About That “Settled Science” on Climate Change
… or global cooling. Or global warming. Or whatever. You’ve undoubtedly heard that 97% of scientists agree that people are causing the planet to get hot. Or cold. Or something. It’s called “settled science” by the true believers.
Well guess what? It turns out that the true believers’ science just may not be so settled.
First of all, there’s that pesky 97% thingy.
Your author has an engineering degree and has a pretty good understanding of statistics. We’ve held, for several decades, that statistics is not “math,” it’s “art.” We’ve had this discussion with a number of real statisticians and they generally agree with our take. In “math” you have a problem and an answer. In “statistics” you have a set of data and based on the wording of the question, you can come up with any answer you desire.
Yet the assertion that 97% of scientists believe that climate change is a man-made, urgent problem is a fiction. The so-called consensus comes from a handful of surveys and abstract-counting exercises that have been contradicted by more reliable research.
[A] widely cited source for the consensus view is a 2009 article in “Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union” by Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, a student at the University of Illinois, and her master’s thesis adviser Peter Doran. It reported the results of a two-question online survey of selected scientists. Mr. Doran and Ms. Zimmerman claimed “97 percent of climate scientists agree” that global temperatures have risen and that humans are a significant contributing factor.
The survey’s questions don’t reveal much of interest. Most scientists who are skeptical of catastrophic global warming nevertheless would answer “yes” to both questions. The survey was silent on whether the human impact is large enough to constitute a problem. Nor did it include solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists or astronomers, who are the scientists most likely to be aware of natural causes of climate change.
The “97 percent” figure in the Zimmerman/Doran survey represents the views of only 79 respondents who listed climate science as an area of expertise and said they published more than half of their recent peer-reviewed papers on climate change. Seventy-nine scientists—of the 3,146 who responded to the survey—does not a consensus make.
The key to manufactured statistics is in how the questions are written and the choices of answers. Selective polling can also do wonders for creating the illusion that you have “scientific backing” for a conclusion. The WSJ article cites a number of studies that all do the same thing as the Zimmerman/Doran study. Essentially, they start with their conclusion and look for data that substantiates it.
Purdue University recently published a study that blows an even bigger hole in the 97% lie.
They studied scientists involved in crop production as well as climatologists, 7,000 of them. To prove that we haven’t forgotten our higher math from engineering school, 7,000 is a bigger number than 79.
Associate professor of natural resource social science Linda Prokopy and fellow researchers surveyed 6,795 people in the agricultural sector in 2011-2012 to determine their beliefs about climate change and whether variation in the climate is triggered by human activities, natural causes or an equal combination of both.
More than 90 percent of the scientists and climatologists surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with more than 50 percent attributing climate change primarily to human activities.
So, 90% agree that the climate is changing. The “more than 50 percent” number is actually 53%, who think humans are responsible. In engineering school, 53% is a whole lot less than 97%.
It’s interesting that they also surveyed farmers.
In contrast, 66 percent of corn producers surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with 8 percent pinpointing human activities as the main cause. A quarter of producers said they believed climate change was caused mostly by natural shifts in the environment, and 31 percent said there was not enough evidence to determine whether climate change was happening or not.
The people whose livelihood depends on understanding the weather – climate, if you will – 8% think changing climate is caused by humans, 25% said it’s a natural occurrence, and 31% said there’s not enough evidence.
The bottom line is that the global warming alarmists are lying to you, and that would include Barack Obama and John Kerry who consider global warming to be a bigger long term threat to our national defense than Muslim terrorists.
Remember this when somebody tries to bully you with the 97% lie: it’s based on internet polling. If internet polling was reliable, Ron Paul would be President.