Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Only 45% of Climate Scientists Accept 'Global Warming Consensus'

We are constantly informed that there is a broad consensus among climate scientists that human activity is a leading cause of global warming. The details are sketchy around the edges, but we are warned that humans might be the primary cause and the results might be catastrophic. The Goracle and others tell us that there's not much question among climate scientists, and we must act now to save the planet.

But according to a study about to be published in the journal Energy and Environment, only 45 percent of climate change papers submitted to 'every leading scientific journal in the world' accept the consensus:

Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."

The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.

These changing viewpoints represent the advances in climate science over the past decade. While today we are even more certain the earth is warming, we are less certain about the root causes. More importantly, research has shown us that -- whatever the cause may be -- the amount of warming is unlikely to cause any great calamity for mankind or the planet itself.
I'm not a climate scientist; I don't claim to know 'the truth.' I'll see if I can find the full study when it's published -- it's possible that those 'neutral' papers did not seek to render any verdict on the theory -- positive or negative. But if the study is being accurately portrayed, then 45 percent is an awfully small threshold for 'consensus.' And especially considering the extraordinary lifestyle changes that global warming adherents are asking, it would be irresponsible not to insist on a hight degree of certainty that their theories are accurate.


Anonymous said...

Your headline is grossly misleading.

The study looked at whether published papers, over the past few years, made explicity statements about "accepting the consensus".

Several things to keep in mind.

First off - this is very different than saying only 45% of scientists accept the consensus.

More importantly - there seems to be a strange misunderstanding of what a scientific paper does. It reports the results of some highly specific research question. Why would you expect a research paper on some specific narrow topic to make any statement about global warming in general?

Only 7% made a supportive general statement. Only 6% made a negative general statement.

All the others apparently confined themselves to reporting scientific data on on a specific topic.

Think this through here.

7% negative
48% dont mention the issue
38% seem to imply acceptance
7% make a specific supportive statement

Looks to me like the "dissenting" papers add up to 7%. All the rest are supportive or dont address the issue.

The real message seems to me to be that those, like you, who are pushing the line that this study is supportive of the "skeptics" are playing fast and loose with the facts.

The Editor at IP said...

Thanks for your comment, but you've made some false assumptions and reached some unjustified conclusions.

First off, the study did not consider whether papers 'made explicity [sic] statements about accepting the consensus,' as you said. If that's the question, then only 7 percent support the consensus. Rather, this survey considers whether a paper explicitly or implicitly accepted it.

Second, you assert that I am playing 'fast and loose with the facts' because 'apparently' the rest of the papers don't address the topic.

By contrast, I said in my piece:

'it's possible that those 'neutral' papers did not seek to render any verdict on the theory -- positive or negative. But if the study is being accurately portrayed, then 45 percent is an awfully small threshold for 'consensus.'

Who's the one making assumptions and misrepresenting?

Anonymous said...

The journal Energy and Environment is a social science journal published by Multi-Science. The journal's editor is Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, a reader in geography at the University of Hull in England and skeptic regarding global warming. The journal's Editorial Board also includes two other prominent global warming skeptics, Benny Peiser and Bjorn Lomberg.[1]

Energy and Environment is not carried in the ISI listing of peer-reviewed journals. Its peer review process has been criticised for allowing the publication of substandard papers [2][3]. Numerous climate skeptics and contrarians have published in the journal and these studies have later been quoted by Republican critics of global warming science such as Senator James Inhofe and Congressman Joe Barton[4].

People who have published in this journal include Sallie Baliunas, Patrick Michaels, Ross McKitrick, Stephen McIntyre, Ian Castles, Roger Pielke Jr. (who has said that had we known then how that outlet would evolve beyond 1999 we certainly wouldn't have published there [5]), Willie Soon, Madhav Khandekar and Indur Goklany.

Anonymous said...

Not surprising that the global warming fanatics are here trying to downplay and criticize the report. Convenient that they fail to mention that the criteria used is the EXACT same as that used by Oreskes in her search that led to the finding that between 93 and 04, there was a consensus as to the cause of global warming. All we heard from the alarmists was how this proved a consensus.

Now, the same journals were searched using the EXACT same search terms and the results are quite different. And yet, all the fanatics can do is attack, attack, attack.

Thank goodness people are wising up and seeing things as they actually are. And the IPCC report? ANYONE that uses that report to claim a consensus should have their head examined.

tgibbs said...

This is the sort of thing that may fool somebody who does not read the scientific literature and doesn't know what scientific papers are like.

The reality is that in any given field only a tiny fraction of the papers published bear directly on the major theories in the field. Most papers address what might seem like "details" to the nonscientist--things that might be important for understanding what's going on, but don't really provide strong evidence in support of or against the major theories in the field.

Moreover, it is considered bad form in science to overstate the significance of your results. In particular, if your results are simply consistent with what everybody already thinks, you usually don't bother to mention it. Given the great amount of evidence already available in support of global warming, it would have to be a real blockbuster of a result to make people any more certain than they already are. So this actually sounds about right, with the "neutral" papers being ones by scientists who accept the consensus, but are not reporting a result directly relevant to that.

Anonymous said...

"Who's the one making assumptions and misrepresenting"

You are.

My criticism was directed at your headline.

Could you explain how it is that you derived your conclusion, your headline, from the facts of this study?

Granted, you even admit: "'it's possible that those 'neutral' papers did not seek to render any verdict on the theory -- positive or negative."

But you then seem to have no hesitation to trumpet a supposed conclusion that "only 45% of climate scientists [not even just 45% of recent papers - the subject of the study] accept global warming consensus.

Anonymous said...

And of course, there is the minor detail that the results of this study are ENTIRELY dependent on the subjective judgement of the researcher - as he categorizes whether a paper is "neutral" or "implicitly supportive".

I wonder what the results would have been if the researcher had called up the authors of all those "neutral" papers and asked them what their veiws were on the larger consensus.

Anonymous said...

As are the results of the ORIGINAL study, which have been trumpeted by the alarmists as "proof" that there is a consensus.

Tom said...

You really appear to have no idea how science works.

You don't get points for quoting material that has nothing to do with your material -- in fact, you want to make sure that you rely on as few other results as you can so your work is as independent of other variables as possible.

Consider the papers in, say, mechanics (the study of moving bodies). Even though Einstein's work in this field is about a century old, even though physics is about as united as a science gets, only a small portion of the current papers on mechanics require or quote relativity theory. It simply isn't needed!

Please. Learn a little about science before making such claims. Spend a few weeks actually reading the literature -- otherwise, we'll justifiably treat your writing as worthless.

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