There’s a new paper out with a pretty bold claim, summed up by its title:“no experimental evidence for the significant anthropogenic climate change.” (We’ll leave the questionable grammar aside, as it’s written by two Finnish scientists.) The paper has generated some sensational headlines at the usual places like WUWT, but also at some of the even-more-fringe sites like Infowars, NoTricksZone and ZeroHedge.
As always, we must ask ourselves: is this paper credible? (Spoiler alert: no.)
First off, is it peer-reviewed? No. The paper was uploaded to Arxiv (“archive”), where tons of legitimate studies first see the light of day though generally from fields like math or for discoveries in astronomy where the peer-review process can be a bit different than most physical sciences. Being uploaded to Arxiv is hardly a death knell for a paper’s credibility, but in a case like this, it’s certainly a red flag.
Secondly, who’s covering the paper? Are mainstream outlets vetting it with outside experts and deeming it worthy of discussion? Not hardly. For example, it’s up on Infowars, the online home of Alex Jones. (Remember the time Infowars claimed John Kerry shot an energy beam from Antarctica to Hawaii to destroy a hurricane?)
It’s also featured in a post on NoTricksZone, the blog that consistently misrepresents climate papers to attack the consensus, leading to James Delingpole’s (non)admission of having “lazily helped promulgate a lie.”
Then there’s coverage on a website called “PCMD News,” an admittedly conservative site that has to have a disclaimer in its about page that it’s “not a satire or fake news site.” One of the site’s top stories on Friday was some birther bullshit directed at Kamala Harris. It also featured a “news” story with a headline about Angela Merkel complaining that “Trump is destroying the New World Order.” While that story starts fairly banal, it ends with a link to the official Illuminati website, which really makes one wonder about that “not a satire or fake news site” disclaimer…
In its post on the study, even WUWT included a disclaimer from “charles the moderator” at the top, warning, “I didn’t vet this before posting and have no idea as to its real strengths or weaknesses.”
So now that we know nobody’s double-checked the paper’s claims, and that only the craziest of conspiracy nuts have embraced it, let’s take a look at just how robust the research is. After all, it’s claiming to overthrow a century’s worth of science showing greenhouse gasses cause warming, so one would expect it to be a pretty lengthy discussion with lots of citations of other supporting studies.
Instead, the study is just over six pages long, with all of six references. Of those references, one is the IPCC, which they’re seeking to debunk, and another is a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters back in 1998. The other four are references to the lead author’s works, one published in a real journal, one published in the denier-friendly Energy & Environment, one also published in Arxiv, and the final one “to be published.”
Not exactly a stellar collection of independent validation!
As for what the paper itself says? After all, the point of putting a new discovery up on Arxiv is often to get a massive, real-time peer review. With that in mind, we were going to get into some of the fundamental errors and logical fallacies the reviewers over at ClimateFeedback pointed out…
But instead we joined the Illuminati. Their claims of having long guided “masses into finding their own individual place in the Universal Design” seem pretty believable by comparison.
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