Political Climate
May 08, 2007
Political Economist Robert Higgs on Peer Reviews and Scientific Consensus

By Noel Sheppard, Newsbusters

Senior Fellow in Political Economy for the Independent Institute, Dr. Robert Higgs, published an article at George Mason University’s History News Network “I have served as a peer reviewer for more than thirty professional journals and as a reviewer of research proposals for the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and a number of large private foundations. So, I think I know something about how the system works. It does not work as outsiders seem to think”.

“Peer review, on which lay people place great weight, varies from important, where the editors and the referees are competent and responsible, to a complete farce, where they are not. Any journal editor who desires, for whatever reason, to knock down a submission can easily do so by choosing referees he knows full well will knock it down; likewise, he can easily obtain favorable referee reports.”

At any given time, consensus may exist about all sorts of matters in a particular science. In retrospect, however, that consensus is often seen to have been mistaken. As recently as the mid-1970s, for example, a scientific consensus existed among climatologists and scientists in related fields that the earth was about to enter a new ice age. Drastic proposals were made, such as exploding hydrogen bombs over the polar icecaps (to melt them) or damming the Bering Strait (to prevent cold Arctic water from entering the Pacific Ocean), to avert this impending disaster. Well-reputed scientists, not just uninformed wackos, made such proposals. How quickly we forget.” See full interview here

May 07, 2007
Eco-Extremist Wants World Population to Drop below 1 Billion

By Dan Gainor, The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow Business & Media Institute

Paul Watson, founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and famous for militant intervention to stop whalers, now warns mankind is “acting like a virus” and is harming Mother Earth.  Watson’s May 4 editorial asked the question “The Beginning of the End for Life as We Know it on Planet Earth?” Then he left no doubt about the answer. “We are killing our host the planet Earth,” he claimed and called for a population drop to less than 1 billion.

The commentary reminded readers that Watson had called humans a disease before and he wasn’t sorry. “I was once severely criticized for describing human beings as being the ‘AIDS of the Earth.’ I make no apologies for that statement,” the column continued.  “No human community should be larger than 20,000 people and separated from other communities by wilderness areas.” Watson essentially called for humans to return to primitive lifestyles. “We need to stop flying, stop driving cars, and jetting around on marine recreational vehicles. The Mennonites survive without cars and so can the rest of us.”
See story here

May 06, 2007
The IPCC Goes Looking for Bad News

CSPP reports on story by Rob Lyons, Spiked-Online

The IPCC 4th Assessment Parts I, II, III is available on the IPCC Home Page.
An Australian academic, Aynsley Kellow, the head of the School of Government at the University of Tasmania, who worked on the latest IPCC report says it overstates scary weather scenarios and understates man’s ability to adapt.  According to the scenarios on which the climate models are based, the developing world will go through an enormous economic leap forward over the next century - and apparently this will have many deadly consequences. Kellow is not convinced by such claims: ‘The IPCC is assuming rates of economic growth that dwarf the nineteenth-century success of the USA, the twentieth century in Japan and so on. The USA experienced, I think, a ninefold increase in GDP per capita; these are making assumptions about 30-fold increases. So you can question their credibility. But if you do that, you’re questioning the emissions scenarios that are driving the climate models.’

Even though he has participated in the IPCC process (he was a referee for Chapter 19 in the IPCC’s report, which covers ‘Key Vulnerabilities and Risk Assessment’), Kellow is exasperated by the way in which critical responses to chapters are dealt with. Now, even though Kellow has expressed public disagreement with the summary for policymakers, and the chapters that it flows from, he will still be listed as having taken part in the process - with the implication that he agrees with the final reports and is one of those thousands of experts who have apparently shown beyond all doubt that climate change will wreak havoc on the world. See full story here

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