Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The BBC Part 3

The BBC have published this correction on their web site. I am generally fine with the result, although it is annoying that they failed to engage on the question of how they characterized the report in general. They are sticking with the idea that the report coincided with Reagan's policy interests solely on the fact that it didn't recommend immediate changes in the fuel mix. This boils down a five hundred page detailed report on an issue to part of one recommendation. Hardly historically or scientifically accurate, but this is the BBC.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Our Peer Reviewed Paper is Published

I have just been notified that our peer reviewed paper on the 1983 NAS report "Changing Climate" has been published. This paper completely refutes the claims of the "Chicken Little" paper by Oreskes et al. published in 2008. It has been a long but very rewarding process for me.

We initially submitted a paper that was a straight rebuttal of the Oreskes paper. We received an encouraging reply, but we were informed that either it would have to be greatly shortened and published as a reply, or it would have to be rewritten as an original paper. At first I found this discouraging, but I took the challenge and went back to review all the source materials available in the SIO archives, as well as a much broader selection of the existing literature. This allowed me to see the entire context of the story and how the publication of "Changing Climate" had actually occurred. In my particular case the peer review process was a strong positive, and made the result much better than my original idea.

The story actually starts with the Carter administrations push for synthetic fuels, and concern that this would exacerbate a problem that people were already starting to worry about. Ironically by the time "Changing Climate" was completed the synthetic fuels program had collapsed.

One thing that is still absolutely clear from all of this is that Oreskes got the story wrong.

I hope you enjoy reading about this piece of history. If anyone is interested in any of the underlying source documents I have images of all of them.

The paper is presented here by permission of the UC Press. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, Vol. 40, Number 3, pps. 318–349. ISSN 1939-1811, electronic
ISSN 1939-182X. © 2010 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.