How did that turn out? Not very well. It was strongly rebutted for being incorrect in this paper. The following quote from the abstract tells it all (AGS stands for Armstrong, Green and Soon (the authors of the faulty paper):

We evaluate the AGS audit and show how AGS are mistaken or misleading on every claim. We provide evidence that general circulation models are useful in forecasting future climate conditions and that corporate and government leaders are relying on these models to do so… We show that the allegations of failure to follow the principles of forecasting espoused by AGS are either incorrect or are based on misconceptions about the Arctic environment, polar bear biology, or statistical and mathematical methods. … In summary, we show that the AGS audit offers no valid criticism of the USGS conclusion that global warming poses a serious threat to the future welfare of polar bears and that it only serves to distract from reasoned public-policy debate.

There many are other examples that list no degree, affiliation, or expertise, such as:

BEE, Roger: ();

BEETHAM, Barry: ();

I guess having a first and last name are sufficient to be included in this list of eminent scientists. Sadly, the list also includes William Happer, who is under consideration for the position of President Trump’s science advisor, and also a couple of fellows we know to be quite nutty.

Finally, how about the person who appeared to orchestrate this letter, Richard Lindzen? Well, he may be best known for taking contrarian views on climate change that are not substantiated by the research, and being wrong on all of them. In fact, he has put forward multiple studies that were shown to be incorrect or questionable by his colleagues in the field. 

A summary that I coauthored of his work is available here with links to all of the relevant studies so people can read for themselves. In fact, one of his studies was rebutted by three separate papers within a year of publication. This is astonishing - most papers are never rebutted. In fact, I would venture that most scientists never have a paper rebutted in their entire career.

What is the takeaway message?

Click here to read the rest

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Comments

Comments 1 to 23:

  1. WUWT has the letter and the list.  WUWT says 'The petition contains the names of around 300 eminent scientists and other qualified individuals, including physicists, engineers, former Astronauts, meteorologists ... computer modelling specialists, and many more. It is a long list.'  

    I got a kick out of the emphatic: 'It is a long list'.  But I also appreciated that among the 19 professions identified, none was 'climate scientist'.  I guess they didn't want to get sued.

    Also, as an American, we get a little rowdy over here when experts from Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Latin America tell our President what to do.  We like to think we have enough experts right here to handle our own affairs.  It's says a lot that Dr Lindzen couldn't locate more of them to pad his list.  

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  2. For contrast, there also exists a petition signed by "...more than 800 Earth science and energy experts in 46 states".  In contrast to the Lindzen petition,

    "All signatories are pursuing or hold a PhD in relevant disciplines, with a few exceptions for other leaders in the field. All are either American or work in the United States."

    That petition is therefore, signed significantly more scientists, signed only be scientists who are citizens or residents, signed only be scientists with recognizable qualifications, and signed only by scientists who work in the field.  In contrast, the Lindzen petition has had to pad numbers by relaxing all of these standards.

    More importantly, there is an accompanying petition for those who do not meet those standards, which I strongly recommend you sign if you are a citizen or resident of the United States.  Currently it has over 150,000 signatories.

     

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  3. I'm reading 'It Can't Happen Here'.

    Where is Doremus Jessop when you need him?

    Sorry, but climate science is just one factor of the total Trump package.
    Basic idea behind Trump is that you attack intellectuals, say the media are all liars that are against the people and the courts are against the 'people'.

    The only thing Trump doesn't have is his own private militia, which is probably the only thing that is stopping him from becoming a real dictator.

    The petition mentioned isn't exactly anything new, we have seen worse in the past, it is effectively fabricated propaganda to prop up Trumps campaign against spending on climate science and the EPA.

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  4. My favorite is McLean.

    "Leading reviewer of WG 1 component of IPCC 5AR. Leading reviewer of WG I component of IPCC 5AR" .

    I say it twice so it much be true?? And just what is Leading reviewer you might ask? Reviewers are self-selecting. You can see some of McLean's comment here   Note how helpful the editors found them?

    Letter pitched at those ignorant of IPCC review process. There are some amazing illiterate entries there as well as some funny attempts at CV polishing.

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  5. Paul D @3, the following article is good commentary on the psychology of lies, and how we respond when people like Trump repeatedly make (false) accusations against all sorts of people.

    www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/donald-trump-lies-liar-effect-brain-214658

    One quote: "When we are overwhelmed with false, or potentially false, statements, our brains pretty quickly become so overworked that we stop trying to sift through everything."

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  6. The letter is posted at https://cloudup.com/iHcBpTDmCNu and can be downloaded as a pdf.  The signers are there - the qualifications to comment on climate science remain another matter.

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  7. The poll of 300 people is clearly weak, but like other polls and campaigns of denial it all adds up, and wears people down.  Unfortunately many people don't have time to research what the poll really means, or who it includes, and these are the targets of the so called poll..

    Scientists and open minded, reasonable people are going to have to fight back hard. I hate that science is getting tied up with politics, but there's no denying this has happened, so responses have to be commensurate with this unfortunate fact.

    It's all part of the Trump attack on climate science. The latest Trump news has him wanting to increase military spending by 9%, which is pretty substantial, especially in a country already having a massive military.

    And guess what Trump wants to cut to pay for the military spending? Spending on "Federal Agencies" like the EPA.

    www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/27/trumps-budget-54-billion-increase-defense-spending

    And thank's for the link on the various consensus studies, and the history of climate sceptical research, and how it has been utterly and comprehensively  refuted in the published literature. But listening to the denialist liars, you would think none of this has happened.

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  8. The 309 people Lindzen lists out he describes as “eminent scientists and other qualified individuals from around the world.” In saying this he doesn't claim that they are in any way either scientists expert in climatology or individuals qualified in climatology.
    He later calls them his “fellow scientists” but this may refer only to those who are scientists and not the full 309.
    But where Lindzen does exaggerate the qualifications of these 309 (as well as perhaps himself) is in describing “the signers of the letter” as having “the training needed to evaluate climate facts, and offer sound advice.” While the OP shows many of these 309 are not acknowledged experts in “climate facts,” there are also many who have set out their interpretation of the “climate facts” (as has Lindzen) and what is most noticable is that these interpretations do not agree on those “climate facts.” Rather, these interpretations are best characterised as presenting contradictory “climate facts.” The one thing on which "the signers" agree is in always espousing a do-nothing aproach to AGW, but always for fundamentally different scientific reasons.

    The Lindzen 310 is thus scientifically a profoundly dodgy bunch. And that is before they present fake science by together asserting that “carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. On the contrary, there is clear evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful to food crops and other plants that nourish all life. It is plant food, not a poison.”

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  9. Just FYI, a search of the document shows, 156 PhDs, 38 MScs, 34 BScs, 1 BAppSc, 9 MAs, 1 BA, 7 MDs, 2 Diplomas, and 32 with no qualifications to speak of.  That is taking the highest qualification in each case.  There are 27 with sundry qualifications not included in the search.  I do not guaranttee those figures, but they should be in the right ball park.  In all, that means roughly 50% are significantly qualified, about 66% have qualifications in science, and about 10% have no qualifications of any significance at all.

    Given the breadth with which Lindzen has cast his net, this petition has a larger denominator as the Oregon Petition.  In effect, Lindzen's letter is an admission that he could only get 300 out of 28 million potential candidates to sign to actually sign up. 

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  10. ...and, whenever these sorts of lists of names comes up, I am reminded of Project Steve. How many Steves does Lindzen have on his list? Project Steve has 1409 as of February 13, 2017.

    Granted, Project Steve was set up to counteract "Creation Science", but it's fun to think how many Steves we could get to sign a petition supporting the IPCC. (No, we won't - as Project Steve says in its FAQ, it's only fun once.)

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  11. In Australia, the term "General Practitioners" is the same as "Physicians" or "Family Physicians" in US.

    "Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners" is equivalent to AAFP in US.

    So, to conclude about the credentials of dr Weston, FRACGP that John has started but did not have patience to finish: Weston a medical familly practitioner who clearly has nothing to do with climate science, who as private citizen denies climate science by signing such bogus petition.

    The morons who push forward such nonsense should be punished by forcibly hiring climate scientists to perform urgent surgery on them (or better analogy on their children). Maybe you find among them a person as dishonest as dr Weston, who would perform the butchery, but all climate scientists that I know would, unlike dr Weston, say "thank you I'm not qualified for this job".

    1 1
  12. As years go by, science deniers in US are finding support of their actions increasingly difficult. Famous Oregon Petition had over 31000 signers, among them 9000+ signers with PhD. Further:

    a random sample "of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science."

    Which is coincidentally (or maybe not) in line with 97% climate science concensus.

    The nonsense herein (as opposed to this Oregon nonsense from 20y ago) can claim only 300 bogus scientists, lots of them exotic internationals. And not a single of them has been found to have any climate science credentials, except the lead perpetrator Dick Lindzen, a well known man who's been on the dark side for many decades, a lost soul.

    1 1
  13. I do not know where the list comes from, but short look at WIKI, lists quite a few experts who do not agree. It is rather obvious that if one is making a living as Global Warming Scientist receiving funding, such a person would be a proponent of the issue. Personally, I am surprised that you did not include the list published by WIKI and chose instead to pick someone no one ever heard of.  Its allarming that founder of Green Peace is among them.  LINK

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    Moderator Response:

    [RH] Shortened link.

  14. GB...  Before anyone launches into that list, please describe how you would define someone as an expert.

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  15. And... in addition to that, please take a wild guess at how many actively publishing climate scientists there are in the world today.

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  16. Desmog provides some more trivia about the subject Lindzen list. I find especially funny this one:

    ...in reality, Lindzen’s list is a rehash of previous “open letters” and petitions going back almost a decade, carrying many of the same names and making the same worn-out arguments that CO2 is good for the planet

    and this final one:

    Lindzen’s list also includes several members of Principia Scientific International — a UK-based group that has claimed carbon dioxide is not even a greenhouse gas.

    Climate science denier and British peer Lord Christopher Monckton once described a founder of that group, John Sullivan, as “confused and scientifically illiterate.”

    This is terrifically ironic because Monckton is also on Lindzen’s latest list, except his name is spelled “Mockton.”

    Cannot be any more ironic. And of course indicative that Lindzen may well made this list up and people who "signed" it don't even know of its existence.

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  17. My congressman is Rep. Lamar Smith. A stronger denialist is hard to find. I recently went to his office and a staffer scoffed at the "97% of scientists" claim. I responded that -no, not scientists which include economists or political scientists, no. These are climatologists! Do you know the difference?

    Actually I think even though green advocates know the difference, we should stop saying "...of scientists" because of this confusion. We're not as effective when people like Byorn Lomborg (political scientist?) can claim otherwise.

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  18. BILLHURLEY @17, it may not be the case that 97% of all scientists accept climate science.  Rather, 92% do.   What is more, 97% of scientists consider climate science to be credible science (Q 18), with only 6.6% considering climate science less trustworthy than their own discipline (Q 20).  Further, 63.5% consider climate science to be "mature relative to their discipline" (Q 19).

    That last requires some explanation.  Obviously practisioners of the most mature disciplines (eg, physics or chemistry) will not consider climate science mature relative to that discipline.  But for other disciplines, climate science is considered comparably mature, by the pracitioners of those disciplines.  This includes disciplines with solid research histories dating back to the mid-18th century:

     

    So regardless of Lamar Smith's incredulity, climate science is accepted as a reliable, mature discipline by the overwhelming majority of all scientists.

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  19. Agreed. I'm not saying otherwise either. It's just that the famous 97% number relates to those who've written about 'climate' and the opposition ignores that (or doesn't understand that). If we continue to say "scientists", then it's promoting this confusion out there.

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  20. Let's look on the bright side. If that collection of climate science nobodies is all that Lindzen can muster for a headline petition to Trump, then he has clearly had to scrape the bottom of the barrel. This is emphasised by the misdirecting nature of the rhetoric in his letter, which attempts to persuade the reader that this handful of people has a lot more significance than they actually have.

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  21. I thought I'd see how many of the usual suspects were in it. Interestingly, I didn't find Christy or Peiser in there...

    ABDUSSAMATOV, Habibullo Ismailovich
    ANDERSON, Charles R
    BALL, Tim
    BARTLETT, David
    BASTARDI, Joseph
    BELL, Larry S
    BOEHMER-CHRISTIANSEN, Sonja A
    BRIGGS William M.
    D'ALEO, Joseph S.
    DOUGLASS JR.
    DYSON, Freeman
    EASTERBROOK, Donald J.
    EVANS, David M. W.
    HAPPER, William
    HUMLUM, Ole
    IDSO, Craig
    LEGATES, David R.
    LINDZEN, Richard
    MANUEL, Oliver K.
    MISKOLCZI, Ferenc Mark
    MOCKTON, Christopher
    MOORE, Patrick
    MORNER, Nils-Axel
    MOTL, Lubos
    SCHMITT, Harrison H.
    SINGER, Fred S.
    SOON, Willie
    SPENCER, Roy W.
    WHITEHEAD, David

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  22. GB @ 13 says "It is rather obvious that if one is making a living as Global Warming Scientist receiving funding, such a person would be a proponent of the issue."

    This particular argument is often seen and is complete bunk. It does not even pass the lowest level of scrutiny. Despite armies of lobbyists at the boot of fossil fuel industries making billions in profit every quarter having an interest in demonstrating flaws, no such behavior has been identified as causing any significant bias in research results. Every time that someone looks into the real science from the assumption that it is flawed and the motivations are questionable, they find exactly the same things that others have before them. Even Richard Mueller and Anthony Watts went through this. Watts could barely accept the obvious result of his own paper. People who can barely draw a square trying to reinvent the wheel, and beiung all proud of themselves when they have something round, while all the serious scientists have already moved on.

    Then there is the other fact that competing theories are nowhere near the ability to actually compete (cosmic rays come to mind). Furthermore, if one makes a living of studying climate change, the best thing that can happen to perpetuate their source of income is doubt, and the continued need for more studies to keep building up a case. The moment that it all becomes commonly accepted as an undeniable fact, they loose their source of income and have to start working at something else.

    I'm not sure if there is a specific thread addressing the dishonesty/financial motivation argument on SkS but it deserves to have one, considering that it is one of the most vacuous out there. It's funny when one considers what happened to the Exxon scientists, who happened to reach similar conclusions as others, even though their financial interest should have steered them toward the denial side. Ironic.

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  23. Further to Philippe's comment, no one earns a living a "Global warming Scientist". They might earn a living as a climate scientist but suggesting that funding of science would stop if GW went away is nonsensical. We research climate to understand it, just like any other scientist. This a piece of bunkum propogated by people that dont understand science funding. FF companies hire highly competent scientists - they are my clients and colleagues. If you could counter AGW with science research, then why spend money on PR, lobbying and obfuscation?

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