WSJ Hit Piece on Gore Movie Relies on Grievously Flawed Study

In today’s Wall Street Journal, prominent climate skeptic Richard Lindzen tries to make the case that “There Is No ‘Consensus’ On Global Warming.” Most of the article is, typically, invective against Al Gore and his movie, An Inconvenient Truth.

Lindzen does acknowledge that thousands of scientists from 120 countries have agreed, through the extraordinarily rigorous International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) process, that human activity is driving global warming. He also acknowledges that this consensus was recently confirmed by a report prepared for Congress by the National Academy of Scientists.

Here is Lindzen’s only substantive response:

More recently, a study in the journal Science by the social scientist Nancy [sic — Naomi] Oreskes claimed that a search of the ISI Web of Knowledge Database for the years 1993 to 2003 under the key words “global climate change” produced 928 articles, all of whose abstracts supported what she referred to as the consensus view. A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all, and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus view. Several actually opposed it.

Peiser’s work – and Lindzen’s reliance on it — is an embarrassment. Here’s why:

1. Peizer misunderstands the point of Oreskes study. The point was not that every article about climate change explicitly endorsed the IPCC conclusions. The point is that if there was real uncertainty there would be “substantive disagreement in the scientific community” that would be reflected in peer reviewed literature. There wasn’t.

2. Peiser didn’t find any peer reviewed studies that oppose the scientific consensus. Peiser claimed that 34 papers “reject or doubt” the consensus view. Tim Lambert got Peiser to send him the abstracts of those 34 papers. The vast majority of these papers express no doubt whatsoever about the consensus view. Only one paper, by the Association of Petroleum Geologists, cited by Peiser actually rejects the consensus view and it “does not appear to have been peer reviewed outside that Association.”

Peiser has admitted that his work included errors. But ultimately, it doesn’t make a difference. The point of activity like this isn’t to be right, it’s simply to provide fodder to people like Lindzen to create the appearance of uncertainty.