Last month conservative media ran with a study by climatologist Roy Spencer which they claimed “throws the entire global warming theory into question,” in the words of Lou Dobbs. A Fox News.com article asked, “Has a central tenant [sic] of global warming just collapsed?” and Fox News anchor Bret Baier asserted that the study “appears to be blowing a hole in global warming,” echoing a Forbes column by James Taylor of the Heartland Institute.
In reality, their claims overstated the findings of the study, which itself was widely criticized by climate experts.
Today the editor of Remote Sensing, the journal that published the paper, resigned after concluding that it should “not have been published.” The editor, Wolfgang Wagner, also criticized Forbes and Fox News for exaggerating the findings:
Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.
After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.
With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper's conclusions in public statements, e.g., in a press release of The University of Alabama in Huntsville from 27 July 2011, the main author's personal homepage, the story “New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism” published by Forbes, and the story “Does NASA data show global warming lost in space?” published by Fox News, to name just a few.
We'll let you know if Fox reports on Wagner's resignation.