What follows is a list of some of the organizations promoting skepticism about anthropogenic climate change and some of the individuals associated with them, with some information about their credentials and activities. It's my impression that those with the best reputations tend to agree that there is a global warming trend and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are a contributing factor to that warming, but the organizations tend to promote a more skeptical view (fairly characterized as "denial"), as exhibited by such evidence as expressions of apparent pleasure at the recent 2009 Pew survey result that showed a decrease in American acceptance of global warming.
Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC)
One comparison I made was between the scientists of the IPCC and the scientists of the NIPCC, a group sponsored by The Heartland Institute. I compared the fourth-most-cited paper of the top 83 scientists of the former to the fourth-most-cited paper of all of the 2008 NIPCC participants, using Jim Prall's excellent website of citation counts for climate scientists. Of the 619 scientists of the AR4 (2007) Working Group 1 on the physical science basis of climate change, the top 83 each have more than 200 citations to their fourth-most-cited paper. There are only thirteen climate skeptics with that level of citation, most of whom received those citations for papers having nothing to do with climate science, and none of whom were involved with the 2008 NIPCC report. (In 2009, William Gray, who is in that category, participated in a second NIPCC meeting, but I didn't review that for my paper.)
The top scientist of the 2008 NIPCC report with publications containing the word "climate," the organizer and editor of the report, S. Fred Singer, has 31 citations to his fourth-most-cited paper. He's a retired physics professor (Ph.D. earned in 1948) who is not only a skeptic about climate change but about the health effects of second-hand smoke, the link between CFCs and the ozone hole, and has received tobacco and oil company funding for his work. His name pops up frequently when it comes to attempts by corporations to block environmental regulation. There were 24 participants listed as authors on the 2008 NIPCC report, six of whom have no academic credentials or affiliations and no published academic work of relevance to the climate change debate (Dennis Avery, Christopher Monckton, Kenneth Haapala, Warren Anderson, Klaus Heiss, and Anton Uriarte). The top-cited scientist, Lubos Motl, has 150 citations for his fourth-most-cited paper, but he's a theoretical physicist with no publications containing the word "climate." The next guy after Singer, George Taylor, has an M.S. in meteorology and 25 citations for his fourth-most-cited paper. There are a few people on the list with relevant credentials, but none are top names in climate science. The majority with scientific credentials have little or no relevant expertise, like Fred Goldberg, with a Ph.D. in welding technology, and Tom Segalstad, a mineralogist with a Ph.D. in geology.
It should be noted that the climate skeptics with the best credentials in climate science tend to be participants in the IPCC process, such as John R. Christy, who was a lead author on the Working Group 1 reports in 2001 and 2007. Robert Balling of ASU has also participated in the IPCC process, and despite being often regarded as a skeptic, agrees that there is global warming and that it has a human component, and told me that the IPCC report is the best place for the layman to find accurate information about climate science (see my summary of his recent talk at ASU).
The Heartland Institute
The Heartland Institute, founded in 1984, was the sponsor of the NIPCC (above) and has its own category at this blog. Between 1998 and 2005, it received $561,500 in funding from ExxonMobil, 40% of which was designated for climate science opposition (see the Union of Concerned Scientists Exxon report (PDF)). In April 2008, it published a list of “500 Scientists With Documented Doubts of Man-Made Global Warming Scares” compiled by Dennis Avery, participant in NIPCC and co-author of a 2007 anti-AGW book with S. Fred Singer which attributes periodic warming to a 1500-year solar cycle. The publication of this list resulted in protests from 45 scientists on the list who stated that they are not AGW opponents and requested that their names be removed. Rather than remove the scientists from the list, The Heartland Institute changed the title of the list to “500 Scientists Whose Research Contradicts Man-Made Global Warming Scares." The Heartland Institute's list of 138 climate change experts contains many individuals with no relevant expertise or credentials.
Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)
Singer has another organization devoted to arguing against human-caused climate change, the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), which he founded in 1990. That organization also opposes the ban on CFCs and other EPA regulations. There are nine people listed on SEPP's board of science advisors, of which five are dead (Gerholm, Higatsberger, Mitchell, Nierenberg, and Starr). Ames is a well-known scientist in his field, molecular genetics, which has nothing to do with climate change. The others with the most citations are elderly or dead physicists (Starr, 1935 physics Ph.D.; Böttcher, 1947 physics Ph.D.; and Mitchell, 1951 physics Ph.D.). The rest have only single-digit citations to their fourth-most-cited paper.
George C. Marshall Institute
The George C. Marshall Institute was founded in 1984 to support Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, but since 1989 has been active in opposing AGW. The current board of directors, according to its website, are William Happer (Princeton physics professor), William O’Keefe (former executive VP and COO of the American Petroleum Institute and president of a consulting company), Gregory Canavan (physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory), John H. Moore (former president of Grove City College, former economics professor, and former Deputy Director of the NSF), Rodney W. Nichols (former president of the New York Academy of Sciences), Milan Nikolich (electrical engineering Ph.D., a nuclear weapons program consultant associated with CACI, a defense contractor), and Roy Spencer (climate scientist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville). Of these, only Spencer, who is also a Bible-believing anti-evolutionist, has a climate science background. (Happer is a highly-cited particle physicist.) The George C. Marshall Institute has published works by some of the more reputable AGW opponents with a high level of citations for their fourth-most-cited publication--e.g., Richard Lindzen of MIT (274), Roger A. Pielke, Sr. (129), Roy Spencer (124), and John R. Christy (88). Others with relevant credentials but not quite the high level of citations include Patrick Michaels (37), Robert Balling (29), and Timothy Ball (8). The George C. Marshall Institute has also published and promoted the work of Stephen McIntyre of the ClimateAudit blog, a former mineral exploration executive with a bachelor's degree in mathematics, and economist Ross McKitrick.
Former George C. Marshall Institute executive director Matthew Crawford left the organization after five months when, he said, he realized it was “more fond of some facts than others” and that his job “consisted of making arguments about global warming that just happened to coincide with the positions taken by the oil companies that funded the think tank” (Carolyn Mooney, "A Hands-On Philosopher Argues for a Fresh Vision of Manual Work" (PDF), The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 15, 2009).
The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded in 1977 by Edward Crane and Charles Koch. Charles and David Koch are co-owners of Koch Industries, which is one of the largest privately owned companies in the U.S. (often #2, but has occasionally been #1). Koch Industries has major holdings in petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Patrick Michaels (already mentioned in connection with the George C. Marshall Institute) is the Cato Institute Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies and their only climate science expert on staff, though Cato has also published articles co-authored by Michaels and Robert Balling.
Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI)
Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change
This is a small Phoenix-based nonprofit run by Craig Idso (chairman) and his father Sherwood B. Idso (president) which argues that increasing CO2 levels are beneficial. The organization has received $90,000 in funding from ExxonMobil. Both Idsos and Craig's brother Keith have also been on the payroll of the Western Fuels Association. Sherwood Idso, a 1968 physics Ph.D. who was a research physicist for the USDA's Agricultural Research Service at the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory starting in 1967, has a fourth-most-cited scientific paper which has received 189 citations.
Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine (OISM)
The Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine (OISM), a private research organization run by Arthur Robinson and his two sons Noah and Zachary Robinson, was founded in 1980. The OISM faculty listed on their website are the three Robinsons, Martin D. Kamen (a deceased chemist), R. Bruce Merrifield (a deceased chemist), Fred Westall (a biochemistry professor), Carl Boehme (who has an M.S. in electrical engineering), and Jane Orient (a medical doctor). The OISM sells DVDs on “nuclear war survival skills” and civil defense, as well as a home schooling curriculum, and has taken over the publication of the late Petr Beckmann’s Access to Energy newsletter which defends nuclear energy and now also criticizes AGW. (Beckmann was a physicist who became an electrical engineering professor at the University of Colorado, and in addition to promoting nuclear energy also challenged Einstein’s relativity and published a journal for that purpose called Galilean Electrodynamics.)
The OISM Petition Project was set up to oppose U.S. ratification of the Kyoto Treaty and currently has over 31,000 signatures of Americans with degrees in a scientific subject. The initial call for signatures was sent out with a letter from Frederick Seitz while he was still president of the National Academies of Science, along with a 12-page “Research Review of Global Warming Evidence” by Arthur and Noah Robinson and Willie Soon which was formatted to look like a publication in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. The petition was originally billed as a “survey,” but it has not been reported how many solicitations were sent out compared to how many were returned, nor how many scientists disagreed with the statements on the petition (as pointed out by Gary Whittenberger in eSkeptic). The signature breakdown by level of education was 29% Ph.D., 22% M.S., 7% M.D. or D.V.M., and 41% B.S. or equivalent. By field, it was 12% earth science, 3% computer science or mathematics, 18% physics and aerospace sciences, 15% chemistry, 9% biology and agriculture, 10% medicine, and 32% engineering and general science. The percentage of Ph.D.s in relevant areas isn’t available, but it’s clear from the breakdown that at least two thirds have less than a Ph.D. and at least 80% do not have education in a relevant field. (Blogger Chris Colose has looked at a subsample of names on the petition, without finding any with climate-related publications.)
One of the other “faculty” at the OISM is Dr. Jane Orient, M.D., of Tucson, Arizona, whom I’ve heard speak in opposition to AGW. She is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a conservative organization that publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPANDS). This journal published an anti-AGW articles by Arthur Robinson, Noah Robinson, and Willie Soon (2007), and by Arthur Robinson, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon, and Zachary Robinson (1998), as well as articles opposing vaccination of children, claiming that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, that homosexuality causes crime and disease, opposing fluoridation of water, accusing the FDA of fraud for banning DDT, and criticizing the theory of evolution (see evaluations by Kathleen Seidel and Orac). The Robinson et al. (1998) article is apparently a version of the article originally distributed with the Oregon Petition, and another anti-AGW article by the same authors was published in the journal Climate Research (Soon et al. 1998). Arthur Robinson has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech and was an associate of Linus Pauling. Noah Robinson also has a chemistry Ph.D. from Caltech, and Zachary Robinson is a veterinarian with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. None has relevant climate science expertise.
Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas (1980 Ph.D., astrophysics) are astrophysicists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who study solar variability, both have also been associated with the George C. Marshall Institute and the Heartland Institute; Soon is the chief science advisor for the Science and Public Policy Institute (above). Baliunas received the Petr Beckmann Award for Scientific Freedom from Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP), a group associated with OISM (Jane Orient is president of DDP). In 2003, Soon and Baliunas published an anti-AGW article (arguing that warming was due to solar variation) in Climate Research that led to protests from 13 of the authors cited that their work had been misrepresented and misused. Subsequently the new editor-in-chief, Hans van Storch, resigned along with two other editors when the publisher refused to print an editorial about improvements in the journal review process. Baliunas' fourth-most-cited paper has 230 citations; Soon’s has 68. Timothy J. Osborn and Keith R. Briffa (2006) repeated Soon and Baliunas’ methodology in a paper published in Science that did not reproduce their results. Osborn and Briffa are both climate scientists associated with the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University; Osborn's (1995 Ph.D., environmental sciences) fourth-most-cited paper has received 152 citations and Briffa's (1984 Ph.D., dendroclimatologist) has received 250.
I've given special attention to OISM and AAPS because of the extent of crankery associated with them.
Three Miscellaneous Items
My last three items are not organizations but are worthy of further note. (1) This year, S. Fred Singer circulated a petition to attempt to get the American Physical Society to revise its statement on global warming from being supportive of AGW to be in opposition to it. He collected 206 signatures from APS members, about 0.45% of its 47,000 members, and the petition was rejected. John Mashey analyzed the social network of the first 121 signers (PDF), and found that the initial signing clustered around the SEPP, the George C. Marshall Institute, the Heartland Institute, and the Cato Institute, along with other interesting demographic information. (2) Ian Plimer, a prominent Australian geologist, published a book in early 2009 opposing AGW, titled Heaven and Earth: Global Warming-The Missing Science. Plimer has in the past been an active public critic of creationism in Australia, and was criticized by me for using inaccurate and misleading claims in his arguments, and by me and Jeff Shallit for plagiarism in a prior book. Plimer’s new book has been similarly found to contain not only inaccurate statements and misrepresentations, but plagiarism. (3) The Center for Inquiry's Credibility Project was a review of the scientific credentials of the signers of global warming denier Sen. James Inhofe's Senate Minority Report on Global Warming, which found, similar to what I report above, that most of them have no relevant expertise or credentials.
The above doesn't demonstrate that climate skepticism is without merit, but it does demonstrate that there are reasons to be skeptical--and in many cases extremely skeptical--about some of the organizations and individuals promoting climate skepticism, independently of their arguments. In my view, the arguments for climate skepticism in most cases just increase the grounds for skepticism. I recommend the RealClimate blog and Skeptical Science blog as two good sources of information about those arguments.
To really dig into the details, read the IPCC WG-1 Report.
UPDATE: Also worthy of note is Wikipedia's list of scientific organizations which have issued statements on anthropogenic climate change. Noteworthy for its absence is any organization with a statement arguing against anthropogenic climate change; since 2007 only the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has had a noncommittal statement. Wikipedia also has a nice list of scientists who oppose the consensus views and what their actual positions are. (Like JFK assassination conspiracy theorists, they do not have a consensus view of their own.)
I also neglected to mention a paper that I cited in the paper I wrote for my climate change class, a 2008 study that examined 141 “English-language environmentally sceptical books published between 1972 and 2005” found that over 92% of them were connected to conservative think tanks, either published by them or authored by persons directly affiliated with them (Peter J. Jacques, Riley E. Dunlap, and Mark Freeman, "The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism," Environmental Politics vol 17, no. 3, June 2008, pp. 349-385). In the above list, is there any organization or individual that does not come from a conservative or libertarian political ideology?
UPDATE (December 17, 2009): Other posts at this blog on climate change include:
"Climate Research Unit email scandal" (November 23, 2009)
"Roger Pielke Jr. on climate change adaptation" (November 7, 2009)
"Roger Pielke Jr. on climate change mitigation" (November 6, 2009)
"Robert Balling on climate change" (October 30, 2009)
"Ian Plimer on climate change" (May 22, 2009)
"Reason to be skeptical about anthropogenic climate change" (April 26, 2008)
"Garbage in on climate change measurement" (October 25, 2007)
"Lomborg, global warming, and opportunity costs" (September 15, 2007)
"The consensus for anthropogenic global warming" (August 19, 2007)
"David Friedman on global warming" (March 15, 2007)
"Taxonomy of questions about global warming" (March 13, 2007)
Among several others. Those who are accusing me of obvious liberal bias might want to take a look at these. I have my share of political biases, but I do my best to defer to the best arguments and evidence over political ideology.
UPDATE (December 19, 2009): Peter Staats, in the comments, suggested that belief in anthropogenic global warming is entrenched among scientists and will disappear as the older generation dies (citing Planck, whose point is also made in Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions). I responded that I thought he has it backwards--that AGW has become more and more supported, and the holdouts tend to be older, as some of the data about the anti-AGW organizations above already suggested. So I tested our respective hypotheses against Jim Prall's data, for IPCC WG1 scientists vs. the signatories of the AGW-skeptical documents. I looked at the average year of the last academic degree awarded, first for those with citation counts for their fourth-most-cited paper >= 200, then, since that was such a small sample for the climate skeptics, for citation counts >= 100, and then for all the 623 IPCC WG1 scientists vs. the 469 signatories of AGW-skeptical documents. Here are the results:
Citation counts of 4th-most-cited >= 200:
IPCC WG1: N=83, 12 w/o year, N=71, average year of last degree = 1981
Skeptics: N=13, 4 w/o year, N=9, average year of last degree = 1965
Citations counts of 4th-most-cited >=100:
IPCC WG1: N=201, 51 w/o year, N=150, average year of last degree = 1983
Skeptics: N=38, 15 w/o year, N=23, average year of last degree = 1968
All IPCC WG1 vs. AGW-skeptical document signers:
IPCC WG1: N=623, 208 w/o year, N=415, average year of last degree = 1989
Skeptics: N=469, 346 w/o year, N=123, average year of last degree = 1973
BTW, for this last group, there's more info on degree breakdowns than year of degree (note that those without degrees are excluded along with the n/a, no web, and no cv categories--there were several of those among the skeptics and one undergrad in the IPCC scientists, not counted here):
IPCC WG1 scientists:
Ph.D.: 474 (94.0%)
M.Sc.: 13 (2.6%)
Cand.: 5 (1.0%)
D.Sc.: 2 (0.4%)
D.Phil.: 2 (0.4%)
Sc.D.: 2 (0.4%)
C.Phys.: 2 (0.4%)
B.Sc.: 2 (0.4%)
And one each (0.2%) of Nobel laureates and Ph.Lic.
Ph.D.: 254 (78.9%)
M.Sc.: 25 (7.8%)
B.Sc.: 13 (4.0%)
B.A.: 4 (1.2%)
M.S.: 3 (0.9%)
B.S.: 3 (0.9%)
M.D. and Ph.D.: 1 (0.3%)
And one each (0.3%) of M.D., D.Eng., Tekn.D., Dipl., M.Eng., M.A., P.E., Dipl.Bio., M.C., D.Env., B.E., R.P., "Doctorandus", B.S.E.E., Dip.ES., and J.D.
UPDATE (December 21, 2009): Theoretical physicist (a string theorist), former Harvard physics professor, and climate skeptic Lubos Motl, referred to above as the most-cited scientist involved with the 2008 NIPCC report, has just demonstrated the quality of his reasoning at his own blog. In a post about James Randi's expression of skepticism about AGW and his temporary (and quickly retracted) suggestion that the Oregon Petition Project seemed legitimate, Motl infers that this must have been the cause for Phil Plait being fired as president of JREF--an event which didn't happen. When Randi himself showed up to point out that Plait is still president of JREF and had already given notice of his departure at the end of the year prior to these events, Motl's response was "If you have been truly violently, physically blackmailed and harassed by the AGW fanatics, I could understand what you just wrote. If you were not, let me just state that in that case, you became a morally worthless human in my eyes." Way to be reasonable, Motl! He continues: "The 'denialist' dictionary you adopted and the attacks against the Oregon Petition are pretty disgusting."
UPDATE (December 25, 2009): I'm reading Steven Epstein's book, Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge, 1996, Berkeley: University of California Press, which I had previously read chapter 6 of for one of my classes. In ch. 4, "The Debate That Wouldn't Die," about Peter Duesberg and those who deny that HIV causes AIDS, I just read about Project Inform's "Discussion Paper #5" of 3 June 1992, which was titled "Who Are the HIV Heretics?", which sounds fairly analogous to the this blog post. I've not been able to find a copy online, but I would love to see that document.
Epstein, pp. 156-157:
The seriousness with which Project Inform took the resurgence of interest in the causation controversey was indicated by the publication in early June of a six-page 'Discussion Paper' devoted entirely to the topic. The report began by blasting the media for their irresponsibility and sensationalism. Why do reporters love the HIV dissenters? Why have they confused Montagnier's position with Duesberg's, despite Montagnier's own disavowals? "Apparently because it makes a good story--'Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong! Top Scientists in Error Ten Years! Secrets! Coverup! Big Business, Big Science Collusion!' ... Such is the sorry state of AIDS reporting in some circles today."There are lots of interesting parallels here, including political. Epstein notes (pp. 158-159) HIV dissenters and promoters of their views being libertarian (Charles Thomas) and conservative (Phillip Johnson, Bryan Ellison, Tom Bethell, Patrick Buchanan). Johnson, Bethell, and Buchanan are also anti-evolutionists; Bethell and Buchanan also deny that there's anthropogenic global warming.
Focusing on four groups opposing the HIV hypothesis--the New York Native, Spin magazine, assorted journalists, and certain scientists--Project Inform was at pains to question the credibility of each and to uncover motivations for adopting heretical stances. ... In considering the fourth, crucial group of HIV dissenters--the scientists--Project Inform's report similarly emphasized the issue of credibility. Root-Bernstein "works in a field not directly related to AIDS" and "has not conducted or published any AIDS research other than editorials," yet "Spin calls him 'one of the leading AIDS researchers in the US.'" Kary Mullis, while "obviously a serious scientist," was similarly "an outsider to AIDS research"; furthermore, his PCR test "has, if anything, helped to bolster the case for HIV." Of all the heretical scientists, only Sonnabend "is professionally involved with AIDS," but "primarily as a clinician": "While Dr. Sonnabend has earned respect in many ways, his arguments against HIV are no more valid than the others."
In focusing on formal credentials, Project Inform walked a fine line. This, after all, was a grassroots organization staffed by self-educated AIDS experts; its executive director, before the epidemic came along, had been a business consultant. A big part of Project Inform's work involved disseminating highly technical knowledge about AIDS to laypeople in order to create what might be called a mass-based expertise. In its reckoning of the tokens of expertise, Project Inform was not about to argue that academic degrees or journal publications are everything. Lacking the right credentials, Peter Duesberg could still be considered an AIDS expert of sorts--but not in a way that would make him stand out from the crowd: "Perhaps his most relevant work is that he has studied the medical literature on AIDS (as have thousands of patients, physicians, and activists), and this qualifies as a form of expertise." But "Duesberg's supporters and the media spread misinformation when they present him as an 'AIDS researcher' in the sense that phrase is usually meant." His published writings on AIDS were "simply editorials."
Project Inform noted that there was a "legitimate" scientific question that had been "lost in the fog" generated by media fascination with Duesberg and other dissenters: How does HIV cause AIDS? Following the lead of Gallo and others, the report emphasized that pathogenesis was separate from etiology; while part one of the report was entitled "Is HIV the Cause of AIDS?" part two was called "How Does HIV Cause AIDS?"
UPDATE (December 28, 2009): The Center for Public Integrity's project, "The Climate Change Lobby," identifies who's lobbying the U.S. Congress on climate change.
UPDATE (January 3, 2010): This Republican Party PR firm memo from 2000 about how to "win" the global warming debate by continuing to stress uncertainty as the case for warming become stronger is interesting in its similarity to the Tobacco Institute's PR strategy about the evidence that smoking causes cancer.
UPDATE (January 5, 2010): Donald Gutstein's "This is How You Fuel a Community of Climate Deniers" covers similar ground to the above (with some familiar names), with a Canadian focus.
UPDATE (January 7, 2010): Jeffrey Masters' "The Skeptics vs. the Ozone Hole" shows how a similar debate came out in the 1970s, which included S. Fred Singer arguing that CFCs don't deplete the ozone layer. That article notes that Singer's atmospheric science work has been negligible since 1971.