A team of climate researchers and activists fail to disclose federal funding and scold climate sceptic Willie Soon for not disclosing funding
Willie Soon has been under fire from climate activists for a long time. The latest round has turned ugly, ensnaring collateral targets like Roger Pielke Jr, Judith Curry, Richard Lindzen among others in questions of funding.
On his blog Pielke Jr remarked how undisclosed conflicts were ‘endemic’, and pointed to a paper† by Jonathan Koomey, Joe Romm and co-authors, published in Environmental Research Letters as an example. He quoted the instructions to authors from the journal:
“… All sources of financial support for the project must also be disclosed in the acknowledgments section. The name of the funding agency and the grant number should be given, for example: “This work was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through a National Cancer Institute grant R21CA141833.”
Koomey and Romm appeared on the Huffington Post with an article co-signed by scientists who are among the 53 authors of the paper. They declare no disclosure of funding was needed because they used no financial support (emphasis mine):
The reason why there was no statement of conflict of interest is because: 1) there were no “sources of financial support for the project” (it was a labor of love to honor a giant in the energy field) […]
They point to the acknowledgements section of the paper for the assistance received
They repeat the assertion
Again, our article had no funding source …
Via Google Scholar one can find other versions of the paper. One is from SciTech Connect, a US federal public-access research database run by the Department of Energy (DOE). The entry for Koomey et al reads as follows:
A pdf draft of the paper available from the page. Note the highlighted item against the field ‘DOE Contract Number’.
Interestingly, the acknowledgment section here states the work was supported by a US Department of Energy contract:
The blue box is from text being added separately using a pdf editor. Acrobat tells the extra text about US federal funding was added by a ‘JAWolslegel’ on the 10th of June 2009.
‘DE-AC02-05CH11231’ is a DOE ‘Prime’ federal contract with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) where Koomey worked. It is easy to find that a Jean Wolslegel works as ‘report coordinator’, checking to see scientific documents published by the lab ‘comply with DOE and LBNL requirements’ and submits them to ‘DOE’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI)’.
OSTI runs Scitech Connect—is how Koomey et al 2010 ends up there, with reporting of funding ‘in compliance with the DOE’. The paper was originally submitted to the journal in March 2009. The authors sent the paper to the journal without declaring funding but the same paper was submitted to a DOE data agency as product of federally-funded research.
Conclusion? Either Koomey et al worked on their own time, published the paper and falsely declared the work as DOE-funded to a US government agency. Or, Koomey and co-authors’ work was federally funded and reported to authorities appropriately but they failed to declare funding in Environmental Research Letters. It has to be one or the other, and either constitutes a lapse.
They irony is Koomey and Romm’s actions are like Soon’s: failure to disclose funding to journal. Only in Soon’s case the funding agency stipulated non-disclosure in some instances and in others the journal had no policy or requirement for disclosure. Not only do Koomey and Romm fail to disclose funding, they expressly state the opposite trying to morally berate a fellow scientist.
† Defining a standard metric for electricity savings. Koomey J, Akbari H, Blumstein C et al Environ. Res. Lett. 5 (Jan-Mar 2010) 014017) 10.1088/1748-9326/5/1/014017