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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 601 to 625 out of 906:

  1. bakertrg:

    Your posts give me the impression that you are badly overstepping your subject matter knowledge, your claims to the contrary notwithstanding. They also give me the impression that you aren't sufficiently skeptical regarding the claims advanced by climate science deniers, your claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

    For example:

    There really is very little evidence to support the claim that it's (CO2 emissions) causing global warming on a massive scale when we're simply not experiencing global warming beyond what has repeatedly been experienced in the past.

    Completely incorrect.

    (1) In this recent article, Dana provides a summary of several attribution studies, which quantify the contribution of anthropogenic effects vs. the contribution of natural effects over the past 50-65 years. You will note that most of the anthropogenic contributions either hover around or well overshoot 100% (because natural effects over that time period have been causing cooling).

    (2) How do you know "we're simply not experiencing global warming beyond what has repeatedly been experienced in the past". Sources, please. What is more, past global warming has included both minor and mass extinction events (e.g. PETM, Permian-Triassic extinction) so even if current warming is in line with what's repeatedly been experienced in the past, it doesn't follow that either the process of warming or the end result are desireable from the perspective of maintaining an advanced, affluent, complex human society based on creating reliable surpluses of food for 7.5+ billion people.

     

    As for this portion of your specific response to me:

    One of the confusing things on this subject is the interchanging of terms "global warming" and "climate change". I'm guilty of this myself, typically global warming or Anthropomorphic Global Warming (AGW) has a negative connotation and puts the cause of change squarely on man and typically makes the supposition that the change is massive and catostrophic.

    As a matter of fact, global warming as a technical term is a subset of (global) climate change. If the global climate is changing, and the change is the result of an increase in the global temperature, global warming is an accurate description. Adding anthropogenic to the term merely (and accurately) indicates the cause of the warming. What is more, the political decision to split hairs over the two terms was launched, not by Al Gore or environmentalists, but by a Republican political strategist to sow confusion about the subject. See here for details.

     

    The bottom line is that you are coming across as:

    -  being ignorant (as in lacking sufficient knowledge) of the topic,

    -  projecting your lack of knowledge and biases onto others (and especially onto the actual body of evidence), and

    - tiresome to deal with, since many of your claims are trivially easy to recognize as faulty, flawed, or outright false, but require a great deal of hyperlinking and typing to address publicly (hence the Gish Gallop).

  2. bakertrg

    I agree with others that you need to read a lot more with an open, if critical (but not cynical!) mind.

    If you agree global warming is happening across the atmosphere, oceans and cryosphere all together, then you are forced (due to conservation of energy) to presume that the heat balance for the planet is changing. There are only three ways that change can happen: increasing output or radiation from the sun, reduced albedo due to lower atmospheric aerosols, and increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. All other causes of net heating that we know of are trivial.

    The warming since 1970 has occured despite no net change in solar output, and maybe a slight decline. There was also fairly frequent volcanic production of aerosols that should have cooled the earth. The only major forcing that changed over this period were greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O). The lack of correlation between warming and the other natural factors that could warm the earth is just as important as the correlation of warming with CO2.

    Scientists aren't satisfied with that though. They also found the effect of CO2 on climate is entirely consistent with physics — in fact this knowledge predates the correlation between CO2 and temp. You simply cannot build a physical climate model that reproduces the current warming from variations in solar radiation and volcanic aerosols alone. People have tried.

    Scientists then found fingerprints in the stratospheric cooling, spectral profiles of IR emission to space and back to earth, and in relative heating of nights and days that are consistent with hypothesis that the change is due to the greenhouse effect. The warming is also consistent with climate sensitivities estimated from warming events in the historical past, and in the paleo record.

    So, to argue against the observed changes being anthropogenic, you are left to somehow argue that CO2 is not human derived. Unfortunately, the human origin of atmospheric CO2 has been proven beyond doubt using multiple lines of evidence well before the IPCC was even formed - in fact that knowledge was one of the reasons the IPCC was formed!

    That is the basis of the scientific consensus. You have to realize that sometimes scientific findings align simply because nature is giving us a clear signal, and this is one of the clearest I've seen in my experience as a scientist.

  3. franklfkin... It would be incorrect to call those negative trends. None of the trends you listed can be determined to be negative since they can't be statistically determined to be different than a zero trend. 

    GISS: 0.022 ±0.157 °C/decade (2σ)

    NOAA: -0.003 ±0.145 °C/decade (2σ)

    HadCRU4: -0.009 ±0.141 °C/decade (2σ)

    HadCRU4hybrid: 0.054 ±0.188 °C/decade (2σ)

    RSS: -0.060 ±0.252 °C/decade (2σ)

    UAH: 0.054 ±0.252 °C/decade (2σ)

    One thing I'm just noticing that is interesting, the RSS and UAH data, which originate from the same satellite data, are almost identical except for the "-" sign.

  4. (snip)  Despite how my posts are being characterized I'm not intent on being a dissenter I am just skeptical of some of what is here and any website pushing that 97% number so hard and calling it the consensus makes me VERY skeptical of both the message and the messenger.

    Sorry if I offended you with my retort Dikran, not my intent but I felt you totally mischaracterized my post drew a conclusion I never made and sent me off to read sources that don't refute my point, aren't relevant to the issue and actually support my position not yours.

    (snip) One of his arguments was that the papers in the 97% number actually don't say man is the main cause of global warming... which is exactly my leaning.  I'm not emotionally vested in this idea, it's just the best answer from the data I have actually researched.  

    dikran 593: 97% of the papers that take a position on the question do take the position that it is mostly anthropogenic.

    next paragraph 

    If you want a study of scientists that are publicly stating that humans are the primary cause of climate change, then you won't find one, because scientists have better things to do

    so 97% of scientists are taking the position that THE cause of global warming is anthropogenic but none of them are publicly stating that humans are the cause of climate change?  Maybe I'm missing something but that seems to contradict itself.

    Despite what it may appear to be my goal is to find answers.  I am skeptical of some of the things that are held to be incontrovertible here. My main question and the reason I'm posting on this thread is because I strongly disagree with the methodology for coming up with the number 97%.  It seems that a lot of scientists think that humans are A cause of global warming and the graphic takes a huge liberty with meaning by saying humans are THE cause.  The meanings are vastly different.  I have tracked down some of the papers I'm going to see how many say THE cause.  

    I'm not a climatologist, I do have a background in physics, computer science and engineering, I have no dog in this fight other than I truly want to know what is happening on our planet if not solely for my edification so that I can at least educate my kids to the best of my ability and speak intelligently on the subject which potentially has massive ramifications going forward.  In any event I am honestly trying to address each counter to my initial post (despite what is pretty close to being dog piled which is my reading comprehension is any good turns out to also be against the comment policy)

    I see the words "easily disproven", but I actually thought it was accepted fact that we have had cooling trends during the modern industrial period despite ever rising CO2 levels. I posted 1900 to 1940 because I believe I read that on this website but in actually going to look I found some different time lines that had downward trends.  1880 to 1915 or 1940 to 1975 would have been a better example for me to use, I stand corrected.

    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/last_200_yrs.html

    In any event, the point still remains the same, if the CO2 level is constantly rising and the causation is as great as is being purported shouldn't we see an accelerating temperature change?  According to information IPCC admittedly can not explain temperature has been flat for the last 17 years.  That is very difficult to explain if the problem is accelerating and even suggests that the causation is either much smaller than alarmists suggest (small enough that mother natures natural variance swallowed it whole) or the link to causation is less strong than you're suggesting.

    dr don easterbook gives a fairly informative view both in text and video (though my research shows that he has taken money from the koch brothers) sadly, many players in this discussion have taken funding from one side or another and/or have a book centric profit motive to push their beliefs.  Richard Lindzen also falls in this same space.  Unfortunately it's hard to determine what came first the ideology or the funding, of course the non consensus supporters are going to look for scientists who share their ideology to champion the cause so it's not surprising that the guys who get funded by big business have the anti AGW ideology.   (snip) 

    The video is long but interesting and he does seem to have quite a bit of data.  video  the text can be found here and has a lot of great information.  Dr Lindzen also offers some pretty compelling video's and his credentials are top notch.  That being said his monetary incentive made me watch both videos with a very jaundiced eye.  I found him to be pretty credible but I'm always skeptical of people getting paid for their science by a source that only wants a specific outcome.  

    KR - I briefly looked at Spencer Weart and despite being a believer in global warming comes out against a recent argument for the consensus here.  His post about the flawed assumptions in the paper from PNAS made me think he's at least interested in being objective. A very telling point of his post (made on this very website) here poses a big problem for the 97% number.  He states that while he is convinced by the evidence, he is surprised by the number who are not.  Doesn't appear as if he believes it's only 3% dissenting.  He pointed to several reasons why that number could be skewed and he's a recognized figure on your side of the argument.

    Response:

    [TD] See "CO2 Is Not the Only Driver of Climate," and if you want to discuss that topic do so there or on other relevant threads, not here.  You are incorrect that there has been no warming in the past 17 years; there are many relevant threads for that topic, but you might start with "What Has Global Warming Done Since 1998?".  Further discussion of those topics on this thread will be deleted without warning.

    [TD] Don Easterbrook is most definitely not "informative."  Just one of many places where his inaccuracies are revealed is here.  Richard Lindzen's errors are numerous; one explanation is here.

     

    [PW] Your moderation complaints have been snipped, and you've been given Warning #1: You continue to argue in bad faith, you continiue to play word games, you continue to misrepresent other poster's words, and you impute dishonesty from them, too. Cease, or Warning #2 will be your last.

  5. A cursory glance at Cook et al. 2013 shows that only levels 1-3 are included in the consensus; they explicitly or implicitly agree that most of the warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. A cursory glance at Dr. Spencer's claims places them somewhere in levels 5-7, which aren't part of the consensus.

  6. bakertrg - I expect you will be subject to moderation, due to claims that people are presenting deceptive opinions due to financial renumeration. That said:

    Although Spencer Weart has expressed concerns about a particular study (Anderegg et al 2010), you do not appear to have read his actual comment, which states:

    The statistics are certainly interesting, but must be interpreted as "2-3% of people who have published 20 climate papers are willing to publicly attack the IPCC's conclusions." That is, to me, a surprisingly high fraction...

    If Weart feels that 2-3% rejecting the consensus is a high number, he is hardly disagreeing, now is he? It appears his concerns were with the methods of that particular study, and not the conclusion of an overwhelming consensus. Curiously, you present your information linking a website that appears to be a blog from someone in climate denial, which only reinforces the impression that you, too, are in climate denial. In fact, the more you write, the less interested (IMO) you appear in actual science. It's rather sad that the only lesson you take from Weart is an out of context of a single paper, rather than the copious work on the basics of climate change that I pointed you to. Your reading appears to be rather selective...

    Incidentally, Dr's Spencer and Lindzen are quite familar names, as they have quite a history of climate denial themselves - see here and here.

  7. bakertrg - Also note that Anderegg 2010 (which you seem to be criticizing by proxy in your last post) used completely different methods than Doran 2009, or Cook et al 2013, or Oreskes 2004.

    Yet _all_ of these studies found an overwhelming consensus among scientists, driven by the evidence they they know of, that the dominant cause of recent climate change is anthropogenic. And replication via different methods is one of the foundations of good science. 

    Unless you can present evidence (you know, actual data) that this consensus does not exist, I'm going to have to conclude that (a) you're wrong about the consensus, and (b) you're suffering from confirmation bias and are just not interested in the facts. 

  8. bakertrg...  Please note that moderation complaints get deleted.

    If you challenge a piece of published research, do so by backing your statements with references. If you think Doran was a poor survey, show references that confirm it was poor methodology. Don't just state it with opinion, present why you believe that to be the case. Show research on survey methodology that states why the results are not robust.

  9. I have said this before…the idea that the consensus is evidence of some sort of greed-induced conspiracy among scientists completely baffles me as a scientist. Yes, individuals care about getting grant money to support or students and technicians, but it’s not like we are all friends and family living off a common bank account. We often criticize each other strongly, sometimes with vitriol, about things noone else seems to care about. We compete with each other for limited money and review each others grants, sometimes agressively.

    If I sense someone is falsifying results, I have every incentive in the world to attack them, especially if they are doing different research than I and getting money that I could get. Heck, I even get famous if I overturn their accepted wisdom. And I could make much much more being a shill to vested interests who would prefer we deny climate change. If money were really the main factor here you’d see a lot less of a consensus.

    The fact that I do not know a single scientist who rejects the idea of AGW, despite differences I have with them on a multitude of other issues, is an indication of the power of the scientific arguments supporting it, and the commitments of scientists generally to following the evidence. Nothing in any of the surveys is inconsistent with that impression.

    Contrary to bakertrg’s cynicism, I find it all rather uplifting. If only I could figure out why bakertrg hates me, I’d be a happy camper!

  10. bakertg: 

    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.

  11. franklefkin @598, thankyou.

    I should have checked more closely before responding to the latest denier cherry pick on temperatures.  As it stands, my claim that bakertrg's claim re 21st century trends being "trivially false" needs to be withdrawn.  It is merely obviously false.

    Obviously false because, firstly, with five established temperature records, claiming a negative trend with two of them show a positive trend is begging the question as to which record is superior.  We can, off course, look for a tie breaker among the records.  Noticing, however, that the only surface record with truly global coverage, and the satelite record with the greatest covered area both show positive trends shows the negative trends of the others to be due to information they exclude rather than a property of global temperatures.  Further, the fact that newer records (HadCRUT4-hybrid, BEST) also show positive trends corroborates GISS and UAH as showing the better record, as do indirect measures of temperature such as Sea Level rise, and receding glaciers.

    Alternatively, we may decide to treat all records alike, and simply take an average - except that the average of the 5 established records gives a positive trend - and including the newer records (HadCRUT4-hybrid; and BEST) makes that postive  rend even stronger.

    Finally, we need only notice that pushing the start date of the trend back one year (two years for RSS), or the end date back to Dec 2010 to make the trends positgive to see that the negative trend even in those records with the trend depends essentially on a chery picked period.

    Regardless of all this, it appears that bakertrg has dropped that claim, so this is now beside the point.

  12. bakertrg wrote "so 97% of scientists are taking the position that THE cause of global warming is anthropogenic but none of them are publicly stating that humans are the cause of climate change? Maybe I'm missing something but that seems to contradict itself."

    do yourself a favour and go and read the paper and the comment thread to see what has been discussed already.  Most papers on climate change are independent of whether the cause of the change is anthropogenic or natural.  To give you an example, I have worked on statistical downscaling, which attempts to estimate the effects of large scale atmospheric circulation (which GCMs model fairly well) on local (e.g. station-level) scale (which GCMs fundamentally can't do beause the grid boxes they use are too large).  A paper on statistical downscaling doesn't need to make any statement at all on what causes climate change because that is not what the paper is about and academic papers tend not to make assertions that are not directly justified by the analysis given in the paper.  There are many other topic in climate change that are not concerned with attribution, which is why relatively few explicitly take a stance.

    Now this will be obvious to anybody that understands the culture of scientific publication.  Scientists do have better things to do with their time than answer questions raised on climate skeptic blogs, and as a result, you will only generally be assured of a climate change paper taking a stance on the cause of the change if the subject of the paper is an attribution study.

    "Despite what it may appear to be my goal is to find answers. "

    Then perhaps next time someone answers your questions, you shouldn't accuse them of being disingenuous and copping out.  This is especially true if you are going to convert

    "97% of the papers that take a position on the question do take the position that it is mostly anthropogenic."

    and

    "If you want a study of scientists that are publicly stating that humans are the primary cause of climate change, then you won't find one, because scientists have better things to do"

     into

    "97% of scientists are taking the position that THE cause of global warming is anthropogenic"

    EMPHASIS yours.

  13. to me it seems this study came about because:

    "the skeptics don't believe that, when surveyed, climate scientists tell the truth about AGW and instead endorse it"

    So, this study studies the papers instead of surveying the scientists, as it can be assumed that they are more likely to state their correct position in their papers.

    The study came up with 32% Endorse AGW.

    How do we get to 97%?

    "oh...we surveyed them"

    :-|

    Response:

    [JH] You are skating on the thin ice of sloganeering whcih is prhobited by the SkS Comments Polcy. 

    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. Mytheroo...  I would highly suggest you take the time to read the research paper you're commenting on. The answer to the question, "How to we get to 97%?" is there.

    Of papers that take a position, 97% of the published research supports the idea that humans are the primary cause of warming.

    If you like, you can use the 32% figure too, but you have to compare that, then, to the rejection rate which goes down below 1%.

    No matter how you prefer to slice it, the overwhelmingly dominant position in the published literature is that human emissions of CO2 are the primary cause of warming.

  15. Is it too much to ask that people read just the infographic?

  16. 97% ? Pfff... Until 1887, 100% of scientists agreed on the existence of aether...

  17. Murmur, it is absolutely given that a consensus does not make a theory correct. However, this is article is putting to bed the myth that there is no scientific consensus. For policy makers, going with the consensus is the only rational choice. If you were ill, would you be like this guy? It's not like there is any other credible theory of climate.

  18. Has skeptical science done an article responding to the American Physical Society Framing document on climate science which raised substantial questions on the state of climate science:  http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/upload/climate-review-framing.pdf

  19. PhysicsProf, the document you link is worded and presented in a rather peculiar fashion. What is its exact origin?

    When I go to the APS website and follow the links, I find this page:

    http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

    It is much more consistent with the normal tone of APS statements, which usually do not contain an abundance of graphs and data, or text highlighted in red. I looked at a variety of other statements and none of them has a format similar to the one you linked. I had too much difficulty to keep the document running on my computer to study it in enough detail, it kept on triggering error messages when trying to scroll. However, I did see a reference to the CimateAudit blog, which I find highly suspicious. APS does not normally refer to blogs of any kind.

    Do you know where exactly that document came from? As I see it, it appears more fraudulent than anything else. Did you talk to anyone at APS about it?

  20. I sent an e-mail with the url to APS, hopefully they'll respond in a few days and tell us something on the nature of this statement.

  21. PhysicsProf @618 & PhilippeChantreau @619/620.

    The APS is reviewing its statement on Climate Change and the document link given @618 is to a document that was an early part of that process. It is a pukka APS document produced by the sub-committee appointed to look into the review. (It is the "Framing Document for Workshop" mentioned on the page linked above.) It was a sort-of agenda document for a workshop held in January this year. What was curious was the list of experts invited to that workshop. These included obvious suspects (Bill Collins, Isacc Held, Ben Santer) and controversially arch-denialists Lindzen, Curry & Christy. I know of no offical reason for their invite but there was comment I read that this would disarm L,C&C who often claim nobody listens to them. The workshop transcript is available on-line and stretches to 573 pages (of big print).

    The next step in the process, a decisionof  whether to stick with the old statement from 2007 (which itself got some skeptics grinding teeth) or whether to start a process to develop a fresh statement - that decision has yet to be made. However the whole thing got a lot of airing in March when a professional twit of the British press called Delingpole kicked off a story that L,C&C had been appointed to the committee considering the APS statement review. Although utter bunk, the skeptical twitosphere feasted heavily on this "news" for some days.

    So we await the outcome of the sub-committee's deliberations.

  22. "L,C&C who often claim nobody listens to them"

    Someone at APS listened enough to bother with yet another ClimateAudit insinuation of impropriety, which I find a little disappointing. Of course, if "skeptics" were part of that commitee then all bets are off...

    L,C & C were listened to when they first spoke. As they kept on repeating themselves, the amount of listening they garnered decreased, which is entirely normal and even desirable. Sometimes I wish that the the mass media out there would have the same sloganeering policy that SkS has.

    L, C&C receive exactly the attention they deserve from the scientific community and way more than that in the public media, they have no reason to complain.

  23. So I gather the answer to my question is no, there hasn't been an article addressing the concerns raised by the American Physical Society. While Linzen, Curry and Christy were part of the actual workshop, my understanding was the framing document was from the APS without the input of the three. I did read the whole 573 pages of the workshop which was pretty fascinating but most of the questions in the framing document weren't directly addressed. What interests me is the current discussion feels like politicians slamming each other rather than scientists analyzing a problem ("this is all a hoax"--because scientists love secret meetings to fool the public; or "you're a denialist"--because Holocaust imagery is always in good taste). What I liked about the APS document was it asked serious questions a scientist rather than a politician would ask seeking to understand the basic science involved.

  24. PhysicsProf - If and when the APS releases an updated statement, it might be worth commenting upon it to the APS. Right now, it's silly to claim that a draft in progress, particularly with biased committee membership, is the opinion of the society as a whole. 

    Why would you treat an unapproved draft as the opinion of the APS?

  25. KR @624:

    "Why would you treat an unapproved draft as the opinion of the APS?"

    Particularly as it is not a draft, but a "framing document" that may have deliberately set out to encapsulate "skeptical" arguments without either endorsing those arguments or even agreeing that they are sensible, but merely in order garner responces to what are considered to be contrary opinion.

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