Uncertainty and Bias in Global Warming

Ronald J. Baty

Advisor: Donald J Boudreaux, PhD, Department of Economics

Committee Members: David Levy, Lloyd Cohen

Enterprise Hall, #318
November 28, 2012, 10:15 AM to 08:00 AM


Why did the scientific debate about Anthropogenic Global Warming or Climate Change devolve into a political and quasi-religious issue over the past two decades?  The primary mechanism behind this process was the interplay of uncertainty and publication bias, and its effect on the government’s and non-governmental organizations’ research funding practices.  That is, it produced a misallocation of monies for research, in addition to, impeding the policy-making process.  This study examines the Essential Science Indicator’s Top 10 most often cited journals and Library of Congress books on global warming.  The study concludes that the insufficient number of articles raising questions about anthropogenic causes of climate change in science journals is evidence of bias.  In addition, it finds that non-academic publishers predominately publish the books by academic skeptics.  At the same time books by either academic or non-academics supporting climate change are more likely published by an academic publisher resulting in greater professional stature, which fuels the process over and over.  The final sections of the study discuss the methods by which publication bias, uncertainty and research funding produced the current contentious level of debate about and current quasi-religious status of Anthropogenic Global Warming.  The contentious debate and contested results from climate research allows for the misallocation of funding and hampers the policy making process.