Scientific Consensus and the Obvious Truth about Global Climate Change

You-control-climate-changeI often ask questions in my article titles, but the question “are we responsible for climate change?” is simply unnecessary. From the overwhelming evidence, we know the answer to this question; and the answer is “YES!” This is good news because we may have the power to change things, but bad news because we aren’t doing nearly enough, and we may pass the point of no return within the next few decades. Furthermore, with so many people fighting to argue against what almost all climatologists are saying, most people aren’t even trying to do something about it.

Consensus

A long time before I started writing articles on this blog, I was doing research for it. Without a doubt, climate change was the topic I had the most articles on, out of any topic – which says a lot, because I was only looking for psychology articles at that time. I have so many sources regarding the detrimental effects of climate change that I put off writing an article on this topic. I found articles faster than I could write about them. So I will keep things simple here and focus on the scientific consensus.

The scientific consensus doesn’t mean that something is true, but that experts think so. For example, we have a scientific consensus on gravity. Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity held for centuries, and that was the scientific consensus. But then Albert Einstein came along and shower it to be incomplete. Now that is the new scientific consensus.

There is even more scientific evidence to support evolution than gravity, and of course the scientific consensus is that it happens through natural selection. Note that the discrepancy between the education of evolution and the belief of evolution is almost exclusively caused by outdated and misguided religious beliefs, such as the absurd idea that the Earth is only five thousand years old or so.

Regardless, scientific consensus doesn’t mean that this is true – perhaps someone will create a new theory of gravity that will replace Einstein’s, just as he did with Newton’s. But climatologists spend their whole career on the study of climate, which would suggest that they know a lot more about what they’re talking about than the scientifically illiterate conspiracy theorist. And believe me, there are a lot of conspiracy theories about climate change.

Therefore, all though scientific consensus doesn’t necessarily mean something is true, it means that experts in that particular field think so. So if the scientific consensus says that water is good for you, decide for yourself how skeptical you want to be about it.

Especially in the last decade, climate change was one of the topics that the media wanted to invent a two-sided argument to. They would have debates with two “equal sides,” often showing an “expert” who so happens to have studied a field totally outside climatology. For example, some debates were between someone who studies climate against another who studies the weather. This is like getting a psychiatrist and a surgeon to argue about how to stitch up a patient – I don’t know about you, but I trust one more than the other.

So what do the experts say about climate change?

The Consensus on Climate Change

Skeptical Science is a website and research group that superbly aggregates research on climate change, as categorized by questions climate change denialists constantly ask. It’s basically a well-put-together FAQ that has probably better sourcing on climate change than any other website on the internet. They report extensively on the topic. The first major climate-change consensus study was from 2004:

In the scientific field of climate studies – which is informed by many different disciplines – the consensus is demonstrated by the number of scientists who have stopped arguing about what is causing climate change – and that’s nearly all of them.  A survey of 928 peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject ‘global climate change’ published between 1993 and 2003 shows that not a single paper rejected the consensus position that global warming is man caused (Oreskes 2004).

James Powell study graph

Last year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Geochemistry professor James Lawrence Powell ran an interesting study of his own, finding what you can see from the graphic on the right:

I searched the Web of Science for peer-reviewed scientific articles published between 1 January 1991 and 9 November 2012 that have the keyword phrases “global warming” or “global climate change.” The search produced 13,950 articles. See methodology.

There’s also a study from 2010 by William Anderegg and others which looked at scientists who either supported or rejected the consensus, omitting anyone who self-reported as unsure. From the abstract:

Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

The following graph of the Anderegg study comes from Skeptical Science:

Anderegg 2010 study results graph

All We Really Need to Know

We don’t even have to talk about the scores of scientific organizations, not to mention the Academies of Science from multitudes of countries stating their endorsements of the consensus – though these are also significant. The researchers at Skeptical Science just published their own large-scale investigation, whose results are not surprising when you consider the studies above.

A follow-up study by the Skeptical Science team of over 12,000 peer-reviewed abstracts on the subjects of ‘global warming’ and ‘global climate change’ published between 1991 and 2011 found that of the papers taking a position on the cause of global warming, over 97% agreed that humans are causing it (Cook 2013).

The scientific authors of the papers were also contacted and asked to rate their own papers, and again over 97% whose papers took a position on the cause said humans are causing global warming.

Just for the record, they contacted the researchers so as to ensure that a) they themselves weren’t biased in categorizing the studies, and b) the authors’ attitudes reflected their own studies. Indeed, the results show that over 97% of experts agree in both cases.

How important is 97%? This is an absolutely massive number. Almost every big scientific topic you can think of has less agreement. And considering how many experts there are on this topic, that is very significant. Many people still think that scientists are arguing about the results, but the consensus is clear. They almost all agree that climate change is anthropogenic (i.e., manmade).

Most of what we know about the ignorance of this fact comes from polls from America, but the same could probably be said for many other countries, though probably to a lesser extent. But for whatever reason, America seems to be unique in how many people are skeptical of the scientific consensus.

Perhaps that is because climate change has moved from an issue that both major political US parties aimed to fight, to one that Democrats like President Barack Obama fight for, whereas Republicans fight against. After all, a study published in April from Harvard University found that people with more Republican leanings, unlike their Democratic counterparts, were actually less likely to buy energy-efficient light bulbs when they were labeled with a message that said “Protect the Environment” than when there was no label. I suppose, then, it’s not skepticism – or even ignorance – that’s making some people deny anthropogenic climate change. Sadly, it may just be politics.

Could it be that the less than 3% of climate scientists who disagree with the consensus are leaning to the right? I don’t know. And it hardly matters – the number is so small that it’s dwarfed by the majority of scientists. That Harvard study, by Dena Gromet and colleagues, just shows that ignorance is bliss. At least, that’s true when it comes to getting Republicans to pay a little extra in order to help the environment. (Note: Protecting the environment never used to be a political litmus test in the US, but now it has bizarrely become perceived as something on the left-wing agenda.)

But the ignorance-is-bliss adage goes beyond that. One study from 2009 gives us what I think is the most important results of all the consensus studies. It essentially investigates how the degree to which people know what they are talking about influences their perceptions. Skeptical Science reports the following, along with the accompanying graph:

Subsequent research has confirmed this result. A survey of 3146 earth scientists asked the question “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures? (Doran 2009). More than 90% of participants had Ph.D.s, and 7% had master’s degrees. Overall, 82% of the scientists answered yes. However, what are most interesting are responses compared to the level of expertise in climatescience.

Of scientists who were non-climatologists and didn’t publish research, 77% answered yes. In contrast, 97.5% of climatologists who actively publish research on climate change responded yes. As the level of active research and specialization inclimate science increases, so does agreement that humans are significantly changing global temperatures.

2008 Gallup poll results Doran 2009 climate science consensus graphIn other words; the more someone researched climate change, the more likely they would be to agree that it is anthropogenic. This is very important for people to know.

But when it comes to staying informed, some of the blame must go to the media. Skeptical Science has a nice free app for those who want to learn more on the go. This is especially nice for Americans, who rarely get exposed to such science in the mainstream media. Even though 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded, there were still fewer stories in the US than every year since 2009. In fact, Sunday shows on the major US news networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX) spent less than 8 minutes on the topic of climate change for all of 2012.

Media Matters, the group responsible for this television analysis, reported that “the vast majority of coverage — 89 percent — was driven by politics, and none was driven by scientific findings.” Apparently NBC’s Meet the Press had the least coverage, with a single 6-second mention. It’s no wonder that so many Americans falsely think that scientists are in disagreement – they aren’t being told enough about it. Of course, media often bows to the pressures of ratings, which makes the situation much more complicated.

US scientific consensus on climate change perception graph

The Bottom Line

It’s very clear that scientists who study climatology are almost all in agreement that humans are responsible for climate change. What’s also clear is that the more people study the topic, the more they know about it; and the more they know about it, the more likely they are to come to the conclusion that is consistent with the consensus.

To put it another way… if 97 doctors out of 100 independently analyze you and tell you that you have cancer and you need to get treated, then it would probably be best to believe them. Or, you know, you could believe the 3%. But if you’re wrong… where does that leave you and your future generation?

 

References:

Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., Way, R., Jacobs, P., & Skuce, A. (2013). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature Environmental Research Letters, 8 (2) DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024

Gromet DM, Kunreuther H, & Larrick RP (2013). Political ideology affects energy-efficiency attitudes and choices. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PMID: 23630266

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18 Responses to Scientific Consensus and the Obvious Truth about Global Climate Change

  1. Kevin says:

    I was interested to hear that so many scientists agree that global warming exists and is the fault of humans. I truly didn’t know that there was such a strong consensus on the issue.

    Not to be nit-picky but I don’t think that you were using anthropomorphic in the right way in this article. A google search for the definition comes up with:

    1. Relating to or characterized by anthropomorphism.
    2. Having human characteristics.

    This is what I have been taught that the word means, not being made by man.

    Besides this, I agree with you. 🙂

    • Ryo says:

      Oops! I meant to say “anthropogenic” the whole time!
      Thanks for the heads-up, Kevin.
      *discretely changes all embarrassing mistakes* 😛

  2. six8ten says:

    I usually don’t comment on the small English spelling or grammar errors here (such as typing “all though” instead of “although”, as it is still understandable. Besides, your English is far, far better than my Japanese), but you did use the word “anthropomorphic” incorrectly.

    Anthropomorphism is the assigning of human traits to things that are not human. Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, etc are anthropomorphized animals, a character like Thomas the Tank would also fall under anthropomorphism, as would assigning personality to trees, weather, etc. It does not mean “man-made”.

    Any suggestions as to what people can do to help (or is this the subject for a later article)? Growing up, the tenets of “Reduce, reuse, recycle” were drilled into us (or me, at least), as were things like walking or biking instead of driving when possible and turning off lights when not in use. Even in my apartment in Tokyo, I put 3M window insulation on the windows (helps cut down heat loss in winter a little bit as well as keep the heat out in summer). As a renter, I don’t have the options of installing solar power or some other measures I might take were I a homeowner, nor do I currently do any composting since I live in the middle of a city.

    • Ryo says:

      Hi six8ten! By all means, correct any mistakes you see. Anything that improves my articles is highly appreciated!

      As far as what to do about climate change, there are lots of little things that add up over time. For example, we all have a tendency to waste energy… such as by turning on a light and then leaving the room. That’s unfortunate.

      But hey, apparently Japan is getting better at using solar energy. Up to #3, and might become #2 in the world by the end of the year. Here’s to hopin’!

  3. Sophelia says:

    I read a while ago about a paper on climate change conspiracy theories that ended up generating a number of conspiracy theories, hilarious stuff. I can’t find the right link but this may be the same story…
    http://science.slashdot.org/story/13/02/06/0328238/paper-on-conspiratorial-thinking-invokes-conspiratorial-thinking

    • Bob says:

      Oh for crying out loud, that’s the Lewandowsky study (the term study used loosely) with John Cook and several authors, all of whom are clearly biased. You simply cannot take a study of this nature seriously when it is conducted by people so obviously aligned with one side of the issue. In fact the results of the study were so suspect that analysts on both sides of the AGW debate challenged different aspects of it. When data from the study was requested from UWA so that it could be assessed for integrity and accuracy the request was denied, despite the university’s written policy that “Research data related to publications must be available for discussion with other researchers.”

      This is but another example of legitimate FOI requests being denied or delayed. Studies that portend to be scientific must be exposed to the light of critical review. It is part of the scientific process regardless of how the authors feel about those who want to assess their methods and data. But that’s not the way of it these days. Phil Jones said it best “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.” Because Phil Jones and Stephan Lewandowsky and John Cook and Michael Mann… it is your responsibility as a scientist to allow others to try to find something wrong with your research. Refusing to release raw data strongly implies that the data will expose weaknesses in the study that the authors do not want exposed. There is no other good reason for such refusals.

  4. Bob says:

    Ryo, you correctly point out that “consensus doesn’t mean that something is true”. You should have left it there. Albert Einstein, when told that a great many scientists had rejected his theory of special relativity, responded that a single paper would have sufficed to refute his hypothesis. And Aristotle, in his Sophistical Refutations, wrote that the argument from consensus as one of the dozen most common logical fallacies in human discourse. The argument from consensus is completely unscientific.

    Next, you state that “the media wanted to invent a two-sided argument”. Not so much. According to Lauren Feldman’s study “Climate on Cable”, MSNBC and CNN ran stories featuring more believers than doubters 80% and 86% of the time, compared to Fox’s 31% of the time.. Another study of ABC, CBS, and NBC found that skeptics were only represented about 21% of the time. So aside from Fox and CNBC, there is little apparent effort to present balance.

    Next you inform us that “Skeptical Science is a website and research group that superbly aggregates research on climate change, as categorized by questions climate change denialists ask.” Can you not see that the use of the term “denialist” marks Skeptical Science as completely biased? It’s a completely inaccurate slur; no better than any derogatory name used to describe a person of a particular race, religion, or sexual preference.

    As it relates to the various scientific consensus studies, not a one of them is procedurally sound. The Oreskes (2004) study was so weak, and so thoroughly disemboweled, that is rarely mentioned anymore. The next study, Doran and Zimmerman (2009), is no better. They sent out 10,257 email questionnaires, got back 3,146 responses, and hand-picked a mere 79 that met their criteria. Of those 79 scientists, 77 agreed (97%) that humans had a “significant” impact upon the climate, although the term “significant” was never defined. Poor work.

    Next came Anderegg et al.(2010). They didn’t poll a single scientist. They simply singled out scientists who had signed a petition of some kind (as a measure of their certainty) and counted their papers and citations. Amazingly they came up with a 97% consensus too, although only 65 papers actually . In the study referred to skeptics as “deniers”; there’s that magic word again. He also claimed that their “expertise” was “substantially below” other scientists; an amazing revelation given that he did nothing more than count papers and citations. Pure bupkis.

    Then Cook et al. (2013) decided that counting abstracts was the way to do it. Starting with ~12,000 papers they eliminated 2 out of every 3 because they did not give an opinion regarding anthropogenic global warming. Eh? You can’t just throw away 67% of the papers and then claim a 97% consensus. It’s folly. Regardless, Cook then subjectively divided the remaining abstracts into endorsements of AGW and rejections of AGW and once again, incredibly, the consensus roulette wheel stopped spinning on 97%. Cook’s consensus number included 2,933 abstracts that Cook felt “implied” an endorsement and another 934 that explicitly agreed but did not quantify their agreement; i.e. they did not say how much human’s had affected climate change. In fact only 65 abstracts were quantified explicit endorsements; not quite 97%.

    And that brings us to Powell’s 99.8% claim. Powell, yet another user of the “denier” slur, supposedly analyzed some 14,000 odd papers dating back to 1991 and found only 24 that “reject AGW as I define reject.” Really? The number of climate scientists who are considered skeptics varies from ~70 to ~400 depending upon whose list you use. Are we to believe that in almost 24 years, this entire community has only published 24 papers? That is preposterous to the point of being embarrassing.

    The fact of the matter is that nobody really knows what percent of climate scientists believe that humans are causing significant and dangerous global warming. The issue is not whether global temperatures have risen over the past 150 years or whether humans have had an impact upon that warming; it has and they have. The issue is how much of the warming has been caused by humans and is it dangerous. None of these studies really examined those two things. So they are essentially useless at best, and dishonest at worst.

    • Ryo says:

      Hi Bob, thanks for the comments.
      Two quick links I wanted to send based on the comments you made about the media:
      1) http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/01/16/study-how-broadcast-news-covered-climate-change/197612 On the major news networks in the US, only 14% of the people who talked about climate science were actually scientists. And in the entire year, among all of those networks, only 27 minutes were devoted to it.
      2) http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/fight-misinformation/cable-news-coverage-climate-change-science.html Statistics showing how many misleading statements there were at the three biggest news networks. Fox had 72% (the majority), CNN had 30%, and MSNBC had 8% (pretty impressive for MSNBC).
      You can read into those what you will. Let’s just get to the rest of my response.

      Clearly, you didn’t like the use of the word “denialist” when I spoke of Skeptical Science, but you’re presupposing that having used that word betrays a bias. It’s the opposite. The conclusion was drawn by looking at the results. The results weren’t decided after making the conclusion that there are climate denialists.

      I mean, if you want to choose to ignore thousands of independent studies from various scientists in every country around the world, then I can’t stop you anymore than I can stop a religious person from believing. But don’t throw phrases like “argument of consensus” right before name-dropping Einstein and Aristotle (completely out of context, no less). I believe that’s called the “argument of authority.”

      I can tell you’re not a fan of James Powell, but considering he did the work (and showed exactly how he did it) I’m going to mention another study he came out with at the beginning of the year. He showed the extent to which 9136 researchers – who wrote a total of 2258 peer-reviewed climate papers since 1991 – agreed that climate change is real. Can you guess how many researchers disagreed with the consensus? http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/01/08/why-climate-deniers-have-no-scientific-credibility-only-1-9136-study-authors-rejects-global-warming
      One.

      Now, you can sit there and refute this study all you want (“consensus doesn’t necessarily mean anything!”). But can you really refute each of the studies that collectively show overwhelming evidence of climate change? See, that’s the problem with your argument against the consensus. You can argue that the argument of the consensus itself is not scientific, but that doesn’t mean that the research which makes up the consensus is unscientific.

      So instead of merely arguing it, why don’t you show some evidence for it? Powell actually gave you all his datasets on the link I just gave you. So instead of just assuming that he’s wrong… why don’t you show us?

      You say “The number of climate scientists who are considered skeptics varies from ~70 to ~400 depending upon whose list you use.” Well… whose list are you using…? If you count articles that aren’t peer-reviewed or are from joke journals with no affiliations to accredited institutions, then I’m sure you can find whatever you’re looking for, but that’s not up to the standards of academia.

      As for your specific critiques of the studies, I appreciate your criticism of Zimmerman (2009), though I don’t understand your criticism of Oreskes (2004). And for Anderegg et al (2010), I see now that http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/63/8/666.abstract

      Your criticism of Cook et al’s 2013 article was interesting, though I think it should probably be aimed elsewhere. That is to say… reviewing abstracts is, naturally, not the best thing to do. If you want to do good research, you should look carefully at each article and make a decision from the whole thing. But these researchers aren’t robots… they’re people with careers. They have deadlines to make, quotas to fill, etc. In other words, your criticism – in my opinion – is (or should be) more about academia as a whole. There are problems with the way things run (e.g., peer-review isn’t a perfect system either), no question about it. But even though they took the easier route (I hesitate to say that sifting through 2000+ articles is the “lazy route”) I remain unconvinced that they hand-picked papers to make their results more convincing. It’s a tall order to investigate the results of 12,000 papers, and eliminating the ones that are more ambiguous is presumably not inherently weighted towards one side vs. another.
      Unless… you’re arguing that the abstracts Cook et al investigated were written by scientists motivated to make clear their results showing AGW in the abstracts? If that was true, I would presume such biased counterparts on the other side of the argument would do the same, in which case it would balance out. But ultimately, I don’t think that’s the case in the first place.

      Also, you’re arguing that scientists who those wrote papers were not explicit enough in their abstracts to make an endorsement either way. Yes… that may be true. But if you know a thing or two about scientists, they’re very careful about what they say and how they say it. They will avoid using words like “proof” and say things instead of “there is no evidence to suggest that there would be any substantial benefit to subscribing to the view that…” etc. So that’s not really fair.
      And in fact, that’s a major problem with the communication of science – laypeople reading science just don’t always hear it the same way scientists intend on making it heard. That’s why people like Neil DeGrasse Tyson are so good at what they do – they make it easy to understand for laypeople. That’s also why when they found the Higgs Boson at CERN, they would absolutely refuse to say “we found it!” In fact, if you watch the press conference, the man who made the announcement would only concede that they found it after he said “as a layperson… I can say that we found it.”

      Okay, I think I have gone on a massive tangent; but this is why I have my website. For the conversations.

      Anyways, thanks a lot for the comments, Bob! I will try to be quicker with my responses in the future. (It’s just one of those busy times)

      • Bob says:

        Thanks for the reply Ryo. I wasn’t expecting it, so let me digest your comments and reply. It may take me a while though.

      • Bob says:

        First of all, I very much appreciate the way you responded to my posts. I am so used to name calling, condescension, and outright hatred, that it is very nice to interact with someone with a sense of decorum. So with that said in response to your “Two quick links”, I’m going to have to pass on replying to anything from either Media Matters or the Union of Concerned Scientists. However, I will comment briefly on the “misleading statements” claim. Who determines what is misleading and what is not? It is a completely subjective opinion, based largely upon the perspective of the UCS on climate change. I’m sure that my definition of “misleading” is very different than the definition used by UCS. In fact it’s probably about 180 degrees different.

        In response to your “Clearly, you didn’t like the use of the word denialist” paragraph, I don’t assume that the word “denialist” betrays a bias. I know that it does. It is a slur, plain and simple, intentionally used in a effort to link AGW skeptics to holocaust deniers. The fact is that skeptics don’t deny either global warming or climate change; both are obvious facts. Rather we question the extent to which humans contribute to either. We question. We don’t deny, so to describe us as deniers is little better than a lie because our views are well known. The truth is that nobody really knows how much impact humans have on climate change; not the proponents of global warming and not the skeptics. Our understanding of each and every one of the climate forcings and their interrelationships is simply too primitive.

        But the climate has behaved in a manner more consistent with the view that climate is primarily driven by natural cycles than the view that it is primarily driven by human CO2 emissions. The climate has generally warmed over the past 150 years, but the climate is either warming or it is cooling so the fact that it is doing one of the two isn’t unexpected. And despite hair-on-fire charts created by Mann and Briffa and Marcott and others, the rate of warming is not unusual. Similar rates of warming and cooling have been recorded many times during the Holocene.
        More recently, the weather/climate that was supposed to happen as a result of AGW, hasn’t.

        By that I mean the unanticipated global warming hiatus that has lasted for more than a decade, the decline in F3+ tornadoes (NOAA), a decline in the frequency and ACE of tropical cyclones (Maue), the least active Atlantic hurricane season in 2013 in decades, no discernible trend in the U.S. Percentage Area Wet or Dry (NOAA) or the Worldwide Precipitation over Land (NOAA) or the Global Ocean Rainfall (NOAA), or even the Number of U.S. Wildfires (NIFC). And, if anything, the Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent (NOAA) is increasing. Proponents of global warming have tried to point to storms like Haiyan as evidence of the influence of global warming. But the claims are specious. For example, while Haiyan was touted as the most powerful typhoon to ever make landfall, it was actually only a Category 4 as officially measured by PAGASA. The report of 195 mph winds came from an unofficial estimate while the typhoon was still well offshore, yet the “unprecedented” claim persists.

        These are all good reasons to be skeptical of the claims made by the IPCC and other AGW proponents, because their claims are based largely upon CGMs that base their projections upon assumptions of a relatively high level of CO2 climate sensitivity. So given the fact that they have substantially over-projected the rate of global warming, it is reasonable to believe that the human influence on the climate is significantly less than what AGW proponents believe it to be. In other words it is reasonable to be a skeptic, which has nothing to do with denial.

        • Bob says:

          In response to your “I mean, if you want to choose to ignore thousands of independent studies” paragraph, I am not ignoring them, but neither am I ignoring the plethora of studies conducted by skeptical scientists in virtually every country around the world. Since the Einstein and Aristotle quotes are not central to the discussion I’m not going to burn cycles arguing their relevance or context.

          In response to your “I can tell you’re not a fan of James Powell” paragraph, I am familiar with Powell’s two studies, but they are both completely specious. Given the number of skeptics and the volume of their peer-reviewed studies, his findings are a virtual impossibility. I have archived several different lists of AGW skeptics, ranging from Wikipedia’s 46 to Jim Prall’s 498. And I have two personal working lists. The first, that is more heavily researched and vetted against DeSmog and ExxonSecrets, has 127 scientists on it. The other, that is less-well researched, has 314 scientists on it. So regardless of which list you use it is preposterous to claim that, together, they only published one paper per year since 1991.

          I have personally archived more than 200 peer reviewed scientific papers that are skeptical of the “consensus” view on AGW. Popular Technology has created a list of over 1300 papers that represent some form of skeptical perspective. Many are scientific; many are not. Many deal specifically with AGW; many do not. And the list has been criticized by Skeptical Science, DeSmog and others, as if proper, but a review of the rebuttals to these criticisms shows that they are making a best effort to make changes the list when valid criticisms are made. And keep in mind many of the scientists and papers that the IPCC counts in support of their findings are neither scientific or specific to AGW. So what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

          http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html#Rebuttals

          Powell has a new book out, “The Inquisition of Climate Science”. In it he refers to an “industry of denial”, a claim that completely flies in the face of the facts. Using DeSmog, ExxonSecrets, and other sources I have spent countless hours estimating how much money AGW skeptics receive vs. AGW proponents, and it’s not even close. I have included public funding, private funding, and soft money spent by the Koch brothers, George Soros, Tom Steyer, Richard Branson and others. I have the breakdown of the figures if you are interested, but conservatively, the proponent community receives ten dollars for every one dollar that the skeptical community receives. If there is indeed any industry at play here, it is the one that receives billions of dollars every year, the “industry of alarm”. The relatively miniscule amount of money that skeptics have at their disposal makes it damn difficult for a meaningful industry of denial to exist, so any further discussion of Powell is a waste of time..

          On a related topic, though, I am in the middle of researching peer reviewed papers that have studied the climate of the last 1000 years or more. My specific intent is to learn about the Medieval Warm Period and to find out how its temperatures compared with those of today. Although I undoubtedly missed a number of papers, it is clear that most of the studies show that 1) the MWP was global in scope, although it varied in magnitude depending upon where the study was conducted and 2) in general its temperatures were as warm or warmer than today’s temperatures. We’re all used to seeing the studies and the charts published by the IPCC; i.e. those done by Hansen, Mann, Jones, Briffa, Osborn, Crowley, Thompson, Marcott, Bradley and others. But most of the scientific work disagrees with their flattening of the global temperatures prior to the 20th century. The reason I mention this is that, because these studies are not considered to be climate change studies per se, it is unlikely that they were counted by Powell, Cook, Anderegg or Oreskes. Yet they clearly support the skeptical viewpoint and belie the claims made by the IPCC and by AGW proponents about the MWP.

          OK, now I’m rambling.

      • Bob says:

        First of all, I very much appreciate the way you responded to my posts. I am so used to name calling, condescension, and outright hatred, that it is very nice to interact with someone with a sense of decorum. So with that said in response to your “Two quick links”, I’m going to have to pass on replying to anything from either Media Matters or the Union of Concerned Scientists. However, I will comment briefly on the “misleading statements” claim. Who determines what is misleading and what is not? It is a completely subjective opinion, based largely upon the perspective of the UCS on climate change. I’m sure that my definition of “misleading” is very different than the definition used by UCS. In fact it’s probably about 180 degrees different.

        In response to your “Clearly, you didn’t like the use of the word denialist” paragraph, I don’t assume that the word “denialist” betrays a bias. I know that it does. It is a slur, plain and simple, intentionally used in a effort to link AGW skeptics to holocaust deniers. The fact is that skeptics don’t deny either global warming or climate change; both are obvious facts. Rather we question the extent to which humans contribute to either. We question. We don’t deny, so to describe us as deniers is little better than a lie because our views are well known. The truth is that nobody really knows how much impact humans have on climate change; not the proponents of global warming and not the skeptics. Our understanding of each and every one of the climate forcings and their interrelationships is simply too primitive.

        But the climate has behaved in a manner more consistent with the view that climate is primarily driven by natural cycles than the view that it is primarily driven by human CO2 emissions. The climate has generally warmed over the past 150 years, but the climate is either warming or it is cooling so the fact that it is doing one of the two isn’t unexpected. And despite hair-on-fire charts created by Mann and Briffa and Marcott and others, the rate of warming is not unusual. Similar rates of warming and cooling have been recorded many times during the Holocene.
        More recently, the weather/climate that was supposed to happen as a result of AGW, hasn’t.

        By that I mean the unanticipated global warming hiatus that has lasted for more than a decade, the decline in F3+ tornadoes (NOAA), a decline in the frequency and ACE of tropical cyclones (Maue), the least active Atlantic hurricane season in 2013 in decades, no discernible trend in the U.S. Percentage Area Wet or Dry (NOAA) or the Worldwide Precipitation over Land (NOAA) or the Global Ocean Rainfall (NOAA), or even the Number of U.S. Wildfires (NIFC). And, if anything, the Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent (NOAA) is increasing. Proponents of global warming have tried to point to storms like Haiyan as evidence of the influence of global warming. But the claims are specious. For example, while Haiyan was touted as the most powerful typhoon to ever make landfall, it was actually only a Category 4 as officially measured by PAGASA. The report of 195 mph winds came from an unofficial estimate while the typhoon was still well offshore, yet the “unprecedented” claim persists.

        These are all good reasons to be skeptical of the claims made by the IPCC and other AGW proponents, because their claims are based largely upon CGMs that base their projections upon assumptions of a relatively high level of CO2 climate sensitivity. So given the fact that they have substantially over-projected the rate of global warming, it is reasonable to believe that the human influence on the climate is significantly less than what AGW proponents believe it to be. In other words it is reasonable to be a skeptic, which has nothing to do with denial.

      • Bob says:

        In response to your “Now, you can sit there and refute this study all you want” paragraph, Good point and a fair question. When you say “show overwhelming evidence” to which evidence are you referring? There are a lot of papers out there that claim to provide evidence, but a high percentage of them are based upon climate models that have proven to be remarkably unreliable. The temperatures in the stratosphere would seem to support proponent claims, but the number of unknowns about what happens in the stratosphere diminish the reliability of that data. It has been claimed that the fact that winters are warming faster than summers is proof of AGW. But that’s not happening. While both the GISTEMP and the HadCRUT4 datasets show comparable winter and summer warming over the last 100 years, they show that summers have actually been warming faster than the winters during the last 30 years. And then there is the issue of the warming in the troposphere. Compared to surface temperatures it is not warming nearly as fast as the GCMs say that it should be.

        Beyond that, the global warming hiatus was completely unexpected. The GCMs projected a continuation of the 1975-2000 warming trend, and they did so based upon calculations that assumed positive feedbacks and used high sensitivity levels. The errors in the GCMs strongly imply mistakes in their sensitivity level calculations which in turn strongly implies mistakes in the amount of forcing attributable to anthropogenic CO2. And that is the entire basis for the AGW hypothesis. Theories regarding the reason for the pause have been all over the board, but proponents seem to have settled upon the the-heat-went-into-the-oceans justification. Well if that could have happened, why didn’t anyone anticipate that it could or would. Further, the heat in the oceans is driven primarily by different oceanic cycles, ENSO, PDO, AMO, etc. and not atmospheric CO2 or temperatures. So back to my original question, aside from studies based upon GCMs and other modeling techniques, where is the overwhelming empirical evidence?

        In response to your “So instead of merely arguing it” paragraph, with all due respect to your suggestion I am not going to waste one minute replicating his study. I would be more inclined to research a study that claimed that when a coin was flipped 2258 times it only came up heads once. That is more plausible than Powell’s study. BTW, I think you are confusing the results of his two studies. His long-term study, 1991-present, reported 24 skeptical papers. His shorter term paper is the one that reported just one skeptical paper.

      • Bob says:

        In response to your “As for your specific critiques of the studies” paragraph, the Javeline et al. study reported on “environmental biologists” and found that AGW proponents had “greater expertise”. While biologists are qualified to render opinions on certain important aspects of climate change, they are clearly a very small subset of all qualified scientists. But more importantly the determination of expertise is incredibly subjective. Depending upon how you chose to measure it, you could draw practically any conclusion you wanted. Anderegg claims to have made the same finding, but a subjective statistic isn’t data; it’s an opinion.

        In response to your “Your criticism of Cook et al article was interesting” paragraphs, all of these studies have been effectively discredited. None of them are statistically sound. They have been conducted by AGW proponents, one and all, using methodology that is both subjective and unscientific. You can’t just subjectively whittle down more than 3000 responses to the 79 that fit your criteria. Nor can you draw statistical conclusions based upon what you believe another person implied. But possibly the most important failing of all of these studies is the quantitative aspect of the findings. In other words, they tend is to count among the consensus group any study that finds that there is any amount human influence on the climate, no matter how insignificant. Since no one is arguing that humans have had some impact upon the climate, that method of counting is deceptive and it is one of the points made by Spiegel Online in May of 2013 when it critiqued Cook’s survey. “The survey confirms only a banality: climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that man is responsible for at least a part of the climate warming. The important question of how big is man’s part in climate change remains hotly disputed.”

        You are showing a tremendous amount of faith in the integrity of surveys performed by people with very clear biases. You correctly pointed out that researchers are just people, “people with careers”. They are also people with egos, with the need for notoriety and acceptance, and with political and ideological views. If I worked for Honda and I published a survey finding that Honda made the best vehicles on the road, would you assume a lack of bias? I hope not. What if I was a Muslim and conducted a survey that found the Qur’an to be perfect and Allah to be the one true God? Would you assume that I had conducted a fair survey. Of course not. You would be nuts to assume that the survey was legitimate. In fact, you should assume bias and a lot of it.

        Likewise, you should assume bias from the authors of all of these surveys. They are all people with extremely strong opinions on climate change, particularly Anderegg, Cook, and Powell. They are fully invested in the theory of AGW. They have staked their careers and their reputations on it. And as fallible human beings, it is reasonable to expect them to defend the theory of AGW vigorously even if that means bending the truth to do so. It’s human nature and researchers are no more or less moral than people in other lines of work who bend the truth to benefit their company or their political party. You may not see it from where you sit, but from where I sit as a skeptic I have no confidence in the impartiality of Cook or any of the others.

  5. Bob says:

    I see you didn’t have the intellectual honesty to post my comments. But then again anybody who confuses anthropomorphic with anthropogenic needs to cover his or her tracks. 😆

    • Ryo says:

      I can appreciate the frustration, but the simple fact is that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been on my blog for three months. The only reason I have time now is because it’s a national holiday (in Japan) now. And I really don’t have that much time, but I’m going to try to address some stuff you said asap.

  6. Bob says:

    In response to your “Now, you can sit there and refute this study all you want” paragraph, Good point and a fair question. When you say “show overwhelming evidence” to which evidence are you referring? There are a lot of papers out there that claim to provide evidence, but a high percentage of them are based upon climate models that have proven to be remarkably unreliable. The temperatures in the stratosphere would seem to support proponent claims, but the number of unknowns about what happens in the stratosphere diminish the reliability of that data. It has been claimed that the fact that winters are warming faster than summers is proof of AGW. But that’s not happening. While both the GISTEMP and the HadCRUT4 datasets show comparable winter and summer warming over the last 100 years, they show that summers have actually been warming faster than the winters during the last 30 years. And then there is the issue of the warming in the troposphere. Compared to surface temperatures it is not warming nearly as fast as the GCMs say that it should be.

    Beyond that, the global warming hiatus was completely unexpected. The GCMs projected a continuation of the 1975-2000 warming trend, and they did so based upon calculations that assumed positive feedbacks and used high sensitivity levels. The errors in the GCMs strongly imply mistakes in their sensitivity level calculations which in turn strongly implies mistakes in the amount of forcing attributable to anthropogenic CO2. And that is the entire basis for the AGW hypothesis. Theories regarding the reason for the pause have been all over the board, but proponents seem to have settled upon the the-heat-went-into-the-oceans justification. Well if that could have happened, why didn’t anyone anticipate that it could or would. Further, the heat in the oceans is driven primarily by different oceanic cycles, ENSO, PDO, AMO, etc. and not atmospheric CO2 or temperatures. So back to my original question, aside from studies based upon GCMs and other modeling techniques, where is the overwhelming empirical evidence?

    In response to your “So instead of merely arguing it” paragraph, with all due respect to your suggestion I am not going to waste one minute replicating his study. I would be more inclined to research a study that claimed that when a coin was flipped 2258 times it only came up heads once. That is more plausible than Powell’s study. BTW, I think you are confusing the results of his two studies. His long-term study, 1991-present, reported 24 skeptical papers. His shorter term paper is the one that reported just one skeptical paper.

  7. Bob says:

    In response to your “As for your specific critiques of the studies” paragraph, the Javeline et al. study reported on “environmental biologists” and found that AGW proponents had “greater expertise”. While biologists are qualified to render opinions on certain important aspects of climate change, they are clearly a very small subset of all qualified scientists. But more importantly the determination of expertise is incredibly subjective. Depending upon how you chose to measure it, you could draw practically any conclusion you wanted. Anderegg claims to have made the same finding, but a subjective statistic isn’t data; it’s an opinion.

    In response to your “Your criticism of Cook et al article was interesting” paragraphs, all of these studies have been effectively discredited. None of them are statistically sound. They have been conducted by AGW proponents, one and all, using methodology that is both subjective and unscientific. You can’t just subjectively whittle down more than 3000 responses to the 79 that fit your criteria. Nor can you draw statistical conclusions based upon what you believe another person implied. But possibly the most important failing of all of these studies is the quantitative aspect of the findings. In other words, they tend is to count among the consensus group any study that finds that there is any amount human influence on the climate, no matter how insignificant. Since no one is arguing that humans have had some impact upon the climate, that method of counting is deceptive and it is one of the points made by Spiegel Online in May of 2013 when it critiqued Cook’s survey. “The survey confirms only a banality: climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that man is responsible for at least a part of the climate warming. The important question of how big is man’s part in climate change remains hotly disputed.”

    You are showing a tremendous amount of faith in the integrity of surveys performed by people with very clear biases. You correctly pointed out that researchers are just people, “people with careers”. They are also people with egos, with the need for notoriety and acceptance, and with political and ideological views. If I worked for Honda and I published a survey finding that Honda made the best vehicles on the road, would you assume a lack of bias? I hope not. What if I was a Muslim and conducted a survey that found the Qur’an to be perfect and Allah to be the one true God? Would you assume that I had conducted a fair survey. Of course not. You would be nuts to assume that the survey was legitimate. In fact, you should assume bias and a lot of it.

    Likewise, you should assume bias from the authors of all of these surveys. They are all people with extremely strong opinions on climate change, particularly Anderegg, Cook, and Powell. They are fully invested in the theory of AGW. They have staked their careers and their reputations on it. And as fallible human beings, it is reasonable to expect them to defend the theory of AGW vigorously even if that means bending the truth to do so. It’s human nature and researchers are no more or less moral than people in other lines of work who bend the truth to benefit their company or their political party. You may not see it from where you sit, but from where I sit as a skeptic I have no confidence in the impartiality of Cook or any of the others.

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