Doomed Planet

How Science is Done These Days

There’s nothing new about mainstream climate scientists conspiring to bury papers that throw doubt on catastrophic global warming. The Climategate leaks showed co-compiler of the HadCRUT global temperature series Dr Phil Jones emailing Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann, July 8, 2004:

I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth, a colleague] and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!

Thanks to a science whistle-blower, there’s now documentation of a current exercise as bad as that captured in the Jones-Mann correspondence. This new and horrid saga – again involving Dr Mann – sets out to deplatform and destroy a peer-endorsed published paper by four Italian scientists. Their paper in European Physical Journal Plus is titled A critical assessment of extreme events trends in times of global warming and documents that extreme weather and related disasters are not generally increasing, contrary to the catastrophists feeding misinformation to the Guardian/ABC axis and other compliant media.

The witch-hunt has Australian elements. Last September, The Australian’s environment writer, Graham Lloyd, highlighted the paper (paywalled) and its conclusion that the “extreme events emergency” was overblown. Sky News Australia, which twice reported the study, picked up more than 400,000 views and thousands of comments.

The green-left Guardian countered with a hit-piece by in-house cataastrophist Graham Readfearn featuring professors Lisa Alexander and Steve Sherwood, both of NSW University. They alleged cherry-picking and misquoting. Their main specific complaint was that the Italians’ paper had drawn on the 2013 5th IPCC Report rather than the recent 6th Report. (The Italians say they submitted the paper before the 6th Report emerged).

The Guardian’s fuss caught the attention of Agence France-Presse’s (AFP) Marlowe Hood, who modestly styles himself “Senior Editor, Future of the Planet” and “Herald of the Anthropocene”. He penned his own diatribe for The Australian (paywalled but also here) against the Italians’ paper. Jumping the gun on any editorial inquiry, AFP branded the study “faulty” and “fundamentally flawed”, involving “discredited assertions” and “grossly manipulated data”. This abuse was normal since AFP and The Guardian are leaders of the Covering Climate Now (CCN) coalition of some 500 media outlets with reach to a 2 billion audience. These outlets signed the CCN pledge to hype catastrophism and rebut and censor any scepticism about our planet’s forecast fiery fate.

The whistle-blowers’ documents reveal how this media pile-on – as distinct from reasoned scientific complaint — led the journal’s owner, Springer, to demand “action”. Springer’s aim was to force the editor to publish at least an erratum and, preferably, retract it altogether, restoring climate right-think.

The publishers have now decided on the retraction and the axe will fall any day now. But the process was ratbaggery in place of the normal rigorous and honourable protocols. Meanwhile, unabashed Italian authors Alimonti and Mariani successfully published last week an updated version of their paper, also peer reviewed and in a different scientific journal.

Chapter and verse on the controversy is available at The Honest Broker blog of Dr Roger J. Pielke Jr., a world-leading expert in monetary loss trends from extreme events.

Noted climatologist Dr Judith Curry tweeted,

Reprehensible behavior by journal editors in retracting a widely read climate paper (80,000 downloads) over politically inconvenient conclusions. Journal editors asked me to adjudicate, and my findings were in favor of the author.

The controversy turns on how the IPCC 6th Report is interpreted, as it seems to place two bob each-way on trends in extremes. In all fairness, you can read a detailed argument here by an advocate for the paper’s retraction. But even Andy Revkin, a leading US journalist of warmist persuasion, has explained,

Despite headlines and spin, it’s still tough to disentangle global warming and natural variability in long-term heat wave patterns in the United States. That might seem surprising but was a clear conclusion of both the last U.S. National Climate Assessment and IPCC reports.

I’ll now background the Italian defendants in this politicised fracas. They enjoy prestigious reputations, but that doesn’t mean, of course, that they’re right.

Professor Gianluca Alimonti, Milan University, and senior researcher, Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics. Many of his papers involve work on the 7000-tonne ATLAS detector at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. He lists 300+ publications and presentations.

♦ Renato Angelo Ricci, Padova University, Padua. He’s worked with Legnaro National Laboratories, one of the four major research centers of the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics(INFN).[1] He’s of such prestige that INFN dedicated to him its tenth annual Varenna Conference on nuclear reaction mechanisms.[1] The corrupted Wikipedia Italy dismisses him as a climate sceptic.

♦ Luigi Mariani, Milan University, also of INFN. He’s with the Lombard Museum of Agricultural History and has published 137 papers.

Franco Prodi, National Academy of Science, Verona and Italian National Research CouncilInstitute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. 193 publications, 2300 citations:Main fields of interest are physics of clouds and precipitation, hail and precipitation growth, aerosol physics, atmospheric radiation, severe storm studies and radar-meteorological investigations, satellite meteorology and nowcasting [very short term weather forecasting].”

The Guardian noted that three of the four Italians had signed a “no emergency” sceptic declaration last year, as if that disqualified them from proper research. The Guardian didn’t mention that the same declaration, with its 1600 signatories, was led by two Nobel Laureates in Physics, John Clauser (2022) and Ivar Giaever (1973).[2]

The comments of Michael “Hockeystick” Mann, of Pennsylvania University, about Alimonti and Ricci are illuminating. He described their journal article as

another example of scientists from totally unrelated fields coming in and naively applying inappropriate methods to data they don’t understand. Either the consensus of the world’s climate experts that climate change is causing a very clear increase in many types of weather extremes is wrong, or a couple of nuclear physics dudes in Italy are wrong.

Mann himself is a connoisseur of wrong (and self-evidently in need of remedial courtesy classes). His notorious 1999 Hockeystick paper purportedly proved unprecedented 20th century global heat. His 1000-year graph was used as a corporate logo by the IPCC in its 2001 Third Report[3], which subsequently downplayed it to near-invisibility in its Fourth Report six years later.

Mann had committed the scientific no-go of furtively patching measured global temperatures from 1961 to his proxy-reconstructed temperature graph derived from tree ring sampling.[4] This was done, in the Climategate words of Dr Phil Jones (Nov 16, 1999) to “hide the decline” of the 20th century proxy trend, which threatened to render Mann’s entire temperature reconstruction spurious.[5]

Australia’s top catastrophist is Macquarie University’s Distinguished Professor of Biology Lesley Hughes, whose specialty is entomology e.g.   ant-tended butterfly ejaculations, though more recently she’s been publishing on Lethal consequences: climate change impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. (It’s had record coral cover for the past two years). Her Climate Council colleague and dud prophet Tim Flannery is a mammologist.

The Italians’ desk review spends 20 pages arguing from 82 relevant papers. Their English is well expressed though the syntax is slightly unusual. It’s their conclusions (below) that have generated such recursive fury[6] among the anointed climate crowd:

From the Second World War, our societies have progressed enormously, reaching levels of well-being (health, nutrition, healthiness of the places of life and work, etc.) that previous generations had not even remotely imagined. Today, we are called to continue on the path of progress respecting the constraints of economic, social and environmental sustainability with the severity dictated by the fact that the planet is about to reach 10 billion inhabitants in 2050, increasingly urbanized.

Since its origins, the human species has been confronted with the negative effects of the climate; historical climatology has repeatedly used the concept of climate deterioration in order to explain negative effect of extreme events (mainly drought, diluvial phases and cold periods) on civilization. Today, we are facing a warm phase and, for the first time, we have monitoring capabilities that enable us to objectively evaluate its effects.

Fearing a climate emergency without this being supported by data, means altering the framework of priorities with negative effects that could prove deleterious to our ability to face the challenges of the future, squandering natural and human resources in an economically difficult context, even more negative following the COVID emergency. This does not mean we should do nothing about climate change: we should work to minimize our impact on the planet and to minimize air and water pollution. Whether or not we manage to drastically curtail our carbon dioxide emissions in the coming decades, we need to reduce our vulnerability to extreme weather and climate events.

Leaving the baton to our children without burdening them with the anxiety of being in a climate emergency would allow them to face the various problems in place (energy, agricultural-food, health, etc.) with a more objective and constructive spirit, with the goal of arriving at a weighted assessment of the actions to be taken without wasting the limited resources at our disposal in costly and ineffective solutions. How the climate of the twenty- first century will play out is a topic of deep uncertainty. We need to increase our resiliency to whatever the future climate will present us.

We need to remind ourselves that addressing climate change is not an end in itself, and that climate change is not the only problem that the world is facing. The objective should be to improve human well-being in the twenty-first century, while protecting the environment as much as we can and it would be a nonsense not to do so: it would be like not taking care of the house where we were born and raised.

While a tad sentimental, it’s not over the top compared with say, the IPCC’s UN head Antonio Guterres announcing last month that we’re now suffering “global boiling”. And the late Professor Will Steffen, who steered Australian federal climate policy for two decades, alerted the Royal Society that climate change might well end the Homo Sapiens species.[7]

The Guardian’s attack piece quoted Professor Lisa Alexander, a UNSW rainfall-extreme specialist, saying that, contrary to the paper’s “selective and biased” claims, “there is definitely an increase in precipitation extremes” and it’s “attributed to human activity”. The paper had “totally misrepresented” her own papers’ findings, she said. She wanted the paper rejected or heavily revised.

So far so trenchant, but when you look up one of her two co-authored papers cited by the Italians, you discover that it messed up its Figures 2,3,4,5,7,8 and 9 – which is all but three of its ten Figures.[8] The journal had to run a corresponding erratum and update. An unkind critic might mention pots calling kettles black. Incidentally, Alexander’s UNSW team, led by Andy Pitman (famed for his inadvertent candour that “warming doesn’t cause droughts”) attracted a giant ARC taxpayer grant of $32,134,273, no less. Her other paper, with no corrections, was supported by an ARC grant of only $356,402.

In both papers, Professor Alexander commendably stresses the massive data uncertainties in her field of rainfall extremes, caused by unreliable rain recording, missing data across swathes of entire continents, and too-short records. As she warned,

Despite our best efforts, there are still parts of the world where data are sparse or the temporal coverage is inadequate for a data set designed for long-term monitoring … Efforts are underway to augment current global collections of data to improve the data available for all users.

As for allegedly misrepresenting her work, I don’t see it. In the Italian paper’s first reference, it accepts her conclusion about rain generally increasing.[9] In the second reference, the Italians show concern – as she does — about data quality for extreme downpours. (The Italians mention inter alia that bugs often climb into the gauges and their corpses upset the mechanism).

AFP’s Marlowe in his hit piece quotes Richard Betts (UK Met Office) bagging the Italians. In a masterpiece of bitchy innuendo the AFP snarked, “Betts stopped short of calling for withdrawal, drawing a distinction between cherry-picking data and outright fraud.”

Other critics quoted were Friedericke Otto, of UK’s Grantham Institute, along with Stefan Rahmstorf from the dark-green Postdam Institute. Otto complained the Italians were writing “in bad faith” — whatever that means. Rahmstorf’s gripe was that the research was published in a physics journal rather than a climate one (the latter, of course, 97 per cent captured by the catastrophe crowd as peer reviewers). “I do not know this journal, but if it is a self-respecting one it should withdraw the article,” Rahmstorf said. Otto agreed, demanding that it be withdrawn “loudly and publicly”, presumably to scapegoat the authors. An Exeter University professor said he wouldn’t go that far, fearing bad publicity about censorship – a good point.

Now for the whistleblower’s documentation:

September 29, 2022. Christian Caron of Springer Nature and the editorial manager of the Italian Physical Society, Barbara Ancarani (why her?) contacts Alimonti et al. to let them know that, based on the two media stories, an investigation had been opened of their paper. She cc’d the journal’s co-editor-in-chief, Beatrice Fraboni:

We are sure you and your co-authors are already aware of the public dispute this has generated. Included in these reports are numerous concerns of scientists who are considered highly expert in this subject. As a result of these circumstances it is now necessary that the journal carry out an investigation to assess the validity of these concerns, in line with good practice when concerns of this type are brought to a journal. An editorial note on the homepage of the above mentioned article will be added stating:

‘Readers are alerted that the conclusions reported in this manuscript are currently under dispute. The journal is investigating the issue.’

September 30, 2022. Fraboni, co-chief-editor, contacts the associate editor responsible for handling the review process of Alimonti et al., Jozef Ongena.

“. . . we are facing some issues with a paper in your area. The publishers have asked the Editors to take action.”

Ongena immediately responds:

The article has undergone the usual peer review. There should be no blame and shame… Peer reviewing is the common practice. That there is a discussion seems not abnormal and seems a very healthy thing…I would invite the colleagues that have objections to send in their objections and to pass them on to the authors. To start a discussion in the press as they already did is certainly worse than publishing a critical paper. They could later also be invited to publish a comment. We should as a journal not refrain or be afraid from a scientific discussion, but it should be in a correct way.


October 4, 2022. Author Alimonti:

Dear Dr. Caron, after confronting [sic] with the other authors, we believe a possible correct way to criticize a scientific paper would be to write a detailed summary about what is supposed to be not correct and complete it with references; in other words a paper with precise counter arguments or at least a detailed report…

…the authors of the criticized paper may give detailed answers and the journal may decide further steps. Have Springer or [the journal] been somehow formally contacted with a detailed counter analysis? If so, please forward us any comment so that we can properly answer; if not, we believe that considering “under discussion” a scientific paper that underwent a peer review process just on the basis of interviews appeared on online newspapers or blogs, even if authoritative, is not what a scientific method requires…

…Prof. Prodi, a distinguished climatologist, not just “a nuclear physics dude”, reminds me that he also served as Editor of Springer for many years: criticizing him as author would be a critic[ism] to Springer in selecting reviewers and editors. The Publisher should defend its scientific integrity in a resolute way, in order not to lose prestige itself, by moving at the request of newspapers or by denying its role.”

Co-chief-editor Fabroni initially appears to have accepted this proposal.

October 9, 2022: After having received various feedbacks we have decided to contact the colleagues who expressed concern on the paper to provide a scientific comment that we will then send out to independent reviewers. If and when the Comment will be approved by them, we will share it with the authors so that they will be able to address the issues raised. Also their reply will be peer-reviewed.

None of the eight critics (including UNSW’s Alexander and Sherwood) come good with considered rebuttals. However, the investigation proceeds.

November 17, 2022. Alimonti emails Fabroni to ask for an update on the investigation. Fabroni responds

The reply has been drafted with the assistance of the Springer Research Integrity Department, after carefully taking into consideration the feedbacks received from the colleagues who criticised the paper in the media. Thank you very much for your patience – we have analyzed the case now in-depth. While we acknowledge that the media coverage has certainly made the case temporarily bigger than necessary, it has also uncovered a clear weakness of your paper that we believe must eventually be addressed.

The “clear weakness” is the failure to reference the IPCC Sixth Report, which the authors say was not published when they submitted their article. The Italians were given an ultimatum to prepare an “erratum”.

1/ You will submit an Erratum taking the final, published version of AR6 into account, where the above criticism is explicitly addressed and any conclusion that needs to be revised will be detailed. This Erratum paper, where we expect ample references to the published AR6, will be thoroughly assessed by also involving scientists from the cited parts of AR6. The Erratum has to be submitted before Dec 31st, 2022.

2/ If you decide not to submit such an Erratum or the Erratum is not submitted by the above deadline, the journal will publish an Editorial where we summarize our findings, very much as outlined above and the present Editorial Note on your article will be changed to a permanent Editorial Expression of Concern that will refer to this Editorial.

November 23, 2022. Alimonti writes, quoting Springer guidelines, that it should be an “Addendum” not an “Erratum”. They lodge it and it goes out to four reviewers, with a fifth as “adjudicator”. The reviewers are 3:1 in favour of publishing the Italians’ addendum, but for some reason the Adjudicator is forwarded only one favourable review (which says the piece is quite consistent with IPCC 6th) and one review damning it. That review includes, strangely,

Especially considering that typical readers of EPJP [Physics] journal are not climate experts, I think editors should seriously consider the implications of the possible publication of this addendum. (emphasis added).

So much for science integrity. The third reviewer wrote:

The original article is a straightforward recitation of credible, key data about several types of extreme weather events. I find nothing selective, biased, or misleading in what they present. While there’s hardly anything written that isn’t well-known to experts, it’s useful for non-experts to see the underlying data, which are most often obscure in the IPCC reports. . .

The addendum is an on-point discussion of the extent to which the original paper agrees with the IPCC on three types of extremes. The document is up to professional standards -specific, detailed, and with citations.

Reviewer 4 wrote:

The most important contribution of the authors is to look further back into the climate record (including early 20th century), when many types of extreme events were comparable to today. The paper doesn’t specifically focus on the attribution (cause) of any trend (or lack thereof).

I don’t see any grounds for criticizing this work. Further, most of their conclusions are supported by the IPCC AR6 WG1.

 The Adjudicator exceeds his/her terms of reference by bagging the original paper, as distinct from the draft addendum, calling for its retraction and, therefore, the binning of any proposed addendum.

July 13, 2023. Editor Fabroni advises handling-editor Ongena that the paper will be retracted in full, citing the Adjudicator’s view.

After an in-depth consultation with the publishers we came to the conclusion that a retraction is inevitable, a decision fully backed by the publishers.

In my opinion, no reputable science journal, let alone top publisher Springer Nature, should be concerned for one second about big-shots moaning in the media about a non-conformist climate paper. But follow the money: Springer’s revenue is solidly from the left-captured academic sector.

As top UN official Melissa Fleming put it last September about climate, “We own the science, and we think that the world should know it.” Her unspoken sub-text, relevant to the censorship of Professor Alimonti, “Rock the boat and you’ll regret it.”

I’ll borrow Mark Steyn’s book title and say this is all “a disgrace to the profession”.

Tony Thomas’s new book from Connor Court is Anthem of the Unwoke – Yep! The other lot’s gone bonkers. $34.95 on-line from Connor Court here




[1] “Prof. Ricci was alumnus of one of the most prestigious University Institutions in Italy, the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, and after graduation completed his studies under Louis De Broglie and Frederic Joliot-Curie. He introduced in Italy the experimental study of nuclear spectroscopy… He was one of the leaders of the experiments made at CERN with the antiproton beams and started there the relativistic heavy ion physics. Not less important has been his activity as Administrator of Science, as President of Italian and European Physical Societies, as Director of Legnaro National Laboratories, as Vice-President of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics and Chairman of many other important Institutions and Committees.”

[2] There were 166 Australian signatories, mainly professionals rather than academics, and including myself.

[3] The “hockey stick” conveniently erased the awkward Medieval Warming and Little Ice Age from the record, which could then show 1000 years of stability followed by a 20thC uptick from CO2 emissions.

[4] See Steyn, Mark. “A Disgrace to the Profession” Stockade Books. Kindle Edition. From P37.

[5] UEA’s Phil Jones: “I’ve just completed Mike’s [Michael Mann’s] Nature trick of adding in the real temperatures to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s [Keith Briffa’s] to hide the decline.”

[6] “Recursive” just means “repeated”. The term “recursive fury” became a meme from the title of a bizarre climate paper by psychologist Dr Stephen Lewandowsy which his editors had to retract .

[7] “The ultimate drivers of the Anthropocene if they continue unabated through this century, may well threaten the viability of contemporary civilization and perhaps even the future existence of Homo sapiens.” Will Steffen, et al., “The Anthropocene: Conceptual and Historical Perspectives,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 369, no. 1938 (2011): p862.

[8] Erratum: In the originally published version of this article the uncertainty range in panel c of Figures 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 was incorrect. In all cases the uncertainties were shown for the full dataset rather than the subset from which the time series have been calculated… the equivalent panels have been updated in the supplementary information. There is no change to the conclusions drawn in the paper.

[9] Alimonti: “Global observational datasets indicate an increase in total annual precipitation which appears at first sight consistent with the increase in global temperatures and the consequent increase in precipitable water stored in the atmospheric reservoir…the diagram in Fig. 4 shows that global rainfall is increasing since about 1970.”


8 thoughts on “How Science is Done These Days

  • ianl says:

    1. >”As top UN official Melissa Fleming put it last September about climate, “We own the science, and we think that the world should know it.””< Beyond despicable … deliberately attempts to destroy the crown of the Enlightenment.

    2. When Andy Pitman stated that "warming doesn't cause droughts", he wasn't being inadvertent, just incautious. It simply hadn't occurred to him that some of the audience were likely recording pieces of the forum's activity (those pesky phones) and could later release some of it to the media.

    All up, a reliable review of yet another failure of editorial courage, this time with Springer.

    3. Mickey Mann is not even a Nobel Laureate "nuclear physics dude", merely an applied mathematician. If that sort of sniping actually matters, rather than only hard science.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Mark Steyn compiled an edited a book (pub Stockdade Books, Canada, 2015) titled “A Disgrace to the Profession” (a quote from an eminent scientist), subtitled ‘The World’s Scientists in their own words on Michael E Mann, his Hockey Stick and the Damage to Science; Vol 1’. It contains enough for one to be very skeptical indeed about this ‘dude’ Michael Mann.

    Thanks for this comprehensive outline of how Springer allows itself to be browbeaten into submission to orthodoxy, which has no place in science. When there is no room for proper discourse and civilised agreement to disagree an alternative peer reviews then there will be no progress in scientific understanding. Physicists have much to contribute to contribute to any climatic debate, btw. ‘Climatologists’ are hardly an established scientific discipline of long standing, they are ring-ins, an amalgam of scientists from many other disciplines.

    On extreme weather events, there is an anthropogenic component to them often deliberately ignored. The events themselves may not be much changed, but the impact of them is far more severe, due to human population expansion, overplanting of trees and settlement near trees, and poor care of the highly flammable undergrowth. The results are terrible floods and conflagrations. We’ve had them in the past in Australia, but with far less impact as far fewer people are killed or dispossessed. Many happened without much notice, giving rise to the view now that they are more frequent. Measurement errors abound too.

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Re Mann’s use of ‘dude’ – slanguage has no place in scientific discourse.

    Mann uses it to show he is ‘hip’. What it does show is the community with whom he identifies.

  • Brian Boru says:

    Thanks Tony. I suggest you send a copy of this article to Springer for their information, comment and correction of error.

  • Tony Tea says:

    Money talks; science walks.

  • Citizen Kane says:

    This is a sad indictment on the state of science today. Those, such as Tony, who document it now will one day be thanked by future generations after they eventually emerge from the new intellectual dark age we are entering.

  • Tony Thomas says:

    As predicted, Springer has now retracted the article:

    “After careful consideration and consultation with all parties involved, the editors and publishers concluded that they no longer had confidence in the results and conclusions of the article,” the journal said.

    “The addendum was not considered suitable for publication and retraction was the most appropriate course of action in order to maintain the validity of the scientific record.”

    A retraction note appearing on the article says concerns were raised “regarding the selection of the data, the analysis and the resulting conclusions of the article”.

    The note says the article’s conclusions “were not supported by available evidence or data provided by the authors”.

    “In light of these concerns and based on the outcome of the post publication review, the editors-in-chief no longer have confidence in the results and conclusions reported in this article,” the note adds.

    The article is still available for download, but the manuscript now has the words “RETRACTED ARTICLE” stamped over each page. According to the journal’s website, the article was accessed 92,000 times.

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