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Is there a scientific consensus on global warming?

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate Advanced

Surveys of the peer-reviewed scientific literature and the opinions of experts consistently show a 97–98% consensus that humans are causing global warming.

Climate Myth...

There is no consensus
The Petition Project features over 31,000 scientists signing the petition stating "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide will, in the forseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere ...". (Petition Project)

A survey of over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers by our citizen science team at Skeptical Science has found a 97% consensus in the peer-reviewed literature that humans are causing global warming.

consensus pie chart

Lead author John Cook created a short video abstract summarizing the study:

The Abstracts Survey

The first step of our approach involved expanding the original survey of the peer-reviewed scientific literature in Oreskes (2004).  We performed a keyword search of peer-reviewed scientific journal publications (in the ISI Web of Science) for the terms 'global warming' and 'global climate change' between the years 1991 and 2011, which returned over 12,000 papers. John Cook created a web-based system that would randomly display a paper's abstract (summary).  We agreed upon definitions of possible categories: explicit or implicit endorsement of human-caused global warming, no position, and implicit or explicit rejection (or minimization of the human influence).

Our approach was also similar to that taken by James Powell, as illustrated in the popular graphic below.  Powell examined nearly 14,000 abstracts, searching for explicit rejections of human-caused global warming, finding only 24.  We took this approach further, also looking at implicit rejections, no opinions, and implicit/explicit endorsements.

powell pie

We took a conservative approach in our ratings. For example, a study which takes it for granted that global warming will continue for the foreseeable future could easily be put into the implicit endorsement category; there is no reason to expect global warming to continue indefinitely unless humans are causing it. However, unless an abstract included (either implicit or explicit) language about the cause of the warming, we categorized it as 'no position'.

Note that John Cook also initiated a spinoff from the project with a survey of climate blog participants re-rating a subset of these same abstracts.  However, this spinoff is not a part of our research or conclusions.

The Team

A team of Skeptical Science volunteers proceeded to categorize the 12,000 abstracts – the most comprehensive survey of its kind to date.  Each paper was rated independently at least twice, with the identity of the other co-rater not known. A dozen team members completed most of the 24,000+ ratings.  There was no funding provided for this project; all the work was performed on a purely voluntary basis.

Once we finished the 24,000+ ratings, we went back and checked the abstracts where there were disagreements. If the disagreement about a given paper couldn't be settled by the two initial raters, a third person acted as the tie-breaker.

The volunteers were an internationally diverse group. Team members' home countries included Australia, USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Germany, Finland, and Italy.

The Self-Ratings

As an independent test of the measured consensus, we also emailed over 8,500 authors and asked them to rate their own papers using our same categories.  The most appropriate expert to rate the level of endorsement of a published paper is the author of the paper, after all.  We received responses from 1,200 scientists who rated a total of over 2,100 papers. Unlike our team's ratings that only considered the summary of each paper presented in the abstract, the scientists considered the entire paper in the self-ratings.

The 97% Consensus Results

Based on our abstract ratings, we found that just over 4,000 papers expressed a position on the cause of global warming, 97.1% of which endorsed human-caused global warming. In the self-ratings, nearly 1,400 papers were rated as taking a position, 97.2% of which endorsed human-caused global warming.

We found that about two-thirds of papers didn't express a position on the subject in the abstract, which confirms that we were conservative in our initial abstract ratings.  This result isn't surprising for two reasons: 1) most journals have strict word limits for their abstracts, and 2) frankly, every scientist doing climate research knows humans are causing global warming. There's no longer a need to state something so obvious. For example, would you expect every geological paper to note in its abstract that the Earth is a spherical body that orbits the sun?

This result was also predicted by Oreskes (2007), which noted that scientists

"...generally focus their discussions on questions that are still disputed or unanswered rather than on matters about which everyone agrees"

However, according to the author self-ratings, nearly two-thirds of the papers in our survey do express a position on the subject somewhere in the paper.

We also found that the consensus has strengthened gradually over time. The slow rate reflects that there has been little room to grow, because the consensus on human-caused global warming has generally always been over 90% since 1991. Nevertheless, in both the abstract ratings and self-ratings, we found that the consensus has grown to about 98% as of 2011.

consensus over time

Percentage of papers endorsing the consensus among only papers that express a position endorsing or rejecting the consensus.  From Cook et al. (2013).

Our results are also consistent with previous research finding a 97% consensus amongst climate experts on the human cause of global warming.  Doran and Zimmerman (2009) surveyed Earth scientists, and found that of the 77 scientists responding to their survey who are actively publishing climate science research, 75 (97.4%) agreed that "human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures."  Anderegg et al. (2010) compiled a list of 908 researchers with at least 20 peer-reviewed climate publications.  They found that:

"≈97% of self-identified actively publishing climate scientists agree with the tenets of ACC [anthropogenic climate change]"

In our survey, among scientists who expressed a position on AGW in their abstract, 98.4% endorsed the consensus.  This is greater than 97% consensus of peer-reviewed papers because endorsement papers had more authors than rejection papers, on average.  Thus there is a 97.1% consensus in the peer-reviewed literature, and a 98.4% consensus amongst scientists researching climate change.

Why is this Important?

Several studies have shown that people who correctly perceive the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming are more likely to support government action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. This was most recently shown in McCright et al. (2013), recently published in the journal Climatic Change. People will defer to the judgment of experts, and they trust climate scientists on the subject of global warming.

However, research has also shown that the public is misinformed on the climate consensus.  For example, a 2012 poll from US Pew Research Center found less than half of Americans thought that scientists agreed that humans were causing global warming.  One contributor to this misperception is false balance in the media, particularly in the US, where most climate stories are "balanced" with a "skeptic" perspective.  However, this results in making the 3% seem much larger, like 50%. In trying to achieve "balance", the media has actually created a very unbalanced perception of reality. As a result, people believe scientists are still split about what's causing global warming, and therefore there is not nearly enough public support or motivation to solve the problem.

consensus gap

Such false balance has long been the goal of a dedicated misinformation campaign waged by the fossil fuel industry.  Just as one example, in 1991 Western Fuels Association conducted a $510,000 campaign whose primary goal was to "reposition global warming as theory (not fact)."  These vested interests have exploited the media desire to appear "balanced."

Open Access for Maximum Transparency

We chose to submit our paper to Environmental Research Letters because it is a well-respected, high-impact journal, but also because it offers the option of making a paper available by open access, meaning that for an up-front fee, the paper can be made free for anybody to download. This was important to us, because we want our results to be as accessible and transparent as possible.

To pay the open access fee, in keeping with the citizen science approach, we asked for donations from Skeptical Science readers. We received over 50 donations in less than 10 hours to fully crowd-fund the $1,600 open access cost.

Human-Caused Global Warming

We fully anticipate that some climate contrarians will respond by saying "we don't dispute that humans cause some global warming." First of all, there are a lot of people who do dispute that there is a consensus that humans cause any global warming. Our paper shows that their position is not supported in the scientific literature.

Second, we did look for papers that quantify the human contribution to global warming, and most are not that specific. However, as noted above, if a paper minimized the human contribution, we classified that as a rejection. For example, if a paper were to say "the sun caused most of the global warming over the past century," that would be included in the less than 3% of papers in the rejection categories.

Many studies simply defer to the expert summary of climate science research put together by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which states that most of the global warming since the mid-20th century has been caused by humans. According to recent research, that statement is actually too conservative.

Of the papers that specifically examine the human and natural causes of global warming, virtually all conclude that humans are the dominant cause over the past 50 to 100 years.

attribution 50 yr

Net human and natural percent contributions to the observed global surface warming over the past 50-65 years according to Tett et al. 2000 (T00, dark blue), Meehl et al. 2004 (M04, red), Stone et al. 2007 (S07, light green), Lean and Rind 2008 (LR08, purple), Huber and Knutti 2011 (HK11, light blue), Gillett et al. 2012 (G12, orange), Wigley and Santer 2012 (WS12, dark green), and Jones et al. 2013 (J12, pink).

Most studies simply accept this fact and go on to examine the consequences of this human-caused global warming and associated climate change.

Another important point is that once you accept that humans are causing global warming, you must also accept that global warming is still happening; humans cause global warming by increasing the greenhouse effect, and our greenhouse gas emissions just keep accelerating. This ties in to our previous posts noting that global warming is accelerating; but that over the past decade, most of that warming has gone into the oceans (including the oft-neglected deep oceans). If you accept that humans are causing global warming, as over 97% of peer-reviewed scientific papers do, then this conclusion should not be at all controversial. With all this evidence for human-caused global warming, it couldn't simply have just stopped, so the heat must be going somewhere.  Scientists have found it in the oceans.

Spread the Word

Awareness of the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming is a key factor in peoples' decisions whether or not to support action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  However, there is a gap here due to the public's lack of awareness of the consensus.  Thus it's critical that we make people aware of these results.  To that end, design and advertising firm SJI Associates generously created a website pro-bono, centered around the results of our survey.  The website can be viewed at TheConsensusProject.com, and it includes a page where relevant and useful graphics like the one at the top of this post can be shared.  You can also follow The Consensus Project on Twitter @ConsensusProj.

Quite possibly the most important thing to communicate about climate change is that there is a 97% consensus amongst the scientific experts and scientific research that humans are causing global warming. Let's spread the word and close the consensus gap.

Last updated on 16 May 2013 by dana1981. View Archives

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Related Arguments

Further reading

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:

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 1 to 50 out of 633:

  1. Concensus only has meaning if there is no pressure to conform in either direction. In the climate debate this is extremely far from being true. How far could we reasonably expect a questioner to go in an IPCC panel when that instantly collects a denialist label and probably guarantees a dead end to even the most able career? In the current climate it is reasonable to assume the dissent camp is at least ten times the admitted size. I know that as an admittedly uninformed questioner I get some pretty vitriolic responses from the eco faithful.
  2. Roverdc hits the nail on the head. To say there is bias in the science at this point is a wild understatement. What the public hears is claims that "all scientists except a few kooks agree that catastrophic global warming is immenent and caused by your car.". This is what they think you mean by consensus.

    Is it safe to say the real consensus is closer to the view of those so called deniers in the National Post series or to the alarmist panic that is being widely circulated through things like "An Inconvenient Truth"?
  3. The fact that there are so many Academies of Science endorsing the global warming position is probably the strongest argument for supporting it. The question to ask is how mature is this field? If the answer is 'very mature' then this type of support has high credibility. If the answer is 'immature' then it's significance is considerably less.

    Here is a link to US Senate Committee on the Environment that lists in detail 400 scientists who disagree with the anthropomorphic global warming hypothesis:

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.SenateReport

    That there are so many when we repeatedly hear on the news and radio that the actual number of dissenters is 'miniscule' will have the tendency to turn believers into sceptics.

    I would also feel more confident if the 'hockey stick' graphics that predict rapid change and global catastrophe would not all be linked back to a small handful of researchers and students who work together and presumably have the same preconceptions and modus operandi. If there are no 'hockey sticks' then the small increase in global temperature over the last century does not statistically look different from what one would expect from natural variation.
  4. that list of 400 is about as big a hoax as the "Petition Project" was.
    Here's one of many sites exposing it.
    http://gristmill.grist.org/user/Andrew%20Dessler
    would you like to try again, Mr. Nitschke?
  5. sorry about the double post, and for the unintended smarmy tone.
  6. I think I'd put the list on the petition project up against the IPCC list, many of whom disagree with IPCC conclusions, any day of the week. The listed expose here paledriver is pure rubbish.

    Maybe you should investigate the actual list rather than the fake and distorted claims about it.
  7. The Marshall Institute co-sponsored with the OISM a deceptive campaign -- known as the Petition Project -- to undermine and discredit the scientific authority of the IPCC and to oppose the Kyoto Protocol. Early in the spring of 1998, thousands of scientists around the country received a mass mailing urging them to sign a petition calling on the government to reject the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was accompanied by other pieces including an article formatted to mimic the journal of the National Academy of Sciences. Subsequent research revealed that the article had not been peer-reviewed, nor published, nor even accepted for publication in that journal and the Academy released a strong statement disclaiming any connection to this effort and reaffirming the reality of climate change. The Petition resurfaced in 2001.

    They openly lied about endorsement from National Academy of Sciences, were caught, the Academy issues a statement disclaiming any connection, they re-release it again anyways, and you're foolish and gullible enough to buy it and defend it.

    Would you like me to post a sample of the signers? That would be embarrassing for you.
  8. i will anyways.........................
    The term "scientists" is often used in describing signatories. The petition requests signatories list their degree (B.S., M.S., or Ph.D.) and to list their scientific field.[3] The distribution of petitions was relatively uncontrolled: those receiving the petition could check a line that said "send more petition cards for me to distribute".

    The Petition Project itself used to state:
    “ Of the 19,700 signatures that the project has received in total so far, 17,800 have been independently verified and the other 1,900 have not yet been independently verified. Of those signers holding the degree of PhD, 95% have now been independently verified. One name that was sent in by enviro pranksters, Geri Halliwell, PhD, has been eliminated. Several names, such as Perry Mason and Robert Byrd are still on the list even though enviro press reports have ridiculed their identity with the names of famous personalities. They are actual signers. Perry Mason, for example, is a PhD Chemist.[2] ”

    In May 1998 the Seattle Times wrote:
    “ Several environmental groups questioned dozens of the names: "Perry S. Mason" (the fictitious lawyer?), "Michael J. Fox" (the actor?), "Robert C. Byrd" (the senator?), "John C. Grisham" (the lawyer-author?). And then there's the Spice Girl, a k a. Geraldine Halliwell: The petition listed "Dr. Geri Halliwell" and "Dr. Halliwell."

    Asked about the pop singer, Robinson said he was duped. The returned petition, one of thousands of mailings he sent out, identified her as having a degree in microbiology and living in Boston. "It's fake," he said.[15]


    In 2005, Scientific American reported:
    “ Scientific American took a sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition —- one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers – a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community.[16] ”

    In a 2005 op-ed in the Hawaii Reporter, Todd Shelly wrote:
    “ In less than 10 minutes of casual scanning, I found duplicate names (Did two Joe R. Eaglemans and two David Tompkins sign the petition, or were some individuals counted twice?), single names without even an initial (Biolchini), corporate names (Graybeal & Sayre, Inc. How does a business sign a petition?), and an apparently phony single name (Redwine, Ph.D.). These examples underscore a major weakness of the list: there is no way to check the authenticity of the names. Names are given, but no identifying information (e.g., institutional affiliation) is provided. Why the lack of transparency?[17]
  9. I have the article you claim was "formatted to mimic..." sitting right here. It doesn't look like it is anything of the sort. In fact it clearly lists Author and who puplished it. It looks like a review of literature type paper which...it is.

    As for mass mailing as it was done with a tiny budget it was nothing of the sort. In fact I never even got one despite being on one of the main mailing lists they supposedly used. How many copies of this supposed mass mailing did you get?


    Aren't you bothered by a clear attempt by the "enviros" to commit fraud with fake names? Shouldn't you question why they think this is needed or something to be proud of. Is it ok to be dishonest as long as they are on your side?

    A sample of 30 in which some back down (people get fired for being skeptics in this field you know)is instantly credible to you while you arm wave away 17,000

    You are pointing out 1 fake signature out of 19,000! Really? It was caught, we had thousands of Fake names on our voting list in one nearby city alone.

    You are avoiding the main issue. Consensus is not science but if it was the supposed 2500 scientists of the IPCC report have every failing you mention of the petition project and more important the people who signed the petition agreed with what it said. The same can not be said for the IPCC and its supposed 2500. Counted in that IPCC number are hundreds of non scientists, NGO reps (these are people with an agenda)and most importantly reviewers, many of whom don't even agree with the conclusions of the IPCC report. In fact most of the famous "deniers" are included in the 2500 IPCC counts.

    Someone made the mistake of asking them after the second IPCC report (surveyed participants) and found that over 60% did not agree with the summary for policy makers.

    Maybe we should stop pretending numbers and NGOs are scientists and that consensus is science. It's that claim that raises huge red flags for me.
  10. Wow, that was terrible punctuation. Darn Packers
  11. I'm sorry. Are you a Packer fan?

    Picked another losing cause?


    I'm sorry again,but I couldn't help myself on that one.
    Great game though.
  12. Let's take a look at the "Inhofe 400"
    Meteorologist George Waldenberg was named.
    In response to his inclusion ,Mr. Waldenberg sent an email to Senator Inhofes' staff that began
    "Marc, Matthew:

    Take me off your list of 400 (Prominent) Scientists that dispute Man-Made Global warming claims. I've never made any claims that debunk the "Consensus".

    You quoted a newspaper article that's main focus was scoring the accuracy of local weathermen. Hardly Scientific ... yet I'm guessing some of your other sources pale in comparison in terms of credibility.

    You also didn't ask for my permission to use these statements. That's not a very respectable way of doing "research".

    One shining example. I have many more.
  13. Again? now its one out of 400 and who the heck was talking about the Inhofe 400?

    The point remains it is not a popularity contest despite all the attempted score keeping by the IPCC fans. Also many of the prominent scientists counted in that score are in fact the so called deniers.
  14. the point remains that the deniers flesh out their "petitions" and "lists" with fakes, fraudulent claims, and people who in no way have made any claims against the consensus and pointedly say so.
    I've pointed out one of many, (which I've linked to above)
    And the "400" was brought up on post#3, which is why I even referred to fraudulent "Petition Project" in the first place.
  15. p.s. I'm not claiming that there's no dissent.
    Just that there IS a consensus. An overwhelming one.
  16. Well that awful Inhofe 400 is now over 420 as in the time it took for you to complain about the one that didn't sign 20 more "scientists" did. But, it isn't important.

    My problem with this is, it isn't an election, you claim the skeptics inflate their numbers, maybe so, beyond question the AGW catastrophy folks inflate theirs. At least two of the best known "deniers" are IPCC lead authors. Dozens of others are listed as contributers or reviewers, several have been so disgusted with the process they withdrew and asked their names be removed. This means they are counted on both sides.

    What is that overwelming consensus? Here is what is presented as that consensus: Human CO2 emissions will cause massive catastrophic warming, It will cause disaster in the near future ruining the world for our children. This warming will lead to massive flooding, drought, wide scale starvation, wars, plagues, melting of the polar ice, flooding of huge areas of the world...


    Refer to my post number 2 above. Which is closer to the consensus? Al Gore with 23 feet of sea level rise this century or the "deniers" with 15-20 cm ?
    Al Gore with his talk of "unprecidented warming". Or the "deniers" claims that the world seems to have wamed about .6-.7 C over the last century and that may be somewhat due to human activity.

    Most of the "deniers" probably don't even have that much trouble with the consensus as stated in the first paragraph of the original post. They are vilified largely because they refuse to accept the supposed consensus I just described.

    In general I agreed with the stated consensus in the original post, though based on the recent data and the trouble with the historical record I think now I would not use the word "most".
  17. 420?
    In the original 400 I found many who were completely unqualified, some of whom are skeptical, some of whom are not. Many who are qualified who are either not actually skeptical, are skeptical only of some proposed solutions or who have actually stated their agreement WITH the consensus. The list was not made to hold up to close scrutiny.
    I imagine it's the same with the additional 20.
  18. addressing claims about the IPCC...............
    "John McLean and the NRSP

    Category: Global Warming
    Posted on: December 20, 2007 1:02 PM, by Tim Lambert

    Hey, remember John McLean? The guy who kept steering Andrew Bolt into brick walls? Well he's teamed up with Tom Harris of the NRSP to accuse the IPCC of lying about the scientific support for its reports:

    In total, only 62 scientists reviewed the chapter in which this statement appears, the critical chapter 9, "Understanding and Attributing Climate Change". Of the comments received from the 62 reviewers of this critical chapter, almost 60% of them were rejected by IPCC editors. And of the 62 expert reviewers of this chapter, 55 had serious vested interest, leaving only seven expert reviewers who appear impartial.

    First, there were much more than 62 reviewers for chapter 9. McLean and Harris have only counted the reviewers of the second order draft and ignored the more numerous comments on the first order draft.

    Second, they mislead by giving the impression that 60% of the reviewers disagreed with the IPCC, but half of the comments (572 of them!) were made by Vincent Gray, with 97% of them rejected. Only 16% of the comments by other reviewers were rejected. Gray was also responsible for most the rejected comments on the first order draft. Examples of Gray's rejected comments include:

    Insert after "to" "the utterly ridiculous assumption of"

    Insert after "Bayesian" "(or super-guesswork)"

    Insret before "Calibrated" "Bogus"

    Dave Semeniuk has a more detailed analysis of Gray's comments -- 50 of them were Gray repeatedly asking for "anthropogenic" to be replaced with "human-induced".

    Third, as Richard Littlemore points out, it is pretty dodgy for the NRSP to complain about "vested interest" when their own vested interest is so blatant. But how did McLean and Harris come up with their claim that 55 of the reviewers had "serious vested interest"? McLean gives details in a piece published by the SPPI (an oil industry funded think tank that apparently does not count as a vested interested to McLean). Scientists were declared to have a vested interest if they were an IPCC author, or an IPCC author of a previous assessment, or if any of their work was cited by the report, or if they worked for a government, or if they work for an organization that gets government funding, or if they have a "possible commercial vested interest in the claim of man-made warming". Basically that leaves amateurs like Gray and McKitrick. In one of his comments Gray asked them to cite one of his Energy and Environment papers. Fortunately it was rejected, or he would have been ruled out as well.

    John Mashey examined McLean's background and it seems that while the National Post awarded him a PhD he actually has no scientific qualifications at all, just a Bachelor of Architecture. Which makes McLean's rant against a critic, which was captured by Nexus 6 particularly funny."

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/12/john_mclean_and_the_nrsp.php
  19. It appears you have proved my point.
  20. it took you 23 days to come up with that?
  21. You mean I should have quickly pointed out that you had proven my point? Not allow you time to elaborate or correct?
  22. please, for my age addled mind, explain how I've proved your point.
  23. My point is the consensus, such as it is, is closer to the denialist view than the popular view of Al Gore etc.

    The claim that there is some vast number of scientists that constitute a consensus and that agree with catastrophic warming is not only not science it isn't even correct. We constantly see people pointing out IPCC to supposedly prove this supposed consensus. IPCC isnt all qualified scientists any more than any of these lists are. But more important than that, despite the fact that a pro warming bias is built into the entire IPCC process, the actual body of the IPCC report in fact supports my position rather than that of Al Gore.

    When I pointed out that the petition project and other similar things like the Heidelberg appeal all had one thing the IPCC didn't have; the consent and agreement of the people involved. (This is something lacking in the lists of academies etc. in the original post as well.) You ignored it completely as if tiny politically active committees somehow spoke for all.

    Personal attacks on a handful of people, each of which is questionable in itself does nothing to refute my stated point. It appears rather to be a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the issue.
  24. The deniers series in the National post has grown much larger. It is still a good series can you update the link so it doesn't just lead to the first 10.
  25. Yeah, Vincent Gray made a lot of noise, ergo there's no consensus.

    Genius logic!
  26. If science relied on consensus then the Earth would be the center of the universe and you would fall off the edge. Science is not about consensus, opinion is about consensus. A german physisist,Gerhard Gerlich, demonstrated (in a very long and boring paper) how there can be no greenhouse effect. Do we burn him at the stake? I have seen many explanations about how the greenhouse effect works but no proof. Is it real and can it be proven?
  27. #26
    here's a good post for you at "A Few Things Ill-Considered."

    " Definately Not Galileo
    A common theme among hardcore denialists, after slowly dragging them around to admit there is a consensus, is an appeal to the Galileo syndrome. "Galileo went against the consensus and he was right!" This is a flawed argument in the climate change debate for many reasons, and it is a Guide entry that is missing for the moment.

    I am only bringing it up now, rather than do a proper entry, because of a discussion paper by Ernst-Georg Beck that was presented on Warwick Hughes' blog (no relation to me... to Glenn Beck? I don't know). It is basically a well dressed version of the "there is no anthropogenic CO2 rise" argument. Eli Rabett took the time to take it apart in a rather thorough and scientific manner, especially given the total lack of a credible conclusion Beck arrives at. You can see the featured graph at Deltoid and read Stoat's dismissive opinion of it here.

    The irony I want to point out is that Galileo was a forward thinker, reaching into previously untrodden territory. His innovation and imagination helped him see past the prevailing state of human knowledge at the time and go into new ground. What are the denialists doing here? Digging up decades old research with results all over the place, results that lead to all sorts of impossible conclusions and then trying to claim that this is the reality and the new, consistent and refined results are the ones that are wrong. Never mind that this is what progress looks like, this is many minds working to overcome the challenges that caused prior confusion to finally achieve consistent, sensible and reliable data.

    But what if you don't like what the new data are telling you? Just chuck it and go back to the old stuff!

    Sorry, that is so not Galileo!"
    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/10/definately-not-galileo.html
  28. in response to wonderings #23
    relying on the petition project?

    The term "scientists" is often used in describing signatories. The petition requests signatories list their degree (B.S., M.S., or Ph.D.) and to list their scientific field.[3] The distribution of petitions was relatively uncontrolled: those receiving the petition could check a line that said "send more petition cards for me to distribute".

    The Petition Project itself used to state:
    “ Of the 19,700 signatures that the project has received in total so far, 17,800 have been independently verified and the other 1,900 have not yet been independently verified. Of those signers holding the degree of PhD, 95% have now been independently verified. One name that was sent in by enviro pranksters, Geri Halliwell, PhD, has been eliminated. Several names, such as Perry Mason and Robert Byrd are still on the list even though enviro press reports have ridiculed their identity with the names of famous personalities. They are actual signers. Perry Mason, for example, is a PhD Chemist.[2] ”

    In May 1998 the Seattle Times wrote:
    “ Several environmental groups questioned dozens of the names: "Perry S. Mason" (the fictitious lawyer?), "Michael J. Fox" (the actor?), "Robert C. Byrd" (the senator?), "John C. Grisham" (the lawyer-author?). And then there's the Spice Girl, a k a. Geraldine Halliwell: The petition listed "Dr. Geri Halliwell" and "Dr. Halliwell."

    Asked about the pop singer, Robinson said he was duped. The returned petition, one of thousands of mailings he sent out, identified her as having a degree in microbiology and living in Boston. "It's fake," he said.[15]


    In 2005, Scientific American reported:
    “ Scientific American took a sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition —- one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers – a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community.[16] ”

    In a 2005 op-ed in the Hawaii Reporter, Todd Shelly wrote:
    “ In less than 10 minutes of casual scanning, I found duplicate names (Did two Joe R. Eaglemans and two David Tompkins sign the petition, or were some individuals counted twice?), single names without even an initial (Biolchini), corporate names (Graybeal & Sayre, Inc. How does a business sign a petition?), and an apparently phony single name (Redwine, Ph.D.). These examples underscore a major weakness of the list: there is no way to check the authenticity of the names. Names are given, but no identifying information (e.g., institutional affiliation) is provided. Why the lack of transparency?[17]"

    wikipedia.com

    and...........
    "Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine

    The Marshall Institute co-sponsored with the OISM a deceptive campaign -- known as the Petition Project -- to undermine and discredit the scientific authority of the IPCC and to oppose the Kyoto Protocol. Early in the spring of 1998, thousands of scientists around the country received a mass mailing urging them to sign a petition calling on the government to reject the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was accompanied by other pieces including an article formatted to mimic the journal of the National Academy of Sciences. Subsequent research revealed that the article had not been peer-reviewed, nor published, nor even accepted for publication in that journal and the Academy released a strong statement disclaiming any connection to this effort and reaffirming the reality of climate change. The Petition resurfaced in 2001."
    http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/skeptic-organizations.html
  29. and on the Heidelberg Appeal..............
    "Parts of the Heidelberg Appeal do endorse environmental concerns, such as a sentence that states, "We fully subscribe to the objectives of a scientific ecology for a universe whose resources must be taken stock of, monitored and preserved." Its 72 Nobel laureates include 49 who also signed the "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity," which was circulated that same year by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and attracted the majority of the world's living Nobel laureates in science along with some 1,700 other leading scientists. In contrast with the vagueness of the Heidelberg Appeal, the "World Scientists' Warning" is a very explicit environmental manifesto, stating that "human beings and the natural world are on a collision course" and citing ozone depletion, global climate change, air pollution, groundwater depletion, deforestation, overfishing, and species extinction among the trends that threaten to "so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know." Moreover the Heidelberg Appeal has been, if not specifically misrepresented, at least broadly interpreted out of context, for example, by The National Center for Public Policy which asserts "The appeal warns industrialized nations that no compelling scientific consensus exists to justify mandatory greenhouse gas emissions cuts.""

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidelberg_Appeal
  30. Yup, clearly ignoring the entire point. You continue to waste my time here. If you can't answer the main points and instead must repeatedly resort to nibbling on the fringes of the petition project it appears you are merely trying to obfuscate the issue.

    I am trying to learn things here other than your bias. You seriously are proud that there was 1 fake signature out of 20,000? Even if it was 2000 fakes you would have lost that argument wouldn't you? Please,you've proven my point to any unbiased reader.
  31. if it's such a waste of your time, stay the heck away.
    You seriously don't understand that any "fake" signatures, and there were many on both, not to mention the fraudulant article to support the "petition project", you really mean to say that you can't grasp that that in and of itself shows the desperate need to dupe the public with policy driven pseudo-science?
    you're point is on your head.
  32. and were do you get "1"?
    but please, wondering, rephrase your point for me.
    perhaps I have misunderstood?
  33. WA, I don't understand why you would even pay attention to the "my list is bigger than yours" type of attitude, which is obviously utter nonsense. Why are you trying to defend that so-called "petition project?" What does that have to do with science and evidence?

    Disputing that there is a consensus among climate scientists is downright futile. All sources of information arguing that point are non scientific (Heartland, Cato, Inhofe's office, CO2 science and all that crap). Real scientific organizations (AAAS, AGU, etc) endorse the AGW hypothesis, which is by itself an interesting fact. I find it really funny that "skeptics" both dispute the existence of a consensus and also argue that consensus is meaningless anyway, as Quietman does with a mightily inappropriate comparison.

    As for Quietman post about Gerlich's pathetic load of dung, Rabett Run has more on that than anyone really needs to know. And to answer his question, there is no doubt about the radiative properties of CO2 and the reality of the GH effect. It can be precisely measured in the lab, and if there was no GH effect, this planet would be an ice covered rock. The Gerlich paper is also funny in the sense that it denies the very existence of a GH effect at all but, later, the authors questioned about Venus go on explaining Venus' temps by GH effect from other sources than CO2. It's perfectly grotesque, a fine example of the worst BS that denialism can produce.

    The quality of skepticism here is on the way down if that's the kind of stuff we're going to talk about. Well, BTN had already set the bar so far down that we might have a margin anyway, but still.

    This my thought of the day to you, Quietman, and others. You can not apply extreme scrutiny to the CO2 hypothesis and lower scrutiny to alternate explanations. I know that it makes for a lot more work but that's the only way. If you apply the same extreme scrutiny to these other alternate explanations, what is left of them? Have you even tried (sincerely)? If not, you can not call yourself a skeptic in the true sense of the word. In my experience, if you try to take apart these alternate theories with any eagerness comparable to what "skeptics" use against the CO2 hypothesis, there is nothing left, zilch, nada. That's one reason why I'm skeptical about climate skepticism.
  34. WA: "The claim that there is some vast number of scientists that constitute a consensus and that agree with catastrophic warming is not only not science it isn't even correct."

    Here is a strawman so big, it's more akin to the Chinese straw dogs. Let's merrily burn it.

    Indeed, it's not correct at all. The SCIENTIFIC consensus is that there is warming, happening quite fast, and that the massive CO2 release from the burning of fossil fuels is a major contributor to it. That is the real consensus.
  35. paledriver,

    Read from the 3rd paragraph on of my post 16. That was my point.

    I do indeed think it is clear that the public is being duped. I think it is deliberate and I think the AGW alarmists are the ones doing it.

    The "many fake signatures" is both clearly incorrect and irrelevent. By your own references over 90% were verified.

    Phillippe I don't agree with your way of stating the consensus though It isn't far enough off to argue.

    On your double standard point though, Phillippe, that is exactly the contention I have been making from the other side of the issue for a long time so it is kind of funny.

    The correct hypothesis has to defeat all the others. It has to pass the experimental test and make predictions that other hypothesis don't. Being experimentally supported is the beginning of this; that isn't enough to prove it, but at this point we haven't even got that. Being only not much worse than the other explanations is not enough. Holding the accepted theory to the highest standard is what a scientist is supposed to do. It only takes one thing to prove it wrong.

    The perhaps painful truth is CO2 has not been a major cause of climate change in the past, despite levels many times the current level. In order to believe it is about to cause huge consequences today when it never did in the past you need some pretty convincing proof or some new physical reality.

    John I am pretty impressed with how current you keep your articles references.
  36. "The perhaps painful truth is CO2 has not been a major cause of climate change in the past"

    That may be because there has not been a release of CO2 on the scale we experienced these last 150 years during the 600k years of very stable climate the planet has been through. If you try to go farther in time, there is too much uncertainty to do informative comparisons. There is nothing to prove that a massive injection of CO2 in an otherwise stable climate can not have serious consequences. And, by the way, spare me the exaggerations that have nothing to do with what the research actually shows and suggest is possible. I do not pay more attention to exaggerated claims from advocay groups, whether they're from one side of the spectrum or the other.

    And I also maintain that, if you are a true skeptic with physics background, you should be screaming bloody murder to the flat-earthers like Gerlich. If not, then you're applying a double standard far worse than anything you claim is practiced in the scientific peer-reviewed litterature.
  37. Re 23 Wondering Aloud
    'Not all that glisters is gold'
    And The Oregon Petition of Science and Medicine 'Petition Project' Review, now updated with a change in authors was neither peer-reviewed (despite explicit claims)), nor science - it was deceptive pseudo-science, deliberately formatted to appear as if it were a NAS publication (and therefore peer-reviewed).

    For an excellent insight into the Oregon Petition Document, see:
    http://tinyurl.com/nt38z

    This is from a Professor who frankly admits that he was nearly fooled by it.

    Enough people were fooled that the National Academy was inundated with calls asking if it was their new position and had to issue a news release.
    Quote
    ''The Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is concerned about the confusion cause by a petition being circulated via a letter from a former president of this Academy. This petition criticizes the science underlying the Kyoto treaty on carbon dioxide emissions (the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change), and it asks scientists to recommend rejection of this treaty by the U.S. Senate. The petition was mailed with an op-ed article from The Wall Street Journal and a manuscript in a format that is nearly identical to that of scientific articles published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The NAS Council would like to make it clear that this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences and that the manuscript was not published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or in any other peer-reviewed journal.
    The petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy.''
    End quote

    http://tinyurl.com/38nqdj

    Note: Seitz, Baliunas & Soon are all associated with the ExxonMobil funded George C Marshall Institute!
    Seitz was a solid-state Physicist.
    Baliunas & Soon are Astrophysicists.
    Arthur Robinson and his son Zachary are Chemists.

    Note that none of the authors of this purportedly climatological paper are climatologists!
  38. The updated version of this OISM 'review' was published in that well known organ of climate research - The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (2007).
    Little wonder that it survived peer review.

    Apparently the previous 1998 version was later published in Climate Research - A Journal that has had serious problems with its criticised peer-review process, notably under the editorship of Chris de Freitas, under whom numerous editors resigned in protest. I don't know when the 1998 version was published, or whether the Editor was de Freitas. But there seem to have been some pretty suspect papers published in CR.
  39. Philippe (36) said:

    "That may be because there has not been a release of CO2 on the scale we experienced these last 150 years during the 600k years of very stable climate the planet has been through."

    Hold on, did anyone else notice that? 600k years of very stable climate? The last 600k years has been a torrent of climatic change. So if by "stable" you mean "always changing between extremes," then yes, you are correct. Beyond that, the Earth's climate has never really been stable.

    I just had to point out that ridiculous comment.
  40. Robert, these extremes are very well constrained compared to numerous changes that happened before that period. It is fair to say that the climate of the past 600k years has been quite stable compared to the climate of times before that, because those "extremes" remain within a certain range. Even the periodicity of the changes remains overall nicely consistent. So my comment is far from being ridiculous.

    This page gives a quick glance at very long term variability:
    http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm

    I have ran many times into the argument that climate has changed to extremes in the past and they always call on paleoclimate examples from way before the ice core records, especially hot house periods of the mesozoic times, which are of little relevance to our situation.

    Besides, it is interesting to note that the 2 largest mass extinctions of the geological record happened in hot times (P/T and Cretaceous).

    It is also interesting to look at how CO2 has changed during these 600k years compared to what has happened in the (very) recent past. There is no precedent in the ice core record to such an injection of CO2. Nothing even remotely comparable to it. See this link, slide number 8.
    http://ec.europa.eu/research/environment/pdf/descriptions/raynaud_ipy_bxl07.pdf
  41. Thanks for the response.

    You say:
    "Robert, these extremes are very well constrained compared to numerous changes that happened before that period. It is fair to say that the climate of the past 600k years has been quite stable compared to the climate of times before that, because those "extremes" remain within a certain range. Even the periodicity of the changes remains overall nicely consistent. So my comment is far from being ridiculous."

    and then you say:
    "I have ran many times into the argument that climate has changed to extremes in the past and they always call on paleoclimate examples from way before the ice core records, especially hot house periods of the mesozoic times, which are of little relevance to our situation."

    This seems slightly peculiar--you use that very comparison in your first paragraph. Regardless, the last 600,000 only appears stable when compared to the vastly different time scale of the previous 600myr (such a comparison is not useful). Essentially your argument boils down to the "the last 600k years have been stable in that they are consistent in their extremes and periodicity." The belief in constant change as "very stable climate" seems misplaced.

    Then you say:
    "Besides, it is interesting to note that the 2 largest mass extinctions of the geological record happened in hot times (P/T and Cretaceous)."

    They did occur in "hot times," but the mechanism behind these extinctions is considered to be volcanism and/or meteor impact-- blocking sunlight and preventing photosynthesis. On the other hand, the Ordovician-Silurian extinction (3rd largest) occurred during the transition to one of the largest Ice Ages in the past 600myr. Anyhow, this seems irrelevant to my response (39) above. Your last paragraph also seems irrelevant--I don't disagree that CO2 is higher now than any time in the last 600kyr.

    -Robert
  42. Change alone does not make unstability. Perhaps a comparison with weather would be useful. The weather changes continuously along the year, yet we deal with it just fine so long as nothing happens like 4 months without rain or freezing in june.

    The examples of hot house as in the mesozoic times are commonly used by advocates who argue that because it has been very hot before, it's OK to go that route again now. The fact that the world and the biosphere were vastly different in these times is what makes that argument irrelevant, not the climatological elements themselves. Those advocates often argue that warmer is better, yet mass exctinctions have happened during these periods, indicating that a hot house does not guarantee against them.

    The cause of the Permian extinction is unknown. I don't know any that has been established for the Ordovician. So the volcanic/collision explanation for mass extinction applies with any level of certainty to the Cretaceous only.
  43. Philippe said:
    "Change alone does not make unstability. Perhaps a comparison with weather would be useful. The weather changes continuously along the year, yet we deal with it just fine so long as nothing happens like 4 months without rain or freezing in june."

    You have invoked two comparisons which are irrelevant: Weather and climate more than 600kya. And your last sentence seems odd--based upon other interglacials, we have been in late november for the last 2000 years and the first frost still hasn't come.

    Then Philippe said:
    "The examples of hot house as in the mesozoic times are commonly used by advocates who argue that because it has been very hot before, it's OK to go that route again now. The fact that the world and the biosphere were vastly different in these times is what makes that argument irrelevant, not the climatological elements themselves. Those advocates often argue that warmer is better, yet mass exctinctions have happened during these periods, indicating that a hot house does not guarantee against them."

    I don't know who these "advocates" are but this does not seem to be in either of my responses.

    "The cause of the Permian extinction is unknown. I don't know any that has been established for the Ordovician. So the volcanic/collision explanation for mass extinction applies with any level of certainty to the Cretaceous only."

    The cause for an ancient extinction is never "known." It has been speculated that the Permian extinction was caused by a similar event to the one that caused the Cretaceous--volcanism and/or meteor impact.
    The Ordovician-Silurian extinction occurred at the transition to one of the largest Ice Ages in the last 600myr. So while he cause is not "known," the current running theory speculates that the cause is the somewhat rapid decrease in temperatures.
  44. When you compare the last 600kyr to the previous 600myr, of course the climate looks "very stable," but that is not a meaningful comparison--it's useless. Not only is the time scale vastly different, but the mechanism for change is as well (also, time periods before the ice core record are far less certain). No great departure from extremes does not necessarily equate to "very stable climate."
  45. The weather comparison is not useless or irrelevant. Events like freezing in june or 4 months without rain are elements of instability, if they turn into a trend. Just like being in late november and still waiting for a frost to come, if it happens more and more regularly (as it has). About climate, a warming like the one seen lately, while temps should be stable in our kind of time scale, is an element of instability. A massive injection in the atmosphere of a gas ike CO2 (whose physical properties are known) is also an element of instability.
  46. My comparison using November and late frost was meant to imply that this interglacial has gone on several thousand years too long, with respect to previous interglacials.

    You say:
    "About climate, a warming like the one seen lately, while temps should be stable in our kind of time scale, is an element of instability."

    If the recent warming is an element of instability, then you have just contradicted your previous assertion that we have had 600kyr of very stable climate, because events similar to the recent warming have occurred a multitude of times in the last half a million years. The recent warming is hardly unprecedented.
  47. "The recent warming is hardly unprecedented." Even in periods of end interglacial times, when temps would be expected to slowly cooling down, as you mentioned? Even on that kind of time scale, a blink of an eye really?

    OK, but can you substantiate with references?
  48. Philippe wrote:
    "Even in periods of end interglacial times, when temps would be expected to slowly cooling down, as you mentioned?"

    Is it a "period of end interglacial time"? Well it depends on what you think causes the glacial periods--if the mechanism isn't there, then it isn't going to happen. If you believe the Milankovitch cycles are what initiates the glacial/interglacial, then we are still a ways from another glacial period. So it is not inconceivable that the planet would experience a warming at this time.

    Then he wrote:
    "Even on that kind of time scale, a blink of an eye really?

    OK, but can you substantiate with references?"

    If you want to take issue with the idea that the planet has had warming similar to the recent warming on both the time scale and in magnitude, be my guest. It would be a losing battle. As for references, all one has to do is a little searching--this interglacial, the last glacial, the last interglacial, etc. It won't be too hard to find warming of this magnitude in this time scale.
  49. All of you do realize of course that there is a very basic premise involved: If there was a consensus, there would be very little dissent. Given the extremely large amount of dissent, we must assume one of two things:
    1) there is no consensus or
    2) the consensus is not what the IPCC claims it to be.
  50. The so-called "large amount of dissent" is just a small group of people making a lot of noise again and again.

    Remember the claim that there were 19,000 scientists disputing global warming? During the New York denialist conference ("2008 International Conference on Climate Change"), it turned out there were only _19_ scientists. Looks like the number 19,000 is off by a factor of 1,000.

    As an added bogus, the logo for the denialist conference was a loudspeaker.

    -- bi, http://frankbi.wordpress.com/

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