Who’s a climate scientist? Depends on which side you’re on.

by Myron Ebell on August 3, 2009

I was interested to read an item in today’s Climate Wire about a new report by “a prominent Australian scientist.”  Andrew Macintosh of the Australian National University has “spent months modeling 45 different climate change scenarios” and concluded that the target recently agreed by leaders of G-8 nations to limit the global mean temperature increase to two degrees Centigrade could not be met with policies currently in place or being considered.

What caught my attention in this story was the description of Macintosh as a prominent climate scientist.  That’s how computer modelers are routinely described by the global warming alarmists, and the mainstream communications media routinely accept this description.  Climate modelers may have all sorts of qualifications and be absolutely brilliant at using computer models, but those qualifications do not necessarily include knowing much about climatology or meteorology or related fields, such as physics, oceanography, geology, chemistry, biology, etc.

Since I’d never heard of the prominent Professor Macintosh, I decided to look him up on the internet.  I was surprised to find that he’s not a computer modeler at all!  He’s a lawyer! And his position at ANU is Associate Director of the Centre for Climate Law and Policy.  He does have a diploma in environmental studies on top of his 1998 bachelor of commerce and law degree, but he won a prize for environmental law, so that’s probably what he concentrated on while earning his diploma in 2001.

That’s what it takes to be described as a prominent climate scientist if you’re on the alarmist side.  While rummaging around on the internet, I also found the transcript of an April 15 story broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.   The story starts by interviewing two climate skeptics, Professor Bob Carter, a geologist, and Professor Stewart Franks, an environmental engineer.  They told a parliamentary commission that the scientific evidence doesn’t support alarmism.  But then the reporter, Sabra Lane, was quick to point out that Carter and Franks aren’t climate scientists or even reputable scientists at all.

Sabra Lane: “Climate scientist Professor David Karoly says neither Professor Carter nor Franks is recognised as a reputable climate scientist.”  David Karoly: “Bob Carter and Stewart Franks are in fact in a minority of both scientists and climate scientists in Australia.  In fact neither of them is a climate scientist who publishes actively in the climate science literature.”  But here is the very next sentence of ABC’s news story.  Sabra Lane:  “And Professor Andrew Macintosh from the ANU’s Centre for Climate Law and Policy says the Government’s planned cuts to emissions of 5 to 15 per cent by 2020 aren’t enough.”  Having elevated Mr. Macintosh to the ranks of the professoriate, Correspondent Lane does not go on to question his qualifications.

I don’t mean to question Mr. Macintosh’s report.  I haven’t read it.  It may be first rate, although I hope that he is more cautious about the forecasting abilities of computer climate models (which are nil) than his newspaper quotes suggest.  My point is that prominent scientists with long publications records, such as Bob Carter, are routinely described by the media as not being climate scientists and really not reputable scientists at all if they aren’t on the alarmist bandwagon.  On the other hand, lawyers expressing alarmist views are described as prominent scientists.  And the scientists regularly put forward in the media as the world’s leading climate experts often turn out to be computer modelers with little or no background in climate science, Ph. D.s who spent their entire careers in administration, or astronomers who are experts on the atmosphere of Venus.

Andrew August 3, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Tsk tsk Myron! Don’t you know how “Post Normal Science” works? Of course anyone who supports alarm is a “climate scientist” and anyone at all, no matter how qualified by comparison who dares to stick up for normal science, is frankly not allowed to be a scientist at all! In fact, I’m still confused how some Republicans got in at all! (a recent survey show some 6% of scientists identify as Republicans! And we expect them not to be biased with regard to policy?!?!?)

Alan Grey August 3, 2009 at 8:53 pm

It's worse than that, Sabra reprints the lies of Professor David Karoly, who claims Bob Carter doesn't publish in the climate science literature. Apparently 'Science' is not reputable enough for the climate derange professor Karoly…

CARTER, R.M.; GAMMON, P. 2004 New Zealand maritime glaciation: millennial-scale southern climate change since 3.9 Ma. Science, 304, 1659-1662

Mike August 3, 2009 at 11:02 pm

I am afraid its much worse than that. We are about to go into a new liberal dark ages straight out of "Atlas Shrugged". The peasants (the people with no pull in Wash.) will live in poverty while the few elite will live like Al Gore does now.

ron from Texas August 4, 2009 at 2:44 am

The attack on the creds of Dr. Carter and others is a debate tactic. Since the alarmists can't actually dispute scientific fact and principles on their own, that leaves them with the need to discredit anyone who disagrees with them. It's the political equivalent of Peewee Herman's "I know you are but what am I?!" I mean, really, an AGW alarmist usually has little, if any grasp, on physics and science. I've even seen Dr. Noam Mohr, phsycist at Yale, not be able to actually discuss the basic science involved and he resorted to mealy mouthed debate tactics.

Bob R Geologist, Tuc August 7, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Geologists are eclectic scientists who have read extensively and had course-work in practically all the phtsical and biological sciences. The geologic history of our planet and the plant and animal life that have lived thereon are a vital part of the ever changing picture. Climates have always been changeable and geologists are uniquely qualified by their knowledge derived from many souurces, from tree rings and cave deposits to core drilling of ocean sediments and glacial ice. The hardened sap from pine trees and glacial ice have air bubbles that give us samples of the air from very ancient times. These proxies give us approximate temperatures at the time of their deposition. So, it was with great skepticism that I viewed the Koyoto Protocols and the demonizing of CO2, without which all life would be impossible on this or any other planet. Actually, an inspection by anyone of moderate knowledge of a climate graph of the last 10,000 years (the Holocene), would recognize that the AGW devotee's claim of unprecedented warming during the past 150 years is a shamless fabrication. Anyone with a knowledge of paleoclimates would know thereis no record of a runaway heat wave, even during the age of the dinosaurs, when CO2 averaged 10 to 20 times that we have in our air today. I just can't understand any scientist today that would risk his credibility on this scam unless he was making a spectacular living from it or had bet the farm on it.

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