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  (Source: Smart Power)
Study says skeptics are not well-informed on the topic

Stanford University recently conducted a study that shows a minimal number of scientists who do not accept that human beings have contributed to the Earth's climate change have "far less expertise and prominence in climate research" than scientists who do believe climate change has been affected by humans. 

The university came to these conclusions by analyzing the number of research papers published "by more than 900 climate researchers" and the number of times these researchers' works were cited by other scientists. The expertise was evaluated by citing the number of research papers written by scientists (with the minimum number for inclusion being 20).

Prominence was analyzed by finding the four most popular climate change and non-climate change papers published by scientists, and "tallying" the number of times these papers were cited. According to the results, approximately 64 percent of papers by climate researchers convinced of human contribution were cited more often than those who are unconvinced. 

"These are standard academic metrics used when universities are making hiring or tenure decisions," said William Anderegg, lead author of a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists who participated in the study were also involved in creating the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which compiled and "assessed the evidence for and against human involvement in climate change, as well as any climate researchers who signed a major public statement disagreeing with the findings of the panel's report."

In addition, the university's team of scientists decided on who the top 100 climate researchers are by determining the "total number of climate-related publications each had." According to Anderegg, 97 percent of those in the top 100 agree with and/or endorse the IPCC's assessment. He also says that this result has been "borne out" by other studies that use different methodology.  

"We really wanted to bring the expertise dimension into this whole discussion," said Anderegg. "We hope to put to rest the notion that keeps being repeated in the media and by some members of the public that 'the scientists disagree' about whether human activity is contributing to climate change."

The scientists at Stanford have mentioned that they are ready to take some heat from doubters of anthropogenic, or human-affected, climate change who "object to their data." But according to Stephen Schneider, a professor of biology and a coauthor of the paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team "took pains to avoid any sort of prejudice or skewed data in their analysis." When selecting researchers for the study who either disagreed with statements of the IPCC or signed the petitions, the Stanford team was sure to stay completely neutral in the study by omitting "those who had no published papers in the climate literature."

Schneider says that despite the careful analysis of this study, skeptics of human-affected climate change will "claim foul" anyway, and will say that climate researchers who are onboard with the idea of anthropogenic climate change are "just trying to deny publication of the doubters' opinion," but he challenges them to "go out and do a study to prove it -- it is of course not true."

"I think the most typical criticism of a paper like this -- not necessarily in academic discourse, but in the broader context -- is going to be that we haven't addressed these sorts of differences could be due to some clique or, at the extreme, a conspiracy of the researchers who are convinced of climate change," Anderegg said. 

"When you stop to consider whether some sort of 'group think' really drives these patterns and it could really exist in science in general, the idea is really pretty laughable," he said. "All of the incentives in science are exactly the opposite."

This Stanford study is the first of its kind to address the issue of scientists' opinions of human-affected climate change, and what their level of expertise and prominence in the field is. 

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RE: It's all about funding
By CList on 6/28/2010 2:03:17 PM , Rating: 1
I keep seeing these kinds of arguments here, and I have a very hard time with them as they seem rather lop-sided.

Do you think it's AGW researchers vs. "The little guy"? Increased government regulation vs. "the little guy"?

Come on... if you follow the money it's very obvious that both the money, and public sentiment is on the side of *disproving* global warming.

I'm no expert in the debate, and would love to hear other opinions on this, but the way I see it is like so;

On the one hand we have some researcher who has $0 to spend on lobbying, working for a university that's also most-likely cash-strapped. If this guy can get a LOT of research funding, let's be generous and say maybe 200K will personally go in his pocket.

On the other side, we have a world full of man-on-the-street types who are incredibly change-averse, I mean I am too - I admit it. We also have huge corporations spending millions JUST on lobbying, not to mention what they pay their top executives. They also pay huge dividends, and so their top shareholders have a vast financial interest in seeing them maximize profits however they can. ...including funding their own studies that would probably pay the researchers involved a more handsome salary than they'd get from their university.

...So honestly how can anyone say that the funding for the research is going to cause bias away from the large corporate interest?

Note that I'm not trying to prove or dispute the global warming argument - I'm trying to dispute the argument that the greed of researchers or government regulatory agencies seeking more funding could possibly out-weight the greed - and means of financing - of the people on the other side of the argument. Honestly, the annual budget of the entire EPA is a tiny fraction of the annual revenue of, e.g. Exxon. -- in fact it's about the same as the annual *profit* of Exxon/Mobil, so really, who has more to gain/loose here.

Which is not to say that this research may not be driven by greed - maybe it is, but if the greed and resources on the other side of the argument is much greater, then why would you use that as your argument to discredit the researchers??

...and given that, who are you more likely to believe?


RE: It's all about funding
By jbartabas on 6/28/2010 2:37:11 PM , Rating: 2
I'm no expert in the debate, and would love to hear other opinions on this, but the way I see it is like so;

A few elements of response (disclaimer: from some limited experience that cannot cover all possible case ;) ):

About the 200K first. I don't know if you meant per year, but if that's a case, yes, you are very generous... the salary is more of the order of 100K - 130K in the US (although it can be more at the end of the career, or if you end up in managerial position ... and it varies with institutions) . In many areas in Europe, it is much less.

For many scientists, the salary is weakly correlated to grants. It is not: the more grants you get, the more "in your pocket". Salary is mostly determined by your career: usually the first two questions to determine you rank (hence, to a large part, your salary) is how many years since you got your PhD and how many publications (preferably as a first author). Some institutions (but not all) require you to fund some or all of your salary (through grants). They will probably look at your grant history before hiring you, just to make sure you can get some money in. They could also be a bit generous and put you in the higher end of your range in terms of salary, but it will still be pretty limited by your rank. In some European countries (from where many IPCC authors are from), scientists working for the gvt have a job for life, and the salary is guaranteed. The idea behind this was to grant them a relative independence and resilience from pressures. They apply to grants to fund experiments, hire students etc ... but their reliance on them is rather limited (especially for those who teach).

The main driver behind most scientists is ego (for the best and the worst ;) ). Those who chose to be scientists for the money made a critical career mistake ...

RE: It's all about funding
By SPOOFE on 6/28/2010 5:34:58 PM , Rating: 2
Do you think it's AGW researchers vs. "The little guy"?

The study referenced in the article sure seems to indicate that it is.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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