That 3% of scientists who don’t care about our CO2-belching smokestacks and SUV’s causing polar bears to hyperventilate . . . or accept human blame for those recent first time ever extreme weather and coastal flooding events?
I’m referring, of course, to the “crippling consequences” of climate change that former Secretary of State John Kerry warned graduating students at Boston College about in 2014, whereby “97% of the world’s scientists tell us this is urgent.”
Yet just in case you’re wondering where that 97% consensus claim come from, here’s a clue. It’s certainly not based upon any credible scientific studies or surveys.
For starters, everyone I know agrees that the Earth has been slowly warming in fits-and-starts over the past 12,000 years or so since the end of the last major ice age, and that humans have likely had some (as yet unmeasured) recent influences.
On the other hand, absolutely no one knows how much influence we actually have had, will have, or might conceivably manage to have in order to make any appreciable difference.
In reality, the scientific consensus meme is based entirely upon half-baked surveys and cherry-picked publication counting exercises which are constantly and loudly trumpeted in political and punditry media echo chambers.
Oreskes superficially reviewed abstracts of 928 papers published between 1993 and 2003, of which she reported that 75% supported the view that human activities are responsible for most of the observed warming over the previous 50 years as purported by the UN’s reliably alarmist Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Followup fact checking of Oreskes’ abstract-counting review conducted in 2014 by a group of retired Canadian Earth and atmospheric scientists called Friends of Science found only 1.2% that explicitly agreed with the IPCC’s declaration. In addition, Oreskes’ survey conclusions didn’t distinguish between articles that may have indicated serious risks and consequences versus those which acknowledged only small and inconsequential influences.
The much-ballyhooed “97%” statistical claim originated as the result of a two-minute on-line survey conducted by Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, then a University of Illinois graduate student, and her master’s thesis advisor Peter Doran which asked two questions:
- “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”
- “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”
It’s surprising that those responses weren’t unanimous. Everyone I personally know would agree that temperatures have indeed risen since the “little ice age” ended in the mid-1800s.
And after all, the survey didn’t ask whether any human influence was believed to be significant enough to constitute serious problems.
Even more remarkable, that “97% of all climate scientists” claim was based upon a grand total of only 79 respondents out of the 3,146 Earth scientists who responded out of 10,257 contacted — of whom only 5% of those respondents self-identified as climate scientists.
Incidentally, that pseudo-survey intentionally excluded other climate-related disciplines such as solar scientists, astrophysicists, meteorologists, and astronomers who are generally most familiar with natural causes for changes.
Still another laughably precise 97% statistical agreement was premised upon a review of research paper abstracts published from 1991 to 2011 conducted by Australian climate alarm blogger John Cook and friends. As reported in Environmental Research Letters, 97% of those abstracts “explicitly or implicitly” suggested that some warming can be attributed to human activity.
Cook’s survey methodology was roundly challenged in an August 2013 report published in Science and Education co-authored by former University of Delaware Center for Climatic Research Director David Legates.
Upon reviewing those same materials, Professor Legates and three colleagues found that “only 41 papers —0.3% of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0% of the 4,014 expressing any opinion, and not 97.1% – had been found to endorse” the claim that human activity is causing most of the current warming. In fact some of those so-called “endorsing” authors subsequently protested that Cook misrepresented their findings.
As reported in The Guardian (2013), Richard Tol, a lead author of IPCC reports, said of Cook’s report, “the sample of papers does not represent the literature. That is, the main finding of the paper is incorrect, invalid and unrepresentative.”
So if you think what you’re hearing in the media about manmade climate change is scary, remember something worse. Consider how frightening it is that such overheated bunk has served to drive costly and unwarranted environmental and energy regulatory policies with far more serious and less imaginary consequences.