The myth of scientific consensus on climate change

By Tom Quiner


Two Democratic candidates said “climate change” is the biggest threat facing the world in tonight’s debate.

Bigger than ISIS?

Bigger than an Iran with a nuclear bomb?

Bigger than Putin’s expansion into the Ukraine and the mideast?

Bigger than a belligerent and nuclear North Korea?

Bigger than the systematic erosion of our First Amendment?

I could go on.

Is climate change the biggest threat facing the world? Not according to most scientists. I am re-running a QD blogpost from earlier this year which addresses the question:


“Ninety-seven percent of scientists believe in climate change.”

You’ve heard this repeated ad infinitum in the mainstream media. As a marketer, I marvel at power of this statement. It is much more credible to say 97% than a 100%.

Nonetheless, the statement is misleading.

From where did it come? From  a guy named Professor John Cook of the University of Queensland in a paper published last year that claims to have reviewed over 11,000 climate science articles.

I say “claimed.”

The paper says eight scientists reviewed 11,000 papers. That’s a lot of papers. Let’s say the average paper is 10 pages, which may be light. That would be the equivalent of reading the Bible ten times for each of the reviewers. Maybe that’s not unreasonable in light of the religious fervor attached to global warmingclimate change issues. The Pope has surely read the Bible at least ten times, so maybe each of these global warming climate change acolytes would gladly digest 13,000 pages of what is the equivalent of sacred scripture to them.

Here is what Professor Cook’s summary had to say about all of these climate science articles. I present his summary one sentence at a time:

1. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW[Anthropogenic Global Warming], 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming.

Funny. He’s still calling the crisis global warming. Shows how much he knows!

2. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.

3. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers.

4. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%).

5. Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus.

Is that clear?

In other words, in the third of articles that agree with the idea of man-made climate change global warming, only 97.1% of  the articles agree with the idea of man-made climate change global warming.

Or to use another example, of the people who believe Elvis is still alive, 97.1 % think he is still alive.

In light of this “bombshell” study by Professor Cook, you’d think he’d be quick to release it for public review.

No, he didn’t it. In fact, he refused to do so, casting suspicions on the data. Five leading climate scientists took Professor Cook to task in a paper published in the journal Science and Education.

They claim Cook’s study misrepresented the view of the so-called “consensus” scientists. Here’s why: only 41 out of the 11,944 published articles on climate studies directly stated that mankind is the cause of global warming since 1950.

In other words, .3 percent, NOT 97 percent, blame global warming on man.

The study’s lead author, Dr. David Legates, a geology professor at the University of Delaware was shocked by the way Professor Cook cooked the books, so to speak:

“It is astonishing that any journal could have published a paper claiming a 97% climate consensus when on the authors’ own analysis the true consensus was well below 1%.”

I am still trying to figure out if the problem is global warming or climate change. What we do know is that there is still no scientific consensus on the subject, whatever the subject may be.