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Peer Review Anew

Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Aug 13, 2019 at 6:00 AM
Climate Change

The members of the consensed climate science community are very quick to assert that the results of their research have been peer reviewed. However, the peers who have done the reviews are typically other members of the consensed climate science community. Some journals even permit the authors to select the peers who will perform the reviews. Dr. Patrick Michaels has described the peer review process as it is currently performed as “pal review”. We have discussed some of these issues previously (here).

Members of the consensed climate science community and their connections in scientific publishing have also conspired to prevent publication of research results produced by skeptical scientists, including scientists both refusing to function as peer reviewers and recommending rejection of papers for publication. Further discussion of this and related issues is available here.  

Dr. William Happer, a National Security Council science adviser, has recommended the establishment of a President’s Commission on Climate Security composed of climate scientists to conduct a critical review of the federal government reports and research programs related to the potential impacts of climate change on national security. The initial focus of the commission would be on DoD studies related to national security and on the Fourth National Climate Assessment. The commission would also review the science underlying these reports.

Members of the consensed climate science community and their allies have been very critical of the proposed commission, some even referring to it as “Stalinist”.  However, the intended mission of the commission is peer review of government-funded climate science in all its aspects: solicitation; award; conduct; supervision; peer review; and, publication. It is a due diligence review, triggered in part by continued warnings of climate catastrophies which have not occurred.

The Commission has not been established and the climate scientists who might participate have not been selected. However, several scientists have been identified as potential participants, including Dr. Judith Curry, Dr. John Christy and Dr. Richard Lindzen. Other potential participants include Steve McIntyre and Ross McKittrick, who have been critical of the statistical techniques used to analyze research results, including the Mann “Hockey Stick”.

The proposed commission would likely not include any members of the consensed climate science community, since they have conducted the research in question and analyzed and reported its results or have participated in peer review of the research. Therefore, their input is already in the record. However, it is likely that they would be called to meet with the commission if there are questions or concerns about their research and their analysis of the results.

The commission’s efforts would likely lead to questions regarding the provenance of climate data, the accuracy of the climate models, the uncertainties regarding climate sensitivity, forcings and feedbacks. These questions are the subject of skeptical research and analysis, but receive little attention in the scientific literature or the media.

The establishment of such a presidential commission seems little different from a corporate selection of an outside auditor to review its accounting and reporting procedures or employment of an outside consultant to review corporate structure and future business plans.