28 May 2014

The Bogus “97% of Climate Scientists Agree” Claim

Climate Change, David Friedman 75 Comments

If you have the temerity to challenge calls for the government to take aggressive action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, you will probably have someone call you a “climate science denier.” You will further be lectured that “97% of climate scientists agree” on this consensus.

But there’s a bait-and-switch going on here, as Joseph Bast and Dr. Roy Spencer explain in the WSJ. Or, you can read David Friedman’s take-down here, which I think spells out the matter very simply.

What’s the source of this bogus stat? Cook et al. (2013) is a paper which claims to do the following:

We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11,944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming…Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research. [Bold added.]

To repeat, there’s a bait-and-switch occurring here. As Friedman spells out in a very straightforward way, all you need to do is actually look at Cook et al.’s own tables in their paper to see that others (including Cook himself in a subsequent paper!) are misrepresenting their findings. Only 1.6% of the surveyed abstracts clearly say that humans are the main cause of global warming. The 97.1% figure includes papers that merely claim that some amount of warming can be attributed to human activities.

Many of the prominent scientists associated with the “denier” label–such as Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, Pat Michaels, and Chip Knappenberger (whom I feature here a lot)–would fit into this “consensus.” You could quite consistently hold the following beliefs:

(A) Human emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases have made the earth warmer than it otherwise would be. (Thus this person would be in the “97.1% consensus.”)

(B) Human activity has had a relatively minor role in the changing temperature/climate since 1750; other factors are far more significant.

(C) Climate change is not a problem worth worrying about. Malnutrition, war, and sanitary drinking water are far more urgent issues for the globe.

(D) Even if climate change poses a potentially serious threat to humans in a few decades, having governments enact certain tax policies today is not at all a suitable solution to this genuine problem.

To repeat, there is nothing contradictory about the above beliefs, and yet anyone holding (B) through (D) would be denounced as denying the “consensus.”

75 Responses to “The Bogus “97% of Climate Scientists Agree” Claim”

  1. Bob Roddis says:

    What else can you expect from Economics Deniers?

    • Matt M -Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      You mean Austrians? Haven’t you heard that 90% of Nobel Winning Economists favor raising the minimum wage????

    • Major-Freedom says:

      Falsehoods and deception plague the environmental sciences because the incomes are mainly a function of state coercion, not voluntarism.

  2. khodge says:

    At least in the case of B and probably C & D, those denying AGW change could also have fit into the 97% who agree.

  3. Steve Horwitz says:


    I made a very similar argument awhile back here: http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/global-warming-is-about-social-science-too

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Thanks Steve.

    • Dyspeptic says:

      Fee.org? Uh Oh. Your not one of those thick humanitarians are you? You should be careful posting in places like this. I’m pretty sure many of the people lurking here are “brutalists”. You wouldn’t want to associate with THEM would you?

      P.S. O.K., I’m at least pretty sure that I am a “brutalist” (but not very thin I’m afraid). You definitely don’t want to be associated with me.

  4. andrew' says:

    It is an interesting case study in public discourse. It should be st died for decades regardless of energy policy.

  5. Cosmo Kramer says:

    It is so sad that they refuse to talk to us without using a dozen straw men.

  6. GabbyD says:

    thats weird. you write: ” Only 1.6% of the surveyed abstracts clearly say that humans are the MAIN cause of global warming. ”

    in the quote you provide: “Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming”

    in one, there is the word MAIN. the second does NOT have the word “MAIN”.


    • guest says:

      Because it is not inconsistent of a Global Warming denier to acknowledge that, yeah, breathing warms the air in front of his face, and therefore SOME warming is caused by man.

    • Richie says:

      You omitted Dr. Murphy’s last sentence:

      “The 97.1% figure includes papers that merely claim that some amount of warming can be attributed to human activities.”

    • Bharat says:

      The fact that the second doesn’t have the word “main” (or at least some word such as “large”) in it is the point, Gabby.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      GabbyD, Bharat nails it. You didn’t just pull a “gotcha” on me, you just confirmed what the whole point is. The people running around saying 97.1% of climate scientists agree that humans are the major or main or primarily responsible for global warming, are either ignorant or lying.

      • GabbyD says:

        no, my point is that the COOK paper does NOT claim humans are the MAIN cause of climate change.

        but i see now that while the original paper didnt claim that, but a response to a criticism did exagerate the claim. ok. thats a good criticism.

        meanwhile, there are OTHER papers that DO MAKE that stronger claim. i posted a name/title on that.

        • Tel says:

          We examined a large sample of the scientific literature on global CC, published over a 21 year period, in order to determine the level of scientific consensus that human activity is very likely causing most of the current GW (anthropogenic global warming, or AGW).

          That’s a quote straight out of Cook’s paper.

          • DesolationJones says:

            You’re not quoting the results and conclusion of the paper. You’re quoting the task the paper set out to find.

            • Tel says:

              I’m quoting the only place where that paper provided a working definition of what is meant by “scientific consensus” on the question of AGW.

  7. JimS says:

    I know many folks do not think much of him, but I saw a show of Degrassse’s where he said we understand scientifically maybe 15% of what is happening on Earth and maybe about 5% of what is going on in space. DeGrasse is a big climate change guy, but if we are only grasping 15%, heck, lets be generous 45% how can you say emphatically that is what is going on. Obviously there is a huge possible margin of error. I watch the local weather forecast change hourly. My sense is if you are struggling with the 24-72 hour forecast I have every reason to question the 10, 25, 100 year forecast. Like Alonzo Bodden says (and shouldn’t comedians be our best source for considering if something is accurate), “Work out that partly sunny partly cloudy thing and then come and talk to me about armageddon.”

  8. GabbyD says:

    From the NASA climate change website: “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities…”

    the sources include:
    ***W. R. L. Anderegg, “Expert Credibility in Climate Change,” , whose abstract states:

    “Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.”

    its not the Cook paper…

      • Harold says:

        No it doesn’t. A survey has been done of papers at that time and only a few projected cooling. Most projected warming. There were only a few tens of papers, compared to the 12,000 in the recent survey. The picture in the 1970’s was nothing like today.

        • guest says:

          From the article:

          And from the National Center for Atmospheric Research:

          A New World Climate Norm?

          Climate Change and its Effect On World Food
          by Walter Orr Roberts
          Aspen Institite for Humanistic Studies, and National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

          In February of 1972 earth-orbiting artificial satellites revealed the existence of a greatly increased area of the snow and ice cover of the north polar cap as compared to all previous years of space age observation.

          The Earth may have entered a new “little ice age”. Perhaps this future period will not be so extreme as that around 1700 AD, but it seems likely, at least, to be a cooler period resembling the hemispheric climatic regimes of the period from 1880-1920.

    • guest says:

      U.N. Official Admits: We Redistribute World’s Wealth by Climate Policy

      (EDENHOFER): First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.

    • EdR says:

      Just a point. “97-98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing” is a fallacy, sometimes known as the fallacy of false criteria. The reason it’s a fallacy of false criteria is that “most actively publishing” is a measure of publishing, not of opinion.

      Since virtually all scientific (academic) journals lean to the left, there are selections for and against submitted research papers on politically leftist bases, rather than on scientific bases. For example, try submitting a paper on differences in intelligence between the races of man to any journal of anthropology.

      Similarly, research papers supporting anthropogenic climate change will be published at a much higher rate or even to the exclusion of those minimizing or refuting it.

  9. laugh says:

    It’s funny how the Koch crowd runs through these talking points. Every blog that endorses Austrian economics is running this discredited argument. It’s one thing to be a libertarian and not want govt to take action. It’s another to deny climate science. How old is the Earth? Did Jesus ride a Stegasore?

    • Richie says:


    • Dyspeptic says:

      “It’s funny how the Koch crowd runs through these talking points”

      Careful there laugher, your tin foil hat is showing. Do you always assume that people you have disagreements with on this issue are part of the “Koch crowd”? Even a casual knowledge of this website would undermine that assumption.

      Quick, go look under your bed and in your closet because a Koch Bros. operative could be hiding there! They have minions everywhere you know. Nothing is safe from their all seeing eyes. Please don’t be alarmed but you’re probably being watched by them RIGHT NOW.

      BWA HA HA HA HA!

      • Harold says:

        According to wikipedia:
        “The Institute for Energy Research has a political arm, the American Energy Alliance, which is responsible for multi-million dollar television advertising campaigns that have attacked energy policy, ideas and positions of the Obama Administration that are contrary to the those held by IER. The American Energy Alliance is run by Thomas (Tom) Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. ”

        Both IER and the American Energy Alliance are partly funded by the Koch Brothers and their donor network, according to Politico’s research, sources – and to reports by Koch-controlled charitable foundations themselves. The American Energy Alliance, as a matter of policy, does not disclose the names of its donors.[12]”

        Greenpeace and sourcewatch also document payments made by Koch before 2007, and suggests they may have picked them up again after 2011.

        I cannot vouch for the reliability of these sources – the Wiki article appears to be unaltered since its creation and there is no discussion in the pages. However, could IER issue a denial that they had never received Koch money? No, because they do not comment on funding. So a tin hat is not required, there is at least good reason to suspect a link with Koch industries.

        I would not usually comment on this, but since Dyspeptic has suggested that anyone who believes it must be wearing a tinfoil hat, it deserves a rebuttal.

          • Ben B says:

            Great link. Thanks.

            • guest says:

              From the article:

              Rothbard’s differences with Crane and Koch went beyond this one political campaign. He thought that Cato’s primary mission should be scholarship rather than political campaigns and attempts to secure audiences with the high and mighty in Washington. His antagonists emphatically disagreed.

              Crane and Koch could not tolerate what they deemed blatant disloyalty. Even though Rothbard was the leading theorist of libertarianism and the Cato Institute had been established to promote his views, they expected him to obey the orders sent down from on high. No one at all acquainted with Rothbard could have reasonably expected him to do so. He was always his own man and would agree with Dante: “Follow your own course, and let the people say what they will.”

              Rothbard was removed from his position at Cato, and he was no longer invited to lecture at the summer conferences of the Institute for Humane Studies, another organization under Koch’s patronage. Rothbard did not go quietly.

              We are nuanced: Hear us out.

    • EdR says:

      No one is denying “climate science,” only its misuse to further leftist control of humanity.

      It also seems incongruous that you should write of “Austrian economics” but not be able to spell “stegosaur.”

      And since the Koch brothers pronounce their name “coke,” I believe it is preferable to run with that crowd rather than with your “coke” crowd.

  10. DesolationJones says:

    uh, shouldn’t the self rated section be the most conclusive part of the paper?

    We emailed 8547 authors an invitation to rate their own papers and received 1200 responses (a 14% response rate). After excluding papers that were not peer-reviewed, not climate-related or had no abstract, 2142 papers received self-ratings from 1189 authors. The self-rated levels of endorsement are shown in table 4. Among self-rated papers that stated a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. Among self-rated papers not expressing a position on AGW in the abstract, 53.8% were self-rated as endorsing the consensus. Among respondents who authored a paper expressing a view on AGW, 96.4% endorsed the consensus.

    • Major-Freedom says:

      Could be that those who responded chose to do so on the basis of their beliefs concerning AGW, in that those who took the time to answer are passionate and proud to say that yes, man is mainly responsible, whereas those who believe otherwise are less passionate about it or too afraid to say what they believe.

      • DesolationJones says:

        Probably isn’t as big of a problem as made out to be.


        “A low response rate can give rise to sampling bias if the nonresponse is unequal among the participants regarding exposure and/or outcome.

        For many years, a survey’s response rate was viewed as an important indicator of survey quality. Many observers presumed that higher response rates assure more accurate survey results (Aday 1996; Babbie 1990; Backstrom and Hursh 1963; Rea and Parker 1997). But because measuring the relation between non-response and the accuracy of a survey statistic is complex and expensive, few rigorously designed studies provided empirical evidence to document the consequences of lower response rates, until recently.

        Such studies have finally been conducted in recent years, and several conclude that the expense of increasing the response rate frequently is not justified given the difference in survey accuracy.

        One early example of a finding was reported by Visser, Krosnick, Marquette and Curtin (1996) who showed that surveys with lower response rates (near 20%) yielded more accurate measurements than did surveys with higher response rates (near 60 or 70%).[2] In another study, Keeter et al. (2006) compared results of a 5-day survey employing the Pew Research Center’s usual methodology (with a 25% response rate) with results from a more rigorous survey conducted over a much longer field period and achieving a higher response rate of 50%. In 77 out of 84 comparisons, the two surveys yielded results that were statistically indistinguishable. Among the items that manifested significant differences across the two surveys, the differences in proportions of people giving a particular answer ranged from 4 percentage points to 8 percentage points.”

      • Harold says:

        On the other hand, the fact that the outcome was about the same for the survey and the self assessment is good evidence that there was no such bias.

        • Major-Freedom says:

          Actually it wouldn’t. The surveys and the self-assessments should not be expected to significantly differ if we stipulate that sampling bias might be present. This is because both are the outcome of what climate scientists are willing to divulge. Both may be dependent on the passion of the climate scientist who chooses to speak out in these particular ways.

          If we assume that a given scientist strongly believes in AGW, due to either what they are convinced the data shows, or due to their philosophical inclinations, then it would not be counter-intuitive that the self-assessments and surveys would be correlated.

          • DesolationJones says:

            No matter how you cut it, 97% is pretty fucking telling even if the margin error was something ridiculous like 30%.

            And just like the marginalized Austrians, you’d think the marginalized AGW deniers would be the most passionate.

            • Major-Freedom says:

              Murphy has already shown than the 97% figure is misleading.

              I don’t think the most passionate are always the most marginalized. It depends on the topic and the strength of the connection to sense of self, fears, love, etc.

            • Major-Freedom says:

              And if sampling bias is present, the height of the percentage is besides the point.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      DJ, but “the consensus” means “Humans contribute to global warming.” Roy Spencer agrees with that claim. He is therefore part of the consensus.

      • DesolationJones says:

        “DJ, but “the consensus” means “Humans contribute to global warming.””

        “Consensus” would not include those that minimize man’s impact like ” Roy Spencer because there’s levels of endorsement specifically for people like him.

      • Harold says:

        See my comment below. In the survey Roy Spence was counted as not in the consensus.

  11. DesolationJones says:

    In the data file, the options are given as this

    1,Explicitly endorses and quantifies AGW as 50+%
    2,Explicitly endorses but does not quantify or minimise
    3,Implicitly endorses AGW without minimising it


    I think the “does not minimize” part implies that they did not include papers that are consistent with your (B), (C), and (D) beliefs.

    • DesolationJones says:

      Okay, reading back your beliefs list, you can definitely hold belief (D) while being part of the “consensus” , but I think that goes outside the scope of what the paper is trying to prove. Maybe the same goes for belief (C).

      You definitely can’t be part of “consensus” while holding belief (B) because it would quite clearly fall under Level of Endorsement 5 and 6. [(5) “Implies humans have had a minimal impact on global warming”, (6) “Explicitly minimizes”]

      I think I can I agree that using the 97.1% figure as proof that it’s most scientist think man is the “main cause” of global warming is not quite correct. But I think Endorsement Levels 2 & 3 at least implies a major impact by man but not necessarily over 50%. (Otherwise it would fall under the uncertain or minimal Levels of endorsement)

    • Tel says:

      The “implicit endorsement” category included papers that made any assumption about warming without ever saying that human activity is responsible.

      However, papers that omitted any such assumption and thus effectively could be considered implicit disagreement (by the same logic as implicit endorsement) were just dropped from the statistics and ignored.

      It’s pretty easy to get a high percentage by including any sample that gives even the slightest hint of what you want to find, and then ignoring those samples that don’t. Global Warming Science at its finest.

      • DesolationJones says:

        Implying and guessing aren’t the same thing.

        Here’s an example of implicit endorsement They did not explicitly say global warming is caused by humans, but it’s implied.

        “While the parties to the UNFCCC agreed in the December 2009 Copenhagen Accord that a 2°C global warming over pre-industrial levels should be avoided, current commitments on greenhouse gas emissions reductions from these same parties will lead to a 50 : 50 chance of warming greater than 3.5°C. ”

        What you’re getting at is is level of endorsement 4. No position.

        “The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is the most prominent form of tropical intraseasonal variability in the climate system. Observations suggest that warming in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans in recent decades may have contributed to increased trends in the annual number of MJO events”

        • DesolationJones says:

          That being said, abstracts can be ambiguous and it may be difficult to rate correctly. If it’s implied, you only have the vague context within the abstract to go by. I’m sure it’s possible there’s lots error. But I think it’s a lot more likely the raters filled in endorsement level 3 when it was actually endorsement level 4. (no position) I think it’s pretty difficult to confused a 3 for a 5-7.

          That’s why the self response section is pretty important. The fact that 97% agreed is pretty telling.

        • Tel says:

          Suppose you do an opinion poll on whether people prefer chocolate or strawberry ice cream. 60% of the responses replied “don’t know, or don’t care” while 20% said they do buy chocolate from time to time, 10% indicated a preference for chocolate and 10% indicated a preference for strawberry. So you report this as a consensus that 75% of people prefer chocolate to strawberry.

          Do you think this would be honest reporting?

          • Harold says:

            This was not an opinion poll asking people whether they believed in AGW, but an assessment of their published papers. To take your example, it would be more like checking the baskets of shoppers. If 80% had neither ice cream you would have to discount them. It does not mean that they have no preference, just that you have no information about it. In your example, 10% had chocolate and 10% had strawberry. The conclusion would be that 50% preferred chocolate and 50% preferred strawberry.

        • Bharat says:

          DJ, not sure if my comment got through but here it is again in a more concise form:

          1,Explicitly endorses and quantifies AGW as 50+%
          2,Explicitly endorses but does not quantify or minimise
          3,Implicitly endorses AGW without minimising it

          A scientist can write a paper, implicitly OR explicitly endorse AGW, NOT explicitly minimize it, and still believe it is minimal. Such a scientist would be counted as an endorsement under categories 2 and 3.

  12. Major-Freedom says:

    Not quite correct. Ha.

  13. Harold says:

    All this effort to poke holes in the 97% figure smacks of desperation and distraction. There is some area for interpretation, but whether or not the figure is exactly 97%, the vast majority of papers in this area support the view that AGW is real and significant. There have been other studies showing essentially the same thing, and none showing widespread disagreement. As Desolation Jones points out, the self assessment essentially agrees with the reviewer assessment. There is a strong scientific consensus on global warming, yet a strong belief by the public that there is greater division of scientific opinion than is actually the case.

    Horwitz said: “First, it is perfectly possible to accept the science of global warming but reject the policies most often put forward to combat it.”

    This is true, but examples are hard to find. Nearly everyone I have seen arguing for less action is *also* claiming that the warming will be less than claimed by the scientific consensus. Your piece here is an example. Its title calls the 97% claim “bogus.” This 97% claim is ONLY about the actuality of climate change, not about responses to it. So by challenging this you are not challenging economic responses, but challenging the science behind it. If one accepted the science behind AGW, would one feel it necessary to claim the consensus behind the science was “bogus”, when at best there is some area for interpretation on exactly how close to unanimity is the opinion?.

    Horwitz again: “Second, people who take that position and back it up with good arguments should not be called “deniers.”

    I agree with this. The trouble is it is difficult to find people in this category. I have also not seen anyone called a denier for this, but I have of course only seen a small fraction of possible comments. Perhaps some examples would help me here.

    Friedman is wrong. He says “It follows that only papers in category 1 imply that “human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.” No, category one is those who say so “explicitly”, not implicitly. By his standards this means he is an unreliable source of information.

    Your A and B are matters of science. I would put someone in camp B as a denier, but opinions C and D could be held without being a denier.

    • Dyspeptic says:

      All of this effort to legitimize the 97% figure smacks of desperation and distraction. Scientific hypotheses are not proven by any form of consensus. The whole consensus issue is an attempt to indoctrinate a complacent and ignorant public that knows little about the scientific method and even less about a highly specialized and difficult science which is still in it’s infancy.

      Consensus might be a barely legitimate way for policy makers to quickly and ignorantly take stock of complex issues they don’t understand, but it say’s little about the state of actual scientific research.

      Spouting the 97% figure is a way of grossly oversimplifying a mind bogglingly complex and arcane issue that is rife with politics/ideology and academic self interest. It is another way of saying to the general public “move along now, there is nothing to see here, it’s all settled science, so sit down, shut up and pay your carbon taxes with a smile on your face. And, it’s combined with an ominous tendency to suppress, marginalize and demonize dissident voices as heretics as if this were some sort of religious issue.

      In other words, climate science is unfortunately a lot like economic science in that it is ideological warfare disguised as a disinterested search for scientific truth by people who are desperate for academic prestige, tenure, grant money, political influence and plain old power.

      • Harold says:

        If I were to say that 97% of economists agree that supply curves slope upwards, or that people respond to incentives, would you argue that neither of these is likely to be the case because scientific hypotheses are not formed by any sort of hypothesis? Would this mean all of economics is “settled”? Of course not. The debate among economists is fierce, just not around these particular well established matters. How about the arcane world of Quantum Mechanics? Some aspects are reasonably settled, others are hotly debated. As a non physicist, many of the conclusions of quantum mechanics are difficult to understand – take wave particle duality. I could challenge this as wrong, but a reasonable counter to my challenge would be that nearly all the experts agree that this is true. It is not true because they believe it, they believe it because there is strong evidence for it that they understand, even if I do not.

        No, the reason the 97% consensus is often quoted is because of deliberate campaigns to portray the aspects of climate science that are pretty much settled as matters of debate among scientists rather than matters of general agreement. A well known campaign was funded by Western Fuels Association to reposition global warming as “theory” not fact. Note that this campaign was not intended to educate anyone about global warming – just to make it seem less certain than it actually was.

        So yes, you are right. It was prompted by desperation. Desperation that there were campaigns of obfuscation which the scientists were not used to. In order to clarify once and for all one of these points the researchers were desperate enough to use considerable time to analyse the evidence and publish the results.

        • Harold says:

          Typo first sentence: *scientific hypotheses are not proven by any form of consensus* l

    • Tel says:

      There is some area for interpretation, but whether or not the figure is exactly 97%, the vast majority of papers in this area support the view that AGW is real and significant.

      Completely wrong and not even remotely similar to what Cook wrote. Thus demonstrating exactly how this type of statistic is used to mislead the public.

      The vast majority of papers in this area support no position either way, as well you must know after even a passing glance over Cook’s results.

      • Harold says:

        The point is the same – the vast majority that expressed a view. We can say nothing about those that did not. This is standard practice. The survey will have picked up many papers that would not be expected to express a view.

        Do you believe that the conclusion is wrong? If so do you have any evidence at all?

        The alternative view would be that there is not a consensus among peer reviewed papers. Is there any evidence for this? Where are the papers that express the contrary view? Do you think these were missed by the survey? Where are they? However you look at it, there are vanishingly few articles that reject AGW, and a lot that explicitly endorse it.

  14. Harold says:

    “Many of the prominent scientists associated with the “denier” label–such as Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, Pat Michaels, and Chip Knappenberger (whom I feature here a lot)–would fit into this “consensus.”

    Well, the data is available – lets see how they are classified.
    Roy Spence has 5 papers – 4 “No Position” and 1 “implicitly minimizing”. Thus he is included in the 3%, not the 97%.

    Lindzen – the three papers he is sole author are classified as 2 x explicitly and 1 x implicitly minimises – thus also in the 3%.

    Michaels – 5 references as co-author. 3 impliciltly reject AGW (level 5). One explicitly endorses but does not minimise. (level 2) – see below

    Knappenburger – only one paper as co-author catagorized as level 2 (explicitly endorses but does not quantify). This is the same paper co-authored with Michaels. What did they write that put them there? “Increasing heat and humidity at least partially related to anthropogenic climate change suggest that a long term increase in heat mortality could occur.” This is put as explicitly endorses but does not quantify, which is quite accurate. Maybe the other co-authors insisted. Who knows. If they believed AGW was insignificant it would be silly to mention it in the abstract, which must be concise and to the point.

    The majority of the papers of those you list as being in the wrong camp are actually correctly assigned. Most of their output is included in the 3%.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      What percentage of “climate scientists” are “progressives” and/or Keynesians? What percentage of “climate scientists” understand suburban sprawl as induced by funny money loans and as an escape from inner-city government schools?

      • Harold says:

        I am commenting on their expertise as climate scientists. I agree that we should not give their opinions about other matters – such as solutions to global warming- as much weight.

  15. DesolationJones says:

    How widespread is the actual misuse of the 97.1% figure in the mainstream media? (i.e. “97.1% believe man is the main cause of global warming”).

    For example, in a recent John Oliver segment from his new show that went viral (where I first heard the claim), he use the figure correctly.

    • jamhandle says:

      Very fortunate that the phrase “humans cause global warming” is as accurate and meaningful as “pissing in the sea causes the sea level to rise”.

      • DesolationJones says:

        The people who think man made global warming in like pissing in the ocean are not included in the 97% figure.

  16. Josiah says:

    Out of curiosity, what proportion of recent warming do Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, Pat Michaels, and Chip Knappenberger think is the result of human activity?

    More importantly, how much warming do they think will result from a doubling of CO2? (I seem to recall an estimate of 0.5C from Lindzen, but I could be misremembering).

  17. Josiah says:

    Also, if anyone wants to give their own estimates for the proportion of recent warming (say, since 1950) and their best estimate of warming for a doubling of CO2, I’m all ears (feel free to give a range if you want, but please include an explanation of the causal mechanisms underlying your estimate).

  18. Gary says:

    I would be curious to know how many of these 97% AGW believing scientists received (and survive on) grants and subsidies from AGW supportive government organizations? I have read that several non AGW supporting scientists had their grants withdrawn for having differing views. Interesting that you never hear about how and who finances all these AGW studies. FOLLOW THE MONEY!

  19. Andrew' says:

    Name 3 other “scientific” areas where people say:

    1. There is no way I could look at the information and make my own decision.
    2. Therefore I will accept what I think is the collective opinion of some group of experts
    3. THAT is what makes me good at science.

    Now, name 1 that isn’t also tightly intertwined with politics

    • Josiah says:

      Name 3 other “scientific” areas where people say:
      1. There is no way I could look at the information and make my own decision.
      2. Therefore I will accept what I think is the collective opinion of some group of experts

      This is pretty much what people do generally. Whether it’s the germ theory of disease, or the safety of medical x-rays, or the validity of DNA tests, people will generally defer to what they think is the consensus of experts on the issue (assuming they think such a consensus exists). In fact, even where people dissent from an expert consensus, they generally deny that this is what they are doing by claiming that there really is no consensus on that issue.

      Of course, people don’t generally claim that this makes them good at science. The whole rationale for deferring to an expert consensus is the recognition that they know a lot more about the subject than you do.

  20. Gary says:

    Gary – Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    MODERATION? ….I’m still waiting:-)

    To repeat: I would be curious to know how many of these 97% AGW believing scientists received (and survive on) grants and subsidies from AGW supportive government organizations? I have read that several non AGW supporting scientists had their grants withdrawn for having differing views. Interesting that you never hear about how and who finances all these AGW studies. FOLLOW THE MONEY!

    • guest says:

      George Soros funds a lot of the effort to bully weathermen into spouting pro-AGW stuff.

    • Josiah says:


      The first formal calculation of the warming effect of CO2 on the planet was in the 1890s by the Swiss physicist Svante Arrhenius, who presumably was not looking to score grant money from pro-AGW orgs. Arrhenius’ calculation was that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 would result in 5-6C of warming.

      In the IPCC’s most recent report, their best estimate is that a doubling of CO2 will result in 3C of warming.

      So the end result of decades of grant funding from pro-AGW orgs has been to reduce the estimated climate sensitivity of CO2 by nearly half.

      Not exactly gold value for money, if you ask me.

  21. Tel says:

    More dishonest reporting from the usual suspects:


    His boss, President Barack Obama, was even more trenchant in his description of the problem. In a tweet on 17 May, he said: ‘Ninety-seven per cent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, manmade and dangerous. Read more: OFA.BO/gJsdFp.’

    Anyone want to guess whether Cook jumps up to loudly proclaim that Obama has widely overstepped the available evidence here?

  22. Professor Plum says:

    That is the way so-called juried academic research works. If you want tenure and a promotion down the line some day in the not too distant future you sniff the prevailing wind and then apply to present a paper at the upcoming XYZ Annual Meeting of Scholars. And then if your conclusions appear to agree that the head research dudes are indeed right, you can pass go and collect your good old boy get-our-of-jail free card.

    But if your conclusions challenge the prevailing wisdom of the moment, you are branded as a whack job and you might as well empty your bladder pointing in the opposite direction to gale force winds in the middle of Times Square at high noon!

    An entire nation’s school system has gone to seed as scholar after scholar presented revelatory evidence that John Dewey was NOT a cheap whore who had only one failing year of practical teaching experience before he went to the U. of Chicago Lab. School to collect and publish his tainted truthss (for example!!). And now we find out that, holy of holies, Stephen Hawking says that light may very well be able to escape from black holes after all! If you want to get along, you must always go along with the chief ass kissers of any discipline. Its the American way!

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