Just who are these 300 'scientists' telling Trump to burn the climate?

Posted on 27 February 2017 by John Abraham

If you read my articles regularly, you may have noticed multiple times I have stated that the scientific argument is over; there are no longer any reputable scientists that deny the overwhelming human influence in our climate. An open letter published last week by the anti-environmentalists proves my point. 

If you read the headlines, it might have seemed impressive: “300 Scientists Tell Trump to Leave UN Climate Agreement.” Wow, 300 scientists. That’s a lot right? Actually, it’s a pitiful list.

First of all, hardly anyone on the list was a climate scientist; many were not even natural scientists. It is almost as though anyone with a college degree (and there are about 21 million enrolled in higher education programs just in the USA) was qualified to sign that letter.

Okay but what about the signers of the letter? Surely they are experts in the field? Not so much. It was very difficult to find the list of signers online however I was able to acquire it with some help. See for yourself – Google “300 scientists letter climate change” in the past week. You will see many stories in the press, but try finding the actual letter or the list of names. The version I obtained was dated February 23, 2017 which helps narrow your searching. In an era of Dr. Google, it is unbelievable that the letter itself was not made more available. 

Okay but let’s get to the central issue. These 300 scientists must be pretty good at climate science, right? Well let’s just go through the list, alphabetically. Here is a sampling (text copied verbatim from the version of the letter I obtained).

Example 1:

ADAM, A.I.: (Ph. D.); Retired Geologist/Palynologist/Academic/Public Servant/Industry Professional; publications include papers on palaeoenvironmental studies and a book, New Emperors’ Novel Clothes: Climate Change Analysed. 

A retired geologist and a public servant? I performed a google scholar search on “AI Adam” to find out what is picked up as any studies written by someone named “AI Adam.” Nothing. If you can find his book on Amazon, you will see his biography states he’s a retired geologist, got a degree from a university in the UK (discipline not specified), he worked in fossil fuel and mineral industries in Australia and other countries. Oh, and currently he has “wide interests”.

Example 2:

ALEXANDER, Ralph B.: (Ph.D., Physics, University of Oxford); Former Associate Professor, Wayne State University, Detroit, author “Global Warming False Alarm” (2012) 

Surely it gets better right? I mean this signer was an Associate Professor? Again, not much there. I was able to find this part of a biography on DeSmogBlog:

Ralph B. Alexander is a former Associate Professor of Physics at Wayne State University and former President and co-founder of Ion Surface Technology, a small high-tech materials company. He is currently the owner and president of R.B. Alexander & Associates Inc., an independent consulting firm specializing in advanced materials and surface engineering. 

No evidence of any expertise in climate science that I could find. Let’s move to Example 3:

ALLEN, D. Weston: (MB. BS.); FRACGP Australia

Whoa, what does FRACGP stand for? A quick online search revealed that FRACGP is likely Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. What is the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners you ask? Well if you have more patience than I do, let me know. This may be their website. Once again, no evidence whatsoever of any expertise in climate science.

Example 4:

ALLISON, Jock: (Ph.D., Animal science, Sydney University, 1970); Previously Research Director, Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries, New Zealand.

Well, someone in animal science may have studied climate change. Perhaps the effect (or lack of effect) of climate change on animals, right? Not likely. I performed an academic search using the name “J. Allison” and I found many papers in high-energy physics, certainly not the same person. So I added the word “Climate” to the search and found – you guessed it – nothing. 

Example 5:

ANDERSON, Charles R.: (Ph.D. in Physics); Anderson Materials Evaluation, Inc., President & Principal Scientist, Expert in the use of radiation to characterize materials, many publications on materials science, frequent on-line posts on the essential physics of the atmosphere and radiation.

President of a company and an online writer – not very impresive climate credentials. You can read his posts at websites like this one. The only Google Scholar hit I found using the name “CR Anderson” and the keyword “climate” wasSchool Climate for Transgender Youth: A Mixed Method Investigation of Student Experiences and School Responses. Interesting reading I assure you, but not quite what I was looking for. Probably a different “CR Anderson.”

Example 6:

ARMSTRONG, J. Scott: ( Ph.D. MIT); Professor, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. My area of expertise involves forecasting methods. I have been involved to preparing and evaluating forecasts relevant to climate change since 2007.

This last cosigner I will discuss is a professor at a business school in the United States. As I understand his expertise, it is in business forecasting. What does that have to do with climate forecasting? Not much. Perhaps there is some crossover though? I recall that JS Armstrong was an author on a polar bear forecasting paper a few years ago. How did that turn out? Not very well. It was strongly rebutted for being incorrect in this paper. The following quote from the abstract tells it all (AGS stands for Armstrong, Green and Soon (the authors of the faulty paper):

We evaluate the AGS audit and show how AGS are mistaken or misleading on every claim. We provide evidence that general circulation models are useful in forecasting future climate conditions and that corporate and government leaders are relying on these models to do so… We show that the allegations of failure to follow the principles of forecasting espoused by AGS are either incorrect or are based on misconceptions about the Arctic environment, polar bear biology, or statistical and mathematical methods. … In summary, we show that the AGS audit offers no valid criticism of the USGS conclusion that global warming poses a serious threat to the future welfare of polar bears and that it only serves to distract from reasoned public-policy debate.

There many are other examples that list no degree, affiliation, or expertise, such as:

BEE, Roger: ();

BEETHAM, Barry: ();

I guess having a first and last name are sufficient to be included in this list of eminent scientists. Sadly, the list also includes William Happer, who is under consideration for the position of President Trump’s science advisor, and also a couple of fellows we know to be quite nutty.

Finally, how about the person who appeared to orchestrate this letter, Richard Lindzen? Well, he may be best known for taking contrarian views on climate change that are not substantiated by the research, and being wrong on all of them. In fact, he has put forward multiple studies that were shown to be incorrect or questionable by his colleagues in the field. 

A summary that I coauthored of his work is available here with links to all of the relevant studies so people can read for themselves. In fact, one of his studies was rebutted by three separate papers within a year of publication. This is astonishing – most papers are never rebutted. In fact, I would venture that most scientists never have a paper rebutted in their entire career.

What is the takeaway message?

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