Climate Scientists Subverted Peer Review

December 2, 2009 • Commentary
A version of this article appeared in the DC Examiner on December 2, 2009.

The more we learn about the purloined e‐​mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit the more it resembles Watergate. As was the case in 1974, there will be no one particular spectacular revelation, but rather an unremitting and unrelenting daily drip‐​drip that ultimately brings down the house.

The latest gem comes from none other than Rajendra Pauchari, the climatologically untrained head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Without the IPCC there would be no cap‐​and‐​tax legislation awaiting debate in the Senate. There would be no meeting in Copenhagen, where, next month, world leaders will attempt to globalize cap‐​and‐​tax. There would also be no pledge from President Obama to emissions reductions that have never been passed by the Senate.

The e‐​mails have given Pauchari the onerous task of defending the IPCC from its own “scientific” leadership, now accused (or, perhaps, incriminating itself) of seriously manipulating the scientific literature that goes into the august IPCC scientific reports.

In one of the e‐​mails, East Anglia’s Phil Jones, long a power player in the production of these reports, said this about some scientific articles he did not like: “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer‐​review literature is!”

This is pretty serious stuff, because it, and many similar e‐​mails, paint a picture of IPCC boffins committing science’s capital crime: Trying to game the peer‐​reviewed literature, which is akin to editing what goes in the Bible.

In this case, Jones is actually speculating about keeping contrary information out of the IPCC reports by blacklisting certain professional journals.

One series of these e‐​mails called out the journal Climate Research, which had the audacity to publish a paper surveying a voluminous scientific literature that didn’t support Mann’s claim that the last 50 years are the warmest in the past millennium. Along with the CRU head Phil Jones and other climate luminaries, they then cooked up the idea of boycotting any scientific journal that dared publish anything by a few notorious “skeptics,” myself included.

Their pressure worked. Editors resigned or were fired. Many colleagues began to complain to me that their good papers were either being rejected outright or subject to outrageous reviews — papers that would have been published with little revision just a few years ago.

So what is Pauchari’s response to all of this? Denial.

“IPCC relies entirely on peer‐​reviewed literature in carrying out its assessment and follows a process that renders it unlikely that any peer reviewed piece of literature, however contrary to the views of any individual author, would be left out.”

That’s just not true. The last IPCC compendium on climate science, published in 2007, left out plenty of peer‐​reviewed science that it found inconveniently disagreeable.

These include articles from the journals Arctic, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Earth Interactions, Geophysical Research Letters, International Journal of Climatology, Journal of Climate, Journal of Geophysical Research, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Quaternary Research.

We have hardly heard the end of Climategate, but don’t expect some climactic grand finale. In 1974, errors, boo‐​boos, and downright duplicities slowly piled up.

The same is happening now. Like Tricky Dick, Pauchari may soon be headed home.

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