Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Climate Consensus, Part II: Falsity [UPDATED]

Claim: The majority of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles about Global Climate Change explicitly accept the "consensus" view, that the earth has been warming at an unnaturally rapid pace, that human activity is a significant contributor to this, and that it will have devastating effects on mankind and the environment if not stopped.

Status: False (but irrelevant).

Origin: Science apparently presented the first empirical evidence in support of a unanimous consensus on the major issues of Global Warming:
...That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change" (9).

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

-Naomi Oreskes, BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change
That's pretty convincing. But there are problems with Naomi's study. And the good news is that even you can duplicate the study that undermines it:
Oreskes claims to have analysed 928 abstracts she found listed on the ISI database using the keywords "climate change". However, a search on the ISI database using the keywords "climate change" for the years 1993 - 2003 reveals that almost 12,000 papers were published during the decade in question (2). What happened to the countless research papers that show that global temperatures were similar or even higher during the Holocene Climate Optimum and the Medieval Warm Period when atmospheric CO2 levels were much lower than today; that solar variability is a key driver of recent climate change, and that climate modeling is highly uncertain?

These objections were put to Oreskes by science writer David Appell. On 15 December 2004, she admitted that there was indeed a serious mistake in her Science essay. According to Oreskes, her study was not based on the keywords "climate change," but on "global climate change" (3)...

Since the results looked questionable, I decided to replicate the Oreskes study.


I analysed all abstracts listed on the ISI databank for 1993 to 2003 using the same keywords ("global climate change") as the Oreskes study. Of the 1247 documents listed, only 1117 included abstracts (130 listed only titles, author(s)' details and keywords). The 1117 abstracts analysed were divided into the same six categories used by Oreskes (#1-6), plus two categories which I added (# 7, 8):...

7. natural factors of global climate change
8. unrelated to the question of recent global climate change


The results of my analysis contradict Oreskes' findings and essentially falsify her study:

Of all 1117 abstracts, only 13 (or 1%) explicitly endorse the 'consensus view'...

This is not to deny that there is a majority of publications that, although they do not empirically test or confirm the view of anthropogenic climate change, go along with it by applying models based on its basic assumptions. Yet, it is beyond doubt that a sound and unbiased analysis of the full ISI databank will find hundreds of papers (many of which were written by the world's leading experts in the field) that have raised serious reservations and outright rejection of the concept of a "scientific consensus on climate change". The truth is, that there is no such thing!

- Dr. Benny Peiser The letter Science Magazine refused to publish
Hence the importance of peer review in the first place, I guess.

Dr. Peiser's personal webpage can be found here.

Fair enough. You might think. But I am sure that the few, proud leading climate physicists are convinced of the major claims of Global Warming. Au contraire. Let's examine two case studies: Claude Allegre and Richard Lindzen.

Here's the deal with Allegre:
Claude Allegre, a former government official and an active member of France’s Socialist Party, wrote an editorial on September 21, 2006 in the French newspaper L'Express titled “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” (For English Translation, click here) detailing his newfound skepticism about manmade global warming (click here). Allegre wrote that the “cause of climate change remains unknown” and pointed out that Kilimanjaro is not losing snow due to global warming, but to local land use and precipitation changes. Allegre also pointed out that studies show that Antarctic snowfall rate has been stable over the past 30 years and the continent is actually gaining ice...

- U. S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Richard Lindzen is a climate physicist at MIT, and has been studying climate for over 40 years. He even wrote one of the chapters in one of the IPCC's very own reports. While concurring with a lot of the claims of Global Warming theorists, such as that the earth has been warming, and human generated carbon dioxide has been increasing in the atmosphere,
he parts company with the IPCC [regarding] the extent to which this increasing concentration can cause warming, or in other words, how much man is influencing the climate.
Regarding the IPCC report itself, Lindzen
does believe that this was well carried out and resulted in statements that were couched in suitably uncertain terms. However, he objects to the way that this document was then used to prepare the summary for policy makers, a process that involved people from government, industry and environmental organizations as well as scientists. If that was not bad enough, he says, the summary for policy makers was then further stripped down by the press, eager for a good story, and politicians, keen to play up the significance of the report as much as possible in order, as he says, to "co-opt the authority of scientists".

Lindzen, however, reserves his greatest wrath for scientists who are not climate-research specialists but who, as he sees it, try to exploit their authority in the climate-change debate. For these people, he says, there is a "special place in hell".

- Edwin Cartlidge, A climate of alarm.
Why do they do it then? Why do reporters and politicians continuously claim that there is an overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the major issues of Global Warming? If I were trying to convict the media of murder, I would need to sell the you on a motive.

I don't want to demonize those who disagree with me.

Instead I will say that in light of the evidence, the necessity for the media to sell the jury on an alibi should be much more pressing.


  1. For further reading:

    Peiser's study wasn't the only one censored: click here.

    Peiser answers his critics: click here.

    When 538 respondents across 30 countries were asked to rate their agreement with the statement "climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes" from 1 to 7 (7 meaning "strongly disagree"), the mean average rating was 3.62 according to figure 30 of this report: click here.

    The writers of the above survey answer their critics: click here.

    A surprisingly growing number of verified scientists in climate-related fields signed the following declaration "...we consider the scientific basis of the 1992 Global Climate Treaty to be flawed and its goal to be unrealistic. The policies to implement the Treaty are, as of now, based solely on unproven scientific theories, imperfect computer models -- and the unsupported assumption that catastrophic global warming follows from an increase in greenhouse gases, requiring immediate action. We do not agree. We believe that the dire predictions of a future warming have not been validated by the historic climate record, which appears to be dominated by natural fluctuations, showing both warming and cooling...": click here.

    Over 19,000 unique verified scientists from American alone signed a similar statement more recently, saying "...there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate...": click here.

  2. Even further reading:

    You can find some information on scientists who oppose the "mainstream scientific consensus" on Global Climate Change on Wikipedia, even: click here.


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