30 September 2009

Has Steve McIntyre Found Something Really Important?

A commenter here asks me to discuss recent goings on over at Climate Audit, where Steve McIntyre thinks he is on to something rather important. I've followed Steve's work for years, and I think I have a pretty good sense of what he is up to and why it might matter for climate science and the nexus of science and political debate. And if you don't know what this is about, good luck catching up to speed (but if you want to try, there will be no better place than Bishop Hill's recounting). Such is the complexity of the issue and its history.

But let me say this: If Steve has indeed come across new information that forces a significant re-evaluation of a major branch of climate science, then there is no excuse for this not to appear in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. I think that Steve can easily separate out the quantitative implications of his work from the messy science-politics part. If Steve has discovered a smoking gun, then I'd expect Nature and Science to both be candidate publications. And I would really hope that some of those members of the relevant expert community who (I know) frequent his blog would join with him, perhaps as co-authors, to help bring the new analysis into the mainstream scientific discussion. That is how science moves forward.

Meantime, all we have is some interesting analyses and speculation on a well-read and thoughtful blog. I'm happy to wait and see what develops, and to let Steve get on with his work in progress.