Sunday, April 3, 2016

Do Most Climate Scientists Argue that Climate Change is Mostly Caused by Human Activities in Order to Get Grant Money?

Earlier today I was reading a Youtube discussion board below an anti-anthropogenic climate change video. I read an interesting comment, which stated that many climate scientists support the view that human activities contribute substantially to climate change in order to get grants from the National Science Foundation. 

I think that this suggestion is completely ignorant of the process of peer review at NSF, and my own experience suggests it is ridiculous. No one gets a grant today based just on maintaining the status quo of the science, or to simply show that human activities have caused most modern climate change. Grants are awarded to address more specific questions. Even in climate science, peer review is brutal, and NSF declines a broad majority of proposals submitted. These proposals don't get declined simply because they disagree with the status quo either. The reality is that NSF proposals don't get funded without disagreeing with some aspect of the status quo, or without presenting a potential solution to some well defined problem that has not been previously addressed to the satisfaction of the scientists. Funded proposals are nearly always written to address questions for which the answers are unknown. Otherwise, they are outside of the mission of the NSF. Although it is apparently true that most climate scientists funded by NSF agree that human activities have influenced the climate, proposals don't get funded simply because they agree with that point of view.

For those who believe that NSF only grants money to work on climate science to those who accept the status quo and only if they address questions consistent with the status quo, I offer the following challenge. Submit a standard 15-page proposal on the climate change problem to the NSF directorate on climate and large-scale dynamics. Choose some aspect that agrees with the status quo, without contributing anything new, and good luck!