Pielke Senior: Erroneous Claim in an AP News Article

From Roger Pielke Senior’s Climate Science Blog. There is an Associated Press [AP] news article today by Dina Cappiello, Seth Borenstein and Kevin Freking titled “Poll: US belief in global warming is cooling”.


In this article the reporters perpetuate the myth that

“Though there are exceptions, the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that the primary cause is a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.”

This is not true and is a case of the media seeking to make up news.

We have already documented that a significant minority of climate scientists do not consider greenhouse gases as the primary cause for global warming, and, more generally, cause climate change; e.g.  see

Brown, F., J. Annan, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2008: Is there agreement amongst climate scientists on the IPCC AR4 WG1?


National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.

In the coming month, we will be presenting another article that documents that the AP authors are erroneous in their claim “that the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that the primary cause is a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.”

If the reporters want to be balanced in their presentations, rather than lobbyists and advocates, they would persue the validity of their claim. So far, however, they have failed in this journalistic role.

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October 23, 2009 11:21 am

I don’t know I think there is room for a vast majority and a significant minority to both exist at the same time. Don’t get me wrong it is definitely slanted towards the AGW POV but I don’t think you can say it is an erroneous claim.

Barry Foster
October 23, 2009 11:41 am

OT. Lower troposphere in freefall at the moment http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps+002

October 23, 2009 11:42 am

It’s very unclear to me what could be the basis of such a claim. Even if scientists the world over were to vote, on what proposition would they vote?
That climate changes?
Is changing?
That CO2 might, plausibly, be having an effect?
A BIG effect? A minor effect?
Now? In 100 years?
It’s safe to say that biologists concerned with evolution, and many who are not directly investigating it, assent to Darwin’s theory because that is their working intellectual framework. Other than people investigating the mechanics of climate change who already accept AGW, what scientists claim that?
Biologists who write about the “probable impacts on X,y,z species of climate change” would not change the way they do their work if AGW suddenly were abandoned – they would simply investigate different things.
Just as you can do decent solid-state physics and be a fundamentalist creationist but you can’t be paleontologist doing good workwith that mind-set, the notions of AGW are simply irrelevant to most science.
My basic point is that this notion that AGW people are in the majority is mostly based on the news media and certain highly visible editorial positions of some science and quasi scientific (IPCC) institutions.
I dealt with this at length in my dissection of Oreske’s famous claim based on her “research” into the literature of climate change.

Mike Bryant
October 23, 2009 11:46 am

The term “vast majority” is very vague. A simple majority means more than 50%. A super majority means more than two thirds, or about 66%. So what IS a vast majority? Is it more than a super majority? I think that most people would think it is between 80% and 95%. Of course that is only a guess since it has not been defined and is misleading.
The term “significant minority” is also vague. The terms small minoritytiny/substantial/significant minority

Mike Bryant
October 23, 2009 11:49 am

The term “significant minority” is also vague. The terms small minority tinyminority, substantial minority and significant minority all need to be defined.
Still, I think Pielke has a point.

October 23, 2009 11:51 am

Why don’t people check this for themselves?
Most people nowadays have access to the Internet.
Satellite data of global temperature, ice cover and sea level rise are just a few clicks away on the Internet. These data are from unbiased sources.
They show no temperature rise for the last decade, an ice cover increase around Antarctica, an Arctic ice rebound from a minimum 2 years ago and no increase in the sea level rise.
When argue about this encourage people to check out for themselves!
We should start a check out for yourself campaign!

October 23, 2009 11:55 am

It is interesting that Colombia Univ. is no longer accepting applicants for its environmental journal program. There apparently are no job opportunties after graduation. But one other thing caught my eye about this degree. It is a double major in environmental studies and journalism. So it would seem that the their could be a conflict. Are the environmental journalists really environmentalists who are interested in journalism or journalists with an interest in the environment. It just seems that the way this is structured, you will automatically get people who are pre-disposed to a point of view.

October 23, 2009 11:56 am

You miss the point. The whole reason that the press uses such terms is that they are misleading but can still be claimed to be technically true. What they are printing is true even if it doesn’t accurately represent the truth.

Adam from Kansas
October 23, 2009 11:57 am

I wonder how the belief will be swayed once they see continued warming of the waters above and below the surface of the middle of the ENSO region (the TAO site showing a bit of warming in a certain spot as El Modoki gets stronger)?
Then again that could be like Solar/SST relation expert Tallbloke said, the oceans in heat release mode due to solar inactivity as the SST data on the UAH site isn’t really climbing in response to this as with previous El Ninos (particulary the one in 97/98)

October 23, 2009 12:00 pm

I see this almost word for word in every single climate reporting article, regardless of what they are reporting. I’ll also go as far as to say that every single AP article is like that: there’s an agenda, with the facts prompting the article as a secondary part of the ‘news’ (‘opinion’?) story.
As the article states, people are mixing up climate and weather. But at what point does weather become climate?

October 23, 2009 12:02 pm

There is often times a “vast” difference between what is true and the truth.

April E. Coggins
October 23, 2009 12:03 pm

“But at what point does weather become climate?”
At the point when it’s politically useful.

October 23, 2009 12:04 pm

It seems that Pielke seinor has called this correctly. There are probably more scientists that do not believe in global warming than do, but there are few government grants available that would allow that viewpoint to be made known. The IPCC, Gore and the US government continue to pour money into AGW. There is power to be gained in support of AGW. Soon enough government control will be used for the opposite viewpoint when reality strikes. I was at a presentation at USC by Dr. W Soon where he spoke of the current solar minimum and its cooling effect. In the audience were many professors. I asked one of them why he did not speak out about how global warming was incorrect and he replied that he was ‘afraid to do so’. There is always the threat of government not supporting the research in which they are directly involved. AGW has been well paid for and continues as a source of income for many on the bandwagon.

R. Craigen
October 23, 2009 12:07 pm

I consider myself to be part of the vast minority.

October 23, 2009 12:09 pm

The other common one is “with a warming planet and rising sea levels”.

October 23, 2009 12:45 pm

It’s time for that significant minority to educate the AP. Only the respected and accomplished scientists and professional people can do this. We the consumers of the “news” are not considered authoritative enough to sway the AP which is locked into getting information only from sources they trust. Anthony, perhaps it’s time to start a press release campaign from your circle of knowledgeable authorities?

Eric Anderson
October 23, 2009 12:54 pm

Have they actually done a poll of all scientists (notice, it didn’t say “climate scientists” or some similar poorly-defined subset), or even a large sampling, to know that the “vast majority” believe the following:
“that global warming is occurring and that the primary cause is a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.”
As I understand it, there is some significant percentage that believes (i) global warming is occurring. There is a smaller subset that believes (ii) it is caused by a buildup of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. There is yet a smaller subset that believes (iii) the buildup is the result of burning oil and coal.
Although not mentioned in the quote, there would be further (and smaller) subsets who think that (iv) the warming will be catastrophic or even net-negative, (v) we have the ability to control the amount of warming, and (vi) we should expend efforts to control the warming (as opposed to putting our limited resources to other uses).
The statement about legions of scientists is nothing that but an unsupported appeal to authority. Repeat it often enough and it will become part of the background “knowledge” of the reporter.

October 23, 2009 12:58 pm

I agree with Per Stranberg – all the info is out there, in fact you can find it all at one site
I have a friend who is a full on greenie, checks the Greenpeace site every day – when I pointed him to climate4you his whole belief system was shattered.

October 23, 2009 1:00 pm

Poor grumpy journalists. They had to report the poll — no way to avoid it since it came from their very own Pew news factory. But it was not happy news for the PC hounds.
So they spin the myth that the majority of common American peasants are deluded and ignorant of the “science”, whereas the scribblers with journalism degrees are somehow more advanced and tuned in.
But as we all know, journalists in general are science-handicapped. That’s why those individuals went into journalism rather than some technical field. As a result, journalism has become advocacy rhetoric, light on the technical facts.
Journalism is a dying profession. The new wave is citizen journalism, ala WUWT, and the old forms are withering away. Society has already made the leap. The pathetic buggy whip journalists are flailing away as best they can, but the handwriting is on the wall.

October 23, 2009 1:01 pm

It’s funny .We have no cure for the common cold but the global warming crowd ,and most of the news media,knows for sure that we are causing global warming or climate change as its now been changed to.I saw on Fox News where congress is wanting to put carbon charges for having pets becaues it is bad for the enviroment. I believe that all of the global warming crowd is bad for America and the enviroment as well.

October 23, 2009 1:09 pm

Sean (11:55:41) : It just seems that the way this is structured, you will automatically get people who are pre-disposed to a point of view.
The “vast majority” of the curriculum at U. California Santa Cruz is of that ilk. On a visit there with my son, we both decided to look elsewhere exactly because of that “eco cram down” in every topic. He is now getting a Biz degree at a different UC campus with more “normal” social mix…

October 23, 2009 1:10 pm

What a patience! Trying to convince global warmers of how wrong they are. It is an impossible endeavour. It is not a matter of reasoning but believing.
Only our now feeble but faithful sun will freeze their beliefs.

John Galt
October 23, 2009 1:13 pm

Dr Pielke: Almost all media polls are an attempt to create news. As always, the devil is in the details.
How many articles have we seen stating a majority support for government run health care? How many tell you the specifics of the questions and the breakdown of the people they sampled?
If you choose who you poll, you’ll get the answers you want to receive. Sure, somebody will do an analysis that shows the results are skewed and not properly weighted, but if the media doesn’t report that story, most people will never know.
BTW: What about the poll that shows concern about AGW or climate change has the lowest priority of any major issue among Americans?

October 23, 2009 1:22 pm

Let me get this straight .. the contention is that there isn’t a “vast majority” but it’s something like a “half-vast majority”

Henry chance
October 23, 2009 1:23 pm

“the science is in”
any other questions?
I suspect this news hits newspapers and print media. These are papers that give time for the sunrise and sunset. I am glad to know they tell me the sun will come UP tomorrow. Some people believe the sun isn’t actually going UP.

October 23, 2009 1:31 pm

Well at least I am comfortable knowing that I am part of a vast global warming denial conspiracy!

Ron de Haan
October 23, 2009 1:35 pm

Has anybody told AP yet?

Ron de Haan
October 23, 2009 1:38 pm
Shurley Knot
October 23, 2009 1:41 pm

So what IS a vast majority?
better than 95% of the peer reviewed literature.
“An online poll of scientists’ opinions … “

Shurley Knot
October 23, 2009 1:44 pm

Who cares about opinions? Or polls for that matter.

Ron de Haan
October 23, 2009 1:47 pm

New cold shot underway: It can’t come at a better moment.

James Allison
October 23, 2009 1:51 pm

Soon the Team will be bleating that scientific consensus doesn’t mean that the science is right and quoting Galileo all over the place.

October 23, 2009 1:56 pm

The problem with ‘checking for themselves’ is that once you have found what you are looking for, you stop looking (You will always find your keys in the very last place you look).
Entertaining ideas that go against what you believe or understand, especially if you have invested time and effort in that belief, is not a pleasant or desirable experience for most people. In other words this (AP) article states: “There are more stupid and ignorant Americans now than there was X months ago: these are the ‘facts’ and these people are ignoring the facts.”

Doug in Seattle
October 23, 2009 1:57 pm

Lazy minds follow the herd and do not look into the facts before they make decisions. Some use the excuse that the subject is too complex, this too is an excuse for laziness.

Bruce Richardson
October 23, 2009 2:00 pm

I wonder just how many of that “vast majority” are just keeping their own counsel. Maybe they let their fellows assume that they are on-board when they are really skeptical of the “crisis” claims. It might be interesting to seek their opinion of the “emperor’s new clothes” [Hans Christian Andersen] on a confidential basis.
There is something else. Expressing skepticism about AGW is a good way to get your “tires slashed.” I’m speaking metaphorically. Sheep by their very nature seek the safety of the herd regardless of where the herd is headed.

October 23, 2009 2:09 pm

My problem is in that they only consider “climate scientists”. As we all know, many different fields of science are involved in “climate science”, and more. I mean, even certain politicians consider themselves experts in climate…
True Science (and scientists) does not listen to politically driven polls. Once we are all gone, the Universe will still do its things, as it always did.

Phillip Bratby
October 23, 2009 2:10 pm

For anyone with access to the BBC iplayer, the Clive James 10min talk about scepticism and concensus is very well worth listening to at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00n9lm3
I don’t think he will be heard much longer at the beeb.

Shurley Knot
October 23, 2009 2:20 pm

Sorry good people but a scientific consenses is not like a a shared system of political beliefs or the vote. A majority of conservative voters against AWG is a herd. A majority of scientists for AGW is simply the truth as we currently know it. Sorry!

October 23, 2009 2:21 pm

I don’t understand the science but what I *do* understand is that this site tells me all I need to know about what I don’t understand. And that for me is what it is all about. I love you guys, even if I don’t understand you… at the very least, I’m persuaded that somebody is looking after my interests! Keep up the good work!!

Steven Hill
October 23, 2009 2:23 pm

It’s a shame that NASA has a paid liar on staff….1st it was the ice age of 77 and now it’s AGW of 09. Fire Hansen now! What a joke. Do they think we are totally stupid?

Steven Hill
October 23, 2009 2:25 pm

The people in Wasington and the media of New York remind me of Germany in the 1930’s. Can you say propagana? Mind Control? Brown Shirts, are they next?
[Reply – Let’s not go there, please. ~ Evan]

Bruce Richardson
October 23, 2009 2:29 pm

It is significant that when asked “Is there solid evidence the earth is warming because of human activity?” Only 36% respond “Yes.” I think that it is fair to say that, at least according to Pew Research Center, only 36% of those polled believe in the AGW crisis.
If the “progressives” are going to forge ahead with their Cap & Trade scheme [what are they calling it this week?] with only 36% supporting it, they may have some big problems in the November 2010 elections.
When a record of enmity towards the private ownership of firearms became a problem for some of our “public servants” during the last election, we saw many of them photographed “duck hunting.” How are they going to handle 2010? Perhaps we will see the usual suspects photographed driving huge SUV’s. 🙂

Fred from Canuckistan . . .
October 23, 2009 2:42 pm

So what is “a vast majority” ?
I don’t know either but I’m guessing that if you graphed it, you’d end up with a Hockey Stick.

October 23, 2009 2:42 pm

Yeah! Get rid of liars… and idiots!
So long as we have sites like this that uphold truth over pseudo-scientific nonsense, we’ll be safe. But don’t get complacent!
I read somwhere today that the Universe is only 11 billion years old, and expanding (whatever that is supposed to mean): (a) its a helluva lot younger than that (and I can give references, Mr Scientist-probably-working-for-Nature/Science) and (b) if it is expanding, than how come it takes me no longer to get home now than 10 years ago??? Pah!

George E. Smith
October 23, 2009 2:44 pm

Well the AP is not alone in continuing to spout the party line; despite ongoing observations that go against both the computer models, and the VASDT concensus majority of AGW adherents.
The November 2009 issue of Scientific American contains an editorial Opinion piece promoting the Copenhagen lovefest; and declaring that the USA has to apologise for messing up the world that was enjoyed by all those stone age civil;isations that want to continue their hunter gatherer existence, and don’t want any modern inconveniences; then we have to give up our sovereignty and foot the bills for a one world government that will tell us how we are allowed to live.
Then they added a NEWS SCAN piece by somebody named David Appell; of unknown scientific credentials; who nevertheless writes frequently about climate issues. In this Article “Still Hotter Than Ever” he goes on promoting the discredited Mann Hockey Stick and promotes a new study by one Martin Tingley of Harvard University; a theseis that was submitted ot the Journal of Climate.
Not only does Appell trot out Mann’s greaph; which is clearly labelled “NORTHERN HEMISPHERE”; ie a local anomaly; not a global phenomenon; we lear that Tingley’s new study fully corroborates Mann’s Northern Hemisphere result; by presenting a new more universal study that now replaces Mann’s NORTHERN HEMISPHERE with data from +45 to + 85 degrees north latitude.
Now as any geometer knows, the northern hemisphere from the equator to +45 deg north latitude, comprises 70 .70% of the northern hemisphere surface, so the cap north of +45 deg Latitude is only 29.29% of the northern hemisphere surface. A similar calculation shows that the cap north of +85 deg is only 0.3% of the northern hemisphere surface, so the area from +45 to +85 is 29% of the nothern hemisphere, or 14.5% of the earth’s surface; and encompasses vey little of the earth’s ocean surface.
So not satisfied with Mann’s NORTHERN HEMISPHERE local anomaly; Tingley’s response is to present a study of 14.5% of the surface which is very atypical of the globae as a whole.
Not to be outdone; SA presents a paper by Mark Z Jacobson; prof of Civil and environmental Engineering at Stanford U, and Mark A Delucchi; a research scientist at the Institute of Transpotation Studies at UC Davis.
These two authors declare that by the year 2030; that is 20 years and two months from now; the world can supply ALL 100% of ALL of its energy needs FOR ALL APPLICATIONS from renewable sources; wind, water, and solar; all of which are actually solar energy. And with NO consumption of fossil fuels at all for any energy purpose; And they describe how they are going to do it.
They are going to build 3.8 million wind turbines each being 5 megaWatts peak capacity; and so on.
Well here is my challenge to Jacobson/Delucci.
Since you two are so convinced that you can do this; why not start now by eschewing ALL fossil fuels energy sources RIGHT NOW; and start building your fossil fuel free infrastructure right now usin ONLY RENEWABLE WIND/WATER/SOLAR energy FOR ANY AND ALL WORK TO BE DONE and including the full life support of all of the people who will work on your project.
Since you are so convinced that renewable energy can supply 100% of the world’s total energy needs with CURRENT TECHNOLOGY; start using it to bootstrap the system to a fossil fuel free world.
If you can run the entire project using zero based budgeting including for energy input; and no fossil fuel energy being used anywhere in the process, including any mining activities for the raw materials you need for your scheme; then I’m all for your scheme.
Oh by the way; you didn’t mention in your article how you will maintain the system free of any terrorist threats.
Abd as you both know; the Desert Southwest is already locked up by conservation laws; just like most of the recently found fossil fuel reserves in the USA; so don’t even think of covering the four corners deserts with solar cells.
The authors do a lot of hand waving to solve the present technological hurdles to success by simply saying they will be solved.
They are all in favor of all electric kitchens to eliminate natural gas cooking and heating and such; and will use electricity to hydolyse water to get hydrogen for cars to charge all the lithium batteries etc. Internal combustion engines are so inefficient. Notwithstanding that gasoline running a very inefficient IC engine has ten times the range of any all electric battery powered vehicle; electricity is so efficient compared to IC engines.
Have you ever considered how innefficient it is to take thermal energy, and convert it to electricity, and then use that electricity to make heat for cooking and hot water.
It ought to be a felony to use electricity to make heat.
Well; you need to read the article for yourselves. They even claim that wind turbines have a 98% on line factor on land and 95% for sea turbines; whereas coal fired plants only run 87.5% of the time.
That will be news to the Europeans whoi find their wind turbines working about 15-20% of the time; not 98%.
But I like my simple challenge; start doing your project in a 100% carbon free; no fossil fuels closed cycle; recirculating the output of your renewable energy sources; for every last item of endeavor required to build and sustain and maintain you renewable Utopia; and all the persons that it takes to do and their families.

October 23, 2009 2:46 pm

There is only one thing 100% of all climate scientists in the world agree on and that is the fact that the proposed cap and trade program being proposed in the US cannot possibly make any measurable difference in the earth’s temperature.

October 23, 2009 2:55 pm

Why not call it what it is…a lie!?

P Walker
October 23, 2009 2:55 pm

The Senate is taking up Cap & Trade next week . Get ready .

October 23, 2009 3:19 pm

So 80-85% of scientists at least concur or believe the the human effects are understated. I guess it depends on you definition of “vast majority”, but 80-85% qualifies it in my book. I wouldn’t call that erroneous.

October 23, 2009 3:28 pm

Glen Beck announced this evening on his segment jon Foxnews that Lord Monckton would be a guest on his segment next week. No link, sorry. should be something to watch for.

October 23, 2009 3:30 pm

On the other hand, the scientists involved have a motivation to find AGW evidence, but not the other way around. There are grants dedicated to this, so to keep their jobs they better publish papers in favor of AGW. There is no money in finding no evidence for AGW, so it’s less likely to be published.

Noblesse Oblige
October 23, 2009 3:36 pm

See http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/23798/?a=f
“President Obama said that climate-change skeptics are being moved to the margins, but that a “more dangerous” problem is the myth “that there’s little or nothing we can do–it’s pessimism.”
You are all marginalized. Obama says so. Also there is still hope for cap and trade. There’s that hope and change for you.

October 23, 2009 3:41 pm

Does anyone here know a REAL scientist??? Does such a person even exist??? Except for Andrew, of course, who is undoubtedly the REAL DEAL and should be shortlisted for the next Nobel (Physics/Chemistry/Peace… whatever!)… we just need to get enough of us to write to the committee in Sweden, and they are then obliged to take the recommendation seriously! (And I should know, having successfully predicted the last 7 physics winners, althoughonly 5 of the last chemistry Nobels.)

October 23, 2009 3:44 pm

On the other hand, the scientists involved have a motivation to find AGW evidence, but not the other way around. There are grants dedicated to this, so to keep their jobs they better publish papers in favor of AGW. There is no money in finding no evidence for AGW, so it’s less likely to be published.

Comrade Doug, that this is self-evident and obvious to me, but not to the believers, is something that I find almost impossible to understand. I’m not the brightest…!

October 23, 2009 3:48 pm

Shurley Knot (14:20:39) :
“Sorry good people but a scientific consenses is not like a a shared system of political beliefs or the vote. A majority of conservative voters against AWG is a herd. A majority of scientists for AGW is simply the truth as we currently know it. Sorry!”
It’s a good thing this ended with “sorry”, I too would apologise for putting forward so many non sequiturs in such quick succession. Let’s take them in turn.
“[A] scientific consensus is not like a shared system of political beliefs”. A scientific consensus is nothing more or less than a number of scientists who believe the same thing. It is, therefore, just like a shared system of belief in anything else. That the subject of belief is the correctness of a scientific theory or hypothesis does not make a scientific consensus different in substance from any other consensus.
“[A] scientific consensus is not like … the vote.” Isn’t it? Isn’t it just a vote on a single topic?
“A majority of conservative voters against AGW is a herd.” That can be tested by substituting “socialist”, “Christian”, “fascist”, “Hindu”, “Male”, “communist”, “female” or, indeed anything else, for “conservative” and asking whether it changes the substance of the sentence. It does not. Therefore one can simply omit “conservative” and the sentence retains its meaning:- “A majority of voters against AGW is a herd.” Maybe someone else can read something positive into this, to me it is just an insult. Although it does shed light on the frame of mind of the person who says it.
“A majority of scientists for AGW is simply the truth as we currently know it.” That might or might not be so, but it cannot be relevant to anything.
A majority of one group against the catastrophic AGW theory is a herd, a majority of another group in favour is not. Hmmm, I’ll have to think about that.

October 23, 2009 3:49 pm

I’m tipping the majority of climate scientist are not scientist at all but mathmagicians! The last time I checked no one had made a model of earth with an appropriate atmosphere and performed a controlled experiment on the effect of adding CO2. Of course real scientist have never had a vote so how they came to a consensus without asking anyone is a mystery, oh hang on its just a flat out lie!

October 23, 2009 4:13 pm

So if the vast majority of climate scientist believe in AGW and that the AGW hypothesis is proven wrong, that implies that the vast majority of climate scientists are incompetent. Then, the vast majority of climate scientists should be fired!

Doug in Seattle
October 23, 2009 4:20 pm

Phillip Bratby (14:10:08) :
“. . . the Clive James 10min talk about scepticism and concensus is very well worth listening to . . .”

Indeed, very good stuff.

October 23, 2009 4:28 pm

Mt Dad, an extremely intelligent and dare I say wise man, used to say many decades ago that you can preface just about any statement you want to make, however ridiculous, with:
“Many scientists believe…”
True then… still true now. Equally true, he thought, that if someone starts with those, or similar, words that you can discount whatever they say next.
Some things just never change.

October 23, 2009 4:28 pm

Would the AP write “Though there are exceptions, the vast majority of voters voted for…” when writing about any election in the past 50 years? At least there are widely accepted numbers for most elections, but at what percentage would one say “vast majority”? 60%? 70%? 80%? 90%? 95%? 99%?

Roger Knights
October 23, 2009 4:34 pm

Shurley Knot (13:41:26) :
So what IS a vast majority?
better than 95% of the peer reviewed literature.

Einstein had a quote about that, when 95% of the papers in German journals rejected to his theory of relativity. Something like, “Why so many? Only one is necessary.”

October 23, 2009 4:35 pm

I would start off by demanding or establishing a definition of “climate scientist”.
AFAIK, there is no such thing as a “climate scientist” per se. Those who call themselves this are usually physicists, astrophysicists, biologists, paleontologists, etc.
Ask Hansen or Suzuki to derive a PMP and I’ll bet they won’t have a clue.

October 23, 2009 4:38 pm

“the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring”
We really should just call this the Warmists Pater Noster, combined with a Genuflection. In imitation of a faithful Muslim, True Believers are required to face the North Pole 5 times a day while reciting this mantra.
They MUST do this or their very Salvation is in jeopardy, you see.

October 23, 2009 4:40 pm

“Understanding E = mc2
Ed. note: A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing William Tucker speak at a conference in Washington, DC. His explanation of E = mc2 was the best I had ever heard. Even better, Tucker explained how Einstein’s equation applied to renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydro. His lecture was a revelation. It showed that the limits of renewable energy have nothing to do with politics or research dollars, but rather with simple mathematics. During a later exchange of emails with Tucker, I praised his lecture and suggested he write an article that explained E = mc2 and its corollary, E = mv2.
To my delight, he informed me that he’d already written such an essay and he agreed that we could publish it in Energy Tribune.
I love this essay. And I’m proud that Tucker has allowed us to run it.
-Robert Bryce”
“E = mc2
When I was in college, I took a course in the great political philosophers. We studied them in order – Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx.
In my mind, I had placed them with the historical eras they had influenced – Hobbes and the 18th century monarchs, Locke and the American Revolution, Rousseau and 19th century Romanticism, Kant and the 19th century nation-states, Marx and 20th century Communism.
Then one day I saw a time-line illustrating when they had all lived and died. To my astonishment, each had lived a hundred years before I had placed them in history. The implicated seemed clear. “It takes about a hundred years for a new idea to enter history.”
Almost exactly 100 years ago, Albert Einstein posited the equation E = mc2 in his “Special Theory of Relativity.” The equation suggested a new way of describing the origins of chemical energy and suggested another source of energy that at that point was unknown in history – nuclear energy. Nuclear power made its unfortunate debut in history 40 years later in the form of an atomic bomb. But 100 years later, Americans have not quite yet absorbed the larger implications of Einstein’s equation – a new form of energy that can provide almost unlimited amounts of power with a vanishingly small impact on the environment.
E = mc2. Who has not heard of it? Even Mariah Carey named her last album after it. “E” stands for energy, “m” for mass, and “c” is the speed of light – that’s easy enough. But what does it really mean? (The answer is not “relativity.”)”
“We Don’t Need No Stinking Giant Fans”

October 23, 2009 4:59 pm

Seth Borenstein is the worst. Didn’t need to read past the by-line.

Ian Adnams
October 23, 2009 5:02 pm

Define scientist. Is it important if a cancer research scientist say he affirms AGW? He’s a scientist!

Ellie in Belfast
October 23, 2009 5:03 pm

Phillip Bratby (14:10:08) :
“. . . the Clive James 10min talk about scepticism and concensus is very well worth listening to . . .”

If you can’t get it on BBC iPlayer (outside UK). It is reproduced here in full:

October 23, 2009 5:28 pm

Barry Foster (11:41:02) :
OT. Lower troposphere in freefall at the moment http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps+002
Oh B.S.
The weather cools, and you call it a free fall.
Why don’t you just call it a death spiral?

October 23, 2009 5:50 pm

This may not be a consensus but it seems to be a lot of scientific organizations that have said climate change is happening due to CO2 from mankind:
• American Association for the Advancement of Science
• American Chemical Society
• American Geophysical Union
• American Institute of Biological Sciences
• American Meteorological Society
• American Society of Agronomy
• American Society of Plant Biologists
• American Statistical Association
• Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
• Botanical Society of America
• Crop Science Society of America
• Ecological Society of America
• Natural Science Collections
• Alliance Organization of Biological Field Stations
• Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
• Society of Systematic Biologists
• Soil Science Society of America
• University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Not to mention the National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Acadamy of Sciences.
Maybe not a “consensus” but that’s a helluva lot of science organanizations. Of course they all work for the illuminati so who’s counting right?

October 23, 2009 6:01 pm

Mildwarmer (15:41:31) :
Does anyone here know a REAL scientist???
No offense but I’ve often wondered that about many of the posters here at WUWT. Where are the (climate) scientists?
FYI: I’m not a scientist (I’m an economist) but I do know several scientists.

October 23, 2009 6:20 pm

Jody (18:01:50):
“Does anyone here know a REAL scientist???”
Um… Jody, did you notice who the article was about that you commented on?
And FYI, no officer in those organizations that you cut ‘n’ pasted will debate their position. None of them.
Grant money and other incentives go a long way toward buying endorsements and positions.

Evan Jones
October 23, 2009 6:21 pm

Yes, Dr. Pielke is a “pureblood” climatologist.
But, say, Steve McIntyre is not a climate scientist. But he sure as heck has had a very important impact on climate science. Anthony, whose observations have also had made a big bang, is a meteorologist. (Come to think of it, James Hansen is not a climate scientist, either.)
Climate science, being both immensely complex and complicated, is quite interdisciplinary. It even requires historians and archaeologists.

October 23, 2009 6:27 pm

One would think that the tekkies over at CNET would be green to the core, and Obama cheerleaders. Not so, as this article and the comments included therein demonstrate. This was about Obama’s speech at MIT about green energy, etc.. http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10381804-54.html . Maybe there is hope after all. 🙂

Adam from Kansas
October 23, 2009 6:45 pm

Just a heads up, there’s at least 4 recognizable magnetic regions on the solar disk facing Earth right now and one of them is starting to produce sunspots. The end of solar minimum is much more likely than ever before.

October 23, 2009 6:52 pm

Smokey, sorry for the confusion….I was talking about the comment posters not the article posters.
I cut ‘n’pasted, sure, but it doesn’t dispute the fact that all those orginizations back AGW. Whether or not they’ll debate is debatable.
As you say grant money and endorsments will go a long ways, No doubt, But as Evan points out Steve McIntyre is debating the “science” of global warming. It seems to me if I were a scientist in this field and I wanted to make a name for myself I’d be trying to prove AGW wrong whenever I could. Certainly the republican party would endorse that right? Unfortunately it seems that every single scientific org. is finding evidence that supports AGW.
I just don’t buy the conspiracy theory b/c there is too much money out there to support opposition to the AGW theory so it doesn’t make sense.

Evan Jones
October 23, 2009 7:06 pm

Common misconception. There is many, many times the amount of money supporting AGW theory than against it.
Having said that, I do not believe in a “conspiracy”, either. It’s more of a “class action behavior”.
And many who are not climatologists have had a huge impact on the science and on the debate. Science, strictly speaking, can certainly be done by non-scientists. And not everything a scientist says or does is necessarily scientific, either.
And all those orgs. have to answer Lindzen’s LW reflection observations and Spencer’s feedback observations in order to be right. Otherwise, they are wrong, no matter how many of them or how “unanimous” they are. And peer-reviewed literature is far more evenly split.
Not to mention that it’s been trending cool for some time now . . .

October 23, 2009 7:10 pm

come to think of it, the article is about a “supposed” consensus. I just gave you 20 scientific organizations that back AGW. I can certainly cut and paste more if you need me to. I’m not sure what percentage you need for a consensus but it would seem that a large majority believe AGW is a real problem.
O/T….what’s so bad with renewable energy. I for one am tired of the US being beholden to the middle east b/c we need there oil. Regardless if you believe in AGW, isn’t getting off oil a win/win for the US?

October 23, 2009 7:11 pm

“It seems to me if I were a scientist in this field and I wanted to make a name for myself I’d be trying to prove AGW wrong”
And you’d be doing it on your own dime.

October 23, 2009 7:20 pm

Evan, I agree that non-scientists (climatoligists) have a lot to add to the debate. However, to use an analogy, if I go to cardiologist I’m going to take his word over the acupunturist. I think eastern medicine has a lot to add but I’m still going with the cardiologist. If acupunture can be proven, it can/should be able to be published in the peer-reviewed literature. Same goes for climatology. If you got something to say, get it published. That’s how the process works.

Evan Jones
October 23, 2009 7:21 pm

I just gave you 20 scientific organizations that back AGW.
That is the Fallacy of the Whole. For example, Reagan won 49 states. But he won only c. 60-odd% of the vote. Obama won by a near-electoral landslide, but had 52% of the vote.
A lot of scientists in those orgs. are not in agreement with the leadership. (And a lot of those orgs., as you might point out, have little to do with climate science, per se.) And, as I said, peer-reviewed papers on the nuts and bolts of feedback (paleoclimate, etc.) are very much split down the middle.
Furthermore, scientific consensus is quite fickle. It often changes with the facts and observations.

October 23, 2009 7:25 pm

Tom in Texas (19:11:16) :
“It seems to me if I were a scientist in this field and I wanted to make a name for myself I’d be trying to prove AGW wrong”
And you’d be doing it on your own dime.
I don’t know T “n” Texas, it seems Exxon would pay a hefty dime to prove the consensus wrong. O/T… how bout all them wind turbines in West Texas? Are they hiring?

Evan Jones
October 23, 2009 7:28 pm

However, to use an analogy, if I go to cardiologist I’m going to take his word over the acupunturist.
But that’s not a good analogy for this case. When a climatologist tells me the Medieval Warm Period did not exist, I can go to a historian, an archaeologist, and a geologist who will prove otherwise quite conclusively.
It turns out, one has a lot of acupuncturists in cardiologists’ clothing.
Besides, Hansen is not a climatologist, either. (And Gore isn’t a scientist of any kind.) Both could theoretically be right — or wrong. The data will tell.
If acupunture can be proven, it can/should be able to be published in the peer-reviewed literature. Same goes for climatology. If you got something to say, get it published. That’s how the process works.
In that realm, opinion is split. No consensus, there. (Dr. Pielke, for one, has many peer-reviewed papers on the issue published.)

October 23, 2009 7:31 pm

Furthermore, scientific consensus is quite fickle. It often changes with the facts and observations.
Exactly, AGW has been put forth for how many years now? It would seem that if the facts and observations had proven otherwise, the consensus would have changed but it’s only gotten stronger with the evidence.

Richard M
October 23, 2009 7:38 pm

Jody, keep in mind that folks have lost their jobs for coming out against AGW. None that I know have lost their jobs by supporting AGW. That’s called incentive and it will lead to consensus every time … however, it will not lead to the truth.

October 23, 2009 7:38 pm

It’s becoming clear to me that polling of scientists and populations is causing climate change especially if they are majorly vast. It’s not clear whether this is a mind-over-matter effect, or if it the by product of the immense amount of hot air involved. Let’s have a vote on gravity so we can all float off to the moon.

October 23, 2009 7:39 pm

Evan, as you point out… the fallacy of the whole example still has a sizeable percentage. So back to my point, can you name 20 scientific organizations that say AGW is not real?

Evan Jones
October 23, 2009 7:40 pm

it’s only gotten stronger with the evidence.
No, much, much weaker. That’s the point.
And a lot of scientists have become skeptics. But almost none have gone the other way.
Nearly everyone believes there has been some warming. But the IPCC version is not “working out”.
How much? Caused by what? And will the world heat 5x as much this century as last (which is what the IPCC says). That is what the debate is about.

Eric (skeptic)
October 23, 2009 7:50 pm

Shurley Knot says “(AGW is the) truth as we currently know it”. Science is not a process of developing consensus between scientists, but rather a process of formulating new theories based on old theories or to replace old theories. A scientist can theorize that excessive recent growth in a single 400 year old recently deceased tree is proof of AGW, but it is only a theory and a poorly supported one at that. The number of scientists who agree does not matter particularly when most of them in the list:
• Botanical Society of America
• Crop Science Society of America
• Ecological Society of America
• etc
have absolutely no clue how the analysis was done or the extent of the raw data that was ignored (non hockey stick trees). Those other trees are the truth, and they were ignored by using sloppy statistical methods.

October 23, 2009 7:52 pm

I thought this article was about the “consensus”? Dr. Pielke says that’s “erroneous” but I disagree. I give you 20 scientific organizations that say yes AGW is a real problem. If you agree with DR. Pielke, give me examples of scientists (or the the organizations that represent them) that share his opinion.

Evan Jones
October 23, 2009 7:59 pm

Evan, as you point out… the fallacy of the whole example still has a sizeable percentage. So back to my point, can you name 20 scientific organizations that say AGW is not real?
What is necessary is that one single scientist is able to disprove the very recent observations of Spencer and Lindzen. If the CO2 trapping equation is wrong, it’s wrong. If feedback is negative, it ain’t positive. So far, observation shows that both theories are correct.
Furthermore, Dr. Pielke says that a sizable minority oppose AGW theory. As opposed to an “overwhelming” majority supporting AGW. He is correct.
Nearly every scientific org. on the planet thought we were nearly out of resources in the late 1970s. It took only one man to prove otherwise.
Besides, as you may have noticed from the recent data, it’s getting cooler.

October 23, 2009 8:01 pm

Some scientists may have been fired over opposition to AGW, I don’t know b/c I haven’t seen the evidence. BUT, if they had, wouldn’t some org. like Exxon, Rupert Murdoch, Saudi Arabia, etc. pay for their research? This is why the conspiracy doesn’t hold up. There are too many vested interests with too much money that want AGW to be wrong.

October 23, 2009 8:09 pm

“I don’t know T “n” Texas, it seems Exxon would pay a hefty dime to prove the consensus wrong.”
Thanks Jody. I’ll send them an email right away.

Evan Jones
October 23, 2009 8:14 pm

That fellow out in Oregon, for one, who got fired by the state.
I can’t tell why, but an “overwhelming” percent (far over 99%) of money spent on research and promotion of climate issues is spent on the AGW side. (Non-AGW research clocks in at around a measly $20 million.)
But the data and the theories have gone against CO2-AGW theory, at least the notion that the 21st century will warm 5x the rate of the 20th (assuming they even got the 20th-century measurements correct, which I doubt).
Is CO2 a GHG? Yes. Did man increase atmospheric CO2? Yes. has it gotten warmer, partly as a result of man? Yes.
Is there even a vague emergency? No. It will probably warm this century. By around one degree C.

October 23, 2009 8:14 pm

Jody: “O/T… how bout all them wind turbines in West Texas? Are they hiring?”
They’re being replaced by the expansion of the South Texas Nuclear Project.

October 23, 2009 8:19 pm

Nearly every scientific org. on the planet thought we were nearly out of resources in the late 1970s. It took only one man to prove otherwise.
Correct you are and now we are fighting over the scraps, literally. What do you think the world demand is going to be in 10, 20, 30 years from now? Who and where will we be fighting then if we don’t ween ourselves off oil?
I’m not saying renewable energy is a cure-all but it’s certainly better than our current situation of kowtowing to the middle east, russia, and venezuala. New energy sources are the wave of the future and America better be on board. Nuclear certainly has a place as does coal but we better get the renewable side right or we are gonna be left behind, make no mistake. It’s simple demand side economicis.

Richard M
October 23, 2009 8:28 pm

We ended up with 3-4″ of snow today and 15 minutes before the snow started the forecast was for NO accumulation. Now, we’re not talking about long or even short length forecasting. The weather guys couldn’t figure it out 15 minutes before it started.
Now, Jody, if you can honestly believe that somehow climate alarmists are so very, very smart that they can predict what’s happening in a complex, chaotic system then you obviously need a little education.
Have you ever wondered why we don’t have cures for almost all diseases? Are scientists in medical research stupid? Is medical research much more complex? (BTW. the answer to both questions is NO).
How about the current solar cycle that was unpredicted by the vast majority (there’s that term again) of solar scientists. Do you think your list of academies would have disagreed with their predictions for solar cycle 24?
How about the discovery of water on the Moon? I guess all planetary scientists are idiots for not knowing about this years ago.
Once you REALLY understand the complexities of science you will know that people making nonsense claims about climate are shooting from the hip. Climate science is in it’s infancy. It’s a little analogous to medical science 40-50 years ago. You’re probably too young but there were claims about future cures as well as claims that just about everything caused cancer. Almost EVERY SINGLE CLAIM turned out to be wrong. Yet, at the time, there was little skepticism from others. Of course, this led to many changes in medical research and the adoption of standards like double-blind studies. Have you ever head of a double blind climate study? It turned out that researcher bias is almost universal.
Now, please, this is really easy. Take a little time to educate yourself. You know what is said about those who ignore history …
PS. There is no such thing as an expert in climate. It’s way beyond any individuals capabilities. But that’s another conversation.

October 23, 2009 8:39 pm

You’re really all over the map here, talking about wind turbines and republicans and consensus, etc. If we could back up for a minute, I’d like to cut to the heart of the matter.
The AGW hypothesis [actually: the CO2=AGW hypothesis] is the central claim made by the folks who believe that the one CO2 molecule emitted by human activity for every 34 CO2 molecules emitted naturally by the planet will lead to runaway global warming and climate catastrophe. That is the basis of the AGW conjecture. And it comes not from data, nor from observations, but from human-programmed GCMs.
Remember that the CO2=AGW hypothesis is a relatively new conjecture. It presumes to replace the theory of natural climate variability. But unlike natural climate variability, the AGW hypothesis is unable to make accurate predictions. All of the two dozen or so climate GCMs failed to predict the previous very severe Northern Hemisphere winter — every one of them failed. Yet computer climate models are what the entire AGW assumptions are predicated on; and none of the models predicted the planet’s cooling for most of the past decade, either. The models are simply inadequate.
In order for a new hypothesis to replace an existing theory, the new hypothesis must explain reality better than the current theory.
AGW has consistently failed to falsify the theory of natural climate variability, therefore AGW is simply a failed conjecture. As beneficial CO2 continues to rise, the planet’s temperature has steadily fallen: click.
That is the reason that AGW proponents run and hide out from any neutral, moderated debate regarding their failed conjecture. And their stonewalling extends to the climate peer review process, which is tightly controlled by a relatively small clique of people gaming the system for their own benefit.
The central question is whether CO2 is causing any measurable global warming, and whether a rise in CO2 from 4 parts in ten thousand to 5 parts in ten thousand will cause runaway global warming and climate catastrophe. All other arguments are skirting the issue. Those other arguments are raised because the facts show that global warming caused by rising CO2 is non-existent.
Appealing to authority is a false argument. It is simply falling back and pointing to other people, and saying, “But they say AGW is true!”
What matters is data; not computer models, not what people say when their jobs are on the line, and not whether someone finds a dead polar bear. Only the data matters. And the data shows that the globe is cooling as CO2 rises.
The planet itself is falsifying the AGW conjecture, and that fact tortures the alarmist contingent, because they have collectively hung their hats on CO2 as the main culprit. Demonizing “carbon” [by which they mean harmless CO2; a gas] is their gravy train.
Human nature being what it is, even the fact that planet Earth is proving them wrong can not make them admit that a rise in a tiny, beneficial atmospheric trace gas is not causing any measurable global warming [if you think it is, please show us the empirical temperature data resulting from human activity]. The AGW folks’ minds are made up and closed tight, and for the most part, there’s no changing them. But we’re doing our best to try.

October 23, 2009 8:45 pm

Again, the article posted was on the “erroneous” claim that a ” vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that the primary cause is a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.”
I’ve stated and cut ‘n’ pasted a number of scientific organizations that support AGW. I’ve asked several times for “evidence” that this is false but so far I’ve been given Dr. Pielke says…I’m saying the consensus is AGW is real so this post is a bunch of foofoo. Prove me wrong by giving me the orgs that say so on a consensus basis… that’s all.
So please Richard, take a little time to educate yourself if it’s not past your bedtime.

Wondering Aloud
October 23, 2009 8:53 pm

The organizations back AGW for precisely the reasons others have pointed out. It is required to ease the grant money process.
The members of these organizations were not asked their opinion any more than AARP asked your opinion before they decided what was best for everyone.
At the moment there is a considerable upswell to change the positions of the ACS and APS that I am aware of.

October 23, 2009 9:03 pm

Jody (19:39:44):
You ask for evidence, but disregard it when it is provided. Here is some more anyway:
Further, you ask:
“…can you name 20 scientific organizations that say AGW is not real?”
Like most proponents of the AGW conjecture, you misunderstand the scientific method. Skeptics have nothing to prove. It is up to the believers in AGW to show that their new hypothesis explains reality better than the long accepted theory of natural climate oscillation; so far they have failed. You are employing an argumentum ad ignoratum: the fallacy of assuming something [AGW] is true, simply because it has not been proven false. You are asking skeptics to prove a negative.
To quote Albert Einstein after 100 scientists had signed an open letter claiming that his theory of relativity was wrong: ”To defeat relativity one did not need the word of 100 scientists, just one fact.” AGW believers are long on claims but short on data.
The proponents of the CO2=AGW conjecture lack empirical facts. They base their claims on computer climate models, which are notoriously inaccurate, rather than on real world data, because they have no replicable, falsifiable real world data. Computer models are all they have, so of course they cite their modes… and the planet laughs at their hubris, by cooling as the harmless trace gas CO2 rises.

Wondering Aloud
October 23, 2009 9:08 pm

As to scientific organizations that say it isn’t real? or at least that it isn’t a crisis
The Polish and Czech national academies of science? The Japanese geophysical Union? Many scientific societies in Russia and Eastern Europe? I think if, as you say, you educated yourself you could find a lot on the other side, just not in the US or Western Europe where taking any non pro AGW position would cost the societies big time in terms of federal cash.
Here in the US the thought police who control funding are so intrusive that scientists even have to use assumed names to prevent important research with which they are only slightly affiliated from losing funding.
By the way I can name off the top of my head at least 4 prominent climate scientists who lost their positions because their data did not support the “consensus ” they made the mistake of not lying.

October 23, 2009 9:11 pm

Jody (20:45:32):
“I’ve stated and cut ‘n’ pasted a number of scientific organizations that support AGW.”
Scientific organizations do not necessarily represent their members’ opinions.
“I’ve asked several times for “evidence” that this is false”
Here are 31,478 American scientists who have signed a petition questioning anthropogenic global warming, including 9,029 with PhDs:
Here’s More Than 700 International Scientists who Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims:
Here’s a list of some of the most knowledgeable climate experts in the world who are various degrees of skeptical:

October 23, 2009 9:21 pm

It’s past the witching hour here in my part of the world so it’s time for me to go give my woman some lovin’. However, I thank you all for the discussion and the many sites to look into. Rest assured I’ll be back to play tomorrow once I get done golfing…and drinking to a climate that’s indicative to playing year round.

Oliver Ramsay
October 23, 2009 9:29 pm

Your list of the faithful was needlessly long.
You could have simply said “America”.
Since the leadership represents the people and the leadership believes, the people believe.

F. Ross
October 23, 2009 9:36 pm

Mike Bryant (11:46:21) :
The term “vast majority” is very vague. A simple majority means more than 50%. A super majority means more than two thirds, or about 66%. So what IS a vast majority? Is it more than a super majority?

My guess is that the phrase “vast majority of scientists” in the context of the article is sort of like the “vast right-wing conspiracy” alluded to by some half-vast politicians.

D Johnson
October 23, 2009 9:57 pm

You are a newcomer, and like everyone, you arrive here with your own preconceptions. I venture to say you haven’t spent significant time at Dr Pielke’s site, or at Lucia’s Blackboard, or at Climate Audit. Please do so, and you’ll find that what you read in the media about AGW isn’t reflecting reality. The case has become clear that climate models are currently deficient in long term climate predictions, which are the primary basis of the IPCC conclusions. If you keep an open mind (and don’t waste too much time at Open Mind), you’ll be much better informed.
I may share your desires for energy independence, but I favor doing so by all technological means at our disposal, including drilling for gas and oil, nuclear, oil and gas from coal and shale, and a contribution from wind and solar to the extent that they can compete economically. The CO2/AGW case is totally unconvincing to me, as I think it will be be to most people who can adopt an objective view point. The climate sensitivity to CO2 increases is at the very lowest edge (or below) of all projections on which the IPCC and all the organizations you cite have relied.

Robin Guenier
October 23, 2009 11:49 pm

You say that the “Royal Academy of Sciences” (really the Royal Society) agrees that “climate change is happening due to CO2 from mankind”. Er … not quite. The following is at the top of its web page on “climate change”:
“International scientific consensus agrees that increasing levels of man-made greenhouse gases are leading to global climate change. Possible consequences of climate change include rising temperatures, changing sea levels, and impacts on global weather. These changes could have serious impacts on the world’s organisms and on the lives of millions of people, especially those living in areas vulnerable to extreme natural conditions such as flooding and drought.”
Read it carefully. It doesn’t actually say that it agrees with the “consensus” (and, given its history, the RS should know better than most the weakness of relying on consensus). And then it refers merely to “possible” consequences …
Sounds rather to me as though the RS is staying on the right side of political correctness while keeping its position carefully open.

Roger Knights
October 24, 2009 3:01 am

evanmjones (19:06:52) :
Having said that, I do not believe in a “conspiracy”, either. It’s more of a “class action behavior”.

I think there’s a sort of guild-solidarity effect at work, similar to the solidarity of scientists that endorsed fluoridation: because the opposition was effectively demonized as cranks and obscurantists, who hadn’t published in mainstream journals, and therefore all the scientific/progressive elite was easily herded into taking the opposition position.
In the case of AGW, the additional demonization tactic of tainted funding was employed. And only one side of the argument was listened to–no point/counterpoint debate with sceptics was conducted. And the alarmists have been super-slick in their sophistical rebuttals of skeptics’ positions. And the proponents who swayed these scientific organizations into endorsing AGW relied heavily of the endorsements of the IPCC, etc., implying that anyone who refused to get aboard such a shiny bandwagon must really be a mossback. Plus, many people like to jump aboard the latest fad.

Roger Knights
October 24, 2009 3:18 am

PS: It also should be obvious that these organizations rarely spontaneously took the positions they did. Rather, activist warmists within and without their membership put forward, aggressively, a seemingly iron-clad case and stressed that urgent action was vital and that it would be irresponsible and worse not to stand up for science and foresight, rather than being complicit in denial, selfishness, and psuedoscience. The skeptical opposition, such as it was, was unprepared and unorganized and less “motivated” to combat this.
And the politically savvy and well-funded activists within green organizations were skilled at this sort of engineering of consent, and in infiltrating the leadership posts of scientific organizations. It’s only recently that skeptics have got their act together, aided by the Internet and a cooperative climate. (Most of those scientific-organizations endorsements occurred ten years or more ago, I suspect, when the hockey stick looked unassailable and the models hadn’t been falsified.)

Richard M
October 24, 2009 5:42 am

From what I can tell Jody is NOT interested in facts or historical perspectives … only some alphabet soup of organizations. Even when presented with the obvious fact that none of those organizations would have disagreed with a prediction of high sunspots for solar cycle 24, you see no change in position. This is evidence that the person already has their mind made up and the appearance of looking for evidence is superficial.

October 24, 2009 6:04 am

It was inevitable, that as soon as an article is posted on the subject of consensus, then somebody will attempt to use consensus as an argument for AGW. I for one am tired of these same old straw men arguments, but nonetheless I will try to address them.
Exhibit 1: A list of learned societies has been posted by the defense, purporting to show a rock solid consenus. Suppose I put to the chairperson of the Ecology society the following question: “What evidence do you cite for your AGW hypothesis?”
Probable reply: “We have no expertise in that area. However, it is a fact that all scientifc societies support the AGW hypothesis, so it must be true.”
I then put the same question to the board members of each and every society and obtain a similar reply. I therefore reach the conclusion that each society is merely an echo of every other society, each believing that the other’s have reached the independant conclusions of which they testify. I call that a delusion, in much the same way as primitive people believed the echo’s they heard in caverns were the voices of spirits.
Exhibit 2: The defense posits the argument that the consensus for AGW is growing stronger with increasing weight of evidence. The truth is the exact oppoiste – consensus has been growing weaker in the presence of increasing divergence between predictions and reality. I can cite lack of oceanic warming as measure by the Argo network, lack of predicted mid troposphere hotspot, lack of correlation between outgoing LW radiation and troposphere temperatures as measured by ERBE and reported by Lindzen, a decreasing rate of sea level rise since 2003 as confirmed by Argo and Grace, the debunking of several “hockey stick” studies, and the strident dissent by more and more scientists.
Exhibit 3: Climate scientists have been compared with medical practioners while skeptics have been compared with acupuncturists. This is an argument born out of either sophistry or ignorance – probably both. If my doctor tells me I have to have my legs amputated due diligence suggests I seek a second – or third opinion. Climate skeptics – who count among their number many eminent scientists – are the second opinion. The second opinion is that I don’t need to have my legs amputated at all.
The sad fact is, with today’s climate hysteria, the warmists not only want to amputate all our legs but tell us we shouldn’t bother seeking a second opionion. I don’t think so!

October 24, 2009 6:08 am

To Jody, Thank you for coming and trying to ascertain the truth. I discovered Climate Audit about four years ago and through a great deal of struggle have been able to begin to read the graphs. The equations still are Greek to me. I have been reading WUWT plus Lucia, Jeff ID, etc for about 3 years. I still know next to nothing.
We are talking about a monstrously complex system whose overall trends are very very difficult to grasp. Do you look at ice cores, tree rings (dendrochronology another science in its infancy), ocean temperatures, clouds, surface temperatures (three major sources of measurement achieved through both surface station temps and satellite temps, night time versus daytime temps, hurricanes, or volcanoes, etc etc etc etc to know what’s up with earth?? The complex statistics elude me, and yet they are fundamental to grasp the argument. So I rely on logic and the common sense and human nature and the few principles that I have gleaned about statistics such as the margin of error, where you start and stop the measurement and the importance of underlying data.
I would posit that 90% of the members of the the scientific bodies do not understand a fraction of the science. You seem to be going back to one issue that appears to be very logical – so many scientists and scientific organisations support AGW. And its corollary: if all the federal money is supporting AGW why can’t the skeptics go to the fossil fuel companies for research money?
I would in turn make the following appeal to your logic. If the science is settled, why call the skeptics deniers/denialist scum etc.? Denier is such a harsh and ugly word – it has resonances of the n word – and just as I would discount the ideas of people who use that word, I would discount the ideas of people who call those who are looking for evidence ‘deniers’. Take any big enviro website such as Open Mind, Dot.earth and any of several blogs on BBC or the Guardian or the Huffpo. Cut and paste all the pro and con posters into two word docs and then read them. I will bet you dollars to doughnuts that the skeptic side will be 25% snark and 75% facts, and the pro AGW will be 75% snark and 25% facts. Why, if the science is settled, would you not expect the reverse to be true? Why are the pro-AGW people allowed to indulge in vicious name calling with no rebuke?
In addition to deniers, the accusations largely consist of not caring about the planet, not caring about our kids and grandchildren, being in league with the oil companies, and not wanting to change our planet-destroying- lifestyle. The oil companies did support a few sceptics, but that was 10 years ago and the it was a PR fiasco. They soon learned that it was far better to support carbon credits where they could make money and get credit for saving the earth.
The vast majority of people in the developed world want to save the planet. That is why there is far less waste of resources, pollution, and more clean air, water and protection of animal and plant species there. We are just arguing about the best way to do that. Why should just one side have the moral high ground?
Ask yourself: why does Gore’s lifestyle so clash with his speech? He left the White House with a net worth of $2M; he is now worth over $100M made from ‘saving the planet’ activities.
Most people avoid confrontations in their social life. So do most academics. Most skeptics prefer to keep their mouths shut, keep their job, and have a friendly beer with friends.
Most politicians were educated at a time where statistics was hardly or not studied by 90%+ of the people graduating from the top schools. I went to school at roughly the same time BC: before computers. CGM’s and indeed, climate science didn’t exist. Can you see why policy might devlop without much science?
Apply your logic to this connudrum: If all the controls were implemented, all the Kyotos and Copenhagens were signed, there would be an INSIGNIFICANT amount of change in the temperature. This is their own data! That is illogical.
The skeptics say: we need better, more accurate information about temperature data collection and we need for the scientists who are writing peer reviewed papers to release their underlying data. That is the rule of science. For it to be science, it has to be falsifiable and without the data, there is no science.
We don’t know whether this trend of the past few years will hold or not. We know the sun is quiet but we still have so many holes in our knowledge about how that affects the world’s climate, that we can only make rough guesses. But without that additional knowledge of the sun and clouds (to name just two), we cannot come up with solutions because we as yet don’t know the problem.
I have faith that just as mapping the human genome led to an explosion of ideas, so accurate climate data will lead to good solutions. We are not there yet, and we are shooting in the dark with the current solutions. The solutions tried so far such as biofuels have been disastrous. Wind and solar produce at best 3% and are hugely expensive and NOT environmentally friendly.
We can tackle many problems today such as lack of clean air and water for almost 2B of the planet. We have some good solutions. We don’t do enough of that – why?
The skeptics say: we don’t know much, there are big gaps in our knowledge, the temperature data has in many cases been collected badly and there is huge room for error; let’s learn more before going off half-cocked. The pro-AGW say: we have to do something now and those who disagree ‘stand in the way of preventing climate catastrophe’. They won’t debate and try to keep their data secret. Which seems more scientific to you?
Sorry for going on for so long, and again I freely confess that I am one of the great mass of people who have no science background. I find that sites such as CA and WUWT et al help me learn more about the science of climate than do the pro- AGW sites.

Bruce Cobb
October 24, 2009 6:40 am

Michael Chrichton said it best: “Consensus is the refuge of scoundrels and collectivists”.
Not only is the argument of a “consensus of scientists” a lie, based on a faulty and long-debunked “study” done by a history professor named Naomi Oreskes, but the entire idea of argument by consensus is both faulty logic and simply not the way science works. It is, however a convenient and effective argument used to try to sway public opinion, and in fact to simply shut down any debate. The MSM have painted themselves into a corner though, and now that the truth is coming out, already being in a downward spiral, it will be their death knell.

October 24, 2009 8:09 am

ABSTRACT. An online poll of scientists’ opinions shows that, while there is strong agreement on
the important role of anthropogenically-caused radiative forcing of CO2 in climate change and with
the largest group supporting the IPCC report, there is not a universal agreement among climate
scientists about climate science as represented in the IPCC’s WG1. The claim that the human input
of CO2 is not an important climate forcing is found to be false in our survey. However, there
remains substantial disagreement about the magnitude of its impacts. The IPCC WG1 perspective is
the mean response, though there are interesting differences between mean responses in the USA and
in the EU. There are, also, a significant number of climate scientists who disagree with the IPCC
WG1 perspective…
The questions used in the opinion poll are listed below in Table 1. The methodology is described in
the online supplement.
From the initial response, we conclude that:
1. The largest group of respondents (45-50%) concur with the IPCC perspective as given in the
2007 Report.
2. A significant minority (15-20%), however, conclude that the IPCC understated the seriousness of
the threat from human additions of CO2.
3. A significant minority (15-20%), in contrast, conclude that the IPCC overstated the role of
human additions of CO2 relative to other climate forcings.
4. Almost all respondents (at least 97%) conclude that the human addition of CO2 into the
atmosphere is an important component of the climate system and has contributed to some extent in
recent observed global average warming.
[When giving an abstract please cite the source. ~dbs, mod.]

October 24, 2009 8:39 am

Sorry, I was quoting “Brown, F., J. Annan, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2008: Is there agreement amongst climate scientists on the IPCC AR4 WG1?” which you mention above.
They also say that no one (0%) polled agreed with the following statement: 1. There is no warming; it is a fabrication based on inaccurate/inappropriate measurement.
Human activity is not having any significant effect on Climate. The data on which such
assumptions are made is so compromised as to be worthless. The physical science basis of AGW
theory is founded on a false hypothesis.”
Interesting wouldn’t you say?

Richard M
October 24, 2009 9:09 am

If appeal to authority is required to form your opinion, Jody … try this.

John G
October 24, 2009 9:25 am

‘Scientific consensus’ is an oxymoron. According to dictionary.com consensus simply means an opinion or position reached by a group as a whole. Science isn’t conducted by making agreements or taking opinions. It’s a process of backing up hypotheses with demonstrable facts. A consensus by its nature can’t be scientific. If the term is intended to mean a majority opinion of scientists and is used to claim it proves a scientific theory the argument is a logical fallacy called ‘an appeal to authority.’ Even if every scientist in the world save one believes in some theory and that one has the appropriate facts, he can prove the rest wrong. In fact, the effort to do that (being skeptical) is what drives science forward.

October 24, 2009 11:49 am

I have to say I’m disappointed with this article. It quibbles with someone saying there is a broad consensus, then provides no numbers to dispute it. What I would like to see from both this article and the one it is responding to is to know what population they are seeing as a vast majority or significant minority. As best I can tell, neither side knows what the total population is, nor has anyone measured it in a meaningful way. Until I see population measurements, I can’t know what they are talking about.
Secondly, as has been noted several times above, science isn’t about consensus, its about facts, which seem in horribly small supply. To make the point, how much did consensus contribute to Galileo’s success when he published his ideas in 1610 about the sun being the center of the solar system and not the earth? I’m guessing that the majority consensus favoring an earth centered system was much vaster than the alleged majority favoring AGW. It was him versus pretty much everybody else. So I think a debate about where a majority or minority is positioned on ideas doesn’t advance knowledge of the actual subject itself, but rather is a big distraction.
I am a skeptic of AGW. The big red flag is that people are arguing that consensus means something when truth is dependent on facts. The models that purport to support AGW theory predict effects that haven’t been observed when they should be present, ie the current cooling trend and layers of the atmosphere that should be warming up but aren’t. Usually that means the model needs to be reevaluated, and it is clear that the proponents don’t know what they are talking about. As other bloggers have said, “I’ll believe there is an emergency when the proponents of AGW start acting like its an emergency.” They talk like its important, but don’t act like it.

October 24, 2009 2:40 pm

maz2 (16:40:11) :
Almost exactly 100 years ago, Albert Einstein posited the equation E = mc2 in his “Special Theory of Relativity.” The equation suggested a new way of describing the origins of chemical energy and suggested another source of energy that at that point was unknown in history – nuclear energy. Nuclear power made its unfortunate debut in history 40 years later in the form of an atomic bomb. But 100 years later, Americans have not quite yet absorbed the larger implications of Einstein’s equation – a new form of energy that can provide almost unlimited amounts of power with a vanishingly small impact on the environment.

A good link. I’ve mentioned energy “density” before.
Any reasonable & well-informed “environmentalist” should be supporting nuclear energy, as its environmental footprint is smaller than fossil-fuels, and far smaller than low-density stuff like solar, wind, etc, etc.
But they won’t. Another example of doublethink.

Brendan H
October 24, 2009 4:02 pm

JohnG: “If the term is intended to mean a majority opinion of scientists and is used to claim it proves a scientific theory the argument is a logical fallacy called ‘an appeal to authority.”
Not if the scientists are experts on the subject. The fallacious appeal to authority occurs when the claimant attempts to extend the authority of the chosen expert beyond his expertise.
For example, we can accept the views of Richard Dawkins on evolution – or at least the aspects he has studied – as authoritative, but his views on, say, the existence of God, are no more authoritative than any other amateur.
On the matter of the AGW scientific consensus, the consensus refers to the agreement within climate science, as outlined in the peer-reviewed, published literature and summarised in IPCC reports. The consensus is not just a matter of counting heads.
Attempts to draw a distinction between “consensus” and “facts” invariably fail since for human beings the facts do not exist as free-standing objects independent of minds. Every fact that may or may not bear on a subject has to be considered by a human mind, and some facts will be included, others rejected.
Pointing to the rejected facts and claiming that they are superior to the consensus simply begs the question – the admissability of these facts is the point at issue.

October 24, 2009 4:40 pm

“Not if the scientists are experts on the subject.”
Even if the scientists are “experts” on the subject, appealing to them because they are “experts” on the subject is a logical fallacy.
The appeal should be to facts that everyone can see objectively. And by everyone I include all of us WUWT commenters. We have had enough of people hiding things behind names, obscurities and lies.

Brendan H
October 24, 2009 10:12 pm

Andrew: “Even if the scientists are “experts” on the subject, appealing to them because they are “experts” on the subject is a logical fallacy.”
The appeal to authority is an informal argument, so it doesn’t follow the more rigorous rules of formal logic.
The issue is whether it is reasonable to appeal to the authority of someone who is regarded as an expert. My answer is yes, because nobody can become an expert on everything, so from a practical point of view, the appeal to genuine authority is justified.
That said, it needs to be accepted that the expert’s views are provisional and not absolute.

Evan Jones
October 24, 2009 10:14 pm

One must, however, also take into account the track record and trustworthiness of the expert(s).

October 26, 2009 12:13 am

How legitimate is a paper that starts off
“An online poll of scientists’ opinions shows that, ”
Come on people…. seriously… that is how you attempt to disprove the consensus of scientists?
The real consensus is in literature, research and publications.
REPLY: Then complain to the paper that made it, and the AP writer that botched it, not us. -A

October 26, 2009 12:35 am

The author of this article must have missed the Methods section of their referenced research paper…
“It is important to recognize that we are not presenting the results as representing anything other than the views of those who responded as we have no way to assess the relationship of the responders with the total relevant population. We view this article as the preliminary analysis of the active climate research community, a motivation for a more rigorous statistical polling, and a focused set of questions for the climate community to discuss.”
They sent emails to people and relied on the recipients to respond.
Of the 1807 emails sent out, they received 140 responses.
This is called a sampling bias that is made worse by a low rate of response.

October 26, 2009 8:14 am

List of scientific organizations who believe in AGW…
*paste in a great big list of organizations*

Although these organizations may take AGW as their official stance, how about post a list of the scientific organizations which are actually doing something.
The reason so many scientific organizations take the AGW stance is:
a. They have no financial investment in it;
b. They can change their mind tomorrow;
c. It’s politically expedient.
Supporting an AGW stance is the current du-jour of pop culture.

October 26, 2009 11:39 am

REPLY: Then complain to the paper that made it, and the AP writer that botched it, not us. -A
That would be your job, not mine. I don’t run a “best science blog” that is at risk of being further discredited by articles like this. Did you even read the “paper” referenced? It is laughable and would get an F in a introductory science course in college.
Do you want to pay me to point out every time you promote terrible science?
I can’t find one of your AGW skeptic readers who pointed out that the first paper is complete trash. If you were smart you would remove this article because it makes your movement look incompetent and scientifically illiterate.

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