2011-04-19 04:49:18PopTech list - discussion on categorizing his papers.
Alex C


I thought that if we are going to undertake the task of adding PopTech's papers, we might as well start a thread in which we can discuss whether or not they qualify as "skeptic" supporting or being neutral/pro-agw.  For instance, this paper is on PopTech's list.  It's a fire reconstruction in Canada based on ice core data, and the main skeptic point is that there was high fire activity during the MWP, higher than now.

However, here are some other main points or quotes:

- "Although there is a time lag between climatic change and glacier response, the records of alpine glacier fluctuations considered here are sensitive to decadal- to centennial-scale climate variations (Wiles et al., 1999)." [recent decades in the record may be behind]

- There is no data after 1980

- "Differences in the regional timing of high fire activity associated with the ‘Mediaeval Warm Period’ are not un- expected considering that the ‘Mediaeval Warm Period’ was neither globally synchronous nor continuously warm (Hughes and Diaz, 1994; Mann et al., 1999)."

- "If the ‘Mediaeval Warm Period’ does provide a suitable analogy for future climatic conditions resulting from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, then high fire activity in Alaska and the Yukon seems likely during the twenty-first century."


So, as a case study, this paper, while being on PopTech's "skeptic" list as supporting skeptic points, actually seems to bring up more pro-agw points and is not sufficient to show comparison to current data.  I do not think that the paper even discusses present fire activity.  I am thus listing this as a "pro-agw" paper for our database (if it is not there - I haven't checked).

This is indicative that PopTech did NOT put any good effort into making his list or checking his assumptions with what the paper actually concludes or what the science implies.  This is why I think starting a thread in which we can filter out the main conclusions of each paper (well, ones that might be ambiguous) would be a good tool for going through his list.

This might also be a good thread to ask for full PDF versions, as many are only available as abstracts, which are either ambiguous or don't really address the relation to AGW.

2011-04-19 12:39:09First 20 papers - how they fit in
Alex C


Ok, so I went through the first 20 papers in PopTech's list (the Excel file John made available in this thread - arranged alphabetically, ascending).  I'll sort them below, and maybe someone can help me verify whether or not the "maybes" are skeptic papers or support skeptic points.  And, of course, if anyone would like to double check what I classified them as, that is quite fine (encouraged) too.


We have already (all in Skeptic column):

- "A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions" (Douglass et al 2007)

Published in E&E (Not added - would be listed as Online Articles):

- "180 years of atmospheric CO2 gas analysis by chemical methods" (Beck 2007); "50 Years of Continuous Measurement of CO2 on Mauna Loa" (Beck 2008); "A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-treering proxies" (Loehle 2007); "A 2004 View of the Kyoto Protocol" (Singer 2004); "A Climate Policy for the Short and Medium Term: Stabilization or Adaptation?" (Goklany 2005); "A Critical Discussion of the Stern and IPCC Analyses of Carbon Emission Mitigation Possibilities and Costs" (Trainer 2010); "A critical review of some recent Australian regional climate reports" (McLean 2006); "A critical review of the hypothesis that climate change is caused by carbon dioxide" (Hug 2000); "A critique of a method to determine long-term decline of coral reef ecosystems" (Ridd 2007)


- "A 1000-yr record of forest fire activity from Eclipse Icefield, Yukon, Canada" (Yalcin et al 2006)


- "A 700 year record of Southern Hemisphere extratropical climate variability" (Mayewski et al 2004); "A decadal solar effect in the tropics in July-August" (Loona et al 2004); "A doubling in snow accumulation in the western Antarctic Peninsula since 1850" (Thomas et al 2008)


- "A discussion of plausible solar irradiance variations, 1700-1992" (Hoyt and Schatten 1993)

Not peer reviewed (added as Online Article):

- "A Climate of Doubt about Global Warming" (Balling 2000)

Probably not a peer reviewed article (*need feedback*)

- "A Critical Appraisal of the Global Warming Debate" (de Freitas 1994); "A dissenting view on global climate change" (Linden 1993)

Cannot find full versions - I think these are neutrals (*need feedback*):

- "200-year variations in cosmic rays modulated by solar activity and their climatic response" (Raspopov and Dergachev 2007); "80–120 yr Long-term solar induced effects on the earth, past and predictions" (Yousef 2006)


I have included those under the categories "Pro-AGW," "Skeptic," "Neutral," and "Not peer reviewed (added as Online Article)" above.  The rest have not been included - the last two sections are ones I'd like feedback on so we can put these papers in.

2011-04-21 15:11:19
Ari Jokimäki


Regarding the fire activity paper: while adding papers, I have so far classified all local papers as neutral unless the argument itself is about local conditions. You can't prove global situation one way or another with local studies, so they should be neutral by default. There are some exceptions where a local study might give some very convinging piece of evidence that it could be considered more general than just a local result and then you could classify it as pro-AGW or skeptic, but majority of local are neutral I think.

Also, argument could be such that even local papers could go against it. For example, if argument would be "all glaciers are growing", then only one non-growing glacier would be enough to show the argument wrong, so all papers about single glacier melting would be pro-AGW even if they wouldn't address the global situation.

2011-04-21 18:41:03
Alex C


My main reasoning behind the classification of pro-agw was the last quote I gave above from that paper, that they a) acknowledged AGW as true, and b) they said wildfires could get worse in that area if the past serves as precedent.  Since they do discuss local events, then if I understand you correctly you agree with what I did?

I'll make sure to incorporate that advice too for future papers.

2011-04-21 18:52:20
Ari Jokimäki


I would put that paper to neutral because the argument says that fire activity generally was higher during MWP and this is only a local study which can't be generalized. They do say that fire activity will be higher at some point in the future which puts a pro-AGW flavor to the paper, but as they do not discuss the situation globally, I would put it to neutral bin because based on the paper it seems impossible to say if it supports the general argument (in global sense) or not.

However, this is only my opinion. It would be nice to know what others think. I have generally classified papers so that single instance of a whole is usually neutral (local study vs. global situation, one plant species vs. whole vegetation cover of Earth,...).

2011-04-22 01:38:26neutral
Dana Nuccitelli

I agree local studies will tend to be neutral.  The fire paper says

"If the ‘Mediaeval Warm Period’ does provide a suitable analogy for future climatic conditions resulting from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, then high fire activity in Alaska and the Yukon seems likely during the twenty-first century."

That's a lot of supposition, and I don't think the study itself really supports AGW, so I'd also call it neutral.

2011-04-22 04:03:55
Alex C


OK, that's all right with me.  I'll change it to neutral.

Anyone have a chance too to look at the most recent group?

2011-04-29 16:52:12
Ari Jokimäki


I agree that Raspopov & Dergachev (2007) and Yousef (2006) are neutral. These don't discuss solar effect to global temperature. Yousef discusses solar effects to Earth's environment and it is absurd to suggest that it would be against AGW. Papers like this in the list show that he has done very bad work creating this list.

2011-04-29 17:16:22
Ari Jokimäki


It seems to me that Mayewski et al. (2004) could be pro-AGW paper. After all, their abstract says:

"Since AD 1700, extratropical regions of the Southern Hemisphere have experienced significant climate variability coincident with changes in both solar variability and greenhouse gases."

But perhaps neutral is still the most reasonable classification for this paper. They don't say explicitly that they think GHG's have caused temperature changes.

de Freitas (1994) was published in New Zealand Geographer which seems to be peer-reviewed journal. Journal home page says:

"For over 50 years New Zealand Geographer has been the internationally refereed journal of the New Zealand Geographical Society. The Society represents professional geographers in academic, school, business, government, community and other spheres in New Zealand and the South Pacific. The journal publishes: academic papers on aspects of the physical, human and environmental geographies, and landscapes, of its region commentaries and debates discussions of educational questions and scholarship of concern to geographers short interventions and assessments of topical matters of interest to university and high school teachers, and book reviews."

2011-05-02 11:58:22de Freitas
Alex C


Perhaps the article was peer reviewed, but basic information about the journal itself is not necessarily representative of whether it was peer reviewed from a scientific standpoint.  I wouldn't consider essays or opinion pieces to be peer-reviewed, even if they have to go through editors for instance.  de Freitas' paper, from its abstract, doesn't seem like any sort of research or study at all, but an opinion piece that the journal published.

This is a pattern with a couple of the papers/articles I have been seeing on PopTech's lists, the ones I think are likely not peer reviewed: they sound like opinion, not like science.

(Edited above statement, silly grammar error)

2011-05-02 12:04:38Notes for papers
John Cook


Do you want a field in the database 'Notes' so you can put comments in there for papers (eg - opinion article, not peer-reviewed research) so we have a centralised spot for all the reasons for how we've categorised the paper.

2011-05-02 17:13:16Re: Notes
Ari Jokimäki


It might be a good idea.