Guest post by David Middleton
OK… My “burned at the stake” comment was mostly sarcastic hyperbole… But the author of this CSM article really deserves a heaping dose of sarcastic hyperbole.
SCIENCE FIRST LOOK
How climate skeptics are trying to influence 200,000 science teachers
The Heartland Institute has mailed tens of thousands of public school teachers a book titled ‘Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,’ and has plans to mail copies to all 200,000 K-12 science teachers in the United States.
MARCH 30, 2017 —If you’re a public school science teacher, you’ve got mail. Or if it hasn’t arrived yet, it’s on the way.
The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank promoting public policy based on individual liberty, limited government, and free markets, has mailed 25,000 copies of its book “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” and an accompanying explanatory DVD to science teachers across the United States. It plans to continue the campaign until all 200,000 K-12 science teachers in the country have a copy.
As the title hints, the organization hopes to convince science teachers that the science of global warming has yet to be settled.
For the record, of the nearly 70,000 peer-reviewed articles on global warming published in 2013 and 2014, four authors rejected the idea that humans are the main drivers of climate change. The atmospheric carbon concentration is 44 percent higher than it was in pre-industrial times (and rising), and 2016 was the planet’s hottest year ever, breaking the previous record holders 2015 and 2014.
Assuming, Mr. Wood was citing the thoroughly debunked Cook et al., 2013, I clicked the “four authors” link and it led me to this psychobabble:
My first question was, “WTF is the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society? As a geologist, I get the connection between science and technology, but the addition of “society” to science makes me think of the “kiddie” science courses for non-science majors. So, I clicked the “About” link on the BSTS webpage and I was not disappointed:
The Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society provides communication within as wide of a spectrum of the STS community as possible, including faculty and students from sciences, engineering, the humanities, education, and behavioral and social sciences in the newly emerging groups on university and college campuses, and in high school systems, all of which teach integrative STS subject matters. It includes professionals in government, industry and universities, ranging from philosophers and historians of science to social scientists concerned with how science and technology affect the study and policy-making of their own craft. Yet a third category of readers represents “society”: journalists addressing the impacts of science and technology, public interest groups and the attentive public.
Material prepared for the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society can include original research articles or reflection on STS topics. We emphasize articles of general interest to those in STS fields, which can be used at different educational levels. Subjects include but are not limited to:
- The place of science and technology in societies
- Technology, science and policy
- Technology assessment
- Impact of technology upon human values and religious insights
- The public understanding of technology and science
- Professional Activities of individuals who are active in STS
- Letters to the editor and responses of earlier printed articles
- Book reviews, especially of core STS books
For general inquiries contact the editor, Jeffry Will, at email@example.com.
Theoretically, BSTS is a peer-reviewed journal… So, I returned to Mr. Powell’s “paper.”
Does the consensus among scientists on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) matter to society? President Obama evidently believes it does: In May 2013, he tweeted, “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous.” In contrast, Senator Ted Cruz, chairing a meeting of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness in December 2015, dismissed the significance of the consensus by saying that, “In the year 1615 if you asked scientists, 97% of them would say the sun rotated around the Earth” (Atkin, 2015).
Though scientists in the 17th century did not practice the scientific method and believed any number of things that today we know to be false, Senator Cruz’s remark did contain a kernel of truth. Scientists have been wrong before, so how can we assess whether they are right today about AGW? Given the threat that global warming poses to future generations, possibly even to civilization itself, this is a vital question.
The claim of a 97% consensus derives from several peer-reviewed studies, but primarily from an article by Cook et al. (2013). If the claim were true, then since no climate scientist today could be without an opinion, 3% would reject AGW. Senator Cruz’s kernel of truth arises because even such a seemingly small percentage could weaken the case for action to prevent global warming. After all, were the majority always right, there would have been no scientific revolutions. Three examples from this century make the point. Until the 1960s, a tiny percentage of scientists believed that continents drifted; another tiny percentage that the impact of meteorites, rather than volcanic eruptions, had created lunar craters; and still another that carbon dioxide emissions would cause global warming. In each case, though it took 50 years or more, new evidence finally proved that the small minorities had been right and the majority wrong (Oreskes, 1999; Powell, 2015; Weart, 2008). Overthrow of the ruling paradigm is the way of science, as Thomas Kuhn (1962) asserted more than a 50 years ago.
If 3% of publishing scientists reject AGW, then if one read, say, 100 journal articles, on average 3 would reject the theory. But as I will show below, to find even a single rejection, one must read several thousand articles. Based on the peer-reviewed literature then, the consensus on AGW cannot possibly be as low as 97%. The question is to find a method that can gauge it accurately.
Previous Studies of Consensus
Some studies have attempted to quantify the consensus by simply asking scientists their opinion. Doran and Zimmerman (2009) polled 10,257 geoscientists and received a 30.7% response rate. Overall, 90% of responders agreed that global temperatures have risen, while 82% agreed that the rise is mainly due to human activities. Of those judged most expert in climate science, 96.2% (77 of 79) agreed with the first statement and 97.4% (75 of 77) with the second.
Results and Conclusions
My search found 24,210 articles by 69,406 authors. In my judgment, only five articles rejected AGW: Avakyan (2013a, 2013b), Gervais (2014), Happer (2014), and Hug (2013). These represent a proportion of 1 article in 4,842 or 0.021%. With regard to the authors, 4 reject AGW: 1 in 17,352 or 0.0058%. As explained, I interpret this to mean that 99.99% of publishing scientists accept AGW: virtual unanimity.
So, Mr. Powell recounts the litany of second hand abstract opinion papers, particularly Cook’s cooked consensus and the terminally flawed Doran & Zimmerman survey.
To Cook’s credit, their paper at least had something resembling a rigorous procedure and they provided their ratings of the various papers in their supplemental material section. Mr. Powell simply wrote, “In my judgment, only five articles rejected AGW.” His supplemental material consists of a video.
Cook et al., 2013 actually found more papers that rejected or minimized AGW at some level of qualification than explicitly endorsed and quantified the so-called consensus.
How can someone endorse the claim that more than half of the warming is anthropogenic without a quantification? This is an endorsement: More than half of the warming is due to AGW. Anything less is not an endorsement.
Conversely, one does not need to quantify a rejection or minimization of this claim. This is a rejection: AGW is bunk. This is a minimization: “Emissions of a broad range of greenhouse gases of varying lifetimes contribute to global climate change.” Which is funny because Cook used the same quote as an example of “implicitly endorses but does not quantify or minimize.”
Cook’s two largest endorsement qualifications would include many of my WUWT posts and I categorically do not endorse the so-called consensus.
The largest endorsement group was categorized as “implicitly endorses AGW without minimizing it.” They provided this example of an implied endorsement:
‘…carbon sequestration in soil is important for mitigating global climate change’
Carbon sequestration in soil, lime muds, trees, seawater, marine calcifers and a whole lot of other things have always been important for mitigating a wide range of natural processes. I have no doubt that I have implicitly endorsed the so-called consensus based on this example.
The second largest endorsement group was categorized as “implicitly endorses but does not quantify or minimize.” This is the example Cook provided:
‘Emissions of a broad range of greenhouse gases of varying lifetimes contribute to global climate change’
They do. So what? I agree with the above example, but I do not agree that “emissions of a broad range of greenhouse gases of varying lifetimes” are the primary driver of “global climate change.”
Why do these buffoons consistently resort to totally fictitious claim of a 97-99.99% consensus rather than just cite the recent surveys of the American Meteorological Society? These surveys provide credible evidence that half to two-thirds of atmospheric scientists think that humans have been the cause of at least half of the warming over the past 50-150 years. Why isn’t this sufficient?
It’s not sufficient, because they need this sort of consensus to push their preferred polices:
Unfortunately for Messrs. Wood, Powell and their ilk, the actual surveys of actual scientists do not support the claims of the former occupant of the White House.
The dishonest, underhanded, anti-science tactics of the Warmunists makes it more imperative than ever that groups like the Heartland Institute continue to fight back against the Warmunist propaganda.
This is “controversial” book in question: