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Richard Tol Responds To Guardian Hatchet Jobs

June 7, 2014

By Paul Homewood




WUWT carries the news that the Guardian have printed a piece by Richard Tol, rubbishing John Cook’s claims of a 97% consensus.


If you are wondering why the Guardian have allowed space for this, it is not as straightforward as that. Richard Tol’s own blog tells the story.






The Guardian has published six hatchet jobs impugning me and my work. The first four are under investigation by the Press Complaints Commission.

For hatchet job #5 and #6, the Guardian granted me the right to reply by return email. They were published together, without a clear structure and in the wrong order, with the first piece heavily edited. Here are the originals.

In response to Republican witness admits the expert consensus on human-caused global warming is real, by Dana Nuccitelli, 2 June 2014

On 29 May 2014, the Committee on Science, Space and Technology of the US House of Representatives examined the procedures of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Having been active in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 1994, serving in various roles in all its three working groups, most recently as a Convening Lead Author for the Fifth Assessment Report of Working Group II, my testimony briefly reiterated some of the mistakes made in the Fifth Assessment Report but focussed on the structural faults in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, notably the selection of authors and staff, the weaknesses in the review process, and the competition for attention between chapters. I highlighted that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a natural monopoly that is largely unregulated. I recommended that the septannual assessment reports be replaced by an assessment journal.
In his article of 2 June, Dana Nuccitelli ignores the subject matter of the hearing, focusing instead on a brief interaction about a paper co-authored by … Mr Nuccitelli.
Mr Nuccitelli unfortunately missed the gist of my criticism of his work. Successive literature reviews, including the ones by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have time and again established that there has been substantial climate change over the last one and a half century and that humans caused a large share of that climate change. There is disagreement, of course, particularly on the extent to which humans contributed to the observed warming. This is part and parcel of a healthy scientific debate. There is widespread agreement, though, that climate change is real and human-made.
Mistakenly thinking that agreement on the basic facts of climate change would induce agreement on climate policy, Mr Nuccitelli and colleagues tried to quantify the consensus, and failed. Their sample is not representative of the literature. They claim to have validated their data whereas in fact their validation test fails twice. Seven per cent of their data is wrong by their own results, although spot checks suggest a much higher error rate. They mistake a trend in composition for a trend in substance. Their data show inexplicable patterns. In other words, their paper crumbles upon inspection.
In his defence, Mr Nuccitelli argues that I do not dispute their main result. Mr Nuccitelli fundamentally misunderstands research. Science is not a set of results. Science is a method. If the method is wrong, the results are worthless.
Mr Nuccitelli’s disregard for the scientific method also shows in their refusal to share all of their data for replication and audit. In his recent article, he even misrepresents his own work, which is about the number of scientific papers rather than the number of scientists.
Mr Nuccitelli’s piece is the fifth in a series of articles published in the Guardian impugning my character and my work. Mr Nuccitelli falsely accuses me of journal shopping, a despicable practice.
The theologist Michael Rosenberger recently described climate protection as a new religion, based on a fear for the apocalypse, with dogmas, heretics and inquisitors like Mr Nuccitelli. I prefer my politics secular and my science sound.



Read the rest here.

  1. David permalink
    June 7, 2014 4:27 pm

    From Richard Tol’s article:

    “I show that the 97% consensus claim does not stand up. At best, Mr Cook and colleagues may have accidentally stumbled on the right number.”

    Can anyone hazard a guess as to what this might mean? Is is 97% or isn’t it? Richard isn’t very clear on this.

    • June 7, 2014 10:26 pm

      I guess he refers to the fact that the vast majority of scientists accept that humans have had some effect on climate, no matter how small, and even if it just things like UHI.

      This of course is not the “consensus” that Cook claims.

      But the methodology to get to this is shoddy.

  2. cornwallwindwatch permalink
    June 8, 2014 5:23 pm

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch.

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