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Critiques and responses

There is still huge interest in the Remote Sensing affair and quite what this means for the climate debate is still unclear.

One aspect of the story that has attracted a great deal of comment is the fact that Remote Sensing has not retracted the paper. As Retraction Watch puts it:

We are not in a position to critique the claims. But we are curious: If Wagner feels he published the article in error, why not simply retract it? Was it really necessary to fall on his sword to make the point that he now feels he made a mistake in publishing the paper? It’s a noble gesture, and not unprecedented for editors of climate journals, but is it best for science?

Remote Sensing has now made it clear that they will not be retracting the paper.

It seems clear from Wagner's resignation letter that his understanding of the alleged flaws in Spencer's paper came from blog posts like the one at RC; there is, as yet, no formal critique of the paper in the literature. It therefore seems fairly clear that Wagner's resignation was prompted by blog posts and perhaps word of mouth from Spencer's rivals. If so, this is extraordinary and quite an indictment of climate science.

Apparently there is going to be a formal critique of the paper, which will be published in GRL in the near future. This will be interesting for sure, but one has to wonder why a critique of a paper in Remote Sensing would be published in GRL; of course the suspicion will be that the authors will expect an easy ride from the editors there. We know that prominent climatologists have expressed their satisfaction with the "plugging" of the "leaks" that had been seen at that journal in the past. Remote Sensing, on the other hand, is presumably much more of an unknown quantity to them.

And if GRL publishes a critique, what then? Will Spencer be allowed to respond? Let's hope that new editor-in-chief Eric Calais has a better grasp of the journal's rules than his predecessor, Jay Famiglietti.

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Reader Comments (205)

I cannot believe these people. Wagner is chairman of group, who has sponsored a network, that depends on the support of a group chaired by Trenberth! No wonder the apology was to Trenberth!

And Wagner is no climate agnostic, either, going by his associations. Its a wonder the Spncer paper was published.

Sep 5, 2011 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

From a trawl of their online CVs:

Kevin Trenberth: 186 journal articles out of a total of 423 publications.
Lindzen: 240 listed publications.
Pielke Sr: over 350 papers in peer-reviewed journals
Judith Curry: 100 or more journal articles.
Pielke Jr: 100 or more journal articles.
Andrew Dessler: more than 50 journal articles.

The records of all of these individuals speak for themselves. Both Lindzen and Pielke Senior have been very supportive of the general quality of Spencer's research, including both SB10 and SB11. Curry has been publicly supportive both of Spencer's line of research and of the justification for publishing his papers.

Barry Bickmore's post and Andrew Dessler's 2010 paper have been specifically cited as criticisms of SB10 and SB11. But in fact neither of them contain any technical arguments against the analysis provided by SB10 leading to their low sensitivity estimate.

The critical Sourcewatch bio of Spencer has also been mentioned. But Sourcewatch is itself not reliable. See for example, Judith Curry's comments about her own entry there. Also see Spencer's comments about his funding in his blog.

In addition to his attacks on Spencer, Kevin Trenberth has also been vocal on the link between global warming and hurricanes. But some of his opinions here differ markedly from those expressed by Curry and Pielke Jr, who have both worked actively in this area. For example see page 210 in Climate Fix, or several posts on Pielke's blog including

The basic uncontested aspects of climate physics are enough by themselves to justify continuing decarbonization, especially when concerns over energy security and supply are factored in. But the personal attacks by Trenberth and others against Spencer are not about science, they are about differing political viewpoints. Science is used as a proxy in these arguments. Why? Because development and environment are falsely characterized as incompatible by many in the green movement.

Sep 5, 2011 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

Lucy Skywalker:

My point was not to rehash David Hoffer's excellent work but rather to point out the serious financial and organizational connections (GEWEX and the International Soil Moisture Network) behind Dr. Wagner's behavior. Maurizio Morabito went even further drawing a connection between GEWEX and Dr. Trenberth. His commentary is here:

Les Johnson has just published a post at WUWT pulling it all together here:

This is really looking sordid and ugly. I think an FOIA may again be in order.... NCAR is, after all, a government sponsored institution and I suspect the Team has learned nothing from Climategate.

Sep 5, 2011 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

mwaah hair on fire mwaaah

is not like there is 10times more energy in the system when you double CO2..more like 0.02% more energy, re the ocean store..

buy a calculator, sometime.

Sep 6, 2011 at 12:48 AM | Unregistered Commentertutut

Good for you, Cumbrian Lad, I don't particularly care what you think. Bbd can't even directly address any of the points i made because I'm right and he knows so. He has nothing but fallacy in his arsenal and simply repeats it ad infinitum as if it becomes more believable with each new iteration.


Sep 6, 2011 at 6:40 AM | Unregistered Commentermark t

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