At first glance the it appears that the list of 400 ‘prominent scientists’ who dispute the consensus on climate change complied by Senator James “global warming is a hoax” Inhofe is a serious challenge to the commonly accepted consensus on climate change.
Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called “consensus” on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.
While at first this sounds like an impressive list it is probably worth examining it in closer detail, after all Senator Inhofe believed that science fiction writer Micheal Crichton was a credible expert on climate change, and got him to testify at a Congressional hearing on climate change.
The question is: does their opinion matter? Should you revise your views about climate change accordingly?
Considering the source, I think we all know the answer to that. To understand why Inhofe’s claims are fundamentally bogus, consider the following scenario: imagine a child is diagnosed with cancer. Who are his parents going to take him to in order to determine the best course of treatment?
Most people would take the child to a specialist. Not just someone with a PhD in a technical subject, but an actual medical doctor. And not just any medical doctor, but someone who was a specialist in cancer. And not just any specialist in cancer, but someone who was a specialist in pediatric cancer. And, if possible, not just any pediatric oncologist, but someone who specialized in that particular type of cancer.
Expertise matters. Not everyone’s opinion is equally valid.
The list of skeptics on the EPW blog contains few bona fide climate specialists. In fact, the only criteria to get on the list, as far as I can tell, is having a PhD and some credential that makes you an academic. So Freeman Dyson makes lists. While I’m certain he’s a smart guy, I would not take a sick child to him, and I won’t take a sick planet to him either. In both cases, he simply does not have the relevant specialist knowledge.
That also applies the large number of social scientists, computer programmers, engineers, etc., without any specialist knowledge on this problem.
The bottom line is that the opinions of most of the skeptics on the list are simply not credible.
It’s not too hard to dredge up 400 people in all the world who think the lunar landing was a farce or believe that Elvis is living in Albuquerque, much like it isn’t too hard to dig up 400 people with a vague background in the field of science who find something to dispute in climate science. That doesn’t mean their views should be lauded and held up as scientific proof that global warming isn’t so bad. There haven’t been any peer-reviewed scientific studies validating any claims that the planet is either not warming, or not warming because of humans, and the world’s most-respected climatologists are all in agreement.
The bar to be considered a ‘prominent scientist’ by Inhofe seems to be set very low.
we have the likes of this from Inhofe’s list:
CBS Chicago affiliate Chief Meteorologist Steve Baskerville expressed skepticism that there is a “consensus” about mankind’s role in global warming.
Wow, a TV weatherman expressed skepticism. If only the IPCC had been told of this in time, they could have scrapped their entire report. Seriously, Wikipedia says “Baskerville is an alumnus of Temple University and holds a Certificate in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University.” I guess Inhofe has a pretty low bar for “prominent scientists” — but then again he once had science fiction writer Michael Crichton testify at a hearing on climate science.
I don’t mean to single out Baskerville. Inhofe has a lot of meteorologists on his list, including Weather Channel Founder John Coleman. I have previously explained why Coleman doesn’t know what he is talking about on climate, and why meteorologists in general have no inherent credibility on climatology. In any case, they obviously are NOT prominent scientists.
Then we have people like French geomagnetism (!) scientist Vincent Courtillot, geophysicist Louis Le Mouël, geophysicist Claude Allègre, geomagnetism (!!) scientist Frederic Fluteau, geomagnetism (!!!) scientist Yves Gallet, and scientist Agnes Genevey — whose “research” on global warming is brutally picked apart by RealClimate here and especially here (and again here by other scientists), who together “expose a pattern of suspicious errors and omissions that pervades” their work.
So, yes, the Inhofe list is utterly ignorable compared to either the IPCC report or the Bali declaration by actual prominent climate scientists. The notion it is relevant to the climate debate is laughable, as even a cursuory examination makes clear.
But perhaps more importantly Inhofe’s list features people who don’t even question the fact that climate change is real and it is caused by humans.
None of the global warming discussions mention the word ‘nanotechnology. Yet nanotechnology will eliminate the need for fossil fuels within 20 years…. I think global warming is real but it has been modest thus far – 1 degree f. in 100 years. It would be concern if that continued or accelerated for a long period of time, but that’s not going to happen. –Ray Kurzweil [also not a climatologist]
The fact is that many on Inhofe’s list aren’t climate scientists, and therefor their opinions on climate science shouldn’t matter. They shouldn’t influence policy makers.
What does Inhofe’s list have to do at all with the normal scientific process? What do meteorologists and economists have to do with the normal process of climate science? Should scientists really be influenced at all by one inventor’s wild claim that nanotechnology will eliminate fossil fuels in 20 years. Or by a contrived and mistake-riddled study by geomagnetists?
The real question that needs to be asked, is why these ‘prominent scientists’ aren’t using the established methods to challenge peer-reviewed research? Why aren’t they writing peer-reviewed response papers, or conducting original peer-reviewed research?
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.
UPDATE: The Daily Green has looked at the background of everyone on Inhofe’s list, concluding that the climate experts on this list are nothing more than economists, mathematicians, amateurs, TV weathermen and industry hacks. I think I’ll continue to listen to actual climate scientists.