And it's just getting started. I expect the paper to be exhibit 1 (or at least 1A) when the Senate takes up Waxman-Markey. There's a reason I think that. The Inhofe drumbeat has been that "growing numbers of scientists" are "dissenting" or "debunking" or other such malarkey the scientific underpinnings of climate change. (See here, which has "Scientific meetings are now being dominated by a growing number of skeptical scientists.") This paper takes that as far as it can in attempting to cast doubt on the climate influence of anthropogenic CO2; mainly through subtle comments in the Conclusions that are apparenty unmerited (I could also say groundless) by what's actually done in the paper. Over on Tamino's "Open Mind" blog, where the first critical lambasting of the paper was performed, it appears that 1st author John McLean attempted to defend the paper, leading to this final comment in reply from Tamino:
Let's "duke it out" in the peer-reviewed literature, shall we? Expect a comment on your paper to appear soon in JGR. I can hardly wait to see how you'll respond there. [Yeah, neither can I, but...]
... the problem is, what if the paper isn't wrong? I mean, what's wrong about it is not the methodology or the results, but actually those subtle comments in the Conclusions, which Carter amplified in the press releases about the paper -- the press releases which have been gobbled up by the skeptical blogosphere, as well as media sympathetic to the skeptical snake-oil. Can a refutation article be written about subtle comments in the Conclusions when the paper's results (which show a lagging influence on global temperature from the ENSO state of the Pacific Ocean) are probably reasonably accurate? I get a sense from some of what Tamino says:
The fact that the method used in McLean et al. removes all effect of trend from the result isn't the *only* problem with this paper. The methodology greatly inflates the correlation between SOI and global temperature, so much so that it gives a ludicrous estimate of the degree of influence of SOI on global temperature.
that there's enough wrong with the paper to justify the rebuttal article and get it published. But I'm not sure. And if JGR somehow disallows rebuttal articles to the paper, then the paper will end up being a triumph for the skeptics.
On the other hand, if it goes down in flames, it will be a fairly good example of the kind of biased-science-leading-to-biased- (and heavily-hyped) conclusions that is being practiced by a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very small number of actual practicing scientists who are somewhat qualified to publish in the field of climate science.
All I can say right now is: Fascinating. Pass me the popcorn.