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2013 SkS News Bulletin #12: The Consensus Project

Posted on 18 May 2013 by John Hartz

Screen shot of Obama's Tweet re TCP

Obama tweets analysis that 97% of peer-reviewed science confirms human-caused global warming by Lauremce Lewis, Daily Kos, May 16, 2013

  • Climate denial's death knell
  • Climate research nearly unanimous
  • Consensus study
  • Is the science settled?
  • It's official! Humans caused global warming.
  • Global warming consensus: We can haz it!
  • 'Overwhelming' consensus for manmade warming
  • Scientists agree (again)
  • Scientists agree global warming is man-made
  • Scientific 'consensus' that humans to blame 
  • Scientists say united on global warming
  • Survey finds 97% of climate science papers agree

Climate Denial's Death Knell

A new survey conducted by a team of volunteers at Skeptical Science has definitively confirmed the scientific consensus in climate science literature -97 percent of peer-reviewed papers agree that global warming is happening and human activities are responsible.

Climate Denial's Death Knell: 97 Percent of Peer-Reviewed Science Confirms Manmade Global Warming, Consensus Overwhelming by Brendan DeMelle, DeSmog Blog, MAy 15, 2011

Climate research nearly unanimous

Of more than 4,000 academic papers published over 20 years, 97.1% agreed that climate change is anthropogenic.

Climate research nearly unanimous on human causes, survey finds by Suzanne Goldenberg, May 15, 2013

Consensus study

Research suggests support for climate change action increases if the public is aware of a scientific consensus on the evidence for human causes. But how many scientists really agree? A new study, out today, shows very few studies reject that climate change is human caused, and hopes to promote this message by encouraging the public to get involved. 

A team of volunteers from climate science blog,Skeptical Science, rated the abstracts of nearly 12,000 peer-reviewed papers based on their level of agreement that climate change is human caused. The new study aims to identify the level of consensus by analysing 20 years of climate change literature.  

Consensus study: fewer than one per cent of climate studies reject human causes by Mat Hope and Freya Roberts, The Carbon Brief, May 16, 2013 

Is the science settled?

A group of volunteers have given up their time over the last few years to answer the question, once and for all, as to whether the "science is settled".

Is the science settled? by Dana Nuccitelli, ABC Environment, May 16, 2013

It's official! Humans caused global warming.

A comprehensive analysis of 4,000 studies on climate change published over last 21 years has revealed an overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that humans are to blame for global warming, researchers claim.

It's official! Humans caused global warming,, May 16, 2013

Global warming consensus: We can haz it!

The issue at hand is this: What is the level of agreement in the scientific community about the reality of climate change and about the human role in climate change? The new paper, Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature, address this question and the answer is very clear. The number of climate scientists who question the reality of global warming or the human role in global warming is vanishingly small.

Global Warming Consensus: We can haz it! by Greg Laden, Greg Laden's Blog on Science Blog, May 16, 2013, 

Largest study of peer-reviewed literature to date

A new peer-reviewed study has confirmed again that there is an overwhelming consensus on the human-driven cause of climate disruption. The study, Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature by John Cook and a large number of contributors to the website Skeptical Science (Cook et al 2013), looked at 11,944 papers over a 21 year period and assigned each to one of three categories on the basis of the papers’ abstracts: endorse, reject, or take no position on the consensus. Of the papers that either endorsed or rejected the consensus, 97.1% of the papers and 98.4% of the papers’ authors endorsed the consensus. In addition, 1200 authors of the analyzed papers were contacted and asked to self-rate their own papers for level of endorsement. Of the self-rated papers that either endorsed or rejected the consensus, 97.2% of the papers and 96.4% of the authors endorsed the consensus.

Largest study of peer-reviewed literature to date finds overwhelming climate disruption consensus by Brian Angliss, Scholars & Rogues, May 15, 2013

'Overwhelming' consensus for manmade warming

A comprehensive assessment of climate change research has found an overwhelming consensus among scientists that recent warming is human-induced.

'Overwhelming' consensus for manmade warming: review by Sarah Clarke, ABC News, May 16, 2013

Scientists Agree (Again)

Public opinion on the topic of climate change is notoriously fickle, changing -- quite literally sometimes -- with the weather. The latest bit of evidence on this: Yale's April 2013 climate change survey, which found, among other things, that Americans' conviction that global warming is happening had dropped by seven points, to 63 percent, over the preceding six months. The decline, the authors surmised, was most likely due to "the cold winter of 2012-13 and an unusually cold March just before the survey was conducted."

Scientists Agree (Again): Climate Change Is Happening by Tom Zellar Jr., Huffington Post, May 16, 2013 

Scientists agree global warming is man-made

An overwhelming majority of scientists agree humans have caused global warming, according to a study of scientific literature produced over the past two decades that claims to be the most comprehensive of its kind.

Scientists agree global warming is man-made by Pilita Clark, Financial Times, May 16, 2013

Scientific 'consensus' that humans to blame

A review of 12,000 scientific papers has found the consensus among scientists that humans are to blame for climate change is "overwhelming" and the dissenting view was held by less than two per cent of scientists.

Scientific 'consensus' that humans to blame for climate change by Jonathan Pearlman, The Telegraph, May 16, 2013

Scientists say united on global warming

Ninety-seven percent of scientists say global warming is mainly man-made but a wide public belief that experts are divided is making it harder to gain support for policies to curb climate change, an international study showed on Thursday.

Scientists say united on global warming, at odds with public view by Alister Doyle, Reuters, May 15, 2013

Survey finds 97% of climate science papers agree

Our team of citizen science volunteers at Skeptical Science has published a new survey in the journal Environmental Research Letters of over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers, as the Guardian reports today. This is the most comprehensive survey of its kind, and the inspiration of this blog's name: Climate Consensus – the 97%.

Survey finds 97% of climate science papers agree warming is man-made by Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian, May 16, 2013

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Comments 1 to 21:

  1. Congratulations, it was nice being a part of the initial information gathering phase. Very clever of you to make it a sort of game among the site. :-). I never imagined seeking contact info from thailand in thai language, contact info of female scientists who have published only by their maiden name, or trying to find contact info from indian (or US) nuclear facility, let alone among the russian academics. I will probably remember the game long afterwards. Did you ever find out which T.Hong (or what the name was in the chinese universities) made which paper??

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  2. 97% sounds very impressive.


    Yet why did the original press release say:  "From the 11 994 papers, 32.6 per cent endorsed AGW, 66.4 per cent stated no position on AGW, 0.7 per cent rejected AGW and in 0.3 per cent of papers, the authors said the cause of global warming was uncertain."



    How did you get from 32.6% to 97%

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    Moderator Response:

    [Dikran Marsupial] This is explained in detail in a previous post here.

  3. fretslider - it seems you're the sort who thinks if one forgets gravity one can fly. Thus, you might also believe the rocks have a mind which is constantly thinking of gravity. This is an interesting belief system, but please talk about this somewhere else, do you know a forum for pantheism which would be in my opinion a more proper place to discuss your beliefs about rocks whichi have not stated anything to you unless you hear them speak? (possible ad hom - delete if required)

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  4. fretslider, you are not being imaginative enough.  Consider the paper, "First evidence of Late Carnian radiolarians from the Izmir–Ankara suture complex, central Sakarya, Turkey: implications for the opening age of the Izmir–Ankara branch of Neo-Tethys".  It neither directly nor indirectly affirms that humans are causing climate change, and wasn't even included in the survey.  Against the backdrop of all scientific publications, papers actually discussing the issue of whether humans have caused global warming are distinctly less than 1%; and hence the 97% of papers discussing the issue who affirm that humans are in fact causing global warming are also less than one percent.  There is no limit to how much you can pad the statistics to avoid an uncomfortable truth.  You can include newspaper articles as well.  Or add in right wing think tank press releases.  But no matter how you pad and how you evade, it will still be true that:

    97% of scientific papers that discuss the issue affirm that global warming is caused by humans.

    The evident desperation of deniers to conceal that fact shows just how strongly they rely on subterfuge to make their case.

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  5. fretslider @8:

    To believe means "to accept something as true".  So according to you, athiests accept nothing as true.  (I wonder if you accept it as true that atheists accept nothing as true?  Or was that merely a convenient lie that you did not believe.) Anyway, however much that idiocy may be true of you, it is not true of atheists in general - so don't slander us with your ill concieved misunderstandings.

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  6. fretslider:

    Many of your recent posts are in violation of the following part of the SkS Comments Policy. As such, they have been deleted.

    Comments should avoid excessive repetition. Discussions which circle back on themselves and involve endless repetition of points already discussed do not help clarify relevant points. They are merely tiresome to participants and a barrier to readers. If moderators believe you are being excessively repetitive, they will advise you as such, and any further repetition will be treated as being off topic.

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  7. I have also deleted my responses to fretsliders deleted posts.  If fretslider wishes to discuss the issue in a less argumentative manner, I would be happy to start again from a clean slate.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Thank you. 

  8. I haven't done a thorough search, but it sure seems a lot of the denier blogs closed their comment sections immediately after challenging the 97% claim on pretty much the same grounds as fretslider.

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  9. The Financial Times link seems already behind a paywall, at least when accessed from here (Norway)

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  10. miffedmax: 

    No surprise there given how Deniersville is merely an echo-cahmber, full of sound and fury, and signifying virtually nothing. 

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  11. hi everyone. I'm new here. I have some questions.

    Since it appears that pretty much everyone agrees about AGW. We need to start working on some solutions.

    1. What/who are the largest contributors of greenhouse gasses? I think i saw that China now puts out nearly twice what the US does.

    2 What can be done to lessen or stop this. Are any of the major polluters doing anything to stop ?

    3 Are there current technologies that can be implemented now to reduce the greenhouse gas levels. Is it a funding issue or is the tech not there yet?

     Anything you can answer/or links you can provide would be appreciated.

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  12. please also delete my response to the fretsliders second post, he admitted getting a good response that I didn't see before posting that and delete also  this one...

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  13. Joshuas193@11, you can find answers to some of your questions via WBGU-World_in_Transition.doc.

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  14. Joshuas193: You can find answers to all of those questions on this site. The list of common issues on the left and the search panel should both help.

    1: China is the largest emitter in total and the US the largest emitter per person. However, that isn't the right question. This isn't a problem caused by one, or two, or a dozen countries. Rather, there are only a handful of countries which are not a significant part of the problem. See this link for info.

    2: The only currently viable solution is to switch to power sources which do not emit carbon dioxide. Various geo-engineering schemes have been proposed, but none seem likely to work. Many countries have begun clean power programs, but thus far they have mostly just slowed emissions growth. The US is one of only a few countries which has actually been able to decrease emissions... by converting large amounts of power generation from coal to natural gas, but that can only go so far.

    3: The tech exists and should actually cost much less than fossil fuels... except that fossil fuels receive massive direct and indirect subsidies which have kept them in use. Unsubsidized solar PV power is now falling below even the heavily subsidized cost of fossil fuels in sunny parts of the world. See renewable power and fossil fuel subsidies.

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  15. Playing the consenses card is unscientific, and just gives the deniers ammunition.  Climate change is real at the omega 3 level because virtually all the evidence supports it.  No need to stoop to the level of the deniers to try to make the point.

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  16. william - One of the underlying issues is that the public perception (and hence the political will to action) of climate consensus is only about 50-50%, rather than the reality of 97-3%. This is in large part due to false balance in the media (one denier for one scientist) and a rather dedicated campaign to heighten uncertainties - see the 2002 Frank Luntz memo for some real horrors in that regard. 

    That consensus gap is a serious impediment to political action - and (IMO) why this paper is important. 

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  17. People who make a living dealing in untruths find it convenient to suppose truth is an unrealistic ideal. 

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  18. william - The point of the study is not to argue, '97% of climate scientists agree, therefor it must be true'... but rather, '97% of climate scientists agree, therefor the claims of widespread scientific disagreement are clearly false'.

    In short, this study should be a knockout blow to climate myth number 4 in the list at the upper left of the page. Though I expect the usual deniers to keep spreading that myth, hopefully now they will be called on it.

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  19. CBDunkerson @18, that is indeed the point.  I think there is a legitimate further argument.  "An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject and how to avoid them." (Werner Heisenberg)  When 97% of the world's experts on a subject agree, you can therefore be very sure that it isn't because they are making blunder.  They may be wrong, but the facts that show them to be wrong will either be hard to come by, or require subtle reasoning to demonstrate.  Put another way, when you have a broad concensus in a well developed field, it takes an Einstein to show that they are wrong.

    Despite this, time after time deniers come up with arguments that AGW is not occurring, or will not be bad, etc, that assume the world's climate scientists have made absolutely trivial blunders.  The arrogance of those claims continues to stun me.  But anyway, given a 97% concensus, if somebody presents themselves saying they have made a trivial blunder it is quite appropriate to ask (and a valid implicit argument), "Which is more likely, that several thousand of the world's top scientists have made a trivial blunder, or that you have?"

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  20. And speaking of blunder's (or errors, anyway), apparently most tweets @BarackObama are not by the President himself.  In the profile it says:

    "Barack Obama Verified account
    This account is run by Organizing for Action staff. Tweets from the President are signed -bo.

    Washington, DC ·"

    The Tweet above is not so signed, and so originated with Obama's staff rather than with the President himself.

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  21. Tom,

    As far as I know, this is common knowledge (and common sense).  No one expects (or wants) the President of the United States to spend his time tweeting.

    At the same time, there is no question that his twitter account follows guidelines and an agenda laid out by himself and his staff, and is under his name, so it is representative of what he would tweet if he had the time.  It is for all intents and purposes from him.

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