Are climate scientists a self-selecting set of climate activists?

UPDATE: Gergis’ blog is no longer available (wonder why? Was she embarrassed by the content?), but it can be viewed here and her bio here.

I was prompted to address this issue following the “hottest 50 years in a millennium” story earlier today (see here). A little Googling from regular commenter Baldrick showed that the lead researcher on that story, Joelle Gergis, had posted on her blog in November 2007 about being pleased that Kevin Rudd had been voted in as PM, because now she might finally “see real action on climate”.

She writes:

As a climate scientist, I am hopeful that we will finally see real action on climate change. According to COSMOS, Rudd is expected to receive a “rock star’s welcome” to the world stage at crucial U.N. climate change talks in Bali next month. He will be hailed for agreeing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement aimed at curbing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Up to 140 world environment ministers will attend the conference. It is hoped the meeting will bring vital breakthroughs in the effort to achieve a new climate agreement. It is expected to deliver a road map to show how to keep the planet’s temperature from rising more than two degrees. The agreement must be in place before the Kyoto Protocol’s first phase ends in 2012.

Clearly this person had formed the view, at some time prior to the post in November 2007, that there was a climate crisis of some kind that required action. We can safely assume, I think, that she believed that anthropogenic emissions were causing dangerous climate change, and therefore such emissions must be reduced to “save the planet”. In other words, she’s a true believer. Her biography would tend to confirm this conclusion.

Today in the news, we read that Gergis’ latest paper shows that the last 50 years warming are unprecedented in the last 1000, which, naturally, tends to support the notion of dangerous AGW which requires urgent action, thereby supporting the position she herself expressed back in 2007.

And it made me think: why is no-one complaining about this? Why is it OK for climate activists to be climate scientists? Why is it that association with an environmental advocacy group such as WWF or Greenpeace is perfectly acceptable for certain climate scientists currently working towards IPCC AR5, but association with an oil or energy company isn’t? The hypocrisy and double standards are obvious, aren’t they? Why is Big Green any better than Big Oil?

So the key question, which I do not pretend to have an answer to, is this:

Is the present cohort of emerging climate scientists a self-selecting set based on a pre-existing belief in the seriousness of man-made climate change?

Or in other words, do those with a prior concern about AGW naturally gravitate towards careers in climate science or environmental studies, therefore leading to an unbalanced representation of the genuine spectrum of scientific perspectives on climate change? To put it another way, would a student without such a passion for “environmental causes” choose to enter that area of science? Would anyone other than such a person ever choose to become an environmental or climate scientist?

I’m sure the answer is ‘no’. Why would you choose any branch of environmental science unless you wanted, even in some small way, to save the planet?

The majority of climate scientists are funded by governments which are committed (to different degrees) to taking “action” on climate change. At no point do I allege that people are changing their views because of the funding they receive (something that I do not believe happens on either side of the debate), merely that they are a self-selecting group based on prior beliefs. Which would explain why environmental and climate science departments are full of AGW believers.

And it would also explain why environmental journalists are AGW believers too. If you weren’t, why would you become an environmental journalist in the first place?

It’s the final extrapolation of confirmation bias – you choose your entire career based on your beliefs.

Many teenagers get into the whole “green” thing at some point, whether at school or through friends – for some it’s a passing fad, for others it becomes a passion, and eventually a career. But for those who never had that environmental passion, or for whom it faded, would they still choose to make it their career? I doubt it.

And the same would be true of the other side of the debate. For the vast majority of teenagers who do not have that passion, their careers will take them in a multitude of differing paths, other areas of science, commerce, law, you name it.

And it is only when some of those others, who, much later in life perhaps, have their curiosity piqued by some piece of crazy climate legislation, like Gillard’s carbon tax or Kevin Rudd’s proposed Emissions Trading Scheme, and decide to take a look over the fence in to the world of environmental and climate science in academia, or the machiavellian shenanigans of the IPCC or the CSIRO, or the hopelessly political statements of formerly respected academic institutions, like the Royal Society, and are utterly shocked by what they see. And they start voicing those concerns about the lack of proper scientific integrity or the politicisation of the climate debate on blogs, written in their spare time. Like this one.

Is there a solution? Probably not. It would be along the lines of “funding the defence” in the climate debate, so that those with a prior belief that there was no climate crisis would be equally motivated to pursue a career in environmental or climate science. But that’s not going to happen, is it?


  1. Been saying the same thing for a while now, Simon.

    So many of the AGW spruikers hold out the number of “Climate Scientists” that support the theory as proof of its validity, when the fact is that they are all that way inclined before they even read a study.

    As a general rule, people who aren’t naturally inclined to believe in the theory simply wouldn’t waste their time with it, and would instead pursue a genuine scientific field.

  2. Yes, they are these self-elected idiots, they espouse socialism for the masses but live charmed lifestyle feeding from the taxpayer.

    Climate scientists don’t invent solutions, they invent problems, the result is rules and regulations that fund their capitalist-cloned lifestyle that they claim the rest of us should give up.

    Have you ever heard a Joelle Gergis ask for Ipads, Louboutins or Waxing to be banned because of the massive carbon foot print? Not likely, climate scientists only extort from products, business and organizations that don’t effect them directly.

    Next year instead of Earth Hour lets have an Earth Day or Week, where all utilities and communications are shut down proper for 24 hours+. Let’s see how these pathetic excuse for scientists would survive.

  3. It’s a bit like in Toowoomba in 2006 when we were allowed (by the Feds) to have a referendum on the drinking of recycled sewage water – the Toowoomba City Council which had originally intended to force people to drink recycled sewage water funded their “Yes” case to the tune of $400,ooo – and funded the “No” case with the amount of $0.00.

    We won the referendum (62% said No), and the TCC / State Labor government then insisted our referendum was actually a plebiscite (since they lost) which had no legal standing.

    The nett result was we had to pay $200 million for a pipeline intended to pump Brisbane’s recycled sewage water uphill from Wivenhoe (too expensive to use more than a few hours a week – and the rain filled our dams anyway). This actually literally doubled our water bills in Toowoomba.

    Basically, the bastards will fund what suits them, and then use any form of (il)legal twisty-turnies to shaft us anyway. Oh – and the Council had all their “science” to back them up – most of which was lies or exaggerations – and anyone who objected was a scaremonger, flat-earther, Luddite etc. (Sound familiar?)

    The internet allows blogs like this one to spread the information that the MSM will not (there were virtually no articles in the papers etc calling the safety of recycled sewage water into question). Governments do a lot of advertising in newspapers……

    Anyone who thinks they have missed out on this particular fight – just be aware that the Fed’s Water Act (2007/8?) calls for all Australian cities & towns to be drinking the rubbish – so the eco-fascists can let our good freshwater run out to sea or evaporate. The aim of Big Water is to have direct potable recycled sewage water – industrial waste + hospital waste + legal & illegal drugs, chemicals + whatever can flush down + apparently, a little poo and wee, all goes to the recycling plant where they pretend to clean it up using cheap crap Chinese and Indian reverse osmosis filters and pipe it straight back to your house.

    Don’t forget folks – you read it here – all under the name of Sustainability.
    (Round 2 – when CAGW eventually falls into the cesspit – it will be recycled…)

  4. Eric Simpson says:

    Yes, this is exactly what I have been saying. You can’t trust climate scientists, at least the post 1990 vintage, that, as I understand it, were required to agree with the leftist fear-mongers to gain acceptance to the Chicken Little Brigade.

    Almost all of the post 1990 climate scientists will toe the leftist line on climate change. They are not an objective unbiased source; incredible as it sounds, but it’s true: climate scientists cannot be considered credible on… climate. Far from it. They will Hide the Decline until the cows come home. The irony is that the doomsayers often try to smear as unworthy those that are not climate scientists. In fact, that is the first test of whether a source is credible, that they are NOT a post 1990 vintage climate scientist.

  5. Good piece Simon.

    Garth Paltridge has some interesting thoughts on this in his book The Climate Caper. Around the notion of misplaced passion. What seems to be missing in the current phase of climate change research is impartiality. The ability to calmly evaluate data without getting emotionally attached to it.

  6. Leigh Prentice says:

    Thankyou for your prompt reply to this alarming announcement which led the ABC RN news bulletin yesterday and ruined my breakfast. I spent a large part of the day checking to see if someone would address it and thereby preserve my sanity a few more hours. You win Simon!

  7. Leigh Prentice says:

    ps. I have just checked that biography of Joelle Gergis and it says that she studied Environmental Science at UNSW graduating in 2000 with “a first class honours degree in reconstructing climate history” [paleoclimatology]. So we should not be surprised.

  8. Simon,
    Very obvious when you lay it out. I appreciate the analysis, and doubt I could ever believe anything from a climate scientist without checking it personally. (Which is what I find myself doing anyway). BUT, how can this ever be resolved? I suppose we will wait until the evidence is so obvious that the witch hunting starts, and only those with a passion for truth would dare become a climate scientist again.

  9. Toscamaster says:

    Thank you for yet another excellent posting.
    I suggest that the most infuriated group of scientists in this extraordinary debate are neither gravy train climate scientists nor ethical climate scientists who have taken it upon themselves to expose those on the gravy train.
    It’s that huge group of ethical scientists in unrelated fields who see that climate science has gone down the murky track of corruption of science. So far this group dare not put their heads above the parapets because climate science is not their field.
    However they are angry because their own work is being demeaned by association; when, as is inevitable, climate science corruption is publicly exposed their own scientific work and ethics will be doubted.
    Their anger is being held back now.
    My question is “How can we encourage high profile scientists in other disciplines to take a strong stand against unethical climate scientists?”
    When their latent heat becomes steam then the public will be forced to take more notice.

  10. Richard N says:

    Good points Simon and may I add one more. How do you think an enviromental science Phd student who espoused a AGW skeptical view in a thesis would be marked by the likes of Steffan or Karoly. Afterall we are constantly told by these guys that the CAGW theory and the climate models on which the whloe thing is based are “irrefutable”.

  11. Aert Driessen says:

    [snip – very possible, but let’s not speculate! Ed]

  12. well the UN might think he is a rock star but ask anybody with half a brain think the opposite . he is a labor water mellon head along with PM Gillard and the greens they are hell bent on bringing australia down onto its knees with the carbon tax FRAUD next election mark my word they will be Annihilated, GOD save australia because we need all the help we can get

  13. thingadonta says:

    Ever seen a homeopath who doesn’t beleive in homeopathy? If you don’t, you don’t stay. Same goes for religion. “97% of religious ministers believe in God/Jesus/religion”. Dah!.

  14. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Simon, you’ve made the front page of The Weekend Australian this morning. Well done!

  15. Science is a form of prostitution. After 7 years study PhD’s are forced to hunt down funding to stay in the game. Lose funding or stop publishing and you are out. It is therefore not suprising that young scientists who do not subscribe to the gaia religeon keep quiet about AGW – they perceive they put their funding chances and publication chances at risk, better – like Brere Rabbit, to “lie low and say nothing”. Its not “big oil” that funds scientists – its AGW – the US alone spends around $1.5 billion annually on R&D in this area
    Those of us who do speak out simply don’t get media exposure: See 2009 public lecture notes at

  16. The Loaded Dog says:

    Seems it’s not just Climate “Science” and activist scientists that are being overly influenced by a biased leftoid mindset. The Arts community are doing their activist best to “spread the gospel”as well..via Andrew Bolt…re the play “The Heretic”…

    “Reviewer Alison Croggon, so credulous that she calls sceptics “deniers” and still believes the ANU ”death threats” story, has a problem with the Melbourne Theatre Company’s heretical new play, which casts a sceptic as the hero:

    I have a horrible feeling that it will do very well.

    This is why the arts needs so much public funding – to ensure only the right-thinking plays get staged, no matter how empty the stalls.”

    I need say nothing more…

  17. Absolutely self-selecting. But the system undoubtably strongly selects for type too. Can you imagine the CSIRO or the ANU hiring climate skeptical scientists to work in climate-related research? No way. And then there’s the filtering-out of scientists who don’t toe the orthodoxy: once again, the CSIRO have been active in that way too.

    It is one big shameless scam. Time to seriously consider whether these organisations ought to be funded using taxpayer money. I say the climate debacle shows it is nigh time to cut the umbilica once and for all. Taxpayer rorting has corrupted science across the globe. We have been led for too long by liars and thieves.

  18. uhavitbad says:

    I think it’s the same problem in politics. Those who like big government are more likely to have political ambitions.

  19. Have you seen the “science” as taught ??

    It is nothing more than a bunch of hypothesised calculations written down without any empirical evidence.

    The 255 K “effective temperature” is nothing more than a condtruct of the geometyr of the initial postulations – it is the radiating temperature averaged over the whole earth – it has nothing to do with the much more powerful solar insolation and the temperature this can create.

    Equating the incoming solar radiation to the outgoing Earth radiation and calculating a temperature from this and calling it the temperature the Earth would be without GHGs is simply not science – it is nonsense.

    I can’t believe these “scientists” try to defend this nonsense when all their calculations fail real data and experiment.

    An example is the bull in Wikipedia – “If an ideal thermally conductive blackbody was the same distance from the Sun as the Earth is, it would have a temperature of about 5.3 °C.”

    Yeah ? – Crap !!

    There is a “planet” subject to the same solar radiation and it heats up to over 120 degrees C on the day side and becomes incredibly cold on the dark side – it is called the Moon.

    FAIL – the evidence disagrees with theory. And before someone makes some inane comment the Moon isn’t a perfect blackbody, the lunar day is ~29 Earth days and this explains the coldness as the much weaker flux has a loooong time to dissipate while the much more powerful solar radiation would quickly heat the surface – remember it heats by over 300 degrees C !!

  20. DennisA says:

    They learn their trade at the Climate Institutions run by the people promoting the scare in the first place and there is a constant networking and interchange of scientists. For example, IPCC stalwart and former CRU director, Jean Palutikoff, is now at Griffiths University in Australia, Diane Liverman from Oxford Environmental Change Institute, (originally set up by Martin Parry, an IPCC major figure, and where “Heatwave’s ‘R Us” Myles Allen works), is now at Arizona University running a new Climate Institute with warmist scientist Jonathan Overpeck. Tom Wigley of NCAR, is a former CRU director. The Potsdam Institute have former Greenpeace activist Malte Meinshausen installed at Melbourne University, he trained at Oxford. Oxford is where the grand old man of global warming Crispin Tickell, adviser to Margaret Thatcher at the time of her conversion to warming, set up Green College, and made Guardian environmentalist George Monbiot a Fellow. The Tyndall Institute have set up a Climate Institute in China which is run by one of their own and has the funding to go with it and they will in turn produce students who have been taught the AGW mantras. There is always plenty of funding and new institutions appear regularly, with the same names, the same data, the same message, but hey, you get a hell of a consensus.


  1. […] He’s got a point.  The lead researcher on that story, Joelle Gergis looks like she’s well and truly put the cart before the horse.  Read all about it here […]

  2. […] He’s got a point.  The lead researcher on that story, Joelle Gergis looks like she’s well and truly put the cart before the horse.  Read all about it here […]

  3. […] not everyone was convinced.  Anthony Watts had a bit to say and it turned out that Gergis was a climate activist as well.  How interesting, it appears that all the links to Gergis and the paper have now been […]

  4. […] Steve McIntyre asked for the full data, she refused.   Gergis has an activist past which she has recently tried to hide.  She was proud to mention in her biography that her data has […]

  5. […] Steve McIntyre asked for the full data, she refused.  Gergis has an activist past which she has recently tried to hide.  She was proud to mention in her biography that her data has […]

  6. […] said indeed. Read my post Are climate scientists a self-selecting set of climate activists? here. Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook share via Reddit Share with Stumblers […]

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