Climate scientists: The 97 percent claim
A Layman’s Review
The climate debate will be in and out of the news frequently now that the U.S. has withdrawn from the Paris Accord. I very much sympathize with the sincere efforts being made to make good choices affecting our weather and environment. One of the biggest sales tools relied on by climate change activists relates to the familiar “97 percent consensus” argument. And it’s my opinion that same argument is a very weak link in the cause, and a major reason for skeptics to doubt the claims. The sources of the statistics are almost universally terribly flawed.
Here’s a simplified statement of the claim: “97 percent of scientist agree that the globe is warming and that humans are the major factor.” What’s the origin of the statistic? Neither the United Nations IPCC, nor the mainstream climate scientists confidently predict catastrophic results. In fact, one IPCC report states that dependable long-term climate predictions are difficult or impossible.
Careful examination seems to indicate this claim didn’t originate in the scientific community. It originates in several studies performed by climate “activists” who have released the results of isolated research. These reports were picked up by the media, environmentalists, and politicians. The “97 percent consensus” was pounded into our consciousness, and potentially flawed research soon became accepted as fact. Consider just two examples:
• In 2008, University of Illinois researchers surveyed 10,257 recognized earth scientists—only 3,146 responded.
• The researchers used ONLY 79 responses—subjectively excluding non-pier reviewed scientists as well as others, apparently even meteorologists.
• 97 percent of those 79 were subjectively declared to be in agreement with the alarmists. But the survey question only asked if they thought humans were a significant factor, not the major factor.
• The most significant knock on this research is that 98 percent of the recognized scientists who responded were ignored.
A similar proclamation from the University of Queensland, Australia:
• Almost 12,000 climate articles were examined.
• Of the abstracts expressing an opinion, 97.1 percent were claimed to endorse the “consensus.”
• However, only about 2 percent (some reviewers claim fewer) of the 12,000 articles expressed support that humans caused most of the warming since 1950.
• The 97.1 percent included skeptics who agree that humans cause some warming, but aren’t the major cause.
• At least 98 percent of the sample did not clearly express an opinion that humans are the biggest climate offender.
A 2014 study was done by Professor Linda Prokopy of Purdue University. She surveyed agricultural sector scientists, including climatologists. Only about 50.4 percent of those surveyed contended that humans were the largest cause for climate changes. While this research was also isolated, and certainly not definitive, it does detract from the less disciplined studies discussed earlier.
There are many legitimate scientists who disagree with the alarmists. Approximately 31,000 American scientists in climate and earth science disciplines signed a statement stating that there is “no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide . . . is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change” aggregated “thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that do not support” the catastrophic predictions.
Many talented scientists believe in an aggressive interpretation of predictive climate change models. And a whole bunch suggest a more patient approach. It’s easy to understand why some believe the science is not currently “settled.” And that’s really the essence of my choice to be a “skeptic.”