Researcher demands apology for professional discourtesy from essayist who claimed climate consensus

By | September 5, 2007


Naomi Oreskes, a historian at the University of California, San Diego, faces questions after an academic researcher formally complained to Chancellor Marye Anne Fox that Oreskes had not read a draft paper by him before thrice publicly accusing him of “misrepresentation” (http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/schulteresponse.html), reports SPPI.

In 2004 Oreskes, in a Science essay,said none of 928 abstracts of science papers on “global climate change” published between 1993 and 2003 denied the “consensus” that most recent warming was manmade. Al Gore used this finding as the basis for his statement in An Inconvenient Truththat no scientist disagreed with the consensus that “global warming” might prove catastrophic.

A widely-publicized statement this week, apparently by Oreskes, said three times that Klaus-Martin Schulte, a surgeon and researcher at King’s College Hospital, London, had misrepresented her. He complains she had not read his paper, which had not criticized her research, and demands an apology for professional discourtesy:

“Since no draft of my paper contains the statements attributed to me, the comments which have been made are based not on the paper itself but on media reports about it, though the statement fails to make this clear. Whether or not it was Oreskes who issued the statement, it has been widely publicized and the points made require answers from me.”

Schulte, whose draft paper had not in fact criticized Oreskes’ research at all, found that several of 539 papers dated 2004 to early 2007 explicitly reject the “consensus”. Fewer than half endorse it even implicitly.

He said: “In every draft of my paper, I was careful to make no comment of any kind on the accuracy or reliability of [Oreskes’] research, still less on whether she regarded anthropogenic ‘global warming’ as serious enough to be potentially catastrophic … I confined myself to citing figures from her essay merely as a point of comparison.”

He added: “I drafted the paper because I had become concerned that patients were being perhaps unduly alarmed by media reports of catastrophic climate change and were coming to harm through resultant stress.”

Schulte concludes: “If unanimity existed in the peer-reviewed literature between 1993 and 2003 – which I have reason to doubt – it certainly no longer exists today.”

Contact: Bob Ferguson : bferguson@sppinstitute.org: 202 288 5699