Checking provenance of opinions on climate change – the case of the mysterious and elusive “Donald Ince”
On a social media platform recently, in connection with a censored post, there was a discussion about Greenland ice core data and their relevance to the science of AGW. Renee Hannon was arguing that the data led her to think that climate scientists might have underestimated global average carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere during previous historical epochs.
Renee Hannon describes herself on the relevant profile as being self-employed in “Paleoclimate Studies”. Her career prior to that appears to have been many years spent in oil and gas companies. Her main qualification seems to be an MSc in Geological and Earth Sciences.
I pointed out that a 1st July 2021 guest blog post by Renee on Andy May's website might be relevant to the discussion:
And another similar guest blog appeared in mid-August 2021:
So, with both the author of the blog post and the host identified, what was the next step in checking provenance of the views being expressed by Renee?
It wasn’t clear whether Renee's work on this subject had been published in peer-reviewed journals, and what climate scientists thought of it.
The only reference to any review that I could find on the blog posts by Renee on Andy May’s website was:
"Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Donald Ince and Andy May for reviewing and editing this article"
A similar article by Renee also appeared on the CO2 Coalition website in 2018, and on the website WattsUpWithThat in the same year, with similar acknowledgements. It was concerning that her articles appeared to be frequently published in well known AGW-denial websites.
It’s not difficult to find out who Andy May is and his credentials. His qualifications are in petroleum geology, not climate science. Andy May is (according to his website) "a retired petrophysicist and ... worked on oil, gas and CO2 fields in the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, China, UK North Sea, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Russia."
So, neither Renee Hannon nor Andy May are climate scientists, and both have deep connections with the fossil fuel industry. How can we find evidence of independent review of Renee's work by someone with credible climate science expertise? What about the other “reviewer” of her articles - "Donald ince"?
Who is “Donald Ince” and what are his qualifications to undertake a useful and relevant peer-review of such articles? Here we continue to have difficulty.
A search of the internet draws a blank, except for numerous instances of the words “Special thanks to Andy May and Donald Ince for reviewing …”.
Apart from that, there don’t appear to be any references to, or material created by, 'Donald Ince' in relation to climate change (or any other scientific subject).
I suspect Donald Ince might be either:
In an online discussion on a professional networking platform, in which Andy May was actively engaged in dialogue with me, I asked him directly "who is Donald Ince (a name I've seen on your website)?". Despite responding to other matters in the same post, he chose to ignore that question. Perhaps that speaks volumes in itself?
I raise these matters because credibility of sources and peer review are both important parts of assessing the credibility of a piece of work, especially when there are obvious reasons to doubt the independence and suspect some tendency towards bias in their work.
The overall message is simple – in relation to climate change, check sources of information about climate change and the related science for credibility, independence and likely bias, before placing any reliance on such information. If in doubt, treat it as potential misinformation, or (worse still) disinformation.
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