Skip to Primary Navigation Skip to Primary Content Skip to Footer Navigation

Climate Science Peer Review Is A Zombie

Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Jan 16, 2018  at  at 6:15 AM
Climate Change

Climate science peer review is the “walking dead”, kept walking by those who “killed” it in the first place. It was “killed” by those it was intended to serve, by their willingness to provide “pal” review to those with whom they agreed and their unwillingness to provide fair (or any) review to researchers with whom they disagreed. This process has resulted in the publication of “peer” reviewed studies in major journals which have later been demonstrated to be flawed. It has arguably also resulted in skeptical studies not being published, or being published in lesser known scientific journals.

There appear to have been numerous factors which contributed to the zombification of climate science peer review, including:

  • willingness of journals to permit authors to select their peer reviewers;
  • unwillingness of authors to select critical peers;
  • willingness of journals to publish studies without providing access to all the background materials necessary for critical review;
  • reluctance of authors to provide access to their work product by peers expected to be critical of their work; and,
  • failure of authors to properly archive their work product.

Many of these factors only became apparent as the result of the publication of the Climategate e-mails, which exposed the active resistance of researchers at the University of East Anglia to providing data to skeptical peers, efforts to avoid publication of skeptical research in premier journals and to prevent its inclusion in the reports of the IPCC and efforts to have journal editors disciplined or fired for allowing peer review of skeptical research and its subsequent publication.

The Climategate e-mails also exposed the existence of “Mike’s Nature trick”, which Michael Mann used to help shape his “hockey stick”; and, the broad awareness of Mann’s “trick” within the consensed climate science community. Dr. Mann has since aggressively resisted FOIA requests for release of his e-mail exchanges with other climate researchers and the supporting data and analytical procedures involved in creation of the “hockey stick”. Mann has also sued another climate researcher, several authors and an internet website for criticizing the “hockey stick”. Interestingly, he and his attorneys have “slow walked” the legal process, avoiding discovery while increasing the legal expenses of those he has sued. The source(s) of his funding for these legal efforts are unknown.

Dr. Susan Crockford, a Canadian zoologist recently published a paper which contradicted the conclusions of polar bear research published previously. She was quickly attacked in an online piece by the authors of the earlier research and others.  She has demanded a retraction.

Dr. Mark Jacobson and several co-authors published a study regarding renewable energy, which was later challenged in a paper by another group of authors. Jacobson has since sued the authors of the paper challenging his work for defamation. The source(s) of his funding for the lawsuit are unknown.

At the extreme, funding of skeptical climate research can be and has been limited or prevented by “peers” unwilling to provide fair peer review of skeptics’ research proposals. Roger Pielke, Jr. says he has been told by a National Science Foundation (NSF) officer: “Don’t even bother submitting an NSF proposal, because we won’t be able to find a reviewer who will give you a positive score.”