In March, Phillip Salter, on the Adam Smith Institute blog, suggested that we should also open up peer reviews in climatology. My response was
Dr Alister McFarquhar is right in that the opening up of peer reviews will not help.
There are is a way that the closed world of the Climate Change Lobby can be changed. Steve McIntyre of climateaudit.org campaigns for the datasets behind articles to be published. In Economic Theory this already happens, which means that debate is actively encouraged. That is careers are made more through disputing established opinion than reinforcing that opinion. Such an approach should appeal to those on both sides of the debate. Those who believe in anthropogenic global warming should be in favour of optimal policies, so must want to see challanged the more eccentric views based on poor scholarship. It would also appeal to those are searching for answers, or who believe that proper debate brings greater understanding.
I would go further.
The Government is looking for opportunities for investment to get us out of this depression. That is spending of money now that will lead to far greater returns for the economy in the future. In the area of the universities, this means promoting the UK as a world-leading centre of original research. Financing the launch of a new journal (say “Critical Perspectives on Climatology”) is one area where there is a huge gap in the market. The Government can justify it for the following reasons.
- The promotion of better science will give a new lease of life to the historical role of the UK as a fountainhead of great intellects.
- Reducing the risks to the poor. Extra measures to combat climate change will hurt the poor the most. For this reason, more objective analysis will reduce the risks that we will get policy wrong.
- Proper stewardship of the Earth means proper democratic debate, where all views are heard. This is another reason for Britain’s historical pre-eminence in science.
- When funding investment one should look for high returns. Most government-backed investment does not get back the money invested. This one could generate huge returns.