Did a peer-reviewed and published scientific study in Finland conclude that "man-made climate change doesn't exist in practice"? No, that's not true: A draft of a short research paper that has not been reviewed by scientific peers or published in an accredited scientific journal did make the claim, however, it has been called "deeply flawed" and discredited by other climate change scientists.
The story originated from an article published by ZeroHedge.com on July 11, 2019 titled "Bombshell Claim: Scientists Find "Man-made Climate Change Doesn't Exist In Practice"" (archived here) which opened:
A new scientific study could bust wide open deeply flawed fundamental assumptions underlying controversial climate legislation and initiatives such as the Green New Deal, namely, the degree to which 'climate change' is driven by natural phenomena vs. man-made issues measured as carbon footprint. Scientists in Finland found "practically no anthropogenic [man-made] climate change" after a series of studies.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Research teams in Finland & Japan conclude "practically no anthropogenic [man-made] climate change" after series of studies.
The ZeroHedge's second paragraph said:
This has been collaborated by a team at Kobe University in Japan, which has furthered the Finnish researchers' theory: "New evidence suggests that high-energy particles from space known as galactic cosmic rays affect the Earth's climate by increasing cloud cover, causing an 'umbrella effect'," the just published study has found, a summary of which has been released in the journal Science Daily. The findings are hugely significant given this 'umbrella effect' -- an entirely natural occurrence -- could be the prime driver of climate warming, and not man-made factors.
Before we look at the science involved, let's check the process through which this research has recently become public. Scientific studies are usually published in peer-reviewed journals relevant to the topic before journalists write about their conclusions. This is basic and important so that the reader has more confidence a research paper is valid.
Scientific findings and discoveries can have far-reaching implications for individuals and society. This is one reason why they undergo a process of quality control known as 'peer review' before they are published.
Peer review involves subjecting the author's scholarly work and research to the scrutiny of other experts in the same field to check its validity and evaluate its suitability for publication.
A peer review helps the publisher decide whether a work should be accepted.
The proliferation of questionable "academic journals" that publish papers for a fee is a concern if they do not include a legitimate peer review process. A journalist did a "sting" operation in 2013 that uncovered dozens of such fake journals. Read his story Who's Afraid of Peer Review? We are not suggesting this paper was published by such a journal. We are only noting that peer review is important and it was not published by any journal that required peer review. In fact, it was only posted by a "preprint" website. This is an avenue for a researcher to share their work with other scientists BEFORE peer review. It is not intended to be presented to the public as final.
The operations manager for the website that hosted the paper -- arXiv.org -- confirmed to Lead Stories in an email that there was no peer review and the simple posting of the short paper (11 pages) is not the same as being "pubished." Jim Entwood said:
arXiv is an e-print repository and does not referee papers. This paper appears to be a pre-print. It was not peer-reviewed by arXiv.
Just to clarify the wording in your message, from our perspective a paper that appears on arXiv has not been "published".
You can read this "prepint" paper titled "NO EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE FOR THE SIGNIFICANT ANTHROPOGENIC CLIMATE CHANGE." Now, let's look at the initial reaction from climate experts who have seen it. Seven researchers have posted their review on ClimateFeedback.org, which describes itself as "a not-for-profit organization verifying the credibility of influential claims and media coverage that claims to be scientific, starting with the topics of climate and health." The resulting analysis is titled "Non-peer-reviewed manuscript falsely claims natural cloud changes can explain global warming." The scientific reviewers rate the finding that natural cloud changes -- and not human activity -- is the major factor in rising climate temperatures as "incorrect." They offer three main objections:
Flawed Reasoning: The authors' argument claims a correlation between cloud cover/relative humidity and global temperature proves that the former caused the latter without investigating whether they have the relationship backwards.
Inadequate support: The source of their claimed global cloud dataset is not given, and no research on their proposed mechanism for climate change is cited.
Fails to provide correct physical explanation: The manuscript incorrectly claims that the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide is caused by release from ocean waters. It also provides no explanation for the claim that an increase in relative humidity causes global cooling.
The "Key Take Away" of this review:
Warming related to human activities is estimated to be around 1°C over the past century. This document claims to overturn decades of scientific findings but provides neither the source of the data it uses nor the physics responsible for the proposed relationship between clouds and global temperature.
As for the several "news" reports citing the questionable findings, the scientists said this:
Some news outlets are publishing articles stating that this claim is based on a new study. In reality, there is no new published study. The claim comes from a six-page document uploaded to arXiv, a website traditionally used by scientists to make manuscripts available before publication. This means that this article has not been peer-reviewed, so there is no guarantee to its credibility.
If the blogs that covered this as a new study had contacted independent scientists for insight, instead of accepting this short document as revolutionary science, they would have found that it does not have any scientific credibility.
ZeroHedge.com did not include any acknowledgement that this paper was not peer reviewed and it did not appear to have reached out to other climate change experts for comment.
Lead Stories has called and emailed the primary author of the study in Finland. We will add his response when we recieve it.
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A right-leaning financial news blog that fact-checking sites have flagged as a propagator of conspiracy theories and misinformation. The site frequently publishes stories sympathetic to Russia's government.
According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
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