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The 97% consensus on global warming

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate Advanced

97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.

Climate Myth...

There is no consensus

"[...] And I'll mention that the stat on the 97% of - of scientists is based on one discredited study." (Ted Cruz)

At a glance

What is consensus? In science, it's when the vast majority of specialists agree about a basic principle. Thus, astronomers agree that the Earth orbits around the Sun. Biologists accept that tadpoles hatch out from frog-spawn and grow into adult frogs. Almost all geologists agree that plate tectonics is real and you'd be hard-placed to find a doctor who thinks smoking is harmless.

In each above case, something has been so thoroughly looked into that those who specialise in its study have stopped arguing about its basic explanation. Nevertheless, the above examples were all once argued about, often passionately. That's how progress works.

The reaching of scientific consensus is the product of an often lengthy time-line. It starts with something being observed and ends with it being fully explained. Let's look at a classic and highly relevant example.

In the late 1700s, the Earth-Sun distance was calculated. The value obtained was 149 million kilometres. That's incredibly close to modern measurements. It got French physicist Joseph Fourier thinking. He innocently asked, in the 1820s, something along these lines:

"Why is Planet Earth such a warm place? It should be an ice-ball at this distance from the Sun."

Such fundamental questions about our home planet are as attractive to inquisitive scientists as ripened fruit is to wasps. Fourier's initial query set in motion a process of research. Within a few decades, that research had experimentally shown that carbon dioxide has heat-trapping properties.

Through the twentieth century the effort intensified, particularly during the Cold War. At that time there was great interest in the behaviour of infra-red (IR) radiation in the atmosphere. Why? Because heat-seeking missiles home in on jet exhausts which are IR hotspots. Their invention involved understanding what makes IR tick.

That research led to the publication of a landmark 1956 paper by Gilbert Plass. The paper's title was, “The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change”. It explained in detail how CO2 traps heat in our atmosphere. Note in passing that Plass used the term "Climatic Change" all the way back then. That's contrary to the deniers' frequent claim that it is used nowadays because of a recent and motivated change in terminology.

From observation to explanation, this is a classic illustration of the scientific method at work. Fourier gets people thinking, experiments are designed and performed. In time, a hypothesis emerges. That is a proposed explanation. It is made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.

Once a hypothesis is proposed, it becomes subject to rigorous testing within the relevant specialist science groups. Testing ensures that incorrect hypotheses fall by the wayside, because they don't stand up to scrutiny. But some survive such interrogation. As their supporting evidence mounts up over time, they eventually graduate to become theories.

Theories are valid explanations for things that are supported by an expert consensus of specialists. Gravity, jet aviation, electronics, you name it, all are based on solid theories. They are known to work because they have stood the test of time and prolonged scientific inquiry.

In climate science today, there is overwhelming (greater than 97%) expert consensus that CO2 traps heat and adding it to the atmosphere warms the planet. Whatever claims are made to the contrary, that principle has been established for almost seventy years, since the publication of that 1955 landmark paper.

Expert consensus is a powerful thing. None of us have the time or ability to learn about everything/ That's why we frequently defer to experts, such as consulting doctors when we’re ill.

The public often underestimate the degree of expert consensus that our vast greenhouse gas emissions trap heat and warm the planet. That is because alongside information, we have misinformation. Certain sections of the mass-media are as happy to trot out the latter as the former. We saw a very similar problem during the COVID-19 pandemic and it cost many lives.

For those who want to learn more, a much longer detailed account of the history of climate science is available on this website.

Please use this form to provide feedback about this new "At a glance" section. Read a more technical version below or dig deeper via the tabs above!


Further details

We know full well that we don’t have the time or capacity to learn about everything, so we frequently defer to the conclusions of experts. Without experienced people using their expertise to perform many vital tasks – and without new people constantly entering such occupations – society would quickly disintegrate.

The same is true of climate change: we defer to the expert consensus of climate scientists. Indeed, public perception of the scientific consensus with regard to global warming has been found to be an important gateway into other enlightened climate-related attitudes - including policy support. 

Nine consensus studies

Let's take a look at summaries of the key studies, featured in the graphic above, into the degree of consensus. These have been based on analyses of large samples of peer-reviewed climate science literature or surveys of climate and Earth scientists. These studies are available online through e.g. Google Scholar. That slightly different methodologies reached very similar conclusions is a strong indicator that those conclusions are robust.

Oreskes 2004

In this pioneering paper, a survey was conducted into all peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject 'global climate change', published between 1993 and 2003. The work showed that not a single paper, out of the 928 examined, rejected the consensus position that global warming is man-made. 75% of the papers agreed with the consensus position while 25% made no comment either way.

Doran & Zimmerman 2009

A survey of 3,146 Earth scientists asked the question, "Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?" Overall, 82% of the scientists answered yes. However, what was most interesting was the type of response compared to the level of expertise in climate science. Of scientists who were non-climatologists and didn't publish research, 77% answered yes. In contrast, 97.5% of actively-publishing climatologists responded yes. As the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does agreement that humans are significantly changing global temperatures. The paper concludes:

"It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non-existent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes. The challenge, rather, appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact to policy makers and to a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate among scientists."

Anderegg et al. 2010

This study of 1,372 climate science researchers found that (i) 97–98% of the researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC) as outlined by the IPCC and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers. 

Cook et al. 2013

A Skeptical Science-based analysis of over 12,000 peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject 'global climate change' and 'global warming', published between 1991 and 2011, found that over 97% of the papers taking a position on the subject agreed with the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of the project, the scientist authors were emailed and rated over 2,000 of their own papers. Once again, over 97% of the papers taking a position on the cause of global warming agreed that humans are causing it.

Verheggen et al. 2014

Results were presented from a survey held among 1868 scientists studying various aspects of climate change, including physical climate, climate impacts, and mitigation. The survey was at the time unique in its size, broadness and level of detail. Consistent with other research, it was found that as the level of expertise in climate science grew, so too did the level of agreement on anthropogenic causation. 90% of respondents with more than 10 climate-related peer-reviewed publications (about half of all respondents), explicitly agreed with anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) being the dominant driver of recent global warming. The respondents’ quantitative estimate of the GHG contribution appeared to strongly depend on their judgement or knowledge of the cooling effect of aerosols.

Stenhouse et al. 2014

In a survey of all 1,854 American Meteorological Society members with known e-mail addresses, achieving a 26.3% response rate, perceived scientific consensus was the strongest predictor of views on global warming, followed by political ideology, climate science expertise, and perceived organisational conflict.

Carlton et al 2015

Commenting that the extent to which non-climate scientists are skeptical of climate science had not so far been studied via direct survey, the authors did just that. They undertook a survey of biophysical scientists across disciplines at universities in the Big 10 Conference. Most respondents (93.6%) stated that mean temperatures have risen. Of the subset that agreed temperatures had risen, the following question was then asked of them: "do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?" The affirmative response to that query was 96.66%.

Cook et al. 2016

In 2015, authors of the above studies joined forces to co-author a paper, “Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming”. Two key conclusions from the paper are as follows:

(i) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, somewhere between 90% and 100% of climate scientists agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists. (ii) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.

Lynas et al. 2021

In this paper, from a dataset of 88,125 climate-related peer-reviewed papers published since 2012, these authors examined a randomly-selected subset of 3000 such publications. They also used a second sample-weighted approach that was specifically biased with keywords to help identify any sceptical papers in the whole dataset. Twenty-eight sceptical papers were identified within the original dataset using that approach, as evidenced by abstracts that were rated as implicitly or explicitly sceptical of human-caused global warming. It was concluded that the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, expressed as a proportion of the total publications, exceeds 99% in the peer reviewed scientific literature.

Myers et al. 2021

This study revisited the 2009 consensus among geoscientists, while exploring different ways to define expertise and the level of agreement among them. The authors sent 10,929 invitations to participate in the survey, receiving 2,780 responses. In addition, the number of scientific publications by these self-identified experts in the field of climate change research was quantified and compared to their survey response on questions about climate change. Perhaps not surprisingly, the study found that agreement on anthropogenic global warming was high at 91% to 100% and generally increases with expertise. Out of a group of 153 independently confirmed climate experts, 98.7% of those scientists agreed that the Earth is warming mostly because of human activities such as burning fossil fuels. Among the subset with the highest level of expertise, these being independently-confirmed climate experts who each published 20+ peer-reviewed papers on climate change between 2015 and 2019, there was 100% agreement.

Public Polls and Consensus

Opinion polls are not absolute in the same way as uncontestable scientific evidence but they nevertheless usefully indicate in which way public thinking is heading. So let's look at a couple taken 13 years apart. A 15-nation World Public Opinion Poll in 2009 PDF), with 13,518 respondents, asked, among other questions, “Is it your impression that among scientists, most think the problem is urgent and enough is known to take action?” Out of all responses, just 51% agreed with that. Worse, in six countries only a minority agreed: United States (38%), Russia (23%), Indonesia (33%), Japan (43%), India (48%), and Mexico (48%). Conversely, the two highest “agree” scores were among Vietnamese (69%) and Bangladeshis (70%) - perhaps unsurprisingly.

The two other options people had to choose from were that “views are pretty evenly divided” (24% of total respondents), or “most think the problem is not urgent, and not enough is known to take action“ (15%). American and Japanese respondents scored most highly on “views are pretty evenly divided” (43 and 44% respectively).

How such a pervasive misperception arose, regarding the expert consensus on climate change, is no accident. Regular readers of this website's resources will know that instead, it was another product of deliberate misinformation campaigning by individuals and organizations in the United States and other nations around the world. These are people who campaign against action to reduce carbon emissions because it suits their paymasters if we continue to burn as much as possible. 

Step forward to 2022 and the situation has perhaps improved, but there's still some way to go. A recent poll, Public Perceptions on Climate change (PDF), was conducted by the Policy Institute, based at King's College London, UK. It quizzed samples of just over 2,000 people from each of six countries (UK, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Italy and Germany). The survey asked the question: “To the best of your knowledge, what percentage of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening?” The following averages were returned: the UK sample thought 65%, the average of the whole survey was 68% and the highest was Ireland at 71%. Clearly, although public perception of expert consensus is growing, there's still plenty of room for strategies to communicate the reality and to shield people from the constant drip-feed of misinformation.

Expert and Public Consensus

Finally, let's consider the differences between expert and public consensus. Expert consensus is reached among those who have studied complex problems and know how to collect and work with data, to identify what constitutes evidence and evaluate it. This is demanding work requiring specific skill-sets and areas of expertise, preparation for which requires years of study and training. 

Public consensus, in contrast, tends to occur only when something is blindingly obvious. For example, a serial misinformer would struggle if they tried running a campaign denying the existence of owls. Everyone already knows that of course there are owls. There is public consensus because we see and hear owls, for real or on the TV or radio. But complex issues are more prone to the antics of misinformers. We saw examples of misinformation during the COVID pandemic, in some cases with lethal outcomes when misinformed people failed to take the risks seriously. There's a strong parallel with climate change: it is imperative we accept the expert consensus and not kick the can down the road until the realisation it is real becomes universal – but utterly inescapable.


Update May 26, 2023: The "At a glance" section was updated to improve readability.

Last updated on 26 May 2023 by John Mason. View Archives

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Related Arguments

Further reading

Richard Black at the BBC investigates whether there is a bias against skepticism in the scientific community.

More on what we're talking about when we say "scientific consensus,"  in an essay founded on Denial101x and scientific literature: Scientific Consensus isn’t a “Part” of the Scientific Method: it’s a Consequence of it. (or via archive.org)

Further viewing

The "Climate Denial Crock of the Week" video series examines the list of "32,000 leading skeptical scientists."

Naomi Oreskes gives a thorough presentation of the development of our scientific understanding of anthropogenic global warming:

Lead author John Cook explains the 2016 "Consensus on consensus" paper.

Here is a video summary of the various studies quantifying the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming, as well as the misinformation campaigns casting doubt on the consensus.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Joe Crouch for his efforts in tracking down scientific organizations endorsing the consensus as well as links to their public statements.

Update

On 21 Jan 2012, we revised 'the skeptic argument' with a minor quote formatting correction.

Comments

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Comments 551 to 560 out of 560:

  1. I've cobbled the following list together from a variety of sources and persons.  Apologies, but it's been too long to remember whom they were for proper attribution:


    The IPCC’s conclusion that most of the warming since 1950 is very likely due to human emissions of greenhouse gases and has been endorsed by this great cloud of witnesses:

    the National Academy of Sciences,
    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10139&page=1

    the National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
    http://climate.nasa.gov/causes/

    the National Center for Atmospheric Research,
    http://eo.ucar.edu/basics/cc_1.html

    the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html

    the American Geophysical Union,
    http://www.agu.org/sci_pol/positions/climate_change2008.shtml

    the American Institute of Physics,
    http://www.aip.org/fyi/2004/042.html
    http://www.aip.org/gov/policy12.html

    the American Physical Society,
    http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

    the American Meteorological Society,
    http://www.ametsoc.org/POLICY/climatechangeresearch_2003.html
    http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2007climatechange.html
    http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2012climatechange.html

    the American Statistical Association,
    http://www.amstat.org/news/climatechange.cfm

    the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
    http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/climate_change/

    the Federation of American Scientists,
    http://www.fas.org/press/statements/_docs/08grand_challenges.html

    the American Quaternary Association,
    http://www.inqua.org/documents/QP%2016-2.pdf
    http://www.agu.org/fora/eos/pdfs/2006EO360008.pdf

    the American Society of Agronomy,
    https://www.soils.org/files/science-policy/asa-cssa-sssa-climate-change-policy-statement.pdf

    the Crop Science Society of America,
    https://www.soils.org/files/science-policy/asa-cssa-sssa-climate-change-policy-statement.pdf

    the Soil Science Society of America,
    https://www.soils.org/files/science-policy/asa-cssa-sssa-climate-change-policy-statement.pdf

    the American Astronomical Society,
    http://aas.org/governance/resolutions.php%23climate#climate

    the American Chemical Society,
    http://portal.acs.org/portal/fileFetch/C/WPCP_011538/pdf/WPCP_011538.pdf

    the Geological Society of America,
    http://www.geosociety.org/positions/position10.htm

    the American Institute of Biological Sciences,
    http://www.nationalacademies.org/includes/G8+5energy-climate09.pdf

    the American Society for Microbiology,
    http://www.asm.org/images/docfilename/0000006005/globalwarming%5B1%5D.pdf

    the Society of American Foresters,
    http://www.safnet.org/fp/documents/climate_change_expires12-8-2013.pdf
    http://www.safnet.org/publications/jof/jof_cctf.pdf

    the Australian Institute of Physics,
    http://www.aip.org.au/scipolicy/Science%20Policy.pdf

    the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society,
    http://www.amos.org.au/documents/item/26

    the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO,
    http://www.csiro.au/files/files/pvfo.pdf

    the Geological Society of Australia,

    the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies,
    http://www.fasts.org/images/policy-discussion/statement-climate-change.pdf

    the Australian Coral Reef Society,
    http://www.australiancoralreefsociety.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=5d093a51-a77e-4ae0-bd9f-67e459d57ac1&groupId=10136

    the Royal Society of the UK,

    the Royal Meteorological Society,
    http://www.rmets.org/news/detail.php?ID=332

    the British Antarctic Survey,
    http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/bas_research/science/climate/position-statement.php

    the Geological Society of London,
    http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/views/policy_statements/page7426.html

    the Society of Biology (UK),
    http://www.societyofbiology.org/policy/policy-issues/climate-change

    the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences,

    the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society,
    http://www.cmos.ca/climatechangepole.html

    the Royal Society of New Zealand,
    http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/organisation/panels/climate/climate-change-statement/

    the Polish Academy of Sciences,

    the European Science Foundation,

    the European Geosciences Union,
    http://www.egu.eu/statements/position-statement-of-the-divisions-of-atmospheric-and-climate-sciences-7-july-2005.html
    http://www.egu.eu/statements/egu-position-statement-on-ocean-acidification.html

    the European Physical Society,
    http://nuclear.epsdivisions.org/Reports/eps-position-paper-energy-for-the-future

    the European Federation of Geologists,

    the Network of African Science Academies,
    http://www.interacademies.net/File.aspx?id=4825

    the International Union for Quaternary Research,
    http://www.inqua.org/documents/iscc.pdf

    the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics,
    http://www.iugg.org/resolutions/perugia07.pdf

    the Wildlife Society (International),
    http://joomla.wildlife.org/documents/positionstatements/35-Global%20Climate%20Change%20and%20Wildlife.pdf

    and the World Meteorological Organization.
    http://www.wmo.ch/pages/mediacentre/statann/documents/SG21_2006_E.pdf

    There aren’t any national or international scientific societies disputing the conclusion that most of the warming since 1950 is very likely to be due to human emissions of greenhouse gases, though a few are non-committal.

    The last organization to oppose this conclusion was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). They changed their position statement in 2007 to a non-committal position because they recognized that AAPG doesn’t have experience or credibility in the field of climate change and wisely said “… as a group we have no particular claim to knowledge of global atmospheric geophysics through either our education or our daily professional work.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Non-committal_statements
    http://dpa.aapg.org/gac/statements/climatechange.pdf
    http://64.207.34.58/StaticContent/3/TPGs/2010_TPGMarApr.pdf

    There are people maintaining lists of these orgainzations, but I'll have to try and dig up the links.  Been about 3 years since I lasted looked at them...

    The now-defunct LogicalScience.com website maintained a seemingly-complete listing, but it has gone into the great Internet Twilight zone.  However, the most recent archive of the site can be found:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20111130013640

    Response:

    [RH] Fixed the few super long URL's that were breaking the page formatting.

  2. Oh deary me, how can so many be so wrong:

    Having taken a physicist's look at the AGW discourse, I couldn't help trying to work out where the flaw lies in the Greenhouse gas theory - I note it has moved on now beyond co2 to virtually every other gas with an ir absorption line! The flaw is that the amount of energy loss by radiation from the earth's surface has been wildly over estimated to a significance it does not have. The reasoning is as follows:

    1) Long established by theory and measurement we have values for thermal conductivity of gases at STP. Typical experiment has two horizontal parallel plates too close to allow convection and a temperature gradient. The correction for the contribution from radiation is about 5%. (Physics text books)

    2) Natural convection has been well established to obey certain rules for all gases (monatomic, diatomic etc). For air, at 300 deg. K it effectively doubles the conductivity values established in 1 above.

    3) Forced convection - the situation at the earth's surface - is where I make an informed guess. My old car boils if left idling for ten minutes with the fan off, at 30 mph, where the engine is dissipating at least ten times the energy, it is as cool as a cucumber. Perhaps the average wind at the earth's surface is less, but to bend over as far backwards as possible in favour of the GG fanatics, lets say it multiplies cooling by a factor of five rather than ten.

    That means, as my experience as a designer, builder and operator of cryostats taking temperature down to within a degree of absolute zero tells me, the proportion of heat energy radiating from the earth's surface is one two hundredth of the loss by kinetic transfer into atmospheric gases.

    4) Of this small proportion an even smaller proportion of the spectrum will find molecules with which to resonate. Whether the excited molecule simply exchanges energy with the surface or suffers a collision transfering to kinetic energy is neither here nor there, because the upshot is it will make an immaterial difference to the total energy transfer.

    5) Contrast this with the situation at the edge of space where very hot molecules become ionised and each and every single one of them that moves then becomes a e/m radiator losing its kinetic energy in the process. This is where the business of transforming kinetic into radiant energy takes place, it is the lower world's ultimate heat sink.

     We inhabit the coolant of an enclosed air-cooled machine, the heat source, the sun (and man), the heat sinks comprise moving media - the oceans - the poles and the unlit side of the earth. But, there must be another sink which provides a route out by radiation. Just as the sun's surface temperature determines the solar spectrum, so does the surface skin - the upper atmosphere ionised shell- of the atmosphere. 

    Given the cornucopia of errors associated with the diminishing returns of surface generated radiation, I'm not sure I trust the 30% of solar energy said to be reflected, it might well be more as the ionic activity seems never to have been worked out and this would affect the calibration. In that case, the proportion participating in the earth's climate system is correspondingly less. That makes man's additional energy input of 5x10^20 joules p.a., and increasing, all the more serious. No wonder there is a push to claw this energy back out by windfarms - I think the real physicists around know that carbon driven AGW is bunkum. The villain is conspicuous energy generation by mankind and who wants to admit that?  Lets hope the mechanism radiating from earth doesn't get too far behind events lower down and let atmospheric vigour get too out of hand.

     

    Response:

    [TD] As Tom Curtis pointed out, your comment is entirely off topic for this thread.  One of the great values of the Skeptical Science site is its division of information into fairly tidy themes so that it is easy for people to find the information they want.  For your main argument, it is necessary for you to post your comments on other threads, the best one being the one Tom Curtis pointed you to.  Regarding your contention that waste heat is responsible for most of the warming, read and then comment on the post It's Waste Heat.

  3. Old Sage @552:

    1)  Your description of how the atmospheric greenhouse effect works is inaccurate; and the inaccuracy means your argument against it is a strawman.

    2)  Heat transfer by convection is taken into account in models of the greenhouse effect, and have been since 1964.  They work out numerically the actual effect of convective heat transfer on surface tempertures, wereas your "calculation" consists of mere handwaving.  Your criticism is therefore (at best) 39 years out of date.

    3)  The impact of CO2 on Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) has been predicted by Line by Line Radiation models with extraordinary accuraccy and observed from space.  That CO2 reduces the OLR in the frequencies at which it absorbs is, therefore, beyond doubt.  On pain of violating the first law of thermodynamics, it follows that at other frequencies the OLR must be increased to compensate, and the only way to do that is to have a higher surface temperature.

    These points are discusses in some detail here (complete with car radiator analogy).  If you are serious about discussing this topic, go there - read and respond there where the discussion is on topic and where readers can easilly sea the counter argument to your position.  Of course, I suspect that like most deniers you will prefer to violate the comments policy by continuing the discussion here where it will derail the thread, and were casual readers will not only see your arguments, but the counter arguments.  (I think the intellectual cowardice implicit in the latter is why so few deniers trotting out their arguments on this site actually post on threads where their comments are on topic.)

  4. Tom, time flies.  Old Sage's argument is 49 years out of date.

    Old Sage, I encourage you to continue your discussion here on the appropriate thread, but you might--if you want to do the math--go to SoD.  Questions are encouraged here as they are there.  You might also note that downwelling longwave radiation has been measured against modeled projections.  Studies such as this one might help you check your own work.


    If you're confident enough ("oh deary") in your conclusion that the greenhouse effect is insignificant with regards to climate system energy storage, you might want to publish your work.  The editors of Science and Nature would probably Sumo wrestle for the right to publish the work, and the Nobel committee would obviously be on your doorstep.  Also, given the money being pushed around to address AGW, I'd think you'd have a moral imperative to publicize your work at the highest levels.


    Finally, I'm curious.  Total insolation has been flat or falling for fifty years, and before 1960 solar tracked surface temp fairly well.  Yet system energy continues to accumulate quite rapidly.  What's the mechanism if not the enhanced greenhouse effect?

    Please respond on the appropriate threads.  There are plenty to choose from, and the regular posters watch the aggregate comment stream for new comments, so your responses won't be missed.

  5. I have to say, I always find it fascinating when someone like "old sage" comes here to cast off an entire body of scientific research, without even so much as referencing even one piece of research.

    He states that he's taking a "physicist's look" as if the 30,000+ actively publishing researchers working in this area have no background in physics.

    "Oh Deary" is right.

    Be realistic, Old Sage.  How would you respond if some climate scientist came to you and told you the physics of cryostats was all a bunch of bunkum?

  6. Agreed.  Yet another Galileo wanna-be, ignoring his own physical society's position on AGW, as well as every other scientific body the world over.  To wit:

    The IPCC’s conclusion that most of the warming since 1950 is very likely due to human emissions of greenhouse gases and has been endorsed by this great cloud of witnesses:

    the National Academy of Sciences,

    the National Aeronautics and Space Administration,

    the National Center for Atmospheric Research,

    the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,

    the American Geophysical Union,

    the American Institute of Physics,

    the American Physical Society,

    the American Meteorological Society,

    the American Statistical Association,

    the American Association for the Advancement of Science,

    the Federation of American Scientists,

    the American Quaternary Association,

    the American Society of Agronomy,

    the Crop Science Society of America,

    the Soil Science Society of America,

    the American Astronomical Society,

    the American Chemical Society,

    the Geological Society of America,

    the American Institute of Biological Sciences,

    the American Society for Microbiology,

    the Society of American Foresters,

    the Australian Institute of Physics,

    the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society,

    the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO,

    the Geological Society of Australia,

    the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies,

    the Australian Coral Reef Society,

    the Royal Society of the UK,

    the Royal Meteorological Society,

    the British Antarctic Survey,

    the Geological Society of London,

    the Society of Biology (UK),

    the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences,

    the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society,

    the Royal Society of New Zealand,

    the Polish Academy of Sciences,

    the European Science Foundation,

    the European Geosciences Union,

    the European Physical Society,

    the European Federation of Geologists,

    the Network of African Science Academies,

    the International Union for Quaternary Research,

    the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics,

    the Wildlife Society (International),

    and the World Meteorological Organization.

    There aren’t any national or international scientific societies disputing the conclusion that most of the warming since 1950 is very likely to be due to human emissions of greenhouse gases, though a few are non-committal.

    The last organization to oppose this conclusion was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). They changed their position statement in 2007 to a non-committal position because they recognized that AAPG doesn’t have experience or credibility in the field of climate change and wisely said “… as a group we have no particular claim to knowledge of global atmospheric geophysics through either our education or our daily professional work.”

    Archive of position statements

    Those like old sage would have science re-prove the existance of the atom in every study, mayhap...or republish the above list daily, it would see.

     

    (-inflammatory self snipped-)

     

  7. old sage,

    How can the greenhouse gas disciples ignore it?

    I'm not sure what a word like "disciples" is supposed to mean when you're talking about scientific results that are accepted by every scientific body the world over, but to answer your question:

    Because it has been weighed, it has been measured, and it has been found wanting.

    In other words, why obsess about the possible impact of a demonstrably small contibutor to global warming while ignoring the elephant in the room who's effect, even without feedbacks, is indisputably orders of magnitude larger?

  8. BTW, you must have missed this graphic on the page you were already asked to move discussions about waste heat to:

    Please follow up there.

  9. If co2 is so important, please tell me where I can look up tables of absorption of characteristic frequency radiation plotted against co2 concentration in air at various pressures and temperatures.

     (-snip-)

    Response:

    [DB] Off-topic and sloganeering snipped.  Please review this site's Comments Policy before submitting further comments (link adjacent to the Comment Box).

    [TD] Specifically, put this comment on the thread that Tom Curtis pointed you to--not the waste heat one.

  10. Sorry folks, only joined this yesterday and not got the hang of it, will try to shift msgs!

  11. My wife's good friend teaches 6th grade in San Diego, California. A few days ago she told me she covers "global warming" in her class but emphasizes there's no scientific consensus and explained to me her understanding of the issue, which basically mimics the fox news disinfo. She's otherwise a liberal-minded person.

    She's actually teaching the disinfo to her 6th grade classes and has been for years. 

    I rebutted her misconceptions but she had read a lot of bad info on the subject and wasn't receptive to my points over dinner. She let me install the Skeptical Science app on her iPhone, though.

    My point in posting here is that I'm alarmed that school teachers are spreading misconceptions in the guise of preaching "both sides of the issue because every issue has two sides," as if both sides are correct or unprovable or convincing.  Some global climate change group needs talk to teachers in the san diego public school system.

  12. Jg2013

    I am glad you brought up this point.  As a public school teacher I can attest to the notion that the disinformation swirling around global warming and climate change is happening at my high school in Michigan.  A science teacher at my school shows his students “The Great Global Warming Swindle” and not for the purposes of demonstrating the use of propaganda.  Although I do not teach in the science curriculum, I do teach U.S. Government and Politics and I am privy to the forces unleashed upon teachers regarding these issues.  The “teach the controversy” phenomenon, pushed by the Heartland Institute, et al, is alive and well and is straight out of the tobacco industry playbook to “deny the science” and manufacture doubt”.  I am sure you are aware of the book Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes which does a nice job of explaining the tobacco industry's playbook which is currently in use by the fossil fuel industry.

  13. Kkennett09,

    I'm new here and I'm trying to get to the right subject--consensus.  Anyway, you bring up tobacco in apparent reference to disease and propaganda.  Yes, the tobacco industries desperately avoided getting saddled and hired the best--the absolute best--attorneys available to slip the noose.  They failed because the statistics are so obvious.  The chance of developing bronchogenic carcinoma [for one] is 10 times greater in smokers than in non-smokers.

    (-snip-).

    Response:

    [DB] Off-topic, sloganeering, inflammatory and ideology snipped.

    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

  14. OK, DB, so I'll give it another shot.  My comment is strictly on topic.

    Definitions are important in any debate so I've gone directly to the source i.e. Random House Webster's College Dictionary [1997]:

    "Consensus":  1.  collective judgment or belief; solidarity of opinion.  2.  general agreement or concord; harmony.  [1850-55; < L, = consent[ire] to be in agreement, harmony

    --Usage.  The expression "consensus of opinion" is sometimes criticized as being redundant on the basis that "consensus" alone conveys the meaning.  Although the redundancy argument is weakened if "consensus" is taken in its earlier and valid sense of "general agreement or concord," the criticism of this phrase has been so persistent that "consensus of opinion" occurs only infrequently in edited formal writing.  The phrase "general consensus" is also objected to as redundant.

    Now, Spoonie will comment.  Using the strict definition of the word "consensus", it can certainly be argued that there is no consensus concerning AGW theory.  There is no "solidarity of opinion".  There is little "concord" and there definitely is no "harmony."

  15. Seriously spoonie?  You don't think there's a consensus on the theory of the enhanced greenhouse effect?  That's all AGW is, plus the proposition that humans are responsible for the rapid increase in atmospheric CO2.  You realize that there are no comprehensive alternative theories and that the climate of the past cannot be explained without resorting to the greenhouse effect (and of course the GHE has been directly measured from surface).


    Or is it that you're being imprecise in your complaint/claim?

  16. spoonieduck @564.

    There are of course many who would say that science is always in flux so there can never be a scientific consensus. This is perhaps theoretically true, and perhaps more than theoretically. In a recent BBC radio interview Prof Joanna Haigh suggested that if you put a bunch of professors in a room together, the last thing they are going to do is agree with each other. As a profession, academics make their mark in the world by arguing with each other; arguing and winning. Thus Professor Haigh's point is that the AGW consensus is all the more powerful because the IPCC has actually managed to bash academia into singing off the same hymn sheet.

    Using your dictionary definitions, you are probably correct to say there is no "solidarity of opinion" concerning AGW. Or at least it is fragile. Them professors will soon start arguing if you let them. But your dictionary also describes "collective judgement or belief" as being consensus. I think that has been achieved. AGW is real and it is bad, potentially exceedingly bad. And with the dissenting 3% entirely disagreeing with each other as to what the consensus has got wrong in reaching such a judgement, the "collective judgement" looks even better grounded.

  17. Spoonie needs remedial classes on what a scientific consensus is.  Perhaps some light reading of this post will help:

    On Consensus

  18. M A Rodger,

    Good.  I believe you understand that, while tight definitions are important, "consensus" is not a particularly tight concept.  I believe the term "consensus" has been used and misused because most folks--not even climatologists--can be pinned right on the mark by it.  The word is nebulous and, in my opinion, shouldn't be used in polite conversation.

    Still, a lot of AGW folks, live and die by the word. but many likely never bothered to look it up in the dictionary.  Still, Dan Bailey, is surely right.  I need a few remedial classes in scientific....ah....consensus, and a little light reading wouldn't hurt, either.

    And, DSL, your post is intelligent but slightly off topic [which I don't mind].  I believe that most climatologists do believe in the theory of enhanced greenhouse effect [who doesn't?] but I'd stay away from the word "consensus."  I'd love to address the rest of your post but DB doesn't want me to veer from the true path.

    Response:

    [JMH] You are skating on the thin ice of excessive repetition and sloganeering -- both of which are prohibited by the SkS Comment Policy. Please cease and desist or face the consequences.  

  19. Chuckle, "AGW folk" is more ambiguous than "consensus."  How do you define "AGW folk"?

    I'll tell you what a consensus is.  It's achieved when science moves on, when science stops targeting the proposition for testing.  Very rarely, and the probability weakens with each passing year, do major theories that have reached the consensus state end up dying or going through major revision.

    Science has moved well beyond the fundamental theory of the greenhouse effect.  Its existence is no longer being targeted for research.  It is instead now fodder for STEM undergrads.  The fine details are still being worked out, yes (radiative transfer is not a simple thing).  Sure, there are the Gerlich & Tscheuschners of the world, who attempt to mathturbate the effect away, ignoring the multitude of direct surface observations (not surface temp -- downwelling longwave radiation from the atmosphere) that confirm modeled expectations. You can try to defend them if you wish, but their existence falsifies the consensus of evidence in favor of the greenhouse effect no more than the latest nutjob moon landing hoax claim falsifies the theory that humans have been to the moon.  Again, without solid evidence and a coherent physical model, it's all lip-flapping and dancing with the general public, singing sweet nothings down the ear canals of those who have not the time, energy, training, means, and/or motivation to engage the actual science. 

    Is Cook et al. 2013 lip-flapping?  Perhaps, but you won't find too many scientists disagreeing with the conslusions drawn.  You can wheedle and whittle all day with Anthony Watts, but the 600k pound gorilla in the room is 1) that the basic theory is supported by all evidence and physics, and 2) that there is no alternative theory that is supported by all evidence and physics--not even close.  And if the theory is the actuality, then global energy storage can only continue to rise in the absence of any major off-setting forcing.

  20. Spoonieduck...  Perhaps you can share with us what you believe the word "consensus" means.  

    I've always understood it to mean "a general agreement."  It doesn't mean that absolutely everyone has the exact understanding about an issue.  I would suggest that research shows there is a "broad" consensus on nearly all the basic tennets of AGW.

    Science is, by its very nature, battlesome since it is constantly operating at the boundarlies of our understanding.  The fights are over what we don't yet know.  And they tend to be fierce and highly intellectual battles that are well beyond anyone who doesn't have a deep education in the particular subject.

  21. The emphasis on scientific consensus (the broad agreement within researchers actually doing the research) is that is what should guide public policy. It might turn out later that the consensus was wrong but the right decision for policy makers is go with the consensus. When stakes are high it is plumb foolish to do otherwise. Would you agree that policy makers should be mobilising resources if science said 75% chance of devastating asteroid strike - or wait till you have certainty but its too late to do anything meaningful.?

  22. Rob Honeycutt @570.

    Best not to ask for definitions from Spoonieduck. It is evident from what Spoonieduck says that the meaning of the word "consensus" is not the issue here as it is dismissed as being "nebulous." There is also the complain that it is misused which is perhaps an interesting idea given the word is apparently so ill-defined. Spoonieduck is evidntly hostile to its use, certainly with regard to AGW.

    I would suggest it is better to ask Spoonieduck what is meant by "There is little "concord" and there definitely is no "harmony" (concerning AGW theory." I though I was contradicting this statement when I wrote @566 that folk were "singing off the same hymn sheet." Spoonieduck's undoubted objections to this 'singing' are likely not to do with the quality of the voices but rather the actual song being sung.

  23. Spoonie,

    The nations of the world go over the IPCC summary document word by word and agree with all of them (for the fourth IPCC report the Bush administration agreed with the executive summary).  How could you possibly have a greater consensus than that?  Consensus does not mean unanimous agreement, it means the great majority agree.  In this case, unanimity of nations is required, which is beyond consensus.

  24. MA Rodger et al,

    You are correct in assuming that my objection to the word "consensus" is individual and, even to me, my belaboring of the subject quickly becomes tedious.  

  25. Hi all, I chanced upon this site looking for some condensed evidence into AGW. I'm not a climate scientist though I have a good basis in science.
    My main issue is that most things I read essentially say "climate change is happening therefore we must tackle man-made climate change" without making the link between climate-change and man-made climate change.
    The headline for this page is "97% of climate scientists endorse AGW", and yet reading the small print this seems not to be the case.

    It seems some feel that to be a skeptic you have to reject AGW as possible. This would then suggest there were only about 1% of papers that were skeptical.

    In fact, skeptical means you feel the evidence has not proved the issue one way or the other.

    In the abstract study, only 32% of the 12000 papers endorsed AGW. 1% rejected. This leaves 67% skeptical. 

    One of the problems with the wording of this article says the papers will be segregated into various categories, but it doesn't state whether the "no position" category means "we cannot endorse or reject AGW based on the evidence in this paper" or if it means "we just haven't mentioned endorsing or rejecting AGW".

    Stating "we are taking no position in the matter" is very different to just not talking about it in the first place.

    The Self-rated section helps a little but still the "no position" problem is evident. Did the authors write "I take no position with regards to endorsing or refuting AGW" or did they just leave the section blank?

    As it stands, the only facts that can be deduced is 64.8% of climate scientists endorse AGW (97.2% of 1400/2100)

    So again where everyone says the science is convincing, the facts speak for themselves etc, yet again the headline is purposely misleading using the wrong numbers to make the point it is trying to make. This is just bad science in my book, and just reinforces my impression that AGW endorsers overstate the argument, and in turn that raises my doubts. My experience has been that the skeptics (not deniers) don't overstate the science. I am currently a skeptic for this reason alone, but I am worried about being a skeptic if that doesn't do justice to the actual science. Hence my occaisional search for the science that lead me here :)

     

    So, am I missing something in the numbers? What % of authors stated "no position" versus the % that just didn't mention it at all?

    Am not intending to flame, or dismiss this study, but currently this study says to me 35% of climate scientists are skeptics.

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