Policy Documents

Statement on List of 500 Authors

December 18, 2009

Click here for the list of 500 scientists referred to in this statement.

[British newspaper columnist George Monbiot, citing a book by James Hoggan titled Climate Cover-Up, recently claimed that a list of 500 scientists “whose research contradicts man-made global warming scares” published by The Heartland Institute misrepresented the views of those scientists. This is a false and defamatory accusation that Dennis Avery, the author of the list, and The Heartland Institute have already refuted several times. Here is a new statement by Dennis Avery addressing the matter again.]

Dennis Avery and Fred Singer read thousands of peer-reviewed studies on all aspects of global warming while preparing the manuscript of their New York Times best-seller Unstoppable Global Warming--Every 1,500 Years. These included studies of ice cores, seabed sediments, fossil pollen, ancient tree rings, drought cycles near the equator, the sunspot index, Lindzen’s study of the heat vent over the warm pool of the Pacific, museum paintings from the Medieval Warming and Little Ice Age, and many other subsets of climate knowledge.

After the book was published, to make this information more accessible to the public, we assembled the names of hundreds of these peer-reviewed authors and published them on our Web site. Most of the studies and authors had been cited in our book.

Fewer than a dozen of the authors complained, saying they did not agree with our position on climate change. That wasn’t the point. Once a paper has been published, it enters the public domain. Comments on it and about it and proceeding from it are supposed to be encouraged. As the CRU scientists have so recently been forced to admit, this is how science proceeds.

If a peer-reviewed author of a study on sunspots has never heard of the 1,500-year cycle, the findings in his paper that bear on the existence of the cycle are nonetheless open to public comment. Neither we nor any other researchers need the authors’ permission to discuss the findings, though our own statements will open us to condemnation if what we say is not valid or relevant.

As an example, the authors of a paper on how wildlife species are inhabiting a broader range of territory--rather than going extinct--during this globally warming period seems relevant to the discussion of whether global warming will drive more species extinct. A paper on how atmospheric ozone amplifies the variability of solar irradiation also seemed relevant.

We did not ask for those authors’ permission, nor do we seek their permission now.

We’ve explained to each of the dissenting authors why we felt their papers endorsed the 1,500-year cycle. We may even be mistaken in our analysis, though we don’t think so. But the purpose of publishing peer-reviewed papers is to test their validity and help other researchers apply the lessons they contain. We are part of the testing process. It should all be open, and transparent, and err on the side of being even more open and transparent.

It is particularly abhorrent to see The Guardian’s George Monbiot, who I know considers himself an important element in the global warming debate, attack The Heartland Institute and the Hudson Institute for pointing out how these papers impact our understanding of the long, moderate natural climate cycles.

It was not even two weeks ago that Mr. Monbiot was confessing he had not been an objective observer of the global warming evidence and would have been a better journalist if he had been more skeptical. His statement is still true.


Dennis Avery, Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute