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Popular Technology > Rebuttals > Rebuttal to The Carbon Brief Part III - E&E

Posted by: Andrew Apr 22 2011, 03:47 AM
Rebuttal to The Carbon Brief -"

Christian from the Carbon Brief is back with round three of his nonsense. This time he repeats long debunked propaganda about the scholarly peer-reviewed journal Energy & Environment. Absolutely nothing is true here if he bothered to read the notes on the list, (Popular

1. Christian starts off referencing his older refuted articles,

2. Christian lies that Energy and Environment is almost 15% of the total.

Failing to properly count the list is proving fatal for those trying to desperately attack it. When you actually count the full number of papers on the list (900+ not 900) you get 14.1% which is not "almost 15%". Even still 131 is only 14.5% of 900. That is over 769 papers from 256 other journals besides Energy & Environment on the list.

3. Christian attempts to distort the meaning of a quote by editor Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, "I'm following my political agenda -- a bit, anyway," ... "But isn't that the right of the editor?" (Origin: The Chronicle of Higher Education)

This is the correct interpretation,

"My political agenda for E&E is not party political but relates to academic and intellectual freedom."

- Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Editor, Energy & Environment


"My political agenda is simple and open; it concerns the role of research ambitions in the making of policy.

I concluded from a research project about the IPCC - funded by the UK government during the mid 1990s - that this body was set up to support, initially, climate change research projects supported by the WMO and hence the rapidly evolving art and science of climate modeling. A little later the IPCC came to serve an intergovernmental treaty, the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This enshrines in law that future climate change would be warming caused by greenhouse gases (this remains debated), is man-made (to what an extend remains debated) as well as dangerous (remains debated). It became a task of the IPCC government selected and government funded, to support the theory that this man-made warming would be dangerous rather than beneficial, as some argue.

The solutions to this assumed problem were worked out by IPCC working group three, which worked largely independently of the science working group one and consisted primarily of parties interested in a 'green' energy agenda, including people from environment agencies, NGOs and environmental economics. This group supplied the science group with emission scenarios that have been widely criticized and which certainly enhanced the 'danger'. From interviews and my own reading I concluded that the climate science debate WAS BY NO MEANS OVER AND SHOULD CONTINUE. However, when I noticed that scientific critics of the IPCC science working group were increasingly side-lined and had difficulties being published - when offered the editorship of E&E, I decided to continue publishing 'climate skeptics' and document the politics associated with the science debate. The implications for energy policy and technology are obvious.

I myself have argued the cause of climate 'realism' - I am a geomorphologist by academic training before switching to environmental international relations - but do so on more the basis of political rather than science-based arguments. As far as the science of climate change is concerned, I would describe myself as agnostic.

In my opinion the global climate research enterprise must be considered as an independent political actor in environmental politics. I have widely published on this subject myself, and my own research conclusions have influenced my editorial policy. I also rely on an excellent and most helpful editorial board which includes a number of experienced scientists. Several of the most respected 'climate skeptics' regularly peer-review IPCC critical papers I publish."

- Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Editor, Energy & Environment

Source: Email Correspondence

4. Christian dishonestly distorts the context of a Memorandum submitted by Dr Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen to the UK Parliament, "Christiansen noted in evidence submitted to the UK Parliament that E&E has been characterised as " a journal of choice for climate skeptics," also stating: "If this [is] so, it happened by default as other publication opportunities were closed to them…"

The actual paragraph reads, (House of Commons, UK)
4.3 CRU clearly disliked my- journal and believed that "good" climate scientists do not read it. They characterised it as a journal of choice for climate sceptics. If this was so, it happened by default as other publication opportunities were closed to them. Email No. 1256765544, for example nevertheless shows that they took the journal seriously. An American response to McIntyre's and McKitrick's influential paper I published in 2005 challenging the "hockey stick" says, "It is indeed time leading scientists at CRU associated with the UK Met Bureau explain how Mr McIntyre is in error or resign."

5. Christian lies that, "It is unclear whether E&E is peer-reviewed"

To make this false claim he references the ever useless Gavin Schmidt of,

Energy & Environment is now indexed in the ISI,

As for Gavin...

The evidence that E&E is peer-reviewed is irrefutable,

Energy & Environment is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary scholarly journal (ISSN: 0958-305X)
- (PDF)
- "" - Tom Wigley, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
- "" - Richard Tol Ph.D. Professor of the Economics of Climate Change, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands
- "" - Multi-Science Publishing
- "" - E&E Mission Statement

6. Christian fails to understand that "Impact Factor" is a subjectively devised determination of popularity not scientific validity. The metric is widely abused and disputed, ( (The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 15, 2005)
Deluged by so many manuscripts, high-impact journals can send only a fraction out to experts for review. Nature, for example, rejects half of the submissions it gets without forwarding them to referees, says its editor in chief, Philip Campbell. [...]

Dr. DeAngelis, of JAMA, says editors at some top journals have told her that they do consider citations when judging some papers. "There are people who won't publish articles," she says, "because it won't help their impact factor." [...]

Fiona Godlee, editor of BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal), agrees that editors take impact factors into account when deciding on manuscripts, whether they realize it or not. ...She says editors may be rejecting not only studies in smaller or less-fashionable fields, but also important papers from certain regions of the world, out of fear that such reports won't attract sufficient citation attention. ( (European Association of Science Editors, November 2007)
The impact factor, however, is not always a reliable instrument for measuring the quality of journals. Its use for purposes for which it was not intended, causes even greater unfairness. (German Research Foundation, February 2010)
"Whether in performance-based funding allocations, postdoctoral qualifications, appointments, or reviewing funding proposals, increasing importance has been given to numerical indicators such as the H-index and the impact factor. The focus has not been on what research someone has done but rather how many papers have been published and where. This puts extreme pressure upon researchers to publish as much as possible and sometimes leads to cases of scientific misconduct in which incorrect statements are provided concerning the status of a publication. This is not in the interest of science," (PDF)
(British Medical Journal, Volume 314, pp. 498–502, February 1997)
- Per O. Seglen

Summary points:

- Use of journal impact factors conceals the difference in article citation rates (articles in the most cited half of articles in a journal are cited 10 times as often as the least cited half)
- Journals' impact factors are determined by technicalities unrelated to the scientific quality of their articles
- Journal impact factors depend on the research field: high impact factors are likely in journals covering large areas of basic research with a rapidly expanding but short lived literature that use many references per article
- Article citation rates determine the journal impact factor, not vice versa
(PLoS Medicine, Volume 3, Issue 6, June 2006)
- The PLoS Medicine Editors

QUOTE is well known that editors at many journals plan and implement strategies to massage their impact factors. Such strategies include attempting to increase the numerator in the above equation by encouraging authors to cite articles published in the journal or by publishing reviews that will garner large numbers of citations. Alternatively, editors may decrease the denominator by attempting to have whole article types removed from it (by making such articles superficially less substantial, such as by forcing authors to cut down on the number of references or removing abstracts) or by decreasing the number of research articles published. These are just a few of the many ways of "playing the impact factor game."

One problem with this game, leaving aside the ethics of it, is that the rules are unclear—editors can, for example, try to persuade Thomson Scientific to reduce the denominator, but the company refuses to make public its process for choosing "citable" article types. Thomson Scientific, the sole arbiter of the impact factor game, is part of The Thomson Corporation, a for-profit organization that is responsible primarily to its shareholders. It has no obligation to be accountable to any of the stakeholders who care most about the impact factor—the authors and readers of scientific research.
(The Journal of Cell Biology, Volume 179, Number 6, pp. 1091-1092, December 2007)
- Mike Rossner, Heather Van Epps, Emma Hill

It became clear that Thomson Scientific could not or (for some as yet unexplained reason) would not sell us the data used to calculate their published impact factor. If an author is unable to produce original data to verify a figure in one of our papers, we revoke the acceptance of the paper. We hope this account will convince some scientists and funding organizations to revoke their acceptance of impact factors as an accurate representation of the quality—or impact—of a paper published in a given journal. Just as scientists would not accept the findings in a scientific paper without seeing the primary data, so should they not rely on Thomson Scientific's impact factor, which is based on hidden data.
(The Journal of Cell Biology, Volume 180, Number 2, pp. 254-255, January 2008)
- Mike Rossner, Heather Van Epps, Emma Hill

Impact factors are determined from a dataset produced by searching the Thomson Scientific database using specific parameters. As previously stated, our aim was to purchase that dataset for a few journals. Even if those results were for some reason not stored by Thomson Scientific, it is inconceivable to us that they cannot run the same search over the same database to produce the same dataset. The citation data for a given year should be static. In essence, Thomson Scientific is saying that they cannot repeat the experiment, which would be grounds for rejection of a manuscript submitted to any scientific journal. (
(arXiv:1010.0278, October 2010)
- Douglas N. Arnold, Kristine K. Fowler

The impact factor for a journal in a given year is calculated by ISI (Thomson Reuters) as the average number of citations in that year to the articles the journal published in the preceding two years. It has been widely criticized on a variety of grounds:

- A journal's distribution of citations does not determine its quality.
- The impact factor is a crude statistic, reporting only one particular item of information from the citation distribution.
- It is a flawed statistic. For one thing, the distribution of citations among papers is highly skewed, so the mean for the journal tends to be misleading. For another, the impact factor only refers to citations within the  rst two years after publication (a particularly serious de ciency for mathematics, in which around 90% of citations occur after two years).
- The underlying database is flawed, containing errors and including a biased selection of journals.
- Many confounding factors are ignored, for example, article type (editorials, reviews, and letters versus original research articles), multiple authorship, self-citation, language of publication, etc.

7. Christian fails to understand that citations are a determination of popularity not scientific validity,

Regardless, various papers from E&E are widely cited; "Corrections to the Mann et al (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Series" is cited over,31&sciodt=0,31&hl=en, "The IPCC emission scenarios: An economic-statistical critique" over,31&sciodt=0,31&hl=en and "Reconstructing climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years: a reappraisal" over,31&sciodt=0,31&hl=en.

Christian concludes by summarizing his lies.

Posted by: Andrew Apr 25 2011, 08:20 AM
Update: I will add my comments posted at the Carbon Brief here in case they are censored or get deleted in the future,

QUOTE (glenn mcdonald)
I don't think "refuted" is the word you're looking for. Your points are:

- 14.1% is not "almost 15%". This is not a very significant distinction. E&E contributes the most papers to the list, by far. It would be interesting to have statistics for the number of "AGW alarm" papers published by each of these journals, to compare. Does E&E publish these, too? How does its alarm/skepticism balance compare to that of the other major journals whose papers appear on this list?

- Sonya Boehmer-Christiansen's comments are subject to varying interpretations. This is obviously true, but doesn't constitute refutation of anything.

- Christian quotes an insinuation that E&E's peer review is less diligent for papers that agree with the editor's stated bias. You reply by quoting several sources insisting that the journal is characterized as peer-reviewed. This is not responsive. Christian's mention of this idea is not particularly substantive, either, but he links to a piece with more details and futher links, which do in aggregate suggest a substantive issue in the literature history, at least.

- Christian mentions "impact factor", and graphs the cited/uncited rates for E&E vs the Journal of Climate. You respond with some procedural critiques of impact-factor calculation, and ignore the citation-rate graphs. I don't think this constitutes "refutation" of the rather dramatic difference Christian illustrates between the two journals.

But why you think this piece needs to be "refuted" in the first place, never mind in such an antagonistic tone, I don't understand. All you claim about your list is that the articles support AGW skepticism, and they appeared in peer-reviewed journals. It seems to me you should welcome informed debate on the former assertion about any individual paper. You have 900+ papers, so I strongly suspect you could remove every paper whose support of skepticism was in any doubt without changing the length of the list by any significant amount. As for the "peer-reviewed" assertion, Christian has noted a question about only one journal in your long list. You could even remove E&E completely and still have, by my count, an 800+ paper list which might arguably be more impressive than your current 900+ list.

Regardless, it seems to me that what you ought to be concentrating on is not "defending" your list, but expanding it. It would be cool to have more detail on what kind of skepticism each paper represents, particularly for the difference between holistically skeptical papers and those which are not necessarily skeptical in overt aim but raise questions about particular issues. It would also be interesting to try to put these papers in better context with what I assume it is uncontroversial to characterize as the much larger body of peer-reviewed papers that "support" AGW. Efforts like that would help make it seem like you are interested in supporting the scientific debate. Belligerent defensiveness and the characterization of things you disgaree with as "lies" do not.

I would have posted this as a reply to your actual "rebuttal" post on your own discussion forum, but it doesn't appear that you allow anybody but you to comment there. Which also doesn't make it seem like you're really trying to participate in anything...

- It is a significant distinction if you care about accuracy. Get your numbers right or don't post misleading percentages. As it also demonstrates he does not actually fact check his information. If he had just stated that E&E was the most represented journal on the list this would be true but still irrelevant as there are over 769 papers from 256 other journals besides Energy & Environment on the list. But he did not and thus this misleading statistic is refuted.

- Sonya Boehmer-Christiansen's comments need to be shown in their full context and if insinuations are made then the effort needs to be made to get her actual interpretation. Otherwise you have no interest in the truth and instead wish to simply spread propaganda. Her actual interpretation paints a very different picture then what is being presented in this article and thus the false insinuations made here are refuted.

- No Christian explicitly states, "It is unclear whether E&E is peer-reviewed". That is not questioning the quality of E&E's peer-review process but whether it is peer-reviewed at all. Thus my sources showing that it is peer-reviewed is directly responsive. You're confusing Gavin's vague comment with what Christian explicitly stated. My sources also demonstrate that the quality is good enough for the scholarly peer-reviewed journal to be cited multiple times in the IPCC reports.

- I provide eight sources substantially criticizing the validity of using "impact factor" to determine a journal's quality (I can get many more). Four of which were published in peer-reviewed journals. No claim has ever been made that E&E was cited as frequently as more popular journals, which is irrelevant as citations merely represent popularity not scientific validity. Regardless, it is shown in the rebuttal that various papers from E&E are widely cited.

This piece needs to be refuted because it is full of misinformation and flawed arguments. I welcome actual criticisms and have made various corrections based on these. Any paper which does not support a skeptic argument has been removed. Why would I remove a journal based on criticisms that are not valid? How "impressive" the list is, is purely subjective and irrelevant to the fact that E&E is a scholarly peer-reviewed journal and is not being removed.

I do concentrate on expanding it but will refute every false criticism like those that have been made here. It originally stated out as 450+ papers and has since grown to 900+ papers. I also call things how I see them and do not pull any punches. The fact that I am the only website to even attempt such a skeptic list (one other exists but it is a copy of an older version off my site) demonstrates I am clearly interested in supporting the scientific debate.

The rebuttals section is not for any discussions but a reference section. The debate of this post should be in the most relevant place, right here. If I was not trying to participate in the discussion I would not be replying here.

QUOTE (glenn mcDonald)
- "Almost 15%" is not "refuted" by saying it's actually 14.1%. You're quibbling about precision, not accuracy. This is particularly silly given that you repeatedly describe your list as having "900+", when my count at the time this piece was written found 973, which is almost exactly the same degree of imprecision you're complaining about in Christian's example.

- Christian's quotes from Boehmer-Christiansen are accurate, and he links to the full source. The only "insinuation" about her I can see here is "a minor journal which appears to have a political agenda to promote climate skepticism." "Appears" seems like an appropriate qualification here. It appears so to Christian. That's his opinion, which isn't "refuted" by yours. My reading of the source supports Christian's interpretation; that's *my* opinion, which doesn't prove or refute anything, either.

- Your responses about E&E's peer-reviewed status and impact factor add no new information.

You are, of course, free to keep E&E on your list. It's your list, you're free to put anything you want on it. I'm pointing out to you that were you to choose to take E&E's articles off of it, you'd instantly eliminate one source of objections at, I think, little cost to the point you're actually trying to make. So you choose your battles, and you choose the impression you make by how you choose your battles.

By "expanding" the list, I didn't mean simply *extending* it. I mean adding more detail to make it a more informative and useful resource, not just a longer page. As I said above, two obvious additional bits of information I found myself wanting, as a reader, were:

1. For each paper, what kind of support of skepticism it represents. You presumably know this, otherwise the papers wouldn't be on the list. Adding this information would make the list a whole lot more interesting.

2. For each author and/or journal, what body of work *supporting* AGW-alarm, if any, have they produced? I don't mean that you're obliged to make the complementary list of papers, but even a small detail such as noting the authors that fall into the category, to which you allude, of declared non-skeptics, would be an interesting addition.

I've also noticed you responding, elsewhere, to points about individual authors with detailed CVs. Those are interesting information, as well. Where are you getting those, and have you considered linking the author-credits in your list to those CVs?

- 15% is refuted because it is inaccurate, misleading and wrong. The statistic is absolutely bogus, either get it right or don't post statistics at all. There is nothing silly about stating that the list has 900+ as that is completely accurate. As explained in the notes the list is dynamic and frequently changes,

"This is a dynamic list that is routinely updated. When a significant new number of peer-reviewed papers is added the list title will be updated with the new larger number. The list intentionally includes an additional 10+ peer-reviewed papers as a margin of error at all times, which gradually increases between updates. Thus the actual number of peer-reviewed papers on the list can be much greater than stated."

Your number of "973" is not correct as explicitly stated,

"Only peer-reviewed papers are counted. Addendums, Comments, Corrections, Erratum, Rebuttals, Replies, Responses, and Submitted papers are not counted but listed as references in defense of various papers or as rebuttals to other published papers."

- Her quotes are either without full context or any sort of explanation. Someone reading these as opposed to the full explanation I provided will get a very different picture of what she meant. The insinuation is that Dr. Boehmer-Christiansen made this claim, when she was really stating what the CRU believed about her journal.

- My responses about E&E's peer-reviewed status provide extensive evidence that it is peer-reviewed, including that it is cited multiple times by the IPCC. I also provide eight sources substantially criticizing the validity of using "impact factor" to determine a journal's quality (I can get many more). Four of which were published in peer-reviewed journals. That is all new since Christian didn't provide any of it.

If I "eliminated" every source of objection to the list there would be no papers on it! E&E is not being removed and will never be removed.

Again, why should I remove a scholarly peer-reviewed journal off the list because some people have stated misinformation about it?

I have taken the time to categorize the papers as much as possible but many do not fit into one category and instead support multiple arguments.

The CVs of many of the authors is linked in the Notes following the list, under "Scientist Credentials".

QUOTE (glenn mcdonald)
But scrutinizing this list causes me to want, even more, a better categorization of its entries. I'm going by titles and abstracts, but it's pretty clear that some of these E&E "papers" are about policy and politics, rather than presenting new scientific research. That's perfectly in character for an "interdisciplinary journal", but it would be helpful to be able to distinguish the claims they are making.

No claim is made anywhere on the list that all the papers are "new scientific research", only that they are peer-reviewed. Policy papers can be peer-reviewed and are very appropriate to for the list since these types of papers are included in the WGII and WGIII sections of the IPCC report.

QUOTE (JRWoodman)
So 'Energy and Environment' has a political agenda -- Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen confirms that here.

It's interesting to note from her statement, that "...only environmentalists and some vested interests (political, economic and financial) are very sure that the observed warming is indeed primarily anthopogenic, dangerous and subject to mitigated by subsidisation and regulation" (sic), she leaves out climate scientists -- most of whom clearly fall into this category. This suggests that she considers being an environmentalist somehow devalues, or overrides, any credibility in the climate debate from being a qualified climate scientist. This theme of despising those with a concern for the environment seems to a common theme in her approach. It's perhaps useful at this point to read her entry on 'SourceWatch' ( ).

Perhaps Dr. Boehmer-Christiansen would like to confirm the accuracy of the summary

Please provide the objective method for determining who is and who is not a climate scientist. Then support your claim that "most of whom" consider AGW "dangerous" and requiring government action.

The only "theme" demonstrated is a distrust of those prone to exaggeration and scare tactics to push a politically motivated agenda.

Sourcewatch is a left-wing smear site that is edited by ordinary web users. Why is it necessary for her to defend herself against such a site? Can you find a single reputable news source to support the claims made on such as site?

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