How often do you read or hear the claim that a “scientific consensus” exists that global warming is directly affected by mankind’s actions? This influence is called “anthropogenic global warming,” or AGW.
Further, how often do you hear how people who fail to agree with this AGW consensus are “deniers,” akin to someone who believes the Earth is flat.
The informed critics of AGW deniers will cite a scholarly review of the climatology literature that reveals how 97% of the climate science community supports the AGW theory. But, if you read the paper for yourself (it is only six pages long, with some simple graphs), you will see that these critics are lying.
Here is the gist of this influential study:
- The authors led an exhaustive survey of the abstracts to over 10,000 peer-reviewed articles dealing with global climate issues that were published in scientific journals from 1991-2011.
- Each and every article was assigned to one of four distinct groups: three groups that clearly indicated a specific position (supporting AGW, rejecting AGW, or stating that AGW was uncertain), and a fourth group that did not state any opinion on the validity of AGW at all.
- Then they tracked the percentage of all articles that fell into each group during each year.
The study concludes:
Among the papers expressing a position on AGW, an overwhelming percentage (… 97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW.
Focus on that conditional phrase, “among the papers expressing a position on AGW.” On page 3 of this study, a simple time series chart shows that OVER HALF of these articles did NOT express an opinion on AGW at all.
Further, the percentage of these no-opinion climate articles GREW to well over 60% over the period of study. Meanwhile, the percentage of articles that expressly support the AGW theory FELL from around 50% to well below 40%.
This is a far cry from 97%. If less than 40% of all published climate studies explicitly support AGW, does this actually constitute a “consensus view” by the climate science community?
Imagine I survey 10,000 ice cream lovers, but over half of them fail to answer a question about brand preference. If 97% of those who DID answer the question claimed that their favorite brand was Haagen Dazs ice cream, should I conclude that the consensus view among ALL ice cream lovers is that Haagen Dazs ice cream is THE preferred brand?
More importantly, if you were a grocer, would this consensus view convince you to devote 97% of your scarce freezer shelf space to hold only Haagen Dazs ice cream? Or would you be a denier and hold out some shelf space for stocking alternate brands?
I strongly prefer that policy makers consume honest statistical reporting from logical, scientific analysis rather than succumb to effusive and fervent marketing spin when developing our nation’s environmental policies. That should be our national consensus view.