Year 4, Month 9, Day 18: That Thesis Has Been Proven Invalid

The Press-Enterprise (CA) editorializes mendaciously:

Taking the temperature of climate scientists provides no useful information about the Earth’s climate. Yet the claim that “97 percent of scientists agree!” has become the anti-carbon-dioxide crowd’s No. 1 argument for why climate action can wait no longer. Those who set policy would do better to follow the facts than succumb to red herrings and peer pressure.

Environmental Research Letters, an electronic journal of environmental science, in May published a paper by two climate bloggers. The paper, by, Dana Nuccitelli and John Cook, purported to “quantify the consensus” on climate change in scientific literature. They reviewed 12,000 published papers and concluded that 97 percent of the abstracts that took a position “endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”

But the “consensus view” into which the survey pigeonholes papers is extremely broad. And given the buzz the paper has generated, the climate czars in Washington should have had a few follow-up questions: “What does this tell us about the role of humans versus natural variability?” “How severe is the phenomenon you identify and what do you recommend that we do about it?” “What data lead you to that conclusion?” And maybe even, “Who are you guys?”

But no. President Obama — or those who fill his Twitter feed — immediately took up the cause, not only accepting the findings uncritically but exaggerating them: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”

It makes me sooooo tired. September 11:

The editorial purporting to demonstrate methodological flaws in a recent study of the consensus among climate scientists is, ironically, far more factually-challenged than the research it tries to criticize. To begin with, the study wasn’t produced by a pair of “bloggers”, but by nine separate authors, all practicing professional scientists. Furthermore, this particular paper was deliberately confined to examining a significant discrepancy between popular perception and scientific opinion on climate change; it is inherent in the nature of such research to tackle one problem at a time.

More significantly, while there are many aspects of climate change which remain still uncertain, human causation isn’t one of them.

In politics and media, pre-existing political orientations often influence “factuality,” as was tragically demonstrated by the buildup to the Iraq war. But science doesn’t work that way: scientific method requires stringent self-correction as a way of getting at the truth. When climatologists all over the planet agree that humans are causing the greenhouse effect, this consensus arises from decades of steady examination and analysis of multiple types of evidence. Widespread agreement doesn’t prove that global warming is anthropogenic; rather, the evidence has created the agreement.

Your column was ill-conceived, irresponsible and without foundation.

Warren Senders

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