In an ideal world, evidence will lead conclusions. So when evidence is updated in, as a good example, a peer-reviewed article, the conclusions will consequently change.
But conclusions often lead the evidence instead. This was obvious in the case of the retraction of a paper asserting that European countries that support nuclear energy in their supply mixes achieve less for the global climate. Upon serious review, the weight of the authors’ evidence actually indicated a contrary, but apparently unwelcome conclusion. Of course, by this stage the paper had generated headlines.
The most recent major work of Mark Jacobson’s group at Stanford, offering a vision of entire nations perfectly well supplied in energy exclusively from solar, wind and water based technologies, also came up short following careful, serious and painstaking review. In a dark turn completely outside the peer-review process, Jacobson now intends court action against the journal and the lead author of the critique.
Here are many of the relevant resources for the context of this case, gathered in one place for convenience:
The 2015 paper proposing the “Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes”
A paper by Loftus and co-workers which included Jacobson’s work as one of the outliers among a number of studies with questionable levels of detail and feasibility
A somewhat prophetic piece in Foreign Affairs by Ted Nordhaus, Breakthrough Institute
A 2017 review of many “100% Renewable Energy” scenarios, including Jacobson’s work, using simple feasibility criteria
A related literature review from the Energy Innovation Reform Project
The “Clack et al.” formal literature critique of the Jacobson Group scenario
Clack and co-authors’ dissection of Jacobson’s response
Context and commentary at Brookings.edu
It got into PNAS without peer review. (That journal has a publication mechanism that allows some non-peer-reviewed articles.)
Make of that what you will.
The debate and lawsuit in elegant context, by nuclear reactor physicist and engineering manager Nick Touran.