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Do 500 scientists refute the consensus?

What the science says...

Close inspection of the studies alleged to refute man-made global warming finds that many of these papers do no such thing. Of the few studies that do claim to refute man-made global warming, these repeat well debunked myths.

Climate Myth...

500 scientists refute the consensus

"According to a report in the WorldNet Daily, more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting the current man-made global warming scare, according to a new analysis of peer-reviewed literature by the Hudson Institute." (American Conservative Daily)

The latest attack on global warming consensus comes from Dennis Avery and Fred Singer who claim to have found 500 peer reviewed papers refuting that the last few decades of global warming are primarily anthropogenic. Previous attempts to find peer reviewed skeptic studies tend to miscategorise as skeptic despite the intent of the author or indeed the content of the paper. Avery and Singer appear to carry on this tradition.

While their press release peddles many skeptic myths, the major recurring theme is that over 300 studies have found climate has changed in the past and/or that the sun is connected. Tamino at Open Mind does a good job explaining the 1500 year natural cycles (or Dansgaard-Oeschger events) along with some useful links to relevant peer reviewed studies. I've also touched on the notion that climate has changed naturally in the past so it must be natural now.

Regarding the sun's connection to global warming (or lack thereof), there is much empirical data and many studies on the topic that have concluded the sun's contribution to global warming has been minimal. Nevertheless, blaming climate change on the sun is intuitive - to paraphrase the Great Global Warming Swindle: "human small... sun big". Hard to refute that kind of barnstorming logic. Nevertheless, I'll have another crack at breaking down the logical steps of why we know solar variations aren't causing global warming:

  1. The sun has closely correlated with temperature in the past and been a major driver of climate
  2. The correlation ended in the 70's when the modern global warming trend began
  3. Therefore the sun cannot be the driving force of global warming over the past few decades

Global Temperature vs Solar Activity (Total Solar Irradiance)
Figure 1: Annual global temperature change (thin light red) with 11 year moving average of temperature (thick dark red). Temperature from NASA GISS. Annual Total Solar Irradiance (thin light blue) with 11 year moving average of TSI (thick dark blue). TSI from 1880 to 1978 from Solanki, originally hosted at MPG. TSI from 1979 to 2009 from PMOD.

In other words, all the studies showing past correlation between solar activity and temperature only serve to emphasise the fact that the correlation no longer exists. Rather than refute the consensus, they reinforce it.

Intermediate rebuttal written by John Cook

Update July 2015:

Here is a related lecture-video from Denial101x - Making Sense of Climate Science Denial

This rebuttal was updated by Judith Matz on September 13, 2021 to replace broken links. The updates are a result of our call for help published in May 2021.

Last updated on 15 July 2015 by pattimer. View Archives

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Comments 1 to 7:

  1. Something is amiss. On the "Listing of Arguments" page, the "What the Science" says blurb for this argument is: "Around 97% of climate experts agree that humans are causing global warming." This statement does not appear in the above rebuttal article.
  2. This argument seems to be different from one that says many IPCC scientists now dissent. A quote from Watt's blog is below. you can also search "IPCC scientists dissent" and you get many hits. Any comment? "More than 1000 dissenting scientists (updates previous 700 scientist report) from around the globe have now challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore. This new 2010 320-page Climate Depot Special Report — updated from 2007′s groundbreaking U.S. Senate Report of over 400 scientists who voiced skepticism about the so-called global warming “consensus” — features the skeptical voices of over 1000 international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN IPCC. This updated 2010 report includes a dramatic increase of over 300 additional (and growing) scientists and climate researchers since the last update in March 2009. This report’s release coincides with the 2010 UN global warming summit being held in Cancun."
  3. Consider the rhetoric, bibasir: "More than 1000 dissenting scientists (updates previous 700 scientist report) from around the globe have now challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore." Why the initial use of "dissenting" when the substance of the sentence is to establish dissent? Upon what is this dissent focused? Note that Watts probably includes Pielke in this list, but Pielke accepts AGW; he just differs from other scientists on the contribution of various components. How many other of the "dissenting scientists" are in the same position? How many reject the idea that atmospheric CO2 absorbs and emits at certain wavelengths? How many simply reject some of Al Gore's implied but not directly stated consequences? (I believe I read Gavin Schmidt disagreeing with something in the Gore documentary; if so, add him to the list) All WUWT is effectively doing is establishing doubt--not establishing an alternative position, not establishing scientific progress. How many of the scientists in the Senate report agree on the same physical model? Who are these scientists, and what weight should they carry for people who pay attention to survey results? Show me the specific reasons for dissent, and I'll show you why the 500, 700, 1000, whatever list is meaningless. A better question is "what does the list mean to you?" (or to anyone who encounters such things)
  4. where is the confirmation that 97% of climate experts agree the the present warming trend is caused by AGW? where can I find a list of these climate experts? what are the criteria for determining a climate expert?
  5. gepay, that information would be here.
  6. Carbon emissions as the cause of global warming claimed to explain the recent severe weather on the Earth may be misleading. Small Earth temperature increases, say 1 K per year, caused by carbon emissions are thought the cause of recent severe weather. Since 1 K temperature changes in a small room over a year are impossible to verify, yet the entire world seems to believe preposterous claim of temperature increases of 1 K over the entire Earth. Solar irradiation received by the Earth provides a scientific argument if solar heat is causing global warming. But solar irradiance data over the past century is relatively constant, and therefore variations in Sun temperature have been dismissed as the cause of global warming. Hence, carbon emissions producing the preposterous 1 K per year are by default considered the cause of global warming.

    In this regard, it is more likely the sun temperature is changing by a small amount to cause the 1 K temperature - if in fact, the temperature increase per year is 1 K. Today, the sun temperature is 5800 K. Based on Black Body relations, the figure below shows the change in Earth temperature T above that for the Sun at 5800 K when the the sun temperature is higher or lower than 5800K. For example, if the sun temperature is 5820 K or 20 K higher than 5800 K, the Earth temperature is 1 degree K higher. Since it highly likely the sun temperature fluctuates more than 20 K during a year, global warming is more likely caused by the Sun than carbon emissions and is much greater than the 1 degree K per year claimed by scientists.

    By the Black Body argument, a higher rise than 1 K in Earth temperature is occurring, but although more realistic than the small 1 K estimate also can never be verified. Regardless, the constancy of solar irradiance at the top of the upper atmosphere over time challenges the foregoing black body argument. It therefore appears the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere is thinning [1] to allow more solar UV and EUV radiation to reach and heat the lower atmosphere, the lower atmosphere actually controlling the weather on Earth. If so, the ozone layer may be of far greater importance than carbon emissions, but data to support this argument is lacking.

    Time will tell if global warming by carbon emission or loss of ozone is correct. More research on thinning of the ozone layer is recommended.

    [1] C. Jackman, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, “The Impact of Energetic Particle Precipitation on the Atmosphere,” presentation to the Workshop on the Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate, September 9, 2011.


    [PS] This little gish gallop is offtopic. Use this the search function (or the Arguments menu item) and comment on the relevant article after reading the article. On the measurability of a temperature change of 1K, please revise Law of Large Numbers and acquaint yourself of how temperature change is actually measured. Especially why anomalies rather than absolute temperature is used. This paper is a good place to start. Dont try complaining about measurability till you have reviewed this. Arguments about the sun go to "its the sun". Arguments that is ozone (really!) go here. Take a moment to think about what experiment would differentiate warming from change in CO2 versus that from some change in O3.

  7. 97% say humans are changing the climate, but how many say it's dangerous/catastrophic? And how many agree with the radical economic proposals to fix the problen?

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