Scientist Busts Biz Sheet for Misrepresenting His Work

Mon, 2008-02-11 10:27Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Scientist Busts Biz Sheet for Misrepresenting His Work

National Research Council of Canada scientist Dr. Kenneth Tapping has offered whithering criticism of Investor's Business Daily for reporting that Tapping is among those who deny that greenhouse gases are the principal cause of current global warming.

IBD had reported the lobbyist Dr. Tim Patterson's favourite theory that greenhouse gases are irrelevant and that a drop in sunspots is actually going to set off a round of global cooling, and it suggested that Tapping agrees with this position. To which Tapping responds:

“If there is a cooling due to the solar activity cycle laying off for a bit, then the a period of solar cooling could be a much-needed respite giving us more time to attack the problem of greenhouse gases, with the caveat that if we do not, things will be far worse when things turn on again after a few decades.”

Thanks to Tom and Steve L for pointing this out in comments and kudos to Tom Girsch at LeanLeft for digging it out.


So Tapping is hedging his bets by allowing for a possible imminent cooling? And let me tell you, he won’t be the only one to do that. The global warming brigade will never admit they were wrong in their catastrophic predictions when this year’s cooling turns out to be the start of another 35 year cooling trend, like the one we saw between 1940 and 1975. Indeed, they will claim it is only a temporary relief and global warming will hit us at full force thereafter. A very comfortable position: you can never be wrong.

Chris Schoneveld said: “you can never be wrong”. Yes Chris, you will never (well almost never) be wrong if you study the science behind AGW. The only people who are wrong are those who do not read the science reports describing how the increase of CO2 does in fact cause increases in temperatures.

Certainly, other factors are involved, but they are only responsible for a small part of temperature changes. For example, the Maunder Minimum is responsible only for a drop of approximately 0.2 to 0.3 degrees C to the global average temperature. So even if the next solar cycle cools the Earth to the same extent as in the 17 or 18th century, it will really have a very small effect on the continuing rise in temperatures (0.2 to 0.3 degrees C).

Further more, can you explain to me how sun spot cycles actually affect temperature on the Earth, I seem to have missed that paper in my review of the peer reviewed science?

It is funny how you people (deniers) always criticize scientists when they show that CO2 causes an increase in temperature by saying “correlation does not equate with causation”, even though the science is 100% settled on that matter, but are quick to say that solar influences are causing temperatures to increase when firstly, there is no correlation and secondly no documented causative factor.

You people are grabbing at straws.

Ian Forrester

Firstly, stay gracious and don’t address me as “you people” or “deniers”

Here is a peer reviewed paper you were asking for:

H. Svensmark and E. J. Friis-Christensen J. Atmos. Solar-Terrest. Phys. 59, 1225–1232; 1997) They suggest that cosmic rays facilitate cloud formation by seeding the atmosphere with trails of ions that can help water droplets form. They propose that changes in the Sun’s magnetic field influence the flux of cosmic rays hence affecting Earth’s climate.

M. Lockwood and C. Fröhlich Proc. R. Soc.(2007) have attempted to debunk Svensmark’s theory but subsequent papers have been published in defense of Svensmark. So the jury is still out. A large experiment at CERN is being prepared (2010?) to test the theory.

And what about this suggestion in Geophysical Research Letters published 12 July 2007:
A new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts
by: Anastasios A. Tsonis,1 Kyle Swanson,1 and Sergey Kravtsov1.
One of their conclusions:
The standard explanation for the post 1970s warming is that the radiative effect of greenhouse gases overcame shortwave reflection effects due to aerosols[Mann and Emanuel, 2006]. However, comparison of the 2035 event in the 21st century simulation and the 1910s event in the observations with this event, suggests an alternative hypothesis, namely that the climate shifted after the 1970s event to a different state of a warmer climate, which may be superimposed on an anthropogenic warming trend.

By the way, even the IPCC doesn’t claim that the science is settled. Science is never settled. Please spare me this rusty platitude.

Scientists have known for a long time that ionizing particles cause cloud formation in experimental setups. Thus the experiments now proposed have all been done before.

What is lacking in all of this nonsense is that no one has shown that cosmic rays and or particles correlate with changes in temperatures.

You are not studying the science as you would like to pretend but are parroting the pseudo science put out by the list of junk scientists who populate the denier lists.

You would be more believable if you reported accurately rather than believing “science” which supports your biased beliefs.

By the way in case you haven’t noticed, the papers you quote contain such vague words as “suggest” “suggestion” and “suggests”, not very scientific are they? Go and read some real science and come back and report what you find. You should be better informed after reading real science.

You still have not explained how low numbers of sunspots affect temperature on Earth.

Ian Forrester

If it’s in the peer-reviewed literature, then it’s real science. Even if it proves to suck later (e.g. some of Svensmark’s early work on solar forcing was based on an arithmetical error, if I remember correctly, but he has never admitted this, just rolled forward). This part of science is supposed to be self-correcting and it nearly always is for things that matter. My $0.02 here is that the only time we ought to really haul out the heavy rhetorical artillery is when someone has pulled a fast one on the journal. This has happened, such as in the occasional paper when a scientist re-publishes a figure from a, say, coal industry propaganda brochure. And so on.

We’d better be pretty goddamned careful about what we choose to dismiss if it’s in a peer-reviewed journal. While I accept your arguments that Svensmark’s track record indicates that he is not, well, even slightly open-minded on AGW science, someone who chooses to disbelieve AGW could also choose to dismiss papers that support it.

The view from the high road is so much nicer. Incidentally, that excellent view also makes for more accurate rifle fire.

It is a publishing technique. Look it up and see that ‘peer-review’ is not part of the scientific method. While peer-review is not science, it is an effective way for the scientific taliban to banish and censor anyone that does not conform to the currently accepted orthodoxy.

I am just challenging your platitude that the “science is settled” and give some peer reviewed examples to refute that.

From your comments I can deduce that you haven’t read the referenced paper where the relationship between low sunspot numbers and cloud formation is explained.

To dismiss the science of cosmo-climatology as “speudo science” and to denigrate my critical attitude towards global warming catastrophism as a “biased belief” is a confirmation that you are not open to reasonable arguments.

If the science was not credible then CERN (the biggest particle-physics laboratory in the world) would never support an experiment that is going to cost over 13 million US dollars (at present exchange rate to the Euro), nor would Nature publish the following short news flash:

One might readily respond to this rhetorical remark of Chris’ that perhaps s/he has not read anything BUT the svensmark work. There is a very extensive literature demonstrating in no uncertain terms that sunspots/cosmic rays/and so on cannot account for climatic trends, particularly in the past 30 years. It’s really only possible to conclude that it must be sunspots if you just refuse to believe the masses of papers demonstrating the opposite. In any event, nothing in Svensmark (that excludes arithmetical errors, that is) allows you to predict climate change. The result? It fails the first and most important test of a good scientific work: successful prediction.

By all means, however, let Svensmark try to prove his ideas. No matter that this approach is decidedly not the way things are supposed to work. What does matter is that his work continues to appear in peer-reviewed literature. While it does, the scientists who care about this particular argument can keep hitting his softballs out of the park. This is all totally legitimate and, in the case of Svensmark, has been going on for more than a decade. It helps our home run count, so I think we should just let him keep at it. If his publication rate with the CERN money goes up, then it is likely the home run count will too.

But don’t push the occasional study as proof that the hundreds of contrary results are all simultaneously and independently flawed. AGW science is extremely strong, has been done in probably an overly conservative way already, and predicts almost exactly what we are seeing around the world. These AGW principles predict spatial and temporal trends. There are no viable alternatives right now. Just occasional objections, some of which do appear in the peer-reviewed literature. But not many and, so far, none of these objections has stood up to scrutiny.

I find it odd that reality can be so readily debated. Better to talk about things that are actually uncertain.

J(what’s your real name?) remarks:

“It fails the first and most important test of a good scientific work: successful prediction.”

“J”, You show me were the successful prediction can be found vis a vis CO2 and today’s climate other than in very general terms.

Here is an interesting link that discusses how good (or bad) Hansen et al’s 1988 predictions were:

It shows how spatial trends are flawed. Hansen predicted: southeast US warming, southwest US cooling.
IPCC published the actual measurements: southeast US cooling, southwest warming. If you are 180 degrees out then there is something fundamentally wrong with your model.

You’re doing it again, Chris. Climate Audit is not exactly a great source of scientific information. Instead, it is a PR site (yes, like this one) dedicated to a particular viewpoint. As a matter of principle, one ought not to attempt to refute published scientific papers using a blog. Can you really be serious?

In any event, 1988 is, well, 1988. It is surprising that you are trying to argue that predictions made at that early time are the ones we should be trying to refute. Hansen’s early work has been refined, modified, updated, probably partially refuted and replaced with stronger science in the 20 years since then. Partially by him, partially by others.

Do you have any experience at all, outside of blog-reading, with interpretation of a pixellated dataset? No offense, but there is not a single pixel-based dataset (like GCM outputs or satellite RS data) in the history of science that consists of 100% correct pixels. In any event, this is silly, just a mindless straw man argument. Better to show us all the replacement theory that makes BETTER predictions. And there, my dear Chris, contrarianism falls flat on its flabby ass: there is no alternative that makes better predictions, just lawyerly objections to minutiae.

Mot finale.

You mean to say we should also ignore and never quote anything from Shame on you!

Do I also hear that the pixel-based data set that constitutes the area of the US is to be taken with a pinch of salt, both in the GCM’s and from satellite data? I think you have disqualified yourself as a serious participant in this discussion.

Your logics become ever more bizarre when you lay your trust in a theory with the argument that “there is no alternative that makes better predictions”.So therefore it must be right and makes the science 100% settled?

Anyway let’s see what the solar guys will come up with in the near future. Don’t dismiss them outright, that’s all I ask.

Hypocrisy is not very gracious either, I suppose.

The science around AGW is very strong but you have dismissed everyone who believes that this science represents reality fairly with the implied ad hominem that they will never believe anything but their own theories. That they are therefore merely robotic in their defense of the mainstream, or something. Your own original post was not overwhelmingly gracious. I find Ian’s slightly irritated response pretty understandable, given that this blog does attract some very unpleasant trolls whose sole contributions come in the form of insult anagrams.

There is lots of room for legitimate debate around details of solar forcing, cloud formation, even cosmic rays, and so on, without assuming that people reading a cross-section of the literature are dogmatic somehow. The truth is really very simple on this point: any reading of a cross-section of the literature will leave you with the indelible impression that nearly all working scientists find hypotheses around AGW to be convincing. And that suffices to build strong policy now, particularly given what is at stake on the off chance that nearly everyone working in this field is actually correct. I might add, as an unnecessary and obvious addition, that prediction is the sine qua non of effective scientific hypotheses and only those supporting AGW are currently able to do this. All others fail this litmus test.

Svensmark is publishing in the scientific literature. I can’t think of any reason, as far as this goes, to treat him with anything but respect, even though I strongly doubt he or his colleagues will prove correct.

Can’t we all just… GET ALONG??? :)

… would attract more grace if you were less infuriating in trotting out the same old suspect data without offering the relevant caveats.

For example the Friis-Christensen article makes some interesting points, but the man himself says here that the solar cycle does NOT explain warming after 1985 and that “there is no reason to neglect a contribution from man made greenhouse gases.”

Well that is just damned inconvenient. Time to do a 180 turn.

Friis-Christensen is obviously an ‘alarmist’ and it’s HIS fault untrained people are confused by his writing. Therefore we cannot trust scientists.

(sadly, i’ve already gotten this response on a discussion board)

Richard, I think it is better to quote a bit more of what Friis-Christensen said:

“This result was later refined with more and better observations and documented that during the last two solar cycles there is a very good correlation between the solar modulation of the cosmic rays and the low altitude cloud cover (Marsh and Svensmark, 2000 [Space Science Review, 94: 215-30]). So therefore, and in spite of the fact that the solar cycle length seemed not to explain the most recent temperature increase after 1985, solar variations still do have direct effect on important climate parameters. How large this effect may be on the global temperature is currently being investigated, and is outside the scope of this comment. But there is no reason to neglect a contribution from man made greenhouse gases. The question is how much. Only increased understanding of the physical processes can give us the answer.”

So he stands by the (or his) hypothesis that solar variations affect IMPORTANT climate parameters. That he doesn’t dismiss the effect of greenhouse gases is the politically right thing to say. Even I will not neglect their effect (there is after all a simple physical relationship), the point is to what extent (i.e. how large are the positive feedbacks versus the negative ones). Again Christensen’s position confirms that the science is not settled and that’s all I wanted to argue.

It confirms nothing about settled. It just puts on the record that the authors of a paper prefer not to agree.

Are you arguing that we should do nothing because there is someone who actually publishes in the literature who has raised a technical issue?

It’s worth noting that by this standard, or any standard that requires unanimity (as opposed to consensus), nothing on any science-related topic would EVER happen. We never stop arguing amongst ourselves. There are practicing scientists out there in medical schools and biochemistry departments who disbelieve evolution, for crying out loud, and they publish their work periodically.

It’s kind of nuts to refuse to believe a massively well-supported suite of theories that are formally endorsed by every major science academy on the planet that is based on thousands of independently conducted studies because you found a guy who published a paper… Let’s try to keep this in perspective…

…That he doesn’t dismiss the effect of greenhouse gases is the politically right thing to say…

Shame on you Chris, for assuming he is being dishonest here. If he said …But there is no reason to neglect a contribution from man made greenhouse gases…” then that is what he meant. He was probably trying to discourage the dishonest spin that denialists would put on his work.

Scientists’ reputations depend on their intellectual integrity. They cannot lie about their work for political reasons or their peers will decide that they cannot be trusted and that their work is useless, which is what has happened to the denialist scientists.

People who lie for expediency assume that everyone else is as dishonest as themselves.

To say something politically correct does not imply necessarily that one is being dishonest. It is often an effective way to appease someone who would otherwise be less receptive to one’s other more controversial views. That’s all I meant. I was not suggesting that they didn’t believe in what they said. Indeed, I even admitted that I agreed with Christensen’s greenhouse comment.

Hey, if I hadn’t started venting my skeptical views this blog would have been pretty boring. People like me save desmogblog from becoming incestuous and self-confirming.

Moreover, I am pleased that you defend Christensen. Although I suspect you only stand behind his greenhouse comment and not the rest. All other participants in this thread treat the science of Svensmark and Christensen with a lot a disdain, as you may have noticed.

Have you read the application for funding submitted to CERN? It reads as if the same person wrote it that wrote the script for “The Great Global Warming Swindle.”

It is as full of errors as the works of Svensmark et al.

By the way, are you the Chris Schoneveld who is listed with all the other deniers on the infamous Inhofe list of “prominent scientists”?

Ian Forrester

Dutch Geologist Dr. Chris Schoneveld, a retired exploration geophysicist

Aha, you are checking the antecedents of those who do not fit your mold and so you can start looking for any dark link with any multi-national, the result of which can then be fed into Sourcewatch? The time of the Inquisition is all coming back again. Shame on you!

And, could you be so kind to refrain from using the term “denier”, this is highly offensive (how can you be so sure that you are not addressing a Jew who may have lost his parents in WW2?). Moreover, denigrating your opponents in a debate by name calling is a sign of weakness and reflects negatively on yourself.

The only thing that connects the word “denier” with what happened to millions of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and mentally challenged people during WW2 is linking it up with the word “holocaust”. Someone who denies something is a denier, and there are other things that should be denied – such as racism, sexism, abuse …

Check any dictionary on the planet. The word is in no way exclusive to people who pretend that the “final solution” was not genocide.

If we listen to you, no one would ever be able to use the word again unless referring to the Holocaust. That is absurd.

Grow up.

Fern Mackenzie


You know very well that the term came into usage when climate change realists were being compared with the holocaust deniers.

Is it hard to stay civilized with your “grow up” comment at the end?

The only time I ever heard of AGW skeptics being compared to holocaust deniers was when they themselves objected to the term “denier” because it “had that connotation”. If someone else has made the comparison it’s that person’s mistake, not mine. I write for a living and I am very precise about my use of the language. When I refer to a denier of AGW that’s exactly what I mean and anybody who attaches anything more than that to the expression is being paranoid. Likewise a holocaust denier is what s/he is and nothing more. The term “denier” was first used in law in 1628 (OED) and it is a perfectly legitimate word to describe “one who denies”.

Is that civilised enough for you?

Fern Mackenzie

Personally I like the term ‘confusionist’ or ‘delayer.’ It’s the name of the game these days. And it more civil than ‘climate clowns’ or ‘fossil fools’
Spare me more manufactured outrage.

Any connection with the coal industry in Queensland Chris? Or did you just go there to study the Barrier Reef?

Actually I prefer the word “liar” (notice how it rhymes with denier) but most people prefer to be called “deniers” since it is less pejorative. (and if you check back you will find that it was the deniers themselves who first brought up the connection you mentioned).

Anyone can check out CS at: (comment #29)

Just remember “A man is known by the company he keeps” (Euripides).

Ian Forrester

Ellen Goodman from the Boston Globe wrote:

“I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future”

It is meant as a derogative term on par with liar (as you alluded to). We skeptics call you AGW proponents or believers. Is it too much too ask if you refer to us as AGW opponents or indeed just skeptics. That keeps the debate civil, so we can concentrate on real arguments rather than this endless bickering.

What she is saying, really, is that the evidence for AGW, like the Holocaust, is so great that it is impossible to refute. Those who refute it either are too stubborn or have an ulterior motive or not-so-hidden agenda (the continuation of the business-as-usual status quo).

There are no more real arguments against AGW, Chris. Everything the “skeptics” have said has been refuted by the science.

And if this foot dragging continues, the holocaust may seem like a ride in the park compared to the devastation the world will face, thanks in great part to denier obfuscations.

Chris Schoneveld do you not know what being honest is? Why do you continue with your lies and distortions? The connection you refer to was made long before February 9, 2007, which is the date of the article you quote. You are trying to give the false impression that it was first used by AGW proponents and not the deniers themselves.

People like you and your ilk of lying and misinforming scumbags are an embarrassment to the scientific community when you describe your selves as “prominent scientists.”

Ian Forrester

No surprise but the first use of the connection between AGW deniers and holocaust deniers was no other than that ignorant Senator supported by EM.

From Tulsa World, 22nd July, 2006

‘Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is the nation’s most prominent global warming denier. He famously declared that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” Now, he’s taken the argument a step further. In an interview with Tulsa World, Inhofe compared people who believed global warming was a problem to Nazis:

In an interview, he heaped criticism on what he saw as the strategy used by those on the other side of the debate and offered a historical comparison.

“It kind of reminds … I could use the Third Reich, the big lie,” Inhofe said.

“The big lie,” is a propaganda technique Adolf Hitler attributed to Jews in his book Mein Kampf’.

Ian Forrester

Chris, you’re wrong that Lockwood and Fröhlich’s (L&F) conclusions have been refuted by those supportive of Svensmark. The responses to L&F (seen here: have not been published anywhere except online on the typical “Friends of Science” and Warwick Hughes “skeptic” sites. Also, Svensmark and Friis-Christensen (S&F-C) published a response on the Danish Space Centre’s website, but I am not aware of it being submitted as a reply to the Royal Society nor to any other peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps L&F’s analysis rendered S&F-C’s hypotheses incapable of passing the peer-review test.

What a relief to finally have a response that has some substance. Thanks Stephen.

What I said was:

“M. Lockwood and C. Fröhlich Proc. R. Soc.(2007) have attempted to debunk Svensmark’s theory but subsequent papers have been published in defense of Svensmark. So the jury is still out. A large experiment at CERN is being prepared (2010?) to test the theory.”

As you see I didn’t claim that Lockwood et al have been “refuted”. I wanted to make the point that it is still under discussion and that the research (CERN!)is continuing. I try to keep an open mind and not fall in the trap of claiming the “science is settled”.

The paper by Lockwood was after all a response to a peer reviewed article by Svensmark. One paper disagreeing with Svensmark does not make his whole hypothesis invalid. That’s not how science works.

I am sure that Svensmark will not shy away from publishing in peer-reviewed journals. In understand that he has some papers in press or under review. We haven’t heard the last of cosmo-climatology.

Further to Svensmark/Friis-Christensen’s rebuttal on the Danish Space Centre’s website, I feel a coward by not defending them against the implication that since it is not peer-reviewed it has no scientific value. I read the article and found their arguments quite convincing. I am not exactly a “peer” but have enough scientific background to appreciate their defense.

For those who don’t know the article, here is the link:

I saw that, too, and S&F-C just repeat their misguided mantras. They were also guilty in the past of stretching their curves to make them fit. None of what they say refutes Lockwood and Frohlich.

Even if somehow surficial warming is put off for a bit, the acidification of the oceans will continue apace.

This is very bad for a variety of marine organisms, and so eventually for the one billion or so people who depned upon the oceans for food.