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Less than half of published scientists endorse global warming

What the science says...

Schulte's paper makes much of the fact that 48% of the papers they surveyed are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject anthropogenic global warming. The fact that so many studies on climate change don't bother to endorse the consensus position is significant because scientists have largely moved from what's causing global warming onto discussing details of the problem (eg - how fast, how soon, impacts, etc).

Climate Myth...

Less than half of published scientists endorse global warming
Klaus-Martin Schulte examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. While only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. Only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results. (Source: DailyTech)

Schulte's paper (going on DailyTech's account) places great emphasis on the fact that only one paper endorses 'catastrophic climate change'. This is a classic straw man argument. Oreskes' 2004 paper never refers to an imminent catastrophe. Neither do the IPCC nor do the Academies of Science from 11 countries that endorse the consensus position that most of the warming over the last 50 years is likely due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.

Even more fuss is made over the large percentage of neutral studies. Ironically, Oreskes emphasised the same point in 2004 when she published The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Nowadays, earth science papers are rarely found explicitly endorsing plate tectonics as the theory is established and taken for granted. The fact that so many studies on climate change don't bother to endorse the consensus position is significant because scientists have largely moved from what's causing global warming onto discussing details of the problem (eg - how fast, how soon, impacts, etc).

What of the 6% of papers that reject AGW? The most appropriate approach would be to see what these papers actually say. Schulte's paper is yet to be published so the full list is not available (please contact me if you have more info). Monckton does mention several studies which one assumes are the "cream of the crop". Deltoid also has its readers categorising peer review studies since 2003. The papers purported to reject the consensus can be divided into several categories:

Non-scientific papers

Two of the papers conduct no actual scientific research but merely review social aspects of climate science. I'm baffled as to why they would be included other than to "boost the numbers":

  • Leiserowitz 2005 asks the question "Is Climate Change Dangerous?" It then proceeds to "describes results from a national study that examined the risk perceptions and connotative meanings of global warming in
    the American mind". In other words, it doesn't answer the question "is climate change dangerous" - instead it answers "does the public think climate change is dangerous?"
  • Gerhard 2004 (published in the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin) "summarizes recent scientific progress in climate science and arguments about human influence on climate".

Papers that don't actually reject the consensus

Three papers focus on specific aspects of climate change but don't actually reject the consensus:

  • Cao 2005 recommends multi-scale modelling techniques to better understand and quantify the carbon cycle. It mentions uncertainties in our understanding of the carbon cycle but doesn't refute the consensus position at all.
  • Lai 2004 suggests internal processes in the ocean may be causing global warming. Paradoxically, it concludes by recommending we "reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, thus reduce global warming". More on the ocean...
  • Moser 2005 studies the uncertainties of the impact of rising sea levels in 3 US states. The emphasis is on society's ability to adapt to rising sea levels and contributes no research on the cause of global warming.

Bonafide scientific papers rejecting the consensus

There are some papers that conduct original research and reject the consensus. It's useful to look at the actual arguments they present to reject AGW:

UPDATE 20 Sep 2007: paper not to be published. Apparently, the news that Schulte's paper would be published was grossly exagerated as editor Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen has confirmed Energy and Environment will not be publishing the paper:

 

"His survey of papers critical of the consensus was a bit patchy and nothing new, as you point out. it was not what was of interest to me; nothing has been published."

 

UPDATE 24 Mar 2008: Apparently Energy and Environment have reversed their policy and published the Schulte paper.

UPDATE 25 Mar 2008: Chris Monckton posts his side of the story on DeSmogBlog. in response to John Mashey's critique of Schulte's paper.

Last updated on 9 July 2010 by John Cook.

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Comments

Comments 1 to 9:

  1. "The fact that so many studies on climate change don't bother to endorse the consensus position is significant because scientists have largely moved from what's causing global warming onto discussing details of the problem (eg - how fast, how soon, impacts, etc)."

    What you've written above may be true but unless you can back it up with research to support your statement, it's at best just your opinion and therefore not a reasonable counter-argument. In other words it's Klaus-Martin Schulte assessment versus yours, but at least one did research to support the stated opinion.

    "Two of the papers conduct no actual scientific research but merely review social aspects of climate science. I'm baffled as to why they would be included other than to "boost the numbers""

    Because presumably the paper was focused on the opinions of scientists (remember?) and not just scientific research. I hope that resolves your confusion.
  2. "The fact that so many studies on climate change don't bother to endorse the consensus position is significant because scientists have largely moved from what's causing global warming onto discussing details of the problem (eg - how fast, how soon, impacts, etc)."

    What you've written above may be true but unless you can back it up with research to support your statement, it's at best just your opinion and therefore not a reasonable counter-argument. In other words it's Klaus-Martin Schulte assessment versus yours, but at least one did research to support the stated opinion.

    "Two of the papers conduct no actual scientific research but merely review social aspects of climate science. I'm baffled as to why they would be included other than to "boost the numbers""

    Because presumably the paper was focused on the opinions of scientists (remember?) and not just scientific research. I hope that resolves your confusion.
  3. Perhaps your article could be improved by pointing out that an 'appeal to authority' is a fallacious logical argument and therefore should not be used by either side. Unfortunately I doubt that 'alarmists' will stop using it, as prima facie it is one of the most convincing of their arguments for CO2+global warming.

    Consider Neo-Darwinism theory. Ask for a consensus view and you would probably find 99% of scientists in support of the theory up until only a few years ago. (Now with the growth in the field of epigenetics, the classic version of theory is being cast in serious doubt.) The plate tectonic theory you quoted went through such a period of rejection and then acceptance. Interestingly, deniers use the same arguments as you do *against* CO2+global warming. Perhaps it's better to realise that consensus viewpoints, whatever they may be, have to be considered very cautiously and that solid evidence will always trump opinions.
  4. Will Nitschke throws out a bunch of fluffy fact-free -- and _irrelevant_ -- nonsense.

    By the way, John Cook: Boehmer-Christiansen did eventually publish Schulte's paper anyway:

    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mscp/ene/2008/00000019/00000002 :-|

    From the abstract:
    "Fear of anthropogenic `global warming' can adversely affect patients' well-being."

    First thing: how did Schulte test for this claim in the first place? Maybe he sorted his patients into two groups, and subjected one of the groups to repeated continuous replays of Gore's _An Inconvenient Truth_. Or something.

    Seriously, I'd like to know.
    Response: Thanks for the heads-up, I've added an update. It certainly is an original angle - debunking AGW as therapy for anxious medical patients.
  5. This PDF is a study of the confidence levels of climate scientists and how they changed from the late 1990s to the early 2000s.

    The Perspectives of Climate Scientists
    on Global Climate Change


    I think that this speaks louder than endorsements.
  6. Will Nitschke
    Well stated. The fundamentalists in my country still deny plate tectonics as well as Darwin's hypothesis.
    It does not alter the fact that Darwin was correct in the assumptions he made by observation (his errors are essentially due to time scales, he thought that the earth was much younger than it is). EvoDevo has borne out his hypothesis and also borne out the estimated time splits with a small margin of error. Check out Dr. Aaron Filler's web site The Upright Ape or "A new Origin of Species". Aside from a few publication errors, an excellent book as well.
  7. PS
    Ignore Franks comments, he seems to attack everyone who does not fully endorse AGW. A definate Troll.
  8. Quietman

    Your link on post 5 should be added to the consensus thread where it may get more attention. It's a great link!

    Cheers
  9. You wrote:
    Schulte's paper (going on DailyTech's account) places great emphasis on the fact that only one paper endorses 'catastrophic climate change'. This is a classic straw man argument. Oreskes' 2004 paper never refers to an imminent catastrophe. Neither do the IPCC nor do the Academies of Science from 11 countries that endorse the consensus position that most of the warming over the last 50 years is likely due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.

    As I've been trying to point out, the above is the major deception in the Oregon petition's crafted wording which explicitly asks people to sign to confirm that they do not have 100% confidence in catastrophic climate change/disruption. Even James Hansen could sign the Oregon petition as it has been worded. People should stop totting up the numbers of real scientists vs Mickey Mouse as a method of countering the credibility of the petition

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