The 97% consensus of climate scientists is only 47%

Summary: In February 2014 I examined surveys of climate scientists and found (as had others) that they showed broad agreement with the IPCC’s headline statement about warming since 1950. However time brings new research, such as a major survey that digs deeper and finds that only a minority of climate scientists agree with the full key statement of AR5 about greenhouse gases — the most recent IPCC report. That’s important news.  Also see the important update below.

The climate consensus
From JoNova’s website.

Update: fame from Politifact!

The good liberals at Politifact did a hit piece on this post, with skilled disinformation provided with the assistance of climate warriors in academia. It’s an interesting story of noble lie corruption, which I describe in

This post produced quite a frenzy among the alarmists. Linda Qiu at Politifact published a bizarre rebuttal, ignoring what I said and replying to things I didn’t say (this is a favorite tactic of alarmists). She recruited professors to do so, because science! For details see Politifact tells us about American politics and science. We should listen.

The Survey: finding the consensus

In March – April 2012 the PBL Netherlands Climate Assessment Agency, with several other scientists, conducted a survey of approximately 6,550 scientists studying climate change. It was published as “Scientists’ Views about Attribution of Global Warming” by Bart Verheggen et al in the 19 Aug 2014 issue of Environmental Science and Technology (peer-reviewed). In April 2015 they published a more detailed report (used in this post).

This survey covered many of the frontiers of climate science. This post examines one the questions about the keynote statement of the IPCC’s most recent work at time of the study — Assessment Report 4 (AR4, published in 2007). {This is a correction from the original post, which looked at the headline statement of AR5, about all forcings}. From AR4’s Summary for Policy-makers:

“Most of the observed increase is global average temperature since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

In 2013 the IPCC published AR5, which repeated this finding  — but on page 884, in Chapter 10 of WGI:  “We conclude, consistent with Hegerl et al. (2007b) {i.e., chapter 9 of AR4}, that more than half of the observed increase in GMST {global mean surface temperature} from 1951 to 2010 is very likely due to the observed anthropogenic increase in GHG {greenhouse gas} concentrations.”

The PBL survey is the first I’ve seen to test agreement with both facets of these statements. First, how much of the global surface warming is caused by anthropogenic (human-caused) emissions of greenhouse gases? (Note AR5 referred to all factors; see “Details” below). Only 1,222 of 1,868 (64% of respondents) agreed with AR5 that the answer was over 50%. If we exclude the 164 (8.8%) “I don’t know” respondents, 72% agree with the IPCC. So far, so good.

PBL survey: question 1a

Now for the second part of the statement: what is the certainty of this finding? That the IPCC gives these answers is one of its great strengths. Of the 1,222 respondents to the PBL survey who said that the anthropogenic contribution was over 50%, 797 (65%) said it was 95%+ certain (which the IPCC defines as “virtually certain” or “extremely likely”).

PBL survey: question 1b

Those 797 respondents are 43% of all 1,868 respondents (47% excluding the “don’t know” group). The PBL survey finds that only a minority (a large minority) of climate scientists agree with the AR4 keynote statement {and the similar finding in AR5’s chapter 10} at the 95% level typically required for science and public policy {Note: the last section added for greater clarity}.

Update: reconciling the PBL survey results with AR4 & AR5

Tom Curtis (attorney) posted a comment at Skeptical Science, that put the PBL survey results in the proper context of AR4 and AR5. Kudos to him for this excellent work!

From AR4’s Summary for Policy-makers: “Most of the observed increase is global average temperature since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” Published in 2007, this reflected the consensus at that time.

In 2013 the IPCC published AR5, which repeated this finding  — but on page 884, in Chapter 10 of WGI:  “We conclude, consistent with Hegerl et al. (2007b) {i.e., chapter 9 of AR4}, that more than half of the observed increase in GMST {global mean surface temperature} from 1951 to 2010 is very likely due to the observed anthropogenic increase in GHG {greenhouse gas} concentrations.”

GHG being, of course the focus of proposed public policy changes to mitigate climate change.

AR5 shifted the headline SPM finding to “extremely likely” about “all anthropogenic forcings”. This was widely but mistakenly reported as an increase in their confidence level about anthropogenic warming. Even some (many?) climate scientists believed that the IPCC had increased its confidence level about anthropogenic forcings from AR4 to AR5 (e.g., this interiew with Prof Judith Curry).

Stand back I'm trying science.


Scientists, like experts of all kinds, often say they “just know” things for which there is uncertain or contradictory research. A massive body of research shows that such opinions are often wrong. That’s why we rely on the power of science to give more reliable answers, and on organizations like the IPCC to help us understand the current state of knowledge about climate change. The IPCC is a political entity, but it is the best we have.

But the challenge of climate change — and the trillions it will cost to mitigate — require a clear view of what’s known, with what degree of certainty. But instead we’ve been told increasingly fanciful tales of what “97% of climate scientists” believe, often things far beyond the most confident statements in the IPCC’s AR5.

This latest survey suggests that even the IPCC might not represent the consensus as accurately as previous surveys research indicated. Only 64% of climate scientists agreed that over half of the warming since 1950 was from anthropogenic factors, and only 65% of those had a confidence level of 95%+ — so that only 43% agree with the full keynote statement of AR5. That’s important by itself, and tells us much about the accuracy of what we read in the news media about climate science.

Many scientists have warned us of this problem.

“The drive to reduce scientific uncertainty in support of precautionary and optimal decision making strategies regarding CO2 mitigation has arguably resulted in unwarranted high confidence in assessments of climate change attribution, sensitivity and projections…”

— “Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster” by Judith Curry (Prof Atmospheric Science, GA Inst Tech), April 2015.

Also: Is there a minority viewpoint or theory in climate science?

The PBL survey shows substantial minority viewpoints in the many specific questions they examine. The study does not look for patterns, to discover if there is one or more “skeptic” theories opposing the consensus — the dominant paradigm, to use Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Criticism sometimes improves theories, but institutions often ignore critics. Either way the critics will likely have only minor effects; the climate’s evolution will resolve these debates.

Kuhn’s work shows that a paradigm cannot be disproved, only replaced (details here). Unless the skeptics form a theory, they’ll remain minor players in the climate science debate. The public policy debate about climate change (they’re distinct, although often conflated) operates more like a court: the defense (take no action) wins if they raise a reasonable doubt about the threat of anthropogenic climate change (this was revised in response to a comment).

Note that preparing for occurrence of past extreme weather would help prepare us, and that should command support from both sides. I suspect it will continue to get support from neither side because politics rules.

For more about the two debates see this by political scientist Don Atkin: “There are two debates about climate change“.


(1)  There are always messy details, so these numbers have to be interpreted broadly. In AR4 the  keynote finding was that over half of the warming was caused by greenhouse gases — with 90% certainty. AR5 said the certainty was 95% for all anthropogenic forcings. This relevant question in the PBL survey referred only to greenhouse gases. The difference gets into some complex matters, explained in the EST paper under “Aerosol Cooling Versus GHG Warming”.

(2)  A report confirming the findings reported here: “97 consensus? No! Global warming math, myths, and social proofs” by the Friends of Science, 17 February 2014. Thoroughly documented; 48 pages long.

(3)  I suspect that the PBL study is a clear case of “p-hacking”, slowly emerging to view as a major problem in modern science. See this from the excellent “Psychology is in crisis” article at VOX.

Take Joseph Hilgard, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. In a recent blog post titled “I was wrong,” he fesses up to adding a shoddy conclusion to the psychological literature (with the help of colleagues) while he was a graduate student at the University of Missouri. “[W]e ran a study, and the study told us nothing was going on,” he writes. “We shook the data a bit more until something slightly more newsworthy fell out of it.”

This a bold and honest move — the type that gives me reasons to be optimistic for the future of the science. He’s confessing to a practice called p-hacking, or the cherry-picking of data after an experiment is run in order to find a significant, publishable result. While this has been commonplace in psychology, researchers are now reckoning with the fact that p-hacks greatly increase the chances that their journals are filled with false positives. It’s p-hacks like the one Hilgard and his colleagues used that gave weight to a theory called ego depletion, the very foundation of which is now being called into question.

The authors of the PBL survey were looking to confirm the results of the AR4 headline statement about GHG (relegated to the footnotes in AR5, replaced by one about  “all anthropogenic forcings”). They found that only 43% of all 1,868 respondents agreed at the 95% confidence level. They buried this result and shifted the emphasis to who agreed with it. Unfortunately their survey was not designed to elicit robust information about this. Exactly as described in the VOX article.

But there was a problem: The experiment found no effects for game violence or for game difficulty. “So what did we do?” Hilgard writes. “We needed some kind of effect to publish, so we reported an exploratory analysis, finding a moderated-mediation model that sounded plausible enough.” They found that if they ran the numbers accounting for a player’s experience level with video games, they could achieve a significant result. This newfound correlation was weak, the data was messy, and it barely touched the threshold of significance. But it was publishable. …

There are a few big problems with this. The biggest is that their experiment was not designed to study experience level as a main effect. If it had, they perhaps would have done a better job of recruiting participants with varying ranges of experience. “Only 25 people out of the sample of 238 met the post-hoc definition of ‘experienced player,'” Hilgard writes. Such a small sample leaves the study with much less statistical power to find a real result.

Postcards from the frontier of science

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see The keys to understanding climate change and My posts about climate change. Also, see these posts about the IPCC…

  1. “Climate Change: what do we know about the IPCC?”, 2
  2. Climate scientists speak to us. What is their consensus opinion?
  3. The IPCC releases its advice on “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”. To be attacked from both sides.
  4. Another disturbing article about climate change. Fortunately we have the IPCC!
  5. Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No!

To help you better understand today’s extreme weather

To learn more about the state of climate change see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr. (Prof of Environmental Studies at U of CO-Boulder, and Director of their Center for Science and Technology Policy Research).

The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

156 thoughts on “The 97% consensus of climate scientists is only 47%”

  1. Thank you for the link to the Verheggen et al. survey. I read the survey, and fully understand both the survey and your take on it.

    I found you after hearing Rick Santorum’s garbled quote of the survey: “About 57% don’t agree with the idea that 95% of the change in the climate is being caused by CO2.” I can see why Senator Santorum was confused by the jonova pie chart.

    1. Aldog,

      In my experience — considerable, after doing this for 8 years — everything this confusing to somebody, because most people look for seconds — then match what they see with their preconceptions.

      It would be interesting to stage something like the Lincoln-Douglas debates today — with modern language and topics. Hours of complex reasoning. Ratings would be near zero after a few minutes. Clickbaits ‘R Us.

  2. So, let me get this straight…
    Rick Santorum was just on Bill Mahr, citing *this* study as saying that the 97% consensus is wrong and that it’s actually 43% consensus on AGW,
    But you are saying that the consensus level among climate scientists is actually 90% rather than 95% that anthropormorphic GHG’s are warming the planet, and that difference is somehow a problem…?

    Like I said, I’m not a scientict, but I get the distinct impression that stuff like this is trying to fool people.

    1. Shoo,

      Use Wikipedia, or Google, or a textbook. 95% is the minimum threshold for statistical significance in most research and public policy analysis.

      There is much evidence that 95% might be too low.

      It is a material difference.

      The “I am not a scientist” gig is too often used by activists on both sides to ignore the science — substituting personal bias.

  3. it’s obvious to me that this study was just for headlines… Do you think your 57% is supported in the scientific literature?

    1. …and by that I mean, 57% of published climate papers think the warming we see is being caused by something other than Human caused GHG’s?

      1. Shodo,

        “57% of published climate papers think the warming we see is being caused by something other than Human caused GHG’s?”

        That is quite wrong, suggesting that read neither the post or the study. Or did so blindfolded. That explains the lack of comprehension shown in your comments.

    2. Shodo,

      “it’s obvious to me that this study was just for headlines”

      This is generally recognized as the best study to date of the consensus in climate science, by an excellent team of scientists. Your comments appear to reflect quite an anti-science attitude.

      Also — these is not “my” 57%. It’s the result of the study. Second, this is the first study evaluating the confidence level of scientists — matching the confidence levels given by the IPCC for its findings.

  4. Pingback: Spreading misinformation, intentional or not | …and Then There's Physics

  5. Shodo,

    Like you, I also get the impression that the headline and the JoNova pie chart is designed to fool people. It certainly fooled Rick Santorum.

    That said, a close reading of the Verheggen et al. survey shows that the JoNova pie chart is accurate, although it does not communicate the main thrust of the Verheggen survey.

    We should notice that John Cook (University of Queensland) is the lead author behind the 97% consensus number and also a co-author on the Verheggen et al. survey which was used to construct the 43% pie chart. Mr. Cook surely would have insight on the 97% vs 43% headline numbers.

    Lies, damn lies, statistics

  6. I’m assuming that we agree that the 97% and 43% headline numbers really should not be compared.

    The pie chart is accurate: only 43% of the Verheggen et al. survey respondents believe with 95% or greater confidence that GHGs contribute to greater than 50% of the observed global warming. The AR4 statement uses the 90% confidence level, but that would increase the respondents agreeing with the AR4 statement to only 48%- but why quibble. Clearly, less than half of the Verheggen et al. respondents agree with the AR4 statement that “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations”.

    Your post is factually correct. The Verheggen survey focuses “on the level of agreement or disagreement regarding attribution of global warming to various anthropogenic and natural causes.”

    However, here is the main thrust that I take away from the Verheggen et al. survey. Cut and pasted from the Abstract.

    “Consistent with other research, we found that, as the level of expertise in climate science grew, so too did the level of agreement on anthropogenic causation. 90% of respondents with more than 10 climate-related peer-reviewed publications (about half of all respondents), explicitly agreed with anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) being the dominant driver of recent global warming.”

    “Respondents who characterized human influence on climate as insignificant, reported having had the most frequent media coverage regarding their views on climate change.”

    Very sorry ’bout the long post. Lincoln-Douglas takes space.

    1. Aldog,

      Yes, that is their secondary finding.

      Unlike their primary finding, it is quite speculative. It depends on small numbers of respondents in the sub-groups examined, questionable metrics of expertise — and the difficulty of dealing with the large number of “don’t know” type of responses.

      For example, number of publications is a crude measure of expertise — and self-reported counts are even less reliable. Publication rates vary among fields. It does not show where they were published. There is a large and growing problem with fringe journals, even with pay-to-play journals.

      Impact scores or H-indexes are actual measures — of one kind — of perceived expertise.

      Also, publication rates do not capture expertise of *practitioners* — something not in the data. They will have lower publication levels. Other surveys show lower agreement with the consensus among meteorologists, hinting at a possible academic-practitioner difference of opinion.

      It is an interesting subject for future research, with better data about expertise.

  7. Oops. I made a math mistake: There were actually 1091 respondents that agree with the AR4 statement at the 90% confidence level. 1091/1868 = 58%.

    Still 58% is much less the 90% or greater consensus typically reported: I guess that’s what happens when you include the opinions of those with less expertise in the survey.

    1. Aldog,

      Since there were no reliable measures of expertise in the survey, you are just making stuff up. Which is characteristic of one of the most incompetent publicity campaigns, ever.

      There are many possible measures of expertise: education, job history, publication impact scores, H indexes, relevant awards, etc. That *none* of these were included in the survey design suggests that “expertise” is just a way to spin unpalatable results from the survey.

      So yell loudly! Perhaps that will convince the public to raise the ranking of climate change among public policy changes — from at or near the bottom.

    2. Aldog,

      Second note: both research and public policy usually require findings at least at the 95% level.

      That you are so excited about findings at the 90% level is just odd. Especially when only 58% of climate scientists polled have agreement at that low level.

      One of the most incompetent publicity campaigns, ever.

  8. The fact that John Cook (University of Queensland) is an author on both the 97% paper and the 43% paper, should give us some pause.

    That Bill Maher and Rick Santorum argued about those numbers without realizing that Mr. Cook was behind both numbers, should give us, perhaps, a wry chuckle.

    1. Aldog,

      Weak an weaker. Having been refuted on facts, you turn to personalities. What’s your next act, astrology?

      “The fact that John Cook (University of Queensland) is an author on both the 97% paper and the 43% paper, should give us some pause.”

      Makes not the slightest difference to the facts and logic of the papers.

      “That Bill Maher and Rick Santorum argued about those numbers without realizing that Mr. Cook was behind both numbers, should give us, perhaps, a wry chuckle.””

      The beliefs of 2 professional clowns has no bearing whatsoever about the truth of their beliefs. They believe in gravity — so do you now doubt the existence of gravity?

  9. Given the fact that John Cook is an author behind both the 97% and 43% headline numbers, how should we account for the difference between the numbers?

    1. Aldog,

      The facts and logic are what they are. The internal psychology of the scientists involved is of no interest to me. Newton believed in alchemy and fundamentalist Christianity. That doesn’t affect my confidence in his theories of optics and gravity, or reliance on calculus.

      The subject is one of great importance to the world, and you’re interested in this People magazine-level of discussion. Sad, really.

    1. Aldog,

      “it’s actually a math question”

      That’s absurd. They survey’s are of different metrics, with radically different methodologies — and vastly different levels of rigor (the 97% paper being a carnival). Apples and oranges. I doubt any meaningful reconciliation is possible.

  10. I feel that I need to apologize for my last post: It sounds way too curt.

    I didn’t mean for it to sound that way- but still, I need to do better.

    1. Aldog,

      Don’t worry about it. Trying to hit the right tone in comments is a high goal, but attainable by few mortals.

      In any case, I believe it was quite wrong — but not objectionable in tone. I’ve seen far far worse among the 40 thousand comments here.

  11. Congratulations on getting a link from the PolitiFact website. Based on your “apples and oranges” comment, I believe we agree that the headline numbers 97% vs 43% really should not be compared. However, I don’t fault you at all for the headline. I fully appreciate that Dog Bites Man sells better than Man Bites Dog. I also agree that the 43% headline number is, in a delicate and choosy way, by ignoring and omitting certain large facts, true. My apology to Saul Bellow for that line.

    There are plenty of true headlines that can be written about the Verheggen et al. paper. For example pulled directly from the Abstract: “As The Level of Expertise in Climate Science Grew, So Too Did the Level of Agreement on Anthropogenic Causation” That’s a boring ho-hum headline.

    Or how about this one pulled from the ourchangingclimate.wordpress site where Bart Verheggen refutes your take on his paper: “PBL survey shows strong scientific consensus that global warming is largely driven by greenhouse gases” again, a ho-hum

    Let’s be a little creative while remaining strictly factual- pulling from the Verheggen et al. paper “Four respondents tagged as AR4 WG1 authors chose the “26–50%” option and, as such, disagreed with AR4’s attribution statement.” There were 174 respondents in the AR4 WG1 group, and 170/174 = 98%- so that yields the true headline: 98% of AR4 Authors Agree that GHGs are the Dominate Driver of Global Warming. That headline is true, but probably not to your liking.

    How about, 33.6% of Climate Scientists Who Believe that GHGs are the Dominate Driver of Global Warming are Virtually Certain of the Fact. That headline seems a little clumsy.

    Or using the first two sentences from the Introduction of the Verheggen paper- “The general public is strongly divided over the question of human causation of climate change.(1) Many believe that climate scientists are equally divided with respect to the same question, in contrast to what several studies(2-5) have found.”

    Plus these two sentences from the Sample Representation section- “By also soliciting responses from signatories of public statements who are not necessarily publishing scientists, it is likely that viewpoints that run counter to the prevailing consensus are somewhat magnified in our results. This is further exacerbated by this group exhibiting a relatively higher response rate (see below).”

    Plus the last sentence from the Abstract- “Respondents who characterized human influence on climate as insignificant, reported having had the most frequent media coverage regarding their views on climate change.” Yields a headline: The Undue Public Attention Given to Less Qualified Climate Experts Confuses Public Perception About the Level of Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

    That’s an awkward headline. Isn’t it?

  12. See… it’s stuff like this that makes me think climate change deniers are trying to trick people.

    Here is Bert Verheggen’s weblog on this very study. This page however uses the same study to find a conclusion NOT held by the study’s author.

    “**A survey among more than 1800 climate scientists confirms that there is widespread agreement that global warming is predominantly caused by human greenhouse gases.
    **This consensus strengthens with increased expertise, as defined by the number of self-reported articles in the peer-reviewed literature.
    **The main attribution statement in IPCC AR4 may lead to an underestimate of the greenhouse gas contribution to warming, because it implicitly includes the lesser known masking effect of cooling aerosols.
    **Self-reported media exposure is higher for those who are skeptical of a significant human influence on climate.”

    You should be ashamed of yourselves.

    1. Shodo,

      That’s quite a set of ideological blinders you wear. You are zero for four.

      • The first point is confirmed by my post.
      • The second is a valid only if “self-reported publications” is a strong measure of expertise. It’s not.
      • The third is outside the scope of my post. It also doesn’t make sense, since a statement explicitly about greenhouse gases obviously does not include the effect of aerosols. The headline statement of AR5 does, since it describes the effect of “all forcings”.
      • The last is also outside the scope of this post.
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  14. Your right, I apologize for my long post.

    The point is that the numbers can be played with to write many factually true headlines. For example using the same methods you used on the data for Question 1b:

    217 respondents estimated that GHG contribution is less than 50%. Of those (14.3 + 8.3) 22.6% ascribe a level of confidence as Virtually Certain or as Extremely Likely (the 95% level).

    Doing simple math: 217 x 0.226 = 49 people are 95% confident that GHGs are not the dominate driver of warming.

    Divide those 49 by the 1868 respondents gets us to 2.6%

    Rewriting the JoNova pie chart gets us: “Only 3% of climate scientists agree we are 95% sure that man-made CO2 is NOT the dominate driver of climate change”

    1. Aldog,

      Do you just the headlines of newspapers and internet stories? If so, that’s sad.

      As for analysis of headlines, you’d gain as much from counting cracks on sidewalks.

      Headlines are written in both the print and online media to gain attention. They’re that important. Writers’ guides often advise spending half you time on the article, the other half on the headline. Getting attention and representing the level of detail you feel appropriate is for the media in Heaven.

      I look forward to seeing your website. When you break the 100,000 per month mark I’ll critique your headlines.

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  16. It’s not a blindness, when everyone sees through your deception.

    “”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.””

    With all the press, now everyone is going to see how wrong you are.

    1. Shodo,

      These are weird objections, but typical in the politicized world of climate science. That’s why climate science has the low reputation it does, and climate change consistently ranks at the bottom of people’s policy priorities in the US and elsewhere. So rant on! I suspect you are beyond reason, but for other readers I’ll respond…

      (1) The study was one in a long series of studies testing climate scientists’ agreement with the headlines IPCC attribution statements. This, like all the others, found agreement with them.

      (2) “You’re only counting one question in one survey”

      (a) Reading FAIL. I examined two questions.

      (b) The relevance of this question is that the attribution statement is the best-known finding — and it was the subject of many other surveys. That makes it important. Many studies focus on narrow questions like this. It’s daft to consider this a disqualifier.

      (c) “very high confidence level”

      That is a really bizarre, suggesting Farnsworth is targeting his remarks to a scientifically ignorant audience. The difference between the 90% and 95% level is critical. It often means publication or rejection of papers. In public policy it means action or none. In drugs it means no approval, and tens of millions of dollars down the drain. Also, there is a large and growing body of research suggesting that the 95% level is too low a bar for significance.

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    1. Response to Shado’s comment:

      Yes, this is another tribal “2 minute” hate. We have seen and endless stream of these during the past 50 years. Ideologues shout misrepresentations loudly.

      The Left debunks those from the Right. The Right debunks those on the Left. It is a game for fools. Fools ‘r us for playing it.

      Tomorrow’s post goes through the usual boring review of the specific accusations, which are the typical mixture of lies and misrepresentations. It is a wasted effort, since the faithful like Shado believe only what their tribal leaders tell them. Appeal to authority is all that they see. They might be the new Americans of the 21st C.

      My next post puts this little storm in a larger context.

      I will give you a spoiler: the climate change campaign might mark an inflection point in America. It is the largest publicity campaign in America since the anti-Red campaign of the Cold War. Yet it has failed to gain traction with the public.

      This could be one of the rare turning points in US history.

      I doubt this marks an gain in wisdom or vision by Americans. More likely it reflects the price we pay for allowing 70 years of incessant propaganda by our elites: the broad, large decline in our confidence in our institutions.

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  26. General Maximus,

    You son, little Fabius, is sick and needs medicine. There are alternatives, but Dr. Aldog prefers a new drug therapy because it’s way more convenient. But I need to warn you:

    There was a recent survey of 1868 scientists, and only 49 of those scientists (or 3%) believed that it is extremely likely that the new drug causes no harm. On the other hand, 1222 scientists believed that the new drug causes longterm damage. And of the those 1222, 33.6% are virtually certain that there will be negative sequelae.

    Is it OK to treat your son with the new drug?

    Tick-tock, General Maximus. No time to delay now.

    1. Adlog,

      That is an excellent example: drugs. We have an agency to handle such conflicts: the FDA. When Big Drugs Inc submits a drug for approval it must have results significant at the 95% level. If, like the IPCC attribution statement in AR4 and AR5 about greenhouse gases, it is significant only at the 90% level — they almost always say “no”. Passing that test, they examine it’s cost/benefit ratio and side effects.

      Only if if passes those tests do they give approval.

      So you analogy is appropriate – but gives the opposite answer then you believe. But then that’s because you didn’t actually read (or perhaps understand) either the PBL study or my post. No, ignorance is not strength.

  27. Congratulations on the new link from

    But with comments like, “I look forward to seeing your website. When you break the 100,000 per month mark I’ll critique your headlines.”– I’m afraid that you’re giving the game away.

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    1. admrich,

      The expressed aim (and IMO a major contribution) of the PBL study was to survey “a large group of scientists studying various aspects of global warming and climate change (including impacts and mitigation) and who have published in peer-reviewed or, in a few cases, gray literature.” The key part of the study (the first two graphics) tested agreement with the headline statement of the IPCC’s AR4 (also repeated in AR5) about the effect of GHG.

      The authors found less agreement than they anticipated, so they buried the lede, focusing attention on other results.

      When I called them on this, Curtis (at SkS) and Bart Verheggen (at his website) replied with yet another classic trope — the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, say that those with low agreement to the statement tested were not true climate scientists. This was just throwing chaff in the air. The survey did not collect sufficient data to reliably evaluate professional competence of the respondents. I discussed this in detail in the comments, all of which Bart ignored.

      First, your excellent broad survey probably included both practitioners and academics. Publication rates tell us little about the former; finding a division between the 2 would be significant (note for future research). Second, publication rates vary across fields and tell us nothing about their quality or impact (unlike, for example H-indexes). A measure is obviously crude that equally weights someone with many publications in low-rated journals (or pay-to-play publications) with Roger Pielke Sr. (H-index of 84).

      … concluding that the authors of AR5 WG1 support the conclusions of AR5 WG1 shows institutional bias (e.g., selection bias, allegiance). I don’t believe it reliably tells us anything else, and illustrates the peril of this kind of narrowing.

      … complex dicing of the data was necessary to find a definition of climate scientist that produced {your} desired answer. It’s a hazardous exercise, at some point becoming confirmation bias (no true Scotsman believes), especially when done with weak data and no prior definition.

      The authors gave a pitiful demonstration of what climate science has become. Later rebuttals (e.g., by Politifact) to this post were just lies about what I said. It will all work out, eventually. Probably at a large cost to society.

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