After the Willie Soon imbroglio there came news that Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., who is not a climate skeptic, is also under investigation (in what can only be seen as part of a broader witch-hunt). Pielke Jr. writes on his blog, “the Climate Fix” about undisclosed Conflicts Of Interest (COI):
I have Tweeted that undisclosed COI is endemic in scientific publishing. I have had several requests for elaboration.
Here is a great example.
This paper was published by ERL in 2010: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/1/014017/fulltext/
It has a list of 53 co-authors. The ERL publication policy states:
“All authors and co-authors are required to disclose any potential conflict of interest when submitting their article (e.g. employment, consulting fees, research contracts, stock ownership, patent licenses, honoraria, advisory affiliations, etc). This information should be included in an acknowledgments section at the end of the manuscript (before the references section). 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.””
There was no COI disclosure whatsoever associated with this paper.
The 53 authors include (for example) Joe Romm, Hal Harvey and Amory Lovins each of whom had massive undisclosed financial COI (obviously and easily documented) associated with renewable energy and political advocacy. No doubt other co-authors do as well. Further, several of these co-authors have also testified before Congress without COI disclosure.
- The lack of COI disclosure in this case does not mean that the paper is in any way in error.
- The lack of COI disclosure in this case does not in any way justify or excuse similar lack of COI disclosure by Willie Soon. But it does point to the incredible selectivity of outrage in standards of COI disclosure, e.g., as applied by the NYT and US Congress. The Soon case and the example here are exactly parallel.
If COI disclosure is a good idea, and I think that it is, then it should be applied consistently across academic publishing and testimony, rather than being used as a selectively applied political bludgeon by campaigning journalists and politicians seeking to delegitimize certian academics whose work they do not like.
To be clear on Pielke’s point, Romm is paid to run the political attack blog “Climate Progress” by the Center for American Progress, a progressive (liberal) political action group in Washington, DC. according to his bio there. According the the lastest IRS form 990 on file (required for tax exempt 501c3 organizations) Romm’s outfit collected over 39 million dollars in revenue in 2012. See form 990 here: CAP_300126510_2012_09818b30
The Center for American Progress has a long history of big political money:
Funny how Joe Romm didn’t see the need to disclose such potential conflicts of interest to a highly paid political organization that politicizes climate, while writing a scientific paper about climate. Meanwhile his blog attacks Willie Soon saying:
Climate Deniers’ Favorite Scientist Quietly Took Money From The Fossil Fuel Industry
Joe, pot, kettle.
The label “paid shill” doesn’t really do justice here to Romm’s hypocrisy.