Jeff Judson debunks anothr 97% consensus claim

In the San Antonio Express our ally Jeff Judson provides a response to the concsensus agit prop on climate.

Judson and I go back a ways to when he was Founder and Pres of Texas Public Policy Foundation.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/Consensus-on-climate-change-causes-a-myth-6295631.php

SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Climate change ‘consensus’ a myth

by Jeff Judson

Your May 15 editorial “Don’t slash NASA’s earth science research” unfairly smears Rep. Lamar Smith and others who have honestly examined the hypotheses of climate change. The scientific method requires such examination. Unfortunately, the debate has been politicized by people who wish to end all dissension and rational analysis of the facts.

Two key messages used to marginalize scientists who question the climate change hypothesis are to label them “deniers” and to repeat the false claim that 97 percent of scientists agree humans are causing a climate crisis.

On June 11, Rep. Smith will be among scores of scientists and policy experts at the 10th International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, D.C. Participants will not “deny” the Earth’s climate is changing or that human activity could be playing some role. They will examine the hypothesis that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are the primary or a major cause of global warming.

The “97 percent consensus” myth would have us believe that anyone who questions man-made climate change is a wacko bird. NASA continues to cite long-debunked studies to perpetuate this falsehood. The online version of your editorial linked to a Web page at NASA listing four sources to prove the claim. The first cited a study by Australia-based blogger John Cook, who crowdsourced a review of abstracts of 11,944 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals from 1991 to 2011. His supposed scientific finding: 97 percent of papers endorsed the conclusion humans were causing a climate crisis.

Crowdsourcing abstracts is shoddy methodology. University of Delaware professor David R. Legates and three co-authors debunked Cook’s study in August 2013 in the peer-reviewed journal Science and Education. It turns out that just 4,014 of the papers expressed any opinion on human causes of climate change, and only 41 of those “had been found to endorse” man-caused, catastrophic global warming. This consensus is 0.3 percent.

The second NASA citation is from a 2010 study by college student William R. Love Anderegg, who claimed to find “97–98 percent of climate researchers most actively publishing in the field” endorse the hypothesis of human-caused, catastrophic climate change. But his conclusion is based on the responses of 200 researchers out of tens of thousands in the field, and he didn’t even ask them if global warming was a serious problem.

NASA’s third bit of “proof” cites a 2008 study by Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, then a master’s candidate at the University of Illinois, and her professor, Peter Doran. The shoddy survey asked 3,146 researchers who listed “climate science” as an area of expertise two questions about the Earth’s climate. Only 79 scientists responded, of which 97 percent said “yes.” Thus only 2.5 percent agreed with the man-made climate change “scientific consensus.”

Finally, NASA cites a 2004 Science magazine article by historian Naomi Oreskes. She used an online database to examine 928 abstracts published between 1993 and 2003, and concluded 75 percent endorsed the hypothesis of human-caused, catastrophic climate change. Another researcher, Klaus-Martin Schulte, repeated Oreskes’ methodology searching papers from 2004 to 2007 and found fewer than half endorsed the “consensus,” and only 7 percent did so explicitly.

Before we further depress our economy, cause energy prices to “skyrocket” as President Barack Obama has promised, and lower the standard of living of developing countries that need cheap energy the most, we should allow scientists to have an open and honest discussion about empirical evidence without being labeled a “denier.”

Jeff Judson is a member of the board of directors of The Heartland Institute. Heartland is hosting the 10th International Conference on Climate Change.

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2 responses to “Jeff Judson debunks anothr 97% consensus claim

  1. Jeff Judson didn’t get all the details quite right. He wrote, “NASA’s third bit of “proof” cites a 2008 study by Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, then a master’s candidate at the University of Illinois, and her professor, Peter Doran. The shoddy survey asked 3,146 researchers who listed “climate science” as an area of expertise two questions about the Earth’s climate. Only 79 scientists responded, of which 97 percent said “yes.””

    Actually, Doran & ZImmerman surveyed 10,257 Earth Scientists at academic and government institutions, of whom 3146 responded.

    But even though academic and government institutions are notoriously left of center, he didn’t find the result he was seeking. Only about 3/4 of the respondents gave him the answers he wanted, in spite of the fact that they asked “gimme” questions, designed to elicit the answers which Prof. Doran wanted.

    Doran’s claims were based on the answers to just two questions, both of which were so uncontroversial that even I, and most other climate change skeptics & “lukewarmers,” would answer “yes” to them.

    The first question was:
    1. “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”

    Since the 1700s were the depths of the Little Ice Age, the climate has obviously warmed since then (which has nothing to do with anthropogenic climate change). But, remarkably, only 90% of those surveyed said “risen.”

    Those who answered either “risen” or “fallen” were asked a second question:
    2. “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

    Note that those who answered “remained relatively constant” to the first question weren’t asked the second question.

    Also, note that he did not ask whether human activity is the main factor causing climate change, nor whether it is worrisome. He only asked whether human activity is a “significant contributing factor” to climate change. That encompasses both GHG-driven warming and particulate/aerosol-driven cooling. It could also be understood to include Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects.

    Even a climate skeptic like me would have had to have answered “yes” to that question. But only 82% of those who were asked the 2nd question answered “yes.”

    Since they didn’t report how many people gave “wrong” answers to either question, we can’t tell exactly how many climate skeptics Doran & Zimmerman identified. But if we very reasonably assume that at least 3/4 of those who gave undesired answers to the first question answered that temperatures had “remained relatively constant” (rather than “fallen”), and so were not asked the 2nd question, we can calculate that at least (0.18 + 0.075) / 1.075 = 23.7% of the scientists who responded must have given “skeptical” answers to one or both questions.

    Some “consensus,” eh?

    76% wasn’t the “consensus” Prof. Doran wanted. So, to reach his 97% consensus goal, Prof. Doran discarded all of the responses except 79 specialists in climate science.

    Yes, you read that correctly: 97.5% of those who responded were excluded after their responses were received. Of 3146 responses received, only 79 responses were considered.

    Note: Asking only the most narrow specialists in climate science about the climate scare is like asking only homeopaths about the efficacy of homeopathy, or asking only Baptists about baptism by immersion: it’s exactly the wrong people to ask, because they’re the least impartial.

    But Doran still didn’t get the answer he wanted. 76 of the 79 (96.2%) answered “risen” to the first question: “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”

    Close, but no cigar. Even that wasn’t quite sufficient to reach the magic “97%.” So to reach that threshold on the 2nd question, he excluded two respondents (out of 79) who gave “wrong” answers to the first question.

    You see, two of the 79 apparently answered “remained relatively constant” to the first question, so they were not asked the second question. That’s fine: they had already identified themselves as skeptics, obviously, and it makes no sense to ask someone what caused a change that you’ve just said didn’t occur. But Doran should have counted them among the skeptics, and didn’t.

    75 of the remaining 77 (97.4%) answered “yes” to the second question: “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” That’s where the “97%” number comes from, for which Doran is widely cited as the source. But it is wrong.

    Actually, only 74 or 75 of 79 answered both “risen” to the first question and “yes” to the second question. That’s 93.7% or 94.9%, not 97%.

    And that’s in spite of the fact (3146-79) / 3146 = 97.5% of the respondents were excluded after the responses were received, and in spite of the fact that neither of the two questions actually addressed anthropogenic global warming!

    It is unfortunate that they didn’t ask an actual question about Anthropogenic Global Warming. They should have asked something like, “Do you believe that emissions of CO2 from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, are causing dangerous increases in global average temperatures?” or (paraphrasing a politician) “Do you believe that climate change is real, man-made and dangerous?” But if they’d asked a question like that, they’d not have gotten the answer that Doran wanted.

    Ref: http://www.sealevel.info/97pct/#doran

  2. dave,

    thanks for your in depth and cogent discussion.

    So why should i leave it in the obscurity of the comments section of my little entry.

    Could i put it up as a post with attribution?

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