29 June 2010

Scientific Expertise Lacking Among 'Doubters' Of Climate Change

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The small number of scientists who are unconvinced that human beings have contributed significantly to climate change have far less expertise and prominence in climate research compared with scientists who are convinced, according to a study led by Stanford researchers.

In a quantitative assessment - the first of its kind to address this issue - the team analyzed the number of research papers published by more than 900 climate researchers and the number of times their work was cited by other scientists.

"These are standard academic metrics used when universities are making hiring or tenure decisions," said William Anderegg, lead author of a paper published in the online Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

Expertise was evaluated by the number of papers on climate research written by each individual, with a minimum of 20 required to be included in the analysis. Climate researchers who are convinced of human-caused climate change had on average about twice as many publications as the unconvinced, said Anderegg, a doctoral candidate in biology.

Prominence was assessed by taking the four most frequently cited papers published in any field by each scientist - not just climate science publications - and tallying the number of times those papers were cited by other researchers. Papers by climate researchers convinced of human effects were cited approximately 64 percent more often than papers by the unconvinced.

The scientists whose work was analyzed included all the researchers involved in producing the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group that assessed the evidence for and against human involvement in climate change, as well as any climate researchers who signed a major public statement disagreeing with the findings of the panel's report.


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