McLean follow up
Elaine McKewon book-ended my letter to the editors of Fairfax papers The Age and Sydney Morning Herald regarding the publishing of John McLean’s error-ridden piece on the IPCC (the editors, by the way, have not responded) with a terrific take down of McLean in Crikey.
She questioned McLean’s byline on the original article, to whit:
“John McLean is the author of three peer-reviewed papers on climate and an expert reviewer for the latest IPCC report. He is also a climate data analyst and a member of the International Climate Science Coalition.”
asking “But is that accurate? Who is John McLean? What qualifications entitle him to speak as an expert on climate science? What is the ICSC, and which groups, interests and agendas do McLean and the ICSC represent? What exactly does it mean to be an “expert reviewer” of IPCC reports?”
She skewers his three peer reviewed articles; one in Energy and Environment, a platform for peer-reviewed climate denial; the second in the Journal of Geophysical Research that was promptly comprehensively demolished; and the third in the International Journal of Geosciences, of Scientific Research Publishing (scirp) named as a predatory publisher by Beall’s list. I have tried to download this to have a laff, but have been hit three times by a network error (edit 15-1: have downloaded the paper – quite interesting – and will do a brief post shortly.
And goes on to say that being an expert reviewer for the IPCC means ticking a box that says one has the expertise. Actually, expert reviews are conducted after the zero order draft of each report but John has never received any such invitation.
She also showed that the ICSC follows the classic environmental astroturfing model:
Despite its name, the ICSC does not conduct scientific research. It is funded by the Heartland Institute, an American right-wing think tank historically bankrolled by Exxon to promote climate denial. Executive director Tom Harris is a former APCO public relations executive — APCO being most memorable for launching the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (or TASSC), a lobby group and crisis management vehicle bankrolled by Big Tobacco in the United States to discredit scientific studies linking second-hand smoke to cancer, while achieving legislative outcomes favourable to the tobacco industry. APCO’s media strategy to launch TASSC included establishing the lobby group as a credible source for journalists, building a grassroots social movement that encouraged the general public to “fight” the science, and targeting sympathetic journalists who would run with the TASSC message unchallenged.
So being an ICSC fellow might be a bit, ummm, compromising? Not at all. Crikey being Crikey, McLean has an opportunity to respond (Scroll down in the article to see McLean’s response).
He objects to being called a denier then goes the full Godwin with a double twist and pike: In the bigger picture she seems to either want to inflate a scientific disagreement to being on par with the systematic state-sponsored murder of over 6 million Jews, or to devalue those murders to make them equivalent to a scientific disagreement about the magnitude of the influence of carbon dioxide in the open atmosphere.
But that’s not what she said, is it? She says that ICSC’s promotion of denial includes discrediting authoritative science on climate change, opposing regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and “educating” the public on the “dangerous impacts” involved in trying to replace fossil fuels with cleaner energy sources such as wind and solar power.
McLean seems to think that publishing three peer-reviewed papers provides sufficient credibility; not the quality of the journal, the paper or any other criteria. He complains that the JGR never published their response to the scientific rebuttal of their original article but fails to add that it was rejected on scientific grounds. Their paper was pretty much the statistical equivalent of stripping a car of its motor and saying it didn’t go because it was painted yellow.
McLean also complains that McKewon did not rebut the points he made about the IPCC, but I took care of that.
The rumour is that John Spooner, cartoonist and culture warrior, promoted McLean’s original op-ed within The Age. It seems that while the adults are on holiday at Fairfax, the mad uncles are running the place.