Another example of PolitiFact's climate propaganda

By Larry Kummer. From the archives at the Fabius Maximus website.

Summary: This vignette illustrates important aspects of the climate change debate, and why it has failed to gain sufficient support from Americans to pass large-scale public policy measures. For two decades journalists and scientists have cooperated to produce political propaganda, exaggerating and misrepresenting the work of the IPCC. Their failure should inspire us, showing a resistance to manipulation greater than many people expected (it surprises me).


Attributed to George Orwell. He would have agreed.

My post, which started this kerfuffle

In July I published The 97% consensus of climate scientists is only 47%, which showed the hidden results of an excellent survey of scientists’ agreement with the IPPC’s attribution statements about the role of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in global warming. It was high, but lower than usually described — and below the standard for significance. The question has important implications; Obama’s sweeping Clean Power Plan rests on this finding (details here).

it attracted some attention on skeptics’ websites, and pushback from climate activists (both laypeople and scientists). Then GOP presidential candidate Rich Santorum cited this information, and the activists began their usual smear campaign. The facts are quite simple, for those who want to know.

The article at Politifact

Politifact started the cover-up with “Santorum cites flawed climate change figure, and misquotes it” by Linda Qui. She asked me for information. I gave her several thousand words (which I’ll publish next week). She didn’t find anything useful for smearing me, so she ignored it.

Below are the relevant parts of her hit job. My responses follow each quote. Qui tells me she consulted Verheggen and “6 other climate scientists/people who study the consensus issue” “and they all agreed with the survey author”. As you will see below, all that work produced only the weakest of rebuttals. But we can learn much from their attempt.

(a)  Politifact ends with deception

Politifact’s article has a big conclusion, ending with skilled deception. The real finding of the survey actually backs the idea of scientific consensus on climate change, despite varying levels of confidence, said Verheggen.

“It is clear from our survey that a strong majority of scientists agree that greenhouse gases originating from human activity are the dominant cause of recent warming,” he said. That’s consistent with most of the literature on scientific opinion about climate change, experts agreed.

“You don’t get anywhere near 57% when surveying the broad earth science community, and you get very close to full consensus when you ask the experts in climate science,” said Peter Doran, a professor of earth science at Louisiana State University.

National Science Board member James Powell surveyed what’s actually published in scientific journals, finding that the consensus in the literature is about 99.9%. And multiple independent studies have “asked scientists directly” and found consensus levels of around 97%, said William Anderegg, who studies climate change at Princeton University.  “Those studies were rigorously peer-reviewed and thus should be considered more credible than a blog post that misreads an institute report,” he said.

This is masterful propaganda, and requires explanation to show that this is not even a rebuttal. The four surveys Politifact mentions asked in general terms about scientists’ agreement that there has been anthropogenic human warming.

  • Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature“ by John Cook et al (Environmental Research Letters, 22 April 2013) looked for studies that “implied that humans were causing global warming”.
  • Powell’s paper used Cook’s data to find studies rejecting “anthropogenic global warming.”
  • Stacy Rosenberg et al (Climate Change, August 2010; ungated copy here) asked scientists if they “can say with great certainty that global warming is a process that is already underway” and that “with great certainty that human activities are accelerating global warming.”
  • Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” by Dorlan and Zimmerman (EOS, 20 January 2009) asked similar questions: “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?” and “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

These studies (and 5 others described here) find high levels of agreement with those broad statements. But such statements — Gallup-like polls — don’t provide a basis to restructure the world economy. Science is about precision, as found in the IPCC’s attribution statements, which is why they are so valuable. Here’s the key finding in AR5 about greenhouse gases (repeating more precisely the same finding in 2007’s AR4). Compare it with the above questions.

“more than half of the observed increase in GMST {global mean surface temperature} from 1951 to 2010 is … due to the observed anthropogenic increase in GHG {greenhouse gas} concentrations.”

The PBL survey tested agreement with this attribution statement, asking for their “confidence level” about it — more useful than asking about belief in anthropogenic global warming as a true/false proposition. Of course a precise (i.e., narrower) statement like the IPCC’s will get lower levels of agreement than the broad statements tested in previous surveys.

How many scientists agreed at the “extremely likely” level (which the IPCC defines as 95%+ level, the usual minimum standard for use in science and public policy)?  43% of all 1,868 respondents (47% excluding the “don’t know” group).

How many agreed at the “very likely” level (90%+ in the IPCC’s reports), which is what AR4 and AR5 assigned? 57% (again, less excluding the “don’t knows”). A majority, although a small one.

These findings are surprisingly low, and so unmentioned by the authors of the PBL study. The reaction to my post shows the strong effort to hide them.

These findings of the PBL report are consistent with the previous studies (agreeing with anthropogenic warming), but provide more detail. By describing them as contradictory Politifact misleads its readers. Verheggen, Doran, Powell, and Anderegg participate in the deception (perhaps ignorantly, as they might not have read my post — but just joined in the smear like good boys).

Politifact’s big conclusion is a magician’s trick, moving the pea while the audience watches from 95% agreement that more than half of warming since 1950 is anthropogenic to the far broader agrees with anthropogenic warming.

That’s how the global warming crusade runs. Deception and misrepresentations are activists’ standard tactics. The campaign’s big lie: if you disagree with predictions of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, then you deny global warming. By repetition they’ve embedded this “logic” in the minds of millions. They even indoctrinated children, such as this student at U NH, who responds to Cruz’s correct statement that the 2 NASA-funded satellite datasets show a pause in warming since ~2000 by saying “Ted Cruz insults University of New Hampshire, denies the earth is warming“.

(b)  Politifact gives two quotes by one of the PBL survey’s co-authors

The survey’s lead author, Bart Verheggen, told us that Kummer — and, by extension, Santorum — made a few mistakes.

“First, 22% of climate scientists surveyed didn’t directly answer a question as to what extent greenhouse gases were causing climate change, says Verheggen. Verheggen said it would be more accurate to consider only those who answered the question. (He goes into more detail in a blog post.)”

That’s a valid point of disagreement but hardly a “mistake.” When calculating the degree of affirmative agreement of experts, I believe that including those who answer “don’t know” is appropriate. Especially when asked about the most important issue facing their field, about one of the great threats facing the world.

Kummer only counts scientists who were 95% or more confident that greenhouse gases drive climate change, when the actual IPCC statement reports a 90% certainty…“

I used the 95% level because it is the minimum bar usually used (i.e., almost always) in both science and public policy. That the IPCC itself reports it at only the 90% level is confirmation of my finding — not a “mistake”. This is not rocket science, or even climate science: it is obvious to anyone familiar with either science or public policy-related research.

(c)  One more round, a bit odd

“This is like something out of that book, How to Lie With Statistics,” said Stephen Farnsworth, who studies climate change and political communication at the University of Mary Washington. “What we’re talking about here is extraordinary cherry-picking. You’re only counting one question in one survey, and you’re talking about a very high (confidence level). Once you start stacking up numbers like this, you’re really distorting the real finding of this research.”

This is quite daft. Perhaps it was Politifact’s excerpt from a more sensible comment by Farnsworth.

  • I examined two questions, not one. They were the most important questions in the survey, about the most important finding of the IPCC. If that’s cherry-picking, they are important cherries.
  • Farnsworth appears to consider unimportant the difference between 90% and 95% confidence levels. The referees of most of the world’s scientific journals disagree. (Of course he knows this, which reveals much about his intent here.)
  • What he calls “stacking up numbers” is everywhere else called basic statistics. I looked at the relevant answer to what was in effect a compound question, and compared the result to the total number of respondents. Standard practice.

About Politifact

As shown here, Politifact is just another political chop shop. Evaluating them would be a major project, hardly worth the time. However, some studies have found evidence of the obvious selection bias, such as by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University; and a study by Eric Ostermeier (Research Associate at the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the U of MN; bio here).

See Politifact Bias for current fact-checking of Politifact (I’ve only spot-checked their articles, and those looked good; please comment if you find otherwise).


Graphic designed by IdeaTree Company.


“Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it…”

— Jonathan Swift in 1710 (see other versions of this here).

Politifact consulted 7 experts and got only these weak rebuttals. From this porridge they skillfully constructed propaganda which has gone viral on the Left, convincing to the Left’s poorly informed and gullible readers.

What’s special about this? Politics in America today, like everywhere and always, means saying what will persuade people to support the current campaigns of our elites. It’s no different than selling soap, and just as honest. That journalists participate is common as dirt.

There is an interesting aspect of the climate change campaign: they’ve persuaded almost an entire field of science to participate. We can only guess at the motives, probably the usual mixture of “noble lies” to save the world and self-interest (follow the money). Some scientists participate actively, such as the scientists quoted above. Most participate by silence to criticism of the IPCC as “too conservative” and the increasingly outlandish warnings contrary to the IPCC’s work (e.g. the methane monster).

The amazing aspect of the climate change campaign: despite its support by the Left, by the Pope, by the news media, by the Obama Administration, by those lavishly funding it — the campaign has failed so far. Most Americans rank climate change low among US public policy priorities (see the polls here, and more here). As do those in many other nations, shown by UN’s on-going MyWorld poll.

The scientists supporting the climate change campaign broke the simple rules for gaining the public’s trust, especially honesty and transparency. Depending on how the climate evolves, we might pay dearly for their failings. My next few posts will describe possible consequences, and how we can respond to get a better future.

Yesterday’s post put this in an even larger context: American politics is a fun parade of lies, for which we pay dearly. We can do better if we try.


For More Information

See a report confirming the findings describe in this post: “97% consensus? No! Global warming math, myths, and social proofs” by the Friends of Science, 17 February 2014. Thoroughly documented; 48 pages long.

Here’s my email exchange with Politifact. It gives an introduction to this important issue, as I wrote her assuming the she had little knowledge about this aspect of climate change (which proved quite true, but irrelevant to her purpose).

For more information about this vital issue see The keys to understanding climate change, My posts about climate change., and these

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...and Then There's Physics
August 9, 2016 1:51 am

Maybe you did link to this, but I can’t find it. For completeness, the author of the survey, that I think you used, thinks that Rick Santorum misrepresent[ed] our climate survey on the Bill Maher show.

charles nelson
Reply to  ...and Then There's Physics
August 9, 2016 2:12 am

Just a warning…this is a Warmist Troll. So don’t click on his link!

...and Then There's Physics
Reply to  charles nelson
August 9, 2016 2:13 am

Whatever I am, the link is to Bart Verheggen’s post about this situation. Bart Verheggen is the author of the paper from which the survey data was taken. Feel free, of course, to ignore it if you wish.

Reply to  charles nelson
August 9, 2016 9:26 am

Charles may mean not to click on your name, which takes us to your blog.

...and Then There's Physics
Reply to  charles nelson
August 9, 2016 10:14 am

Ahh, fair enough. Suits me, to be quite honest.

David Barkin
Reply to  charles nelson
August 14, 2016 8:19 am

Climate Hoaxers are now fooling the public with fake stories about flooding in Louisiana. Can you believe how the press has turned a mere drizzle into what they laughably call, “Unprecedented flooding?” What does increasing temps have to do with a heavy drizzle in the South? The South ALWAYS gets rain. Just who are they kidding? The claims of NOAA and NASA are obviously PAID by Communists trying to destroy Western Civilization! Thank God that not everyone is so gullible as to believe this nonsense.
Wake up America – We’re being attacking by Islamic Communist trying to impose Sharia Law and Marxism on the last bastion of freedom in the world….

Reply to  ...and Then There's Physics
August 9, 2016 3:44 am

Well, the warmist troll has a number of problems:
1. The high end of the IPCC forcing results in right half plane poles. CO2 forcing can’t be dominant and have a right half plane pole.
2. Climate scientists who believe this forcing level are incompetent (IE wrong) so you have credit they opinion to the “denier” side on ledger.
3. The surveys have high error bounds since they select for the high publishers who are basically bribed to believe in global warming since that is the only way to get past the publishing gatekeepers.
If you look at the 98% of scientists that aren’t paper factories, there is less than 50% agreement that there is a high confidence that CO2 responsible for the majority of the warming.
Right now the surveys are going to have a temporary bump because of El Nino.
The next three years are going to be very cruel to global warmers. If Trump is elected it will be very cruel since the primary support for lies and distortion will away.

Sanata Baby
Reply to  PA
August 9, 2016 7:24 am

“The high end of the IPCC forcing results” are mostly marxism forcing to promote marxism policy.

Reply to  ...and Then There's Physics
August 9, 2016 6:56 am

Rick Santorum did misrepresent Bart’s findings, ATTP. But so did Bart. I don’t agree with Fabius Maximus 47%, but I don’t agree with the 97% garbage either. The real answer is 66%. Just like it was in 2010. Just like it was in 2008.

Reply to  thomaswfuller2
August 10, 2016 1:10 am

The survey had a 29% response.
Less than 1% of scientists have their names on 41% of the papers.
It is pretty clear the PBL sought a distorted sample with a bias toward frequent publishers and likely got a more “prowarmer” sample than the actual population. The correlation of papermilling to global warming belief could argue that they are better informed but more likely indicates that skeptics (as proven in the climategate emails) are discriminated against.

Reply to  ...and Then There's Physics
August 9, 2016 7:58 am

The real problem is that scientists who support dangerous human warming quit learning about 30 years ago at the level of “hey man, it’s a greenhouse gas”. They have failed to integrate the data contrary to this view. They have failed to produce plausible explanations for the discrepancies, continuing to blindly believe that because it is a greenhouse gas, it must be warming the planet.
CO2 is a very different greenhouse gas than water. Nearly 90% of its radiative effects are focused in a narrow band around WN 667.4. This band and its rotational overtones, half of which are destructive and reduce energy, define a zone where there was no transmission to the tropopause even at 280 ppm.
The climate science community needs to step it up and actually learn the physics.

Reply to  ...and Then There's Physics
August 9, 2016 11:46 am

ATTP is worth ignoring and nothing more. God have mercy on the students such parasites indoctrinate.

August 9, 2016 2:18 am

Their quibbling over the 95% bar is almost funny. I’m fairly certain that the primary reason they cooked up the 97% consensus lie was to exceed 95%.
Actual surveys of actual atmospheric scientists support the notion that half to two-thirds think that humans are the primary driver of climate change over the past 50-150 years. You would think the warmunists would be satisfied with that. The only logical reason for their consistent deception is the need for >95% certainty.
Of course, if you broaden the survey to include the branch of Earth Science most familiar with natural patterns of climate change, geologists, the consensus drops below 50% because about two-thirds of us know that recent climate changes fall within Holocene natural variability.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  David Middleton
August 9, 2016 7:23 am

David, that comment was spot-on.
In short, if you ask people who know what the heck they are talking about there are not many who agree with the speculative position that mankind affects the climate that much. Fleas on an elephant.
Now that it seems clear that AG land use changes are net-cooling, a further problem arises: should we promote the afforestation of barren lands if it is going to enhance warming?
This CAGW just gets stupider and stupider. Why is warming so bad? We need a question like, “If the world gets warmer on average, mostly at the poles, will that be a bad thing, overall?”
If the answer is, “Coastal cities will flood,” then people will move. They can move to the new farm lands around Hudson Bay where the sea is in retreat year by year. Adaptation costs 1% of ineffective ‘mitigation’.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
August 9, 2016 12:27 pm

You say CAGW but, I don’t believe the survey asked the respondents about the benefits or damages from more CO2 and a warmer world.
Just simply, “Hey Joe, does it feel hot out today?”

Reply to  David Middleton
August 9, 2016 9:33 am

David the issue really isn’t about surveys of whether climate is affected by human activity but human produced CO2 as the primary driver of climate change. ALL the surveys that obfuscate that are politically motivated hit jobs or utterly incompetent. The political campaign is about green opposition to fossil fuels and modern industrial society.

Reply to  fossilsage
August 9, 2016 10:38 am

Doran & Kendall-Zimmerman asked nonspecific questions. Had I been surveyed, I might have been counted as supporting the so-called consensus. The average surface temperature has risen since the 1800’s; it’s been generally rising since about 1600. Humans do contribute to this in a variety of ways. Is our contribution significant? Maybe.
Cook’s definition of implied endorsement would enable them to classify several of my WUWT posts as having endorsed the so-called consensus.
However, scientific hypotheses and theories aren’t formed by consensus. For AGW to be science, the consensus would be formed on the basis of the scientific method.
“CO2 causes warming”… is not science. It’s a slogan.
This would be science:

A doubling of atmospheric CO2 from 280 to 560 ppmv will cause the bulk temperature of the lower atmosphere to rise by ____ °C.

Once the blank is filled in on the basis of empirical evidence, there could be an actual scientific consensus. So far every number the IPCC has used to fill the blank has been falsified.

August 9, 2016 2:48 am

Bart’s just whack. I once asked him on Tom’s old board how his logic survived graduate school.

August 9, 2016 3:02 am

Isaac Newton’s laws once were certainty, but the man himself wasn’t so certain:
“To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man or even for any one age. ‘Tis much better to do a little with certainty & leave the rest for others that come after you’.”
And then comes Albert Einstein explain some of Newton’s rest, but then he is even less certain:
“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
So you have it.

August 9, 2016 3:49 am

To me, (c)–farnsworths answer, is in rebuttal to politifacts single issue of “consensus”.
The politifact writer didn’t understand that farnsworth views looking at only consensus numbers as cherry picking.

August 9, 2016 4:32 am

Phrenology used to have its own journal. You can read some of the issues that have been digitized on line. A journal or a number of papers in a journal does not make it so. Indeed to paraphrase Einstein, no number of articles in any journal will make it so, but one article can make it not.
Journals reflect the area of interest at a time. The articles in journals reflect what can get funded. The results found in those articles represent what the authors have to get funded in the future.

Reply to  ShrNfr
August 9, 2016 5:55 am

There is no more aggravating portion of the climate debate than the weak-minded argument framed as “consensus”.
Theophilus Painter’s story on chromosome pairs is a modern version of the fallacy of consensus, but scientific history is littered with established science proven wrong. Plate tectonics faced fierce opposition by the consensus (fixists) community.
The speed with which AGW has been “adopted” is prima facia proof that it is not science, because it aggressively avoids true debate which would either validate or discredit the argument.
Consensus = Anti-science, and anyone arguing with statistics on consensus is admitting defeat from the outset. Our current POTUS included.

Kevin M
Reply to  ShrNfr
August 9, 2016 6:02 am

Do you believe the authors of climate papers doubt their conclusions?
Furthermore do you believe a majority of phrenologists doubted their conclusions?
I present Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich as a counterpoint.

Kevin M
August 9, 2016 5:53 am

I’m guessing Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University has been exposed as fraudulent by some other organization that has been exposed as fraudulent. If you argue otherwise, you’re hopelessly biased.

August 9, 2016 5:54 am

The link – Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University ( ) gets a 404. Do you have a more up to date link?

Reply to  philjourdan
August 9, 2016 8:56 am

Thanks for catching that! Here’s the new link:

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
August 9, 2016 9:09 am

Thank you. I often make the mistake of changing the URL top domain when copying EDUs as well. Thank you for the link.

August 9, 2016 6:02 am


August 9, 2016 6:14 am

“When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?” and “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”
The first question is, generally, quite general 🙂 and surprisingly did not get a 100% “generally risen” response. Even with the dubiously ever-altering surface measurements, why wouldn’t one think that the mean global temperatures are higher than they were pre-1800’s?
The second question is very bothersome since it leaves the interpretation of the word “significant” up to the respondent. As a layman, I would say “no”, but from a scientist who accepts even 5% contribution as “significant”, I would expect a “yes”. Also, “human activity” is pretty much all encompassing. Our annual plantings and harvesting across the globe surely has some effect, for example. Whether the effect of the “changing mean global temperatures” is one of cooling or warming is also not a concern for the “bottom line 97% consensus” of the survey, but it certainly would be a consideration of any true “climate scientist” when answering the question.
Just some ramblings…

Reply to  JohnWho
August 9, 2016 8:21 am

I would answer that the planet has warmed since the depths of the LIA, ie around the turn of the 17th-18th century, but that any human component is undetectable. However it has been in a long-term cooling trend for 3000 to 5000 years.
Most of the warming since c. 1700 occurred in cycles before the rapid rise in CO2 after WWII. The first cycle of over 30 years after WWII was pronounced cooling, despite the increase in CO2. Then there was a slight warming cycle of around 20 years, followed by the present flat period. The late 20th century warming was indistinguishable from the early 20th century warm cycle. So where is the human fingerprint?

Reply to  JohnWho
August 9, 2016 9:08 am

“When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?” and “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”
I would like to see the survey conducted again but instead of asking “do you think”, it should ask “do you have evidence that-“.
Then see what the results are.

Flyover Bob
August 9, 2016 6:15 am

I believe it was Clarence Darrow who said if the facts are with you use the facts if the facts are against you pound the table. Opinion polling in science is pounding the table.

Reply to  Flyover Bob
August 9, 2016 8:54 am

I believe it was more like this:
If the facts are with you, use the facts.
If the law is with you, use the law.
If both the facts and the law are against you, pound the table.

August 9, 2016 6:16 am

What is PBL report?

Reply to  aveollila
August 9, 2016 8:58 am

Thanks for catching that. It should have had a link to the post that this (& politifact) discuss.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
August 9, 2016 9:14 am

It looks like that PBL means = PBL Netherlands Climate Assessment Agency, which carried out a Climate Science Survey, published 10 April 2015. It seems to be much better planned and executed than that of Cook et al.

August 9, 2016 6:22 am

…looked for studies that “implied that humans were causing global warming”…
IOW, looked for studies that were funded that met the criteria for being funding.

Gary Pearse
August 9, 2016 6:41 am

Larry, you and so many others (Richard Tol comes to mind) miss the the real trick that has been played on you by actually quite untalented protagonists. It’s this: they have you arguing a worthless metric in science – consensus. You are legitimizing, to their delight, a sleight of hand that they constructed to divert attention away from their crumbling scientific arguments. They did it to play to useful idiots, because the goal is to baffle a majority into delivering us all into a new world order run by “elites”, but, it appears, ended up ensnaring people I thought more subtle.
I’ve noted in other of your offerings that you believe the whole thing is a debate to decide scientific truth and that the winner will be the most cunning “side”. No Larry, you’ve been had. Inwardly, they are delighted with your 57%,too. You are “usefully” clogging up the picture.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 9, 2016 8:28 am

True-but but not unworthy of refutation as it might sow the seed of doubt that will grow to understanding the falsehood of the CAGW hypothesis.
Maybe the reader will see Muray Salby’s demonstration that the fossil fuel induced portion of warming can’t exceed 3% of the mild warming we have experienced.(No Tricks Zone, Aug.7,2016)
Maybe the reader will discover Peter Frank’s presentation on model uncertainty and error propagation.(
The truth will be seen eventually but, for those seeking it , any obvious point of departure from it can spark the desire to to get to it sooner. I for one was befuddled by the concept of global temperature that was reported daily.Now after about ten years I have a better understanding of the controversy as well as the physics of global warming.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 9, 2016 8:56 am

I can’t tell you the number of people who I’ve debated on this subject, who reject any information that put forth with the mantra.
97% of scientists agree, therefore you must be lying. They don’t even bother to check anything I present because they already have been told what the truth is.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 9, 2016 12:16 pm

But in choosing to promote a 97% consensus figure, they have demonstrated, not just their lack of scientific credentials, but their tenuous connection with reality. (That’s essentially what I was getting at in an earlier WUWT post on this consensus business.) So this is worth focusing on. Given that, then to begin with, one needs to show that the figure is wrong. But that should only be the first step.
In general, there are implications to these various facets, such as the “consensus”, or the “ExxonKnew” campaign, or the behavior of Gergis defending her bogus analysis (which reminds me of an eel caught on a fishing line) that should be delved into more deeply.

August 9, 2016 7:00 am

I’m just nobody, but I seem to remember the “97% threshold” as being the high bar for scientific/medical experiments that gave one the right to claim that variable “A” CAUSED an observed and described reaction in dependent variable “B”. It was the strength of this countable/quantifiable correlation between the variables in an observable relationship in a replicable experiment/study that made the “97%” significant, but only in this precise way. Climate activists have stolen the “97%” and misapplied it to an opinion poll because it sounds “sci-ency” it gives them a phony aura of credibility and respect to cloak their base conjectures and speculations. “Really, really, sure!” …just doesn’t have the same cache’ as the vaunted “97%” does it?

August 9, 2016 7:06 am

Reblogged this on The Climate Realist's Resource and commented:
This is an excellent essay posted on (and reblogged on WattsUpWithThat), which is an excellent site with an excellent, balanced view on climate change. They have a good archive of posts on climate there, if the reader is interested. It has a great summary of the supposed 97% consensus on climate change, and I thought it so good that I should share it with you.

Steve Fraser
August 9, 2016 7:13 am

On re-reading the first question, it, too, is ambiguously worded. What does ‘pre-1800s levels’ mean? What specific time periods or years are meant? Are we talking about the entire Holoscene, or back to the multiple, very long glaciations, or just the 1700s?

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Steve Fraser
August 9, 2016 8:15 am

That was the main problem with the Dorian and Zimmerman paper. It was an opinion poll with poorly framed questions. Respondents were asked if human activity was a ‘significant’ factor in climate change without defining what was meant by ‘significant’. You could answer the question any which way you wanted depending on what you thought ‘significant’ meant. Result, poll was total BS.

August 9, 2016 7:20 am

“Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it…”
— Jonathan Swift in 1710”
I love that quote. It describes how the Leftwing News Media operates today. They throw out a falsehood such as the “97 percent consensus”, and then the truth comes limping after it.
This works quite well for the political Left since they can throw out all sorts of falsehoods about their political opponents during an election, like the one about Trump kicking a noisy baby out of his political rally (Trump hates babies, is the implication by the Left), and by the time the truth catches up, the election is over. The Left likes it like that, and takes full advantage.

Reply to  TA
August 9, 2016 2:08 pm

IPCC SPM “flies in”.
The news media never reports the actual results which “limp in” later.

August 9, 2016 7:31 am

There is plain and simply no way to quantify how much warming has been natural, and how much is anthropogenic. We all are entitled to a guess, but to claim we know is “anti-science”.

August 9, 2016 7:34 am

I still don’t know where you get such large numbers from. The Cook et al survey found that only 0.5% of abstracts claimed that man was mainly responsible. The other 99.5% did not.
On closer examination of that 0.5% it was discovered that a few had been misinterpreted and the real total was only 0.3% The data can be viewed for yourself at:
You could also just read Legates et al (2013):

Marlo Lewis
August 9, 2016 7:55 am

Larry, one number in your July post appears to be incorrect. You say only 64% of respondents in the PBL survey agree with the IPCC that over half the warming since 1950 is anthropogenic. The actual number is 65.9%. According to the survey (Figure 1a.1): 17.1% of respondents think GHGs are responsible for more than all observed warming (i.e., the Earth would be even warmer but for aerosol cooling); 32.2% think GHGs are responsible for 76-100% of observed warming); and 16.6% think GHGs responsible for 51-75% of observed warming. 17.1 + 32.2 + 16.6 = 65.9.

August 9, 2016 8:12 am

The IPCC’s “work” is also political propaganda, exaggeration and misrepresentation for starters.

August 9, 2016 8:31 am

the earthlings are doomed !
Using Earth climate models (?!) team of researchers from NASA, Uppsala and Columbia universities have created several simulations of conditions on Venus billions of years ago and have found some instances that suggest the planet may at one time have been capable of harbouring life.

Reply to  vukcevic
August 9, 2016 9:09 am

Seems improbable that Venus was so different just 715 million years ago, but I suppose not impossible.
However, if life ever did develop on Venus or arrive there from space, some astrobiologists have hypothesized, not without evidence, that it still might exist in the Venusian atmosphere:

August 9, 2016 8:48 am

Part of the problem with CAGW was that while many people could see the cost to themselves of anti-CAGW measures, few people could see any cost to themselves from global warming itself.
This it was hard to get people to rally behind a cause that was going to cost them a lot, but not benefit them for decades/centuries/ever.
Unfortunately, for many of the other scams that people are falling for, the benefit is immediate (free stuff) the cost is either far down the road, or borne by someone else.

August 9, 2016 8:56 am

Among those who agree with the consensus there is broad consensus that the consensus view represents a true consensus.

August 9, 2016 9:24 am

The D/Z survey article is now freely available:
Their results for those not cherry picked down to 79 “specialist” respondents from the 10,257 earth scientists to whom the survey was sent and 3146 who replied are seldom reported.

Reply to  Gabro
August 9, 2016 9:27 am

“The two areas of expertise in the survey with the smallest percentage of participants answering yes to question 2 were economic geology with 47% (48 of 103) and meteorology with 64% (23 of 36).”
“1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
“2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing
mean global temperatures?”

Reply to  Gabro
August 9, 2016 10:41 am

1. Generally risen.
2. How do you define “significant contributing factor”?

Reply to  Gabro
August 9, 2016 10:47 am

I, like you, would have answered Yes to No. 1.
Also agree that D&Z should have been more specific in No. 2. Can only speculate as to their motives for not being more scientific.
IMO the evidence supports local human effects on temperature and other climatic parameters, but there is little actual observation to support a statistically significant global effect.
All the evidence is against the assertion that more than half of whatever warming has actually been observed since, say, 1945, has been caused by human activity. Before the clean air acts, our (possibly measurable) net effect was probably cooling.

August 9, 2016 10:48 am

“difference between 90% and 95% confidence levels. The referees of most of the world’s scientific journals disagree.”
Yeah, don’t forget that we are talking more about (pseudo) poker odds here, no p-value in sight.

Just some guy
August 9, 2016 12:22 pm

wuwt: please do continue writing articles exposing the propaganda of Politifact! They are the worst kind of menace on the Internet. Claiming to be some kind of beacon of truth, when they are, in fact, just another mouthpiece for liberal shills. Thier “fact-checking” involves just emailing a liberal source with a question and presenting the answer received as “fact”. Btw some of the above referenced emails can be found in the last wikileaks batch of dnc emails.

August 9, 2016 1:11 pm

Change the question to:
Do you believe man’s use of fossil fuels will destroy the world or improve life on earth?

William Everett
August 9, 2016 2:42 pm

If human use of fossil fuels is a cause of global warming and that use is continuous then why isn’t global warming continuous?

August 10, 2016 7:06 am
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