(Hat-tip to Heisenberg’s Revenge via ACE OF SPADES) In this updated “Fact Check” video from the Climate Discussion Nexus, Dr. John Robson investigates the unsound origins and fundamental inaccuracy, even dishonesty, of the claim that 97% of scientists, or “the world’s scientists”, or something agree that climate change is man-made, urgent and dangerous.
THE PIPELINE!….Here’s an excerpt, which examines the sleight of hand at the heart of the “97 percent” claim:
In 2009, a pair of researchers at the University of Illinois sent an online survey to over 10,000 Earth scientists asking two simple questions: Do you agree that global temperatures have generally risen since the pre-1800s? and Do you think that human activity is a significant contributing factor? They asked some other questions too, but didn’t report the questions or results in the publication. They didn’t single out greenhouse gases, they didn’t explain what the term “significant” meant, and they didn’t refer to danger or crisis.
So what was the result? Of the 3,146 responses they received, 90 percent said yes to the first question, that global temperatures had risen since the Little Ice Age, and only 82 percent said yes to the second, that human activity was a significant contributing factor. Interestingly, among meteorologists only 64 percent said yes to the second, meaning a third of the experts in the study of weather patterns who replied didn’t think humans play a significant role in global warming, let alone a dominant one. What got the most media attention was that among the 77 respondents who described themselves as climate experts, 75 said yes to the second question. 75 out of 77 is 97 percent.
OK, it didn’t get any media attention that they took 77 out of 3,146 responses. But that’s the key statistical trick. They found a 97 percent consensus among 2 percent of the survey respondents. And even so it was only that there’d been some warming since the 1800s, which virtually nobody denies, and that humans are partly responsible. These experts didn’t say it was dangerous or urgent, because they weren’t asked.
Another survey appeared in 2013, by Australian researcher John Cook and his coauthors, in which they claimed to have examined about 12,000 scientific papers related to climate change, and found that 97 percent endorsed the consensus view that greenhouse gases were at least partly responsible for global warming. This study generated headlines around the world, and it was the one to which Obama’s tweet was referring. But here again, appearances were deceiving.
Two-thirds of the papers that Cook and his colleagues examined expressed no view at all on the consensus. Of the remaining 34 percent, the authors claimed that 33 percent endorsed the consensus. Divide 33 by 34 and you get 97 percent. But this result is essentially meaningless, because they set the bar so low. The survey authors didn’t ask if climate change was dangerous or “manmade.” They only asked if a given paper accepted that humans have some effect on the climate, which as already noted is uncontroversial….
So a far better question would be: How many of the studies claimed that humans have caused most of the observed global warming? And oddly, we do know. Because buried in the authors’ data was the answer: A mere 64 out of nearly 12,000 papers! That’s not 97 percent, it’s one half of one percent. It’s one in 200.
97 Percent of scientists believe in catastrophic human caused climate change? Of course not! But far too many believe this ridiculous statement that defies basic logic and observation. (Can you think of any highly-political issue where you could get even 65% agreement?) The 97% Myth has succeeded in fooling many people because the phony number is repeated over and over again by those who have a financial and/or ideological stake in the outcome. By the way, what any scientist “believes’ doesn’t matter anyway. Science is what happens during rigorous and repeated experimentation.
**Regrettably, a graphic error appears on this video from 1:31 to 1:42. The percentage of climate studies that explicitly claim most of the recent warming is manmade was listed as “.03%” when it should have been “.3%”. The narration says “less than one-percent”, which is accurate. While the graphic is incorrect, the point being made is still completely valid. The “97%” mantra is a wildly inaccurate myth being cynically used to scare an unwary public.