Interesting byplay broke out last week on dot.earth. Ray Pierrehumbert has been replying to Marc Morano's fulminations by listing the qualifications of selected individuals in the
400 399 Club. Marc had put forth a short reprise of his most distinguished including (in #314)
Britain: Dr. Richard Courtney, a UN IPCC expert reviewer and a UK-based climate and atmospheric science consultant: “To date, no convincing evidence for AGW (anthropogenic global warming) has been discovered. And recent global climate behavior is not consistent with AGW model predictions.”
In a reply to Pierrehumbert's investigation of his qualifications, Courtney, who somehow forgets to tell everyone that he does not hold a doctorate (see below) made an astounding claim (#558 in a thread approaching usenet length):
Importantly, Pierrehumbert implies that I am not an IPCC Expert Peer Reviewer. I was appointed to peer review the recent IPCC Fourth Assessment Report by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), and Rajendra Pachauri (IPCC Chairman) personally asked me to work on the current IPCC Synthesis Report.NOAA and the IPCC issued blanket invitations to everyone to look at the AR4 and submit reviews. Besides the announcements on the net there may have been a mailings. Some that were returned were useful some not, but Mr. Courtney implies a higher level, so Eli would ask him for proof of that claim.
The claim that the IPCC Chairman personally asked Courtney to work on the current IPCC Synthesis Report is truly astounding and requires a much higher level of proof. This is a claim that Pachauri personally invited Courtney to be an author on the Synthesis Report which is the highest level of the AR4 and approved line by line by all governments. Nomination requests for authors on IPCC reports go to governments and international and national organization not to individuals.
IEHO unless Courtney can provide additional information, this has to be filed somewhere between an extremely self-generous interpretation or hallucination. Having dealt with the Moranos and Courtneys of the world Eli has little doubt there is some implausible, strange and complex justification out there, but would be amused to see it and it might even make a nice article in the NY Times. To paraphrase Eli's thoughts (this is an R-rated blog and we have to keep it clean for the bunnies) there is no way anyone would have asked someone like this guy to come anywhere close to an IPCC report.
Still, we should discuss what Ray found (#550) (Ray in blue, Courtney in red, Eli in black)
Part I: In search of Richard S. CourtneyRay, is far too trusting. He should read Rabett Run. As Eli pointed out in December 2007 Richard is a charter member of Stoat's official nutters list. Belette mentioned that the rumor was that Courtney was skating about on his qualifications. Eli located them (page 17)
Dear Mr. Morano,
Let’s talk about Dr. Richard S. Courtney, whom you list as an Expert Reviewer of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, and a “Climate and Atmospheric Sciences Consultant.” Dr. Courtney is one of your highlighted skeptics, featured at the top of your report, so I figure he must be something really special. As justification for the rather remarkable claims he makes, you provide a link to what turns out to be an op-ed in the newspaper Canada Free Press. I’ll come back later to the arguments stated in that article, but first it would be nice to know a bit more about Dr Courtney’s training and area of expertise.
Richard is also an Accredited Methodist Preacher. He is a founding Member of the Christ and the Cosmos Initiative that explores the interactions of religious and scientific ideas. The Initiative started in the UK but became active in 28 countries.A DipPhil is not a Doctor of Philosopy, but a Diploma in Philosophy. The University of Cambridge offers one year postgraduate courses leading to Diplomas, but not in Philosophy, at least not now however there are other, less distinguished universities in Cambridge such as Anglia Ruskin.(corrected 2/5, Angelia weeps). It would be nice knowing what field and what University those Diploma's came from. Eli also notices that there are not a whole lot of references to DipPhil (170 in google), and it is very easy for the unwary to confuse this with a Doctorate in Philosophy or DPhil (277,000 in google) We could speculate further, but as Desmogblog put it with their usual delicacy
Richard avoids confusion about him in his scientific and religious activities by rarely citing his academic achievements, but his material science qualifications include a DipPhil (Cambridge), a BA (Open) and a Diploma (Bath).
But Richard Courtney is hardly a source to be taken seriously. In fact, there is every reason to believe that if he has a Ph.D. at all, he got it out of a box of cracker jacks.However, Richard has managed to get himself as an expert witness in front of a House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and also the House of Lords Select Committee on the Environment. Tim Ball is jealous. Ray continued
Courtney responded in # 558
That isn’t exactly easy to find out. The article you link provides a bio of Courtney’s co-author, but not of Courtney himself. Courtney’s former organization (the “European Science and Environment Forum”) has vanished without a trace. For what it’s worth, the Sourcewatch article on Courtney describes him as:
“a Technical Editor for CoalTrans International (journal of the international coal trading industry) who lives in Epsom, Surrey (UK).  In the early 1990s Courtney was a Senior Material Scientist of the National Coal Board (also known as British Coal) and a Science and Technology spokesman of the British Association of Colliery Management.”
Courtney’s consulting business seems to have no web presence. No CV or bio has turned up, and it appears to be unknown whether he really does have a doctorate, and if so where it is from and what field it is in. Heartland Institute lists him as a global warming expert here but the link to the bio appears to be a completely different Richard S. Courtney — a young associate professor in urban studies who lives in Pennsylvania, not the UK. Will the real Richard S. Courtney please stand up? The fact that your own Richard S. Courtney was an IPCC “Expert Reviewer” tells us little about him since almost anybody can request a draft of the report, submit comments, and count themselves as an “Expert.” This is good, because it opens up the reports to comments from a wide audience, but it also means that the term “Expert” here conveys little information.
Re: #550 By PierrehumbertOf course, there are a lot of places that refer to Our Dick as Richard Courtney, Ph.D., Dr. Richard Courtney. You would think that Richard would be writing them to correct this error. The Heartland paper is interesting, others would do well to read a response from the American Wind Energy Association. Give Ray credit, he did eventually get Andrew Revkin to post Part II #578.
#578 ——-Richard S. Courtney Part II: The arguments
Now let’s take a look at what Richard S. Courtney has written. A search of Science Citation Index under “Courtney RS” turns up a total of seven written documents (excluding another RS Courtney who has worked on personnel management).
One of these is a two page discussion summary on Environmental Economics in a 1995 issue of the Journal of Power and Energy and all the rest are Letters to the Editor. Three of the Letters to the Editor are in the popular science magazine New Scientist. The most recent of these is on butterfly wings, and the next most recent concerns a patent dispute over a wind energy generating device. The oldest letter in New Scientist (1991) is titled “Not So Little.” I haven’t read that and can’t comment.
There is one Letter to the Editor that appeared in the journal SPECTROCHIMICA ACTA PART A, pertaining to an article that appeared in that journal that claimed to prove that neither water vapor nor CO2 could act as a greenhouse gas. The article itself was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of local thermodynamic equilibrium. This was set right in a reviewed Technical Comment in the same journal by Houghton. There are several other reviewed technical comments on the paper, but Courtney’s comment for some reason was published as a Letter to the Editor instead. I’ve read this letter and it doesn’t say much. It criticizes an analogy used in one of the technical comments and basically praises the original paper without addressing Houghton’s rebuttal. In any event, the original paper, like the opus by Gerlich, would — if true — disprove all greenhouse effects of water vapor and CO2 everywhere, not just the anthropogenic greenhouse effect. If either Mr. Morano or Richard S. Courtney know of some way to account for the temperature of Venus or the Earth without any greenhouse effect whatever, I would be delighted to know of it.
Then there are two Letters to the Editor in Nature. Note that these are correspondence, not the short reviewed articles which in Nature go by the name of “Letters.” The first letter, titled “On Changing Water into Wine” deals with the psychological basis for religion. The second is a five-paragraph comment concerning the procedure the IPCC used to handle a flawed chapter in the Working Group III economics report, at the time of the Second Assessment report. This may be a useful statement of Dr. Courtney’s opinion on one facet of long-past IPCC procedure, but it provides no justification for the rather remarkable opinions about climate science voiced in the quotes you reproduce on the Inhofe 400 web site.
So, failing to find any sound published basis for Courtney’s skepticism — indeed hardly any published basis of any sort — I turn at least to the arguments expressed in the two paragraphs of the Canada Free Press op-ed which dealt with climate science and which presented arguments rather than just making declarations. The arguments amount to the following: (a) Global Warming stopped in 1998, and (b) Antarctic cooling is inconsistent with anthropogenic global warming. The first is a common fallacy that arises from fitting a trend line to the endpoints of a short time series. For a discussion of this point, see the recent article “Uncertainty, noise and the art of model-data comparison” on RealClimate.org . The statement about Antarctica is just untrue; the small Antarctic interior cooling seen in a relatively short recent part of the record can be adequately accounted for in terms of ozone depletion and atmospheric circulation changes, even in the face of increasing CO2. That is discussed in the article “Antarctic Cooling, Global Warming,” Dec. 3,2004, on RealClimate.org. And you needn’t believe RealClimate; you can just go directly to the peer-reviewed articles cited there.
So that sums up what I have been able to find of Richard S. Courtney’s arguments. No peer reviewed articles in any journal that shows up in Web of Science, two marginally relevant Letters to the Editor, of which one is essentially an endorsement of a paper proved to be wrong, and two fallacious arguments expressed briefly in a Canada Free Press op-ed.
If I have overlooked anything I should have discussed, please do let me know and I’ll have a look at it.
— Posted by Raymond T. Pierrehumbert
Eli has taken out his flamethrower. Let's see if it gets posted at dot.earth