Sunday, December 16, 2007


I have stated many times that most of what is thrown around about global warming is "smutty psuedo-science" and isn't fit to be printed in a scientific journal alongside real research. There's more than just my random opinion behind this, and I feel as if I have at least some qualification to say this as a published author (in the journals Carbon, Langmuir, and Synthetic Metals).

As a scientist, and engineer, and a researcher, I understand what goes into writing a paper. I understand what an impact factor means to people and how huge it is to be published in Nano Letters, Science or Nature. What I don't understand is how theoretical modeling with very little actual research done or any real relationship to empirical data can consistently be printed in journals with impact factors higher than 5; that is, journals that are more than topic-specific. To get into Nature for any subject other than global warming climate change a scientist must write a paper that has the ability to change the world (this is not a specific criterion, but Nature rejects over 90% of the submissions they receive as "not hot enough"). Papers that are only related to their specific field or which will have very little impact on a currently existing hot or important topic will be shuffled aside. Thus, broad journals such as Science and Nature publish only the cream of the crop while smaller journals such as Carbon publish only what is relevant to scientists who work with carbon based materials (e.g., polymer scientists and those who work with carbon composites).

Unfortunately, papers which do nothing to further science of climate change are submitted, "peer reviewed," and accepted into Nature all the time. More recently it appears that merely adding the phrase Global Warming to your paper will merit its printing. As a result, papers which really have no business whatsoever being printed outside of smaller periodicals (with smaller impact factors) such as the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (3.167) or the Journal of Climate (3.882) or, more appropriately, Global and Planetary Change (1.758) are instead printed in Nature (27.074) or Science (21.911).

Thus, true science is muddied by the force of politics poisoning the waters. Publications which don't "go with the flow" are ignored without review while papers that do nothing more than add yet another climate change model to the sea of models we're drowning in currently are ushered in with nary a challenge. (The peer review process itself is also highly questionable -- but thats a post of it's own).