Published in the Wall Street Journal: AGU Letter to the Editor Regarding Patrick Michaels' Op-Ed on Peer-Reviewed Climate Research
In his op-ed “How to Manufacture a Climate Consensus,” (Dec. 18), Patrick Michaels calls into question the integrity of the scientific review process in a scholarly journal published by the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Mr. Michaels's insinuations about AGU's publication and his premise that the peer-review process can be systemically manipulated are not supported by the facts.
The facts are that James Saiers of Yale University simply rotated out of his Geophysical Research Letters associate editorship on schedule at the end of his term. He was not forced out. Prior to serving as GRL associate editor for hydrology and biogeosciences, Mr. Saiers was associate editor of another AGU journal, Water Resources Research. In 2007 he reassumed this post and continues to hold it today.
From the broader perspective of scientific publishing, history shows that Mr. Michaels's premise that a few scientists could skew peer-reviewed literature toward a particular bias is false. The first American peer-reviewed journal, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, was published in 1838. Since then the peer-review system has successfully supported scientific advancement for more than 170 years. Much research has been published on the peer-review process itself, verifying repeatedly that it works.
Disagreement among scientists is part of the energy that moves inquiry forward. By encouraging the full range of well-researched viewpoints, scientific publishing becomes self-policing. Over time the best science prevails.
Mr. Michaels's op-ed reflects a political strategy to sway popular opinion on climate change without regard for facts or the enormous body of scientific evidence. Sadly, recent polls indicate this strategy is succeeding. The result damages the scientific community and is a disservice to the public.
Prof. Timothy L. Grove
American Geophysical Union
Massachusetts Institute of Technology