Climate Change Peer-Review Hypocrisy

The mantra of the global warming alarmist is 'peer-review'. The problem is, it is obvious that the peer-review process has been corrupted.

In 2009, Lindzen and Choi published a paper entitled On the Determination of Climate Feedbacks from ERBE Data in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The paper provided evidence for a strong negative feedback and a low climate sensitivity, contradicting the greenhouse alarmist view. The paper received extensive criticism, and Lindzen and Choi wrote a followup paper entitled On the observational determination of climate sensitivity and its implications to address these criticisms. First, in February 2010, they submitted the followup paper to the Journal of Geophysical Research. Evidently it was rejected. In October 2010, they submitted it to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was again rejected. Last month, the paper was accepted for publication in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.

On the Observational Determination of Climate Sensitivity and Its Implications

I don't know the story behind the JGR submission, but Lindzen recently wrote about the PNAS rejection. The PNAS response to the submission stated that the board was concerned with the author's choice of reviewers:
The two reviews provided by Lindzen and Choi do not qualify ... Both scientists are formally eligible for refereeing according to the PNAS rules, but one of them (WH) is certainly not an expert for the topic in question and the other one (MDC) has published extensively on the very subject together with Lindzen. So, in a sense, he is reviewing his own work.
They then recommended five additional reviewers, two of whom (Schmidt and Trenberth) are prominent AGW alarmists and ClimateGate conspirators:
The Editorial Board has recommended additional referees to evaluate the paper. Drs. Susan Solomon, Kevin Trenberth, Gavin Schmidt, James G. Anderson and Veerabhadran Ramanathan
After further correspondence, the authors received a letter of rejection with four peer-reviews attached:
The Board appreciates your cooperation in soliciting additional reviews on the paper you recently contributed to PNAS. We consulted the two experts you approved and two others selected by the Board. All four reviews (enclosed) were shared with two members of the Board before reaching a final decision... In light of these additional critiques, the Board concurs that the current paper must be declined for publication.
The authors have responded to these reviews. What is most interesting about this though is that the PNAS not only did not like the authors' choice of reviewers, but also insisted top alarmists and ClimateGate conspirators with an obvious bias, who would undoubtedly consider the paper unacceptable no matter how scientifically rigorous it was, review the paper.

This is especially rich considering papers supporting the alarmist view are not subject to the same rules. This is exposed in the ClimateGate emails. In one email to Michael Mann in 1999, Phil Jones wrote:
You may think Keith or I have reviewed some of your papers but we haven't. I've reviewed Ray's and Malcolm's - constructively I hope where I thought something could have been done better. I also know you've reviewed my paper with Gabi very constructively.
So it seems the British ClimateGate conspirators reviewed papers by the American conspirators and vice-versa. Not exactly independent.

In 2003 when McIntyre and McKitrick were writing criticisms of the work by Mann and his colleagues, Ray Bradley suggested a counter strategy:
Tim, Phil, Keef:
I suggest a way out of this mess. Because of the complexity of the arguments involved, to an uniformed observer it all might be viewed as just scientific nit-picking by "for" and "against" global warming proponents. However, if an "independent group" such as you guys at CRU could make a statement as to whether the M&M effort is truly an "audit", and if they did it right, I think that would go a long way to defusing the issue.
The fact that Bradley chose to put the words "independent group" in quote marks suggests even he knew considering the CRU team to be independent is laughable.

Another interesting email is this one. In response to a standard request by the Journal of Geophysical Research...
Please list the names of 5 experts who are knowledgeable in your area and could give an unbiased review of your work. Please do not list colleagues who are close associates, collaborators, or family members. (this requires name, email, and institution).
Phil Jones suggested a number of people who would fall under the category of "close associates and collaborators":
Agree with Kevin that Tom Karl has too much to do. Tom Wigley is semi retired and like Mike Wallace may not be responsive to requests from JGR. We have Ben Santer in common ! Dave Thompson is a good suggestion. I'd go for one of Tom Peterson or Dave Easterling. To get a spread, I'd go with 3 US, One Australian and one in Europe. So Neville Nicholls and David Parker. All of them know the sorts of things to say - about our comment and the awful original, without any prompting.
The last sentence is particularly interesting. To be "prompting" peer-reviewers would be a violation of ethics in itself. To select people who already know "the sorts of things to say", is just outright corruption. It's not so much peer-review with these people as it is pal-review!

In fact, some of those reviews of eachother's work are in the ClimateGate documents ...

Review of Wahl&Amman.doc

The ClimateGate conspirators even got to review and reject papers that were critical of their work, as evident in this exchange between Ed Cook and Keith Briffa:
I got a paper to review ... that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology ... is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. ... If published as is, this paper could really do some damage ... It won't be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically ... I am really sorry but I have to nag about that review - Confidentially I now need a hard and if required extensive case for rejecting - to support Dave Stahle's and really as soon as you can.
And this email from Phil Jones to Michael Mann:
Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully. If either appears I will be very surprised, but you never know with GRL.
Of course the skeptics had no say in the refereeing of papers by Mann & Jones etc. So it seems having your friends review your papers and keeping your opponents out is fine, as long as your paper supports AGW. But if it's a paper that contradicts it, the top journals won't let you do that. Instead, your paper must be reviewed by your staunchest opponents who of course will always respond with ideologically-driven rejections.

Note: I'm not necessarily disagreeing with the PNAS objections to Lindzen and Choi's choice of reviewers, and I'm not necessarily disagreeing with what the reviewers who rejected their paper said. The purpose of this post was to illustrate the hypocrisy. The strict criteria the PNAS invoked for what constitutes an appropriate peer-review is fine. The problem is, this criteria is selectively enforced.

See Also:

Climategate Documents Confirm Wegman’s Hypothesis

Lindzen’s PNAS Reviews

PNAS Reviews: Preferential Standards for Kemp (Mann) et al

Peer Review And ‘Pal Review’ In Climate Science

A Climatology Conspiracy?
by David H. Douglass and John R. Christy

Bias in the Peer Review Process: A Cautionary and Personal Account
by Ross McKitrick

Reviewed or Not Reviewed?
by Christopher Monckton

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