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Climate Hustle

97 Hours of Consensus reaches millions

Posted on 24 September 2014 by John Cook

On 9/7, Skeptical Science launched 97 Hours of Consensus. Every hour for 97 consecutive hours, we published a quote from a climate scientist, as well as a hand-drawn caricature of the scientist. We had a simple goal: communicate in a playful fashion the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming.

Now that the dust has settled, we've had a chance to analyse how the campaign went. The result exceeded our expectations. Millions of people were exposed to the 97 quotes and caricatures of climate scientists!

Tweets from our twitter account @skepticscience were retweeted by many, being seen potentially 1.1 million times. The graph below shows the number of "impressions" of our tweets, meaning the potential number of times that our followers or followers of retweeters were exposed to our tweets.

However, that was only tweets from @skepticscience. A number of scientists and others tweeted with the #97Hours hashtag with their tweets potentially seen 3,165,386 times.

The most significant tweet was from President Obama's Twitter account, reaching 43 million followers:

I was particularly happy with the enthusiastic engagement from the scientific community. John Bruno wrote a wonderful article on why he took part in 97 Hours of Consensus. He also tweeted this hilarious tweet:

An Australian climate scientist, Ailie Gallant, updated her Twitter avatar with her caricature (an action I'm hoping other climate scientists emulate):

Our reach extended beyond Twitter, of course. We shared the 97 quotes on our Facebook page, which has 60,000+ followers. Climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh posted about 97 Hours on his Google+ page to 650,000 followers (which is a mind-boggling amount of followers for a climate scientist):

So 97 Hours of Consensus reached many people. Hopefully, it will play some part in closing the consensus gap, which is one of the more significant roadblocks to climate action. To add to the momentum closing the consensus gap, you're all welcome to republish all our 97 Hours quotes/caricatures, which are creative commons licensed and free to be republished.

I must thank again everyone who contributed to this campaign. Dana, Things Break, Rob Painting, Bob Lacatena, Sarah, John Hartz, Baerbel and Kevin C helped track down quotes. Doug Bostrom automated the hourly publication of the cartoons (saving us much sleep). Baerbel was tireless in collecting and organizing information as well as persistent cat herding. And not to be overlooked is the 97 climate scientists who provided wonderful feedback either refining their quote or comments on how to improve their caricature.

And lastly, Bob Lacatena made two vital contributions. He programmed the brilliantly interactive 97 Hours webpage (be sure to click on the "lazy susan" buttons in the top corners of the webpage). And he had the inspired idea of launching this on September 7, aka 9/7. That idea opened the possibility of making 97 Hours of Consensus an annual event, every September. The overwhelming success of our inaugural attempt has made that a certainty.

What's next?

But second time around, we'll do things a little differently. Firstly, I'd like to add more personal elements to the caricatures such as Richard Alley's guitar and John Bruno's flip flops. My hope is to include some more humour like Jennifer Francis' chills and Peter Cox's Intergovernmental Panel of Cat Control. Plus rather than scouring the web for quotes, we'll soon be adding a web form for climate scientists who'd like to be caricatured in 2015/9/7 to submit quotes themselves. So climate scientists, start sharpening up your pithy, witty quotes about climate change and think about how you'd like to be drawn!

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Comments 1 to 5:

  1. Oscar Wilde once said; "If you tell people the truth they will hate you for it.

    But if you tell it to them with humour they will love you for it."

    Congrats for this marvelous initiative, to all those who worked on it and to all those scientists who participated.

    Keep up the good work.

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  2. Yes, this is a really nice piece of work! And the Richard Alley caricature is, indeed, the stand-out. Congratulations and I think you'll find there'll be a lot of people happy to find themselves in this pool of talent in the future (and a tiny handful who won't of course!)

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  3. @John: Talking of personal, or perhaps it's more personable, I really love the way that a 97's hand shoots up and their face lights up, with the smile turning into a big "Me, me! I know the answer!" grin. :-D

    And the way that the 3%, having nothing to contribute, frown and avert their eyes. Nice touch! ;-)

    You say that "second time around, we'll do things a little differently". Does this mean reusing the same animation or are you planning something different?

    One other small question. Maybe I missed it somewhere but what does "nsh" stand for? Is it supposed to be lowercase? With my eyesight I kept seeing is as the equally mysterious "rish".

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    [JC] nsh - ninety seven hours

    Like any riddle, obvious in hindsight :-)

  4. I'm sure you have read this:


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    Moderator Response:

    [Rob P] - Yup, he doesn't even appear to have read our peer-reviewed paper Cook et al (2013). I find reading generally helps to clear up misunderstandings. Cook (2013) states:

    "In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus."

    Guenier claims:"......a subjective interpretation, as authors were not asked about their view"

    Probably lawyer-speak, but it insinuates that our rating process was simply our opinion. The authors of the respective papers are more likely than anyone else to know what their research had to say about global warming. Our abstract rating process had the scientific consensus at 97.1% whereas the author self-ratings were slightly higher at 97.2%.

    The simple fact is that the world is warming and changing pretty much as expected. The scientific literature just reflects the overwhelming nature of the evidence. That some people reject science is hardly a novel revelation. 

    Oh, and please note that link only comments are against SkS policy and will be deleted in future. You need to provide some discussion to demonstrate you're not just link-spamming a thread.

  5. Re Wol's offering, it's sad for all of us how a bag of hammers always sees nails, always drops the same way, doesn't seem capable of learning anything useful to itself or the world at large.

    Critiques of the Cook et al paper generally produce a familiar, dull clank and thud ending their fall, following as they do a limited selection of  trajectories with which we're all dismally familiar after witnessing decades of the same behavior regarding climate science itself.

    Failing to actually read the research in question before blurting an opinion is basic bag of hammers instinct. 

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