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
The Global Warming Policy Foundation is pretty cool. This is Benny Peiser setting the ground for its discussion with the Royal Society:
Integrity, openness and objectivity need to be introduced to the conduct of the scientific debate to restore the damage done by the Climategate, Hockey Stick, Gleick, Gergis, Lewandowsky and Marcott episodes.
You can bet dollars to donuts there’ll be no one in the firmly-establishment Royal Society with any clue what the above items might be.
There may be a clutch of alternative thinkers like Roger Pielke Jr, who, along with their Hartwell and Breakthrough friends have tried years selling such absurdities as a ‘carbon tax’. Or the notion that ‘climate sceptics’ are not ‘relevant’. But the climate sceptics are driving the debate forward.
Donna Laframboise alerts readers to Canadian Environment Minister Joe Oliver’s insightful remarks. Oliver notes how environmental and other pressure groups ” hijack [our] regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda”. Oliver, of course, is laying his finger at the crux of the matter. Western regulatory systems, with their high compliance rates, lack of safety valves, and paucity of democratically elected oversight are perfect vehicles for subversion and capture of power.
Which brings us to the question: Radicals hijacking a regulatory system is obviously bad. Is it Ok then for regulatory systems to be hijacked to achieve a moderate political agenda?
That is exactly what the Hartwell group and Roger Pielke Jr advocate. They both want to play ‘policy jujitsu’ – i.e., do something no one likes, but in a way no one can see it being done, and use their own energies for doing it.
Lot of people think the climate game is fun: caring for the planet, reading climate science papers, arguing about statistics, ‘sensitivitiy’, radiative physics and the like. Well, … let’s just leave that be for now. Behind the scenes, the climate game is played by ratfucking and retractions. People are not angling for ‘genuine debate’ or trying to ‘solve problems’, they are trying to shut the other guy down and have things their way.
One characteristic of academics is that they never waste a good argument. They would give it as project to a graduate student, carve out a review article with favored colleagues as co-authors, or write a whole book on it. This brings multiple benefits: you can forever hang around making half-baked public statements to draw attention, and simply wave away questions with “The answers are in my book”. Your h-index keeps going up while your opponents waste their time figuring out your cryptic statements.
Roger Pielke Jr, indirectly, raised an important issue about the provenance of the IPCC Amazon statement at Climateaudit. “Why should we be content examining just the references quoted by IPCC Amazon defenders?” In doing so however, he succumbed to Amazon ‘jungle fever’ and started cutting through the thicket of citations himself.
At this stage, when the heavy lifting has been done, and done again, what would the outcome of any clear-eyed examination of the literature on the Amazon precipitation sensitivity be? That the IPCC’s statement on the Amazon in its Latin America chapter is unsubstantiated – is my guess.