la la la la la. I Can’t Hear you. Deniers Double Down on Denial
April 18, 2016
Yet more studies showing overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change out last week. Deniers won’t hear of it.
In fact, the overwhelming science consensus just proves they were right all along!
“In our view, the fact that so many scientists agree so closely about the [causes of the] earth’s warming is, itself, evidence of a lack of evidence for [human caused] global warming.”
– D. Ryan Brumberg and Matthew Brumberg
This is a truly hilarious statement, that could only have been made by nonscientists. (I haven’t been able to identify these Brumberg chaps, but I’d bet.) That any scientist, even Curry, would agree with it is quite puzzling.
By there logic, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for the existence of atoms or conservation of energy, because there’s a universal consensus on both.
Look: scientists agree about a great deal in science — yes, consensus is everywhere except at the edges where research is taking place — and the sciences that are used to calculate global warming from the many possible physical sources is very well-established science. All scientists agree on the basic laws of quantum mechanics, including the Planck Law (its integral is the Stefan-Boltzmann law), and radiation physics, and the absorption/emission spectrums of the greenhouse gases. As well as the thermodynamics and other physics that go into atmospheric dynamics, which again, are not that complicated and about which there is near-universal agreement.
Given all this, it’s just a matter of analyzing and calculating. The consensus of the underlying sciences doesn’t mean the calculations are easy — they certainly aren’t, especially for the particulars of the carbon cycle. (Not many deniers seem to realize that the radiative transfer parts of global warming science are among the best known parts of the subject, because they are the most amenable to the standard techniques of analytical physics that physicists have been doing for a long time and are very good at.) Calculating climate sensitivity, which decades of successively more thorough calculations find to be ≈ 3°C ± 1.5°C (note: the uncertainty here just represents the range, not the standard deviation or uncertainly limit), is probably the most difficult calculation scientists have ever attempted. The error bars are still bigger than anyone would like — but it may not be able to reduce them much more — but not nearly so big as to justifying ignoring the problem or, given the huge amounts of greenhouse gases we’re emitting, waiting for more information while the world keeps warming about about 0.15-0.2°C/decade, which has been the 30-year trend for over a quarter of a century now.
But scientists certainly haven’t ignored all other potential causes of modern warming besides anthropogenic GHGs — indeed, they’ve looked at them very thoroughly. Because that’s what scientists do and how they operate. It’s simply that the the data on other possible causes (like changers in solar irradiance) simply do not show they can create as much warming as we’re seeing, by a long shot.
And no scientist accepts AGW because there is a “consensus” about it. Again, that’s not how the scientists in the field operate (though, knowing what consensus is and isn’t, scientists in other fields, knowing how science operates, tend to accept as the consensus as what scientists in the field say it is).
The funny thing is, the absolute best way for any scientist today to get noticed, get tenure, and certainly become famous, would be to prove AGW is wrong. There’s a good reason that doesn’t happen — AGW isn’t wrong.
Whoever these Brumberg fellows are, they have a poor understanding of science, including the science of anthropogenic global warming. And their excuse is not just laughable, but desperate.
The warmer it gets, the more nuts are falling out of the trees.
As the new research shows, pushback against the 97 percent figure mostly consists of outright distortion, or the “classic technique” of surveying non-experts in the field.
As I often say, if I had a brain tumor, I would not consult a proctologist, no matter what my wife has told you…
It’s a well-known and widely cited statistic: 97 percent of scientific experts agree that human-caused climate change is real. The consensus has been supported by numerous studies — and yet the idea that the statistic is made up, or wrong, is still a common position among climate doubters and a major tool used to foster public uncertainty about climate change.
Now, researchers have reinforced this finding of a scientific consensus once again in a new paper, published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The paper finds that an overwhelming majority of climate experts agree on the issue, and that — even though the contrarian movement begs to differ — there is no substantial scientific debate about it.
While the consensus has been documented by many studies over the years, the most widely cited is a 2013 paper led by John Cook of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute. The study examined thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers and found that, among those papers that took a position on the causes of climate change, 97.1 percent of them supported the idea that global warming is caused by humans.
Earlier this year, however, University of Sussex professor Richard Tol published a comment criticizing the 2013 study and suggesting that 97 percent may be too high a figure. In his comment, Tol returned to some of the published research on the consensus and re-examined the accompanying data, noting that Cook’s paper did not include studies that took no position on climate change, and that surveys including scientists who don’t study climate tend to have somewhat lower rates of consensus.
After examining the comment, however, Cook and a team of other researchers concluded that these arguments were problematic at best. In their new paper, they re-examined the published literature on the climate consensus, finding that the 97 percent calculation remains a robust and well-supported statistic.
“The biggest flaw [in Tol’s argument] is that he misrepresents many of the other studies on the consensus,” said Cook, lead author on the new paper.
“He tries to argue that our paper is an outlier — is different to all the other studies in their estimates of the expert consensus,” Cook said. “But the way he arrives at the expert consensus is by using groups that include non-experts, which is a classic technique to try to obtain lower estimates of the scientific consensus.”
It’s true that scientists who don’t study climate also don’t accept the scientific consensus as strongly. But this variability is to be expected when non-experts are included, the authors of the new paper explain.
“A significant contributor to variation in consensus estimates is the conflation of general scientific opinion with expert scientific opinion,” they point out. When defining experts as scientists who actually study and publish on climate change — the people who are best qualified to take a position on the subject, in other words — the surveys consistently find consensus rates well above 90 percent.
Below, earlier interviews with John Cook, author of the original “97 percent” paper.