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August 30, 2007

The Sound Of Settled Science

In 2004, history professor Naomi Oreskes performed a survey of research papers on climate change. Examining peer-reviewed papers published on the ISI Web of Science database from 1993 to 2003, she found a majority supported the "consensus view," defined as humans were having at least some effect on global climate change. Oreskes' work has been repeatedly cited, but as some of its data is now nearly 15 years old, its conclusions are becoming somewhat dated.

Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte recently updated this research. Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, of which DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.

Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus.

[...]

In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.


Read on.

h/t "Bolshevik", in the comments.

Posted by Kate at August 30, 2007 2:35 PM
Comments

One of the more dismal aspects of this "climate change" nonsense is the speed with which the very destructive ecofreaks move from "there is some evidence for global warming" to " we must wreck our economy and put tens of thousands of Canadians (hundreds of thousands of Americans) out of work and trigger massive social unrest". The ecofreaks don't put it that way of course but it is evidently their meaning.

There is some evidence for global warming, not in my opinion enough to hang a man for, but some. In my opinion, that is good for Canada. One thing is certain: global cooling to any significant degree would be bad for agriculture in most parts of the world, certainly including Canada. Better hotter than cooler. Maybe a small part is anthropogenic; probably most is due to changes in the solar output; we don't know. Freeman Dyson's article sets out very well what is needed for a proper understanding of climate, and how far we fall short of that.

Even assuming that the IPCC's analyses and predictions are the gospel truth, which they certainly aren't, what could Canadians do about the climate? NOthing; we are too small; the Canadian ecofreaks are nothing but sociopaths and sadists in their demands for our actions.

If your psychological makeup demands that you worry about catastrophes, then I would suggest that you concentrate on astroid collisions and huge volcanic eruptions. Both have occurred in the past, rather too often for my liking, and both will happen again.

Posted by: John Lewis at August 30, 2007 3:21 PM

All the wheels have been falling off the global warming bandwagon this month.

When will the media and politicians start to notice?

Posted by: Wimpy Canadian at August 30, 2007 3:21 PM

One of the more dismal aspects of this "climate change" nonsense is the speed with which the very destructive ecofreaks move from "there is some evidence for global warming" to " we must wreck our economy and put tens of thousands of Canadians (hundreds of thousands of Americans) out of work and trigger massive social unrest". The ecofreaks don't put it that way of course but it is evidently their meaning.

There is some evidence for global warming, not in my opinion enough to hang a man for, but some. In my opinion, global warming would be good for Canada. One thing is certain: global cooling to any significant degree would be bad for agriculture in most parts of the world, certainly including Canada. Can you say "catastrophe?" Better hotter than cooler. Maybe a small part is anthropogenic; probably most is due to changes in the solar output; we don't know. Freeman Dyson's article sets out very well what is needed for a proper understanding of climate, and how far we fall short of that.

Even assuming that the IPCC's analyses and predictions are the gospel truth, which they certainly aren't, what could Canadians do about the climate? NOthing; we are too small; the Canadian ecofreaks are nothing but sociopaths and sadists in their demands for our actions.

If your psychological makeup demands that you worry about catastrophes, then I would suggest that you concentrate on astroid collisions and huge volcanic eruptions. Both have occurred in the past, rather too often for my liking, and both will happen again.

Posted by: John Lewis at August 30, 2007 3:24 PM

In many parts of Canada our agriculture growing season is less than 4 months long.

Our beach weather is only weeks long.

Our winters are brutal.

In many parts of the country summer is not much better than tough sleding.

And yet the eco-fanatics, not the reasonable environmentalists, the fanatics, want everybody to give up our lifestyles. Presumably not theirs, just ours.

Would you prefer -25.5C to -25C a hundred years from now ??

Would you mind if your summer day was 22.5C instead of 22C ?

Could we tell the difference ??

Only if The Weather Network kept on ranting about it every half hour.

Posted by: ron in kelowna at August 30, 2007 3:51 PM

This comes from somebody who has absolutely no knowledge about Global Warming aside what's spewed from the respective liberal and conservative blogs (my huge Global Warming reading list is still on my to do list):

"In 2004, HISTORY professor Naomi Oreskes performed a survey of research papers on climate change." I'm sorry, but if I read this same sentence with climate change replaced but my specialty, I'll trow the meta analysis away. I've looked at scientific papers dealing with global warming. I don't know if he is a latent genius, but for me most of it was gibberish as the math and climatology were way over my head (and I'm a scientist).

I am very curious why these papers weren't published by credited climatologists. Why do we need historians and medical researchers telling us about climate change.

It'll be like engineers and physicists telling us about the research invalidating evolution :D.

Posted by: Roland Deschain at August 30, 2007 3:54 PM

Anyone noticed how Kyoto/AGW objectives line up quite nicely to those of the eco-Marxist crowd:

- capitalism is bad and cancer on earth
- no way should modernizing societies use capitalist approach because, well, it is a cancer
- only consume locally produced goods
- large top-down bureaucracy required to administrate these affairs
- those who don't agree are criminals/subversives
- democracy is bad, don't let the stupid people decide, let's use central planning and models
- etc, etc.

Quite the coincidence,eh?

Posted by: Shamrock at August 30, 2007 3:55 PM

Shamrock,

Criminals always return to the scene of the crime.

Posted by: Stephen at August 30, 2007 3:59 PM

roland - actually, Oreskes's research, as a historian, is a legitimate research in the field of history. Equally, Schulte's research as a medical historian, is equally legitimate.

Oreskes was doing a data content survey in one field, over the historical period f rom 1993-2003. She was not researching VALIDITY of content, only the content. That's similar to a historian researching the references to the use of morphine in medical treatments in the 19th c. The research is not on the validity; it's on the references.

Oreskes found that, in her sample, the majority conclude that humans have 'some' effect on climate change.
Schulte updated the data base from 2004-2007 - and found that only 7% explicitly endorse that supposition. That's quite a change.

Again - neither of them are dealing with the scientific content; they are only dealing with the general conclusions, answering one question: is climate change primarily due to human behaviour? And the most recent data is that 48% are neutral - there is no consensus.

Posted by: ET at August 30, 2007 4:26 PM

@ET:

I actually figured out what's horribly wrong with this analysis (had to digg through some climatology papers).

Most papers dealing with global warming do not address the issue of causation as it relates to humans. Only few papers actually look closely on the affect of humans on global warming (and they all concur that humans have an affect).

So it's very true that most global warming papers do not give an opinion on human causation; but that's only because they do not investigate that topic.

I'd have much more confidence in this study if it only dealt with papers that actively investigate human affects (could lean both positive and negative) on global warming rather than just global warming (where most papers don't even consider human impact).

And the reason I can think is that the majority of papers that actually actively investigate if human have an affect on global warming conclude that we do indeed have an affect (with the huge controversy being how big and how dangerous the effect is).

Posted by: Roland Deschain at August 30, 2007 4:33 PM

Sorry, forgot to add something:

That's why it's important not to simply report conclusions of a paper. The intent and methodology of the paper is hugely important as it relates to the final conclusion. Some papers dealing with global warming will have something to say about the human footprint because the methodology allowed for data that addresses that topic; other papers might not.

But to simply pick all papers addressing global warming and read if they mention humans is too simplified to yield any significant results.

Again, I'll wait to actually read the paper before any of this is certain. Maybe the author did indeed a great job and I can move on.

Posted by: Roland Deschain at August 30, 2007 4:42 PM

And my last point on this :D - what do they mean "explicit endorsement of the consensus". Do they mean by that that climate change is occurring or that humans have an impact on the change or that it's dangerous climate change?

Posted by: Roland Deschain at August 30, 2007 4:51 PM

Here's one for the screen-shotters:

I looked at the CBC home page yesterday as of the early afternoon, and saw "Tomorrow's Forecast" as being about 37 degrees (Celsius) for Toronto. So, I ran an errand on foot in 30-degree weather partially on that basis, as I had to run it anyway and the forecast said it would be hotter.

Then, last evening, I saw that the forecast high had been changed to 24-5 degrees.

It's a pity that I didn't get a screen shot for both, because that's a pretty wide revision - downwards - for a next-day forecast. It shows a certain sub voca bias in the forecasting service.

(Just to let ya know: The only choices I had was yesterday afternoon or early this morning, so the timing of the errand is largely a memory anchor for the extent of the revision.)

Posted by: Daniel M. Ryan at August 30, 2007 5:25 PM

no, roland - your suggestion is 'bad science'.
Very bad science.

You are suggesting that it would only be correct, when researching papers dealing with causes of climate change - to only accept those papers that deal with ONE cause - the human cause. You wouldn't accept in your data base any papers that explored other causes.

So- what's the point of your research? Just to gather papers that focused on ONE cause of climate change?

These two historians were researching scientific papers dealing with CAUSES of climate change. Not just one cause. But all causes. They weren't selecting only one cause - ie - solar vectors. Or human industrialism. Or increased animal population. Or... \

They were gathering a data base that included ALL categories of causes. Then, they added up the numbers in each category. And found that of ALL the papers exploring climate change, in the 10 years between 1993-2003, the majority were focused around human causality - and in addition, concurred that humans were the cause.

however, in the years between 2004-07 - this has changed. Using the same categories - the human causality ratio has dropped. That means that scientists are not focused on human causality but on other causes of climate change.

So- your suggestion of only having ONE category in your data base, human causality, is bad science. You are ignoring the research on the other causes.

And - this research had a specific goal. To compare the focus on causes of climate change. Not to simply list all the papers saying change is due to humans. But to provide a ratio - ie, telling us the ratio in each category.

Posted by: ET at August 30, 2007 5:40 PM

With AGW pretty much dead but not yet buried, it's time to get prepared for the next big scare.
I predict it will be Global Foaming: the earth is in peril from all the shampoo in the oceans.
It has a nice ring to it, sorta sounds like global warming, it can be blamed on our consumer society, and it gives hippies another excuse not to take a bath.

Posted by: Stan at August 30, 2007 5:45 PM

ET - read Roland's comments again. His point is the neglect of their considering causation, meaning the sample population may be overinflated, and hence the conclusion is overly strong.

Posted by: Tenebris at August 30, 2007 6:07 PM

tenebris - then I admit I'm totally puzzled. I thought roland specifically wanted the research to only investigate human causality.

To my understanding, the research is a simple compilation of ALL articles dealing with climate change. The variables include multiple causes, as well as 'no causes' - ie, basic descriptions of change. These could be categorized under: Causes (and these could be listed); and No Causes.

To restrict the study to those that specifically focus on causation could be done- but I think that this would not necessarily produce valid results. First, you have to gather a full data base - without setting up any causal links. That also suggests that causality is not clear, simple or singular.

Posted by: ET at August 30, 2007 6:35 PM

I will note that the study is not published yet (I checked the latest Energy and Environment) so we may be jumping the gun. However Tim Lambert is looking at it.

I would be surprised if there really are 48% that are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. However that is why they are made available to check over.

John

Posted by: John Cross at August 30, 2007 7:52 PM

Paris Hilton must address the United Nations General Assembly on the subject of climate change in order for its true credibility to be realized.

Posted by: philanthropist at August 30, 2007 7:55 PM

Dr. Benny Peiser (an anthropologist and Fellow of the Royal Astronimical Society) debunked Oreskes' work on (I think in) 2004. As he stated then:
"Oreskes entire argument is flawed as the whole ISI data set includes just 13 abstracts (less than 2%) that explicitly endorse what she has called the 'consensus view.'"

Oddly enough, that did not seem to get much coverage in the MSM...

Read more here:
http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/Oreskes-abstracts.htm

Find out more about Dr. Peiser here:
http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/

Posted by: Another Sean at August 30, 2007 8:07 PM

@ET - I may indeed have given Roland too much credit. His first comment is largely nonsense, his second is too restricted in scope, but his third correctly identifies the central issue - "The intent and methodology of the paper is hugely important as it relates to the final conclusion."

Just because the paper is purportedly about "climate change" does not mean that it is, or that it differentiates random fluctuations in the set of forcing parameters from directed ones.

Since I'm in a positive mood today (my first PhD student successfully defended today), I'll admit that 90% of what is published in technical fields is worthless (I'm usually MUCH more pessimistic, but research is going far too well at the moment to sustain cynicism), most research is derivative, many of my colleagues can’t write worth a hoot, and oft times the papers’ modest worth is startlingly exaggerated.

Posted by: Tenebris at August 30, 2007 8:08 PM

Oops. That would be the * Royal Astronomical Society *. Shoulda hit "Preview" first.

Posted by: Another Sean at August 30, 2007 8:09 PM

Another Sean:

Peiser has essentially retracted his study as you can read here.

Regards,
John

Posted by: John Cross at August 30, 2007 8:31 PM

I noticed in the MSM news this week that the Arctic ice has melted and that you can sail from Japan to England through the North West Passage in a sail boat. With all that ice melted Al Gore says that the Ocean level should've rose by 10 or more feet. Don't see much evidence of that so far, or maybe the the CBC's office in Halifax has been submerged and they can't report it.

I was in Resolute Bay and Grise Fjiord which are north of the arctic archpeligo(Sp?) in the summer in the early 70's and ships sailed in and out quite easily to bring the years supply of food in for the year. Open water all over.

So what's new....


Posted by: RL at August 30, 2007 10:07 PM

Ignoring Lambert and going directly to Peiser's comments here:

http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/ep38peiser.pdf

Interesting quote from the very end:

"> Why do you believe your research is significant?

I do not think anyone is questioning that we are in a period of global warming. Neither do I doubt that the overwhelming majority of climatologists is agreed that the current warming period is mostly due to human impact.

However, this majority consensus is far from unanimous.

Despite all claims to the contrary, there is a small community of sceptical researchers that remains extremely active. Hardly a week goes by without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory. (For the latest developments, see http://greenspin.blogspot.com/2006/10/do-i-detect-first-tiny-rumblings-of.html)

Undoubtedly, sceptical scientists are a small minority.

But as long as the possible impacts of global warming remain uncertain, the public is justified to keep an open mind. How decision-makers deal with these scientific uncertainties is another matter.

But it is vital for the health and integrity of science that critical evaluation and scepticism are not scorned or curbed for political reasons."

To my opinion, AGW (human caused vs natural warming) is a hypothesis, still waiting to be fleshed out as a coherent theory that explains all the data.

I remain skeptical, but open minded to be convinced by the data and the science.

But the hysterical armwaving (a la Gore), and political activism (a la Hansen), the media dismissal of anyone questioning of the science as paid shills of "Big Oil" (while conveniently ignoring the vested interests on the Kyoto side - government regulators, carbon offset traders, anti-technology greens and rent seeking companies) weakens the science argument and makes this all look way too political and is strongly setting off my BS detector.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. We are not there yet.

Spending billions to control Co2 without understanding how the climate works, if Co2 is the primary driver of climate warming, if humans are the primary driver for Co2 and what ideal climate state we are trying to reach by controlling Co2 is definitely bad policy.

Posted by: Dave at August 30, 2007 10:54 PM

John,
I hate to quibble, but since you gave me the link...
Peiser did not retract his study. He did retract one statement (From the link you provided):
"Only [a] few abstracts explicitly reject or doubt the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) consensus which is why I have publicly withdrawn this point of my critique." -- Email from Benny Peiser to Media Watch

So, he has withdrawn one point of his critique. And not the point that I raised.
Try again.

Posted by: Another Sean at August 30, 2007 11:40 PM

Two points:

- This large batch of "neutral" articles should not all be factored in to the equation. Most of these neutral papers discuss methods and paleoclimatology, so there's no reason for them to affirm or deny the consensus position on AGW, or discuss causality in the first place. Taking those articles out, the percentages change significantly.

- There are also serious credibility problems with the 32 papers that are deemed to explicitly deny AGW. More on that from the Tim Lambert blog.

Long story short: this report, and the article that discussed it are heavy on bias and light on substance. This is hardly meaningful evidence of dissent in the scientific community regarding GW, or for that matter, AGW.

Posted by: Dirk at August 31, 2007 1:37 AM

Another Sean: Point taken, I just wanted to establish the fact the Peiser was not able to find any papers that disagreed with the consensus. As to what this says about the rest of his paper is speculation.

Regards,
John

Posted by: John Cross at August 31, 2007 9:31 AM

John,

A lot of journals refuse to publish articles that question AGW. Nature is one of them. Peer review by a majority that demands conformity will weed out any other heritics.

Counting papers is not relevant when the papers don't get published due to political interference in the selection process by vested interests.

Posted by: Warwick at August 31, 2007 9:59 AM

Warwick: Shaviv, Svensmark, Spencer and Christy, McIntyre & McKitrick, Anastasios, Schwartz all come to mind recently.

A couple of years ago, even Soon got a paper published (of course the Journal had to retract the paper when it was shown that his data could not support his conclusions).

In general, if someone has a new idea the Journals are very interested in presenting it to the scientific community provided it can be backed up scientifically at an initial level.

Regards,
John

Posted by: John Cross at August 31, 2007 10:43 AM

Is Tim Lambert a climatic Vince Ready? Just what is his authority and how was it attained?

Surely anyone with a modicum of impartiality would not accept Tim Lambert-or for that matter Tim Ball - as arbiters of global warming science.

Posted by: johnlee at August 31, 2007 11:59 AM

Johnlee: I would not accept anyone as an arbiter. What Tim Lambert does is dig into the science and provides analysis that are usually fact based and logical. Foe example he disagreed with Peiser but then backed it up by actually getting the papers that Peiser said disagreed with the consensus. In the end Peiser was forced to retract that past of his argument.

I wish that Dr. Ball would do the same. I would be interested in seeing some of his arguments with his sources.

Regards,
John

Posted by: John Cross at August 31, 2007 12:30 PM

We are just finishing the coldest wettest summer I can remember in my 55 years living in the lower mainland BC. If global warming is actually coming I sure wish it would hurry up.

Posted by: alan at August 31, 2007 3:49 PM

It was very cold in the southern part of the Yukon too, Alan.
I wish old Deyawn would bring his warming 'kit' up here - or send his 'hero cowboy' Gore y with his magic formula traveling show - I guess we are too close to the 'hot button' issue - how enmbarassing to find it frozen blue when the heat is ' melting icecaps as we speak ' - 'crosses burning in Prince George' etc. etc.; speaking of burning crosses , is Lorno stealing the lines from Heedy Fry in his KKK thingie in Sask or was that a 'msm moment'?
The hyperventilating from the left is funny but pathetic.

Posted by: Jema54 at September 1, 2007 4:55 AM

Question: what is the consensus? How is consensus defined?

Was there any actual scientific research done in this report? Was it conclusively proven that greenhouse gases are not having an adverse effect on climate?

Posted by: The Self-Loathing Multiculturalist at September 3, 2007 9:52 PM
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