We are the 99%

November 15, 2007

More Climate Spin From The Fringe

I found this at Fred Honsberger's favorite on-line news service, CNSNews.com.

A new survey of American members of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that there is not firm scientific consensus on global warming, as proponents of swift action to curb carbon emissions have suggested.

DemandDebate.com, a Web site skeptical of global warming "alarmism" that advocates more debate on the topic, released the results of its poll on Nov. 8. The group attempted to survey the 345 American scientists affiliated with the IPCC.

Of the 54 scientists who completed the survey, less than half said a 1-degree Celsius increase is "flatly undesirable." Sixty-one percent of the respondents said there is no such thing as an "ideal climate.

Please note the sloppy terminology. DemandDebate.com sent out the survey to "the 345 American scientists affiliated with the IPCC." The IPCC, by the way is the "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change." It is "Intergovernmental" on account that it's comprised of scientists from more than one country. Of the 345 surveys sent out to American scientists, DemandDebate.com received only 54.

How many scientists were affiliated with IPCC in the first place? The IPCC website says 2,500 scientific expert reviewers, 800 contributing authors, and 450 lead authors were involved in the IPCC 4th assessment. If that number is accurate and consistent with the other reports, there are about 3,750 scientists involved making IPCC reports.

And yet DemandDebate.com is using a self-filtered survey (i.e. it doesn't cover the whole population of scientists affiliated with the IPCC and it's only based on those surveys returned) of about 1.4% of those scientists to "suggest" that there's no firm consensus on climate change.

But look at what CNSNews glosses over. It's the very next paragraph:
While as many as 90 percent of respondents said man-made carbon emissions "are driving or helping to drive global climate change," only 20 percent said human activity is the "principle driver of climate change." Sixty-three percent said human activity is a driver but that "natural variability is also important."
Let's take a closer look at this "data." The first question in this survey was:

Which best describes the reason(s) for climate change?

It then listed the 4 options (with a "No Opinion" tagged on the end) available. Here they are (with the percentages of those who chose that option):

  • Human activity is the principal driver of climate change. 20%
  • Human activity drives climate change, but natural variability is also important. 63%
  • Natural variability drives climate change, but human activity is also important. 11%
  • Natural variability is the principal driver of climate change. 4%
  • No opinion. 2%
So 94% of those surveyed believe that at the very least "human activity is...important" in describing the reasons for climate change. 83% think that it either "drives" climate change or is the "principle driver." Honestly, I'm not sure what the difference between those two are - but let's just chalk that up to clumsy word usage.

These folks are basing their claim suggesting there isn't a consensus (even though from the first question in this already flawed survey, it's pretty obvious that there is) on two questions at the end; on the impact of a 1 celsius rise in mean global temperature (48% say it's "undesirable" and 39% say it's "desirable for some, undesirable for others") and whether there's an "ideal" global climate (61% says there's no such thing).

Huh. Go figure.

For another view on this, let's take a look at this article from the magazine "Science" which describes itself as "The world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary."

Policy-makers and the media, particularly in the United States, frequently assert that climate science is highly uncertain. Some have used this as an argument against adopting strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, while discussing a major U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report on the risks of climate change, then-EPA administrator Christine Whitman argued, "As [the report] went through review, there was less consensus on the science and conclusions on climate change" (1). Some corporations whose revenues might be adversely affected by controls on carbon dioxide emissions have also alleged major uncertainties in the science (2). Such statements suggest that there might be substantive disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. This is not the case.

The scientific consensus is clearly expressed in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Programme, IPCC's purpose is to evaluate the state of climate science as a basis for informed policy action, primarily on the basis of peer-reviewed and published scientific literature (3). In its most recent assessment, IPCC states unequivocally that the consensus of scientific opinion is that Earth's climate is being affected by human activities: "Human activities ... are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents ... that absorb or scatter radiant energy. ... [M]ost of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations" [p. 21 in (4)].

IPCC is not alone in its conclusions. In recent years, all major scientific bodies in the United States whose members' expertise bears directly on the matter have issued similar statements. For example, the National Academy of Sciences report, Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, begins: "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise" [p. 1 in (5)]. The report explicitly asks whether the IPCC assessment is a fair summary of professional scientific thinking, and answers yes: "The IPCC's conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue" [p. 3 in (5)].

But to test things, they did a little experiment of sorts:

That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change" (9).

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.



Whigsboy said...

I truly believe that the reason the right is so fervently opposed to believing this stuff is because the left has been talking about it for years and the wingnuts would have to admit that the loony liberals were right! Sort of like Iraq, eh?

On another note, I hate to go off-topic, but I wanted to bring up a topic that was in the PG yesterday and has been making some national headlines: the Secretary of the PA Dept. of Agriculture's decision to change dairy product labeling regs in our state. The change would forbid the use of terms like "hormone-free" or "antibiotic-free" on labels, which the secretary, a one Dennis Wolff, claims are "misleading."

While I have never really plugged it here, I have a food blog that I mostly just do for my own amusement. But I did a fairly substantive post on this subject last night and think that many regulars to 2PJ might find it illuminating and, as a result, might reach out to their state legislator and Gov. Rendell's office, asking them to take action that would rescind this decision by Sec. Wolff.

Just to avoid any confusion, my "handle" on my food blog is different than what I have traditionally used on 2PJ and pretty much all other blogs. Whigsboy just didn't seem appropriate for a food blog!

In any case, my apologies if this is considered bad etiquette, but I wanted to bring this topic to everybody's attention because, in my view, it's an extremely important consumer and public health issue.

Schultz said...

From Exxon's own internal documents:

"In 1998, Exxon embarked on a campaign to give 'logistical and moral support' to any dissenter from scientific findings documenting global climate change, 'thereby raising questions about and undercutting the prevailing scientific wisdom,'"

In 2002 Stanford University signed a ten year deal with Exxon and other energy companies in return for $225 million for a "Global Climate and Energy Project." Following the agreement Exxon ran ads on the op-ed page of the New York Times announcing that the "best minds" at Stanford agreed with Exxon's position on climate change. One add even featured the signature of a well known Stanford professor.

In 2005 ExxonMobil distributed $2.9 million to thirty-nine groups that would raise doubts about climate change.

I will post more on this at my green blog in a few days. The moral of the story - any time you read an op-ed piece from a scientist who is claiming that global warming is not man made, think twice before reaching a conclusion since these guys are paid "consultants" to the big energy companies.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: Nope got it wrong again lefties. NBC and its affiliates are owned by GE. GE bought all the alternative energy companies enron had bought. Enron bought them to keep them off the market. GE owns them to make money. Go see who makes the curly cue light bulbs if you doubt me. If GE can convince the govmt to codify into law 'green' then they stand to make a lot of money off all the new technology people and businesses will have to purchase to comply. Gore stands to make a lot of money also. In short, left wing kooks, you been had. LMAO It is just so easy to fool you lefties. Just ask Gore.

Whigsboy said...

I must say, Koward, that was an interesting attempt at actual analysis. I'm glad GE markets the CFL bulbs and hope they make a load of money from the government - at least it will be toward a good end, unlike the billions we've flushed down the toilet in Iraq to corrupt contractors who don't complete construction jobs or shoot up innocent civilians.

Schmuck Shitrock said...

Thanks for making yourself and your cronies look stupid once again, Chickenhawk.

I don't know about everybody else, but every time I see your sig, it brings a smile to my face.

Anonymous said...

Pgh suburb guy says:
I believe that John K and Schmuck Shitrock are the same person. The writing style is the same and the content has the same level of credibility. For every LOL there is a Chickenhawk. Both terms are meaningless and only used to incite anger and insult. Although I may be wrong in my theory as Mr. Shitrock seems to be much more obsessive and shrill in his Chickenhawk shouting. WTF is a chickenhawk anyway. Does he mean that you are not allowed to have an opinion about the war in Iraq unless you have military experience? I hope not.

BTW Why are we arguing about global warming anyway? Do what YOU can do to emileriate the effects of what YOU believe and stop telling others what YOU think they should do.
However I agree with Whigsboy concerns regarding Pa Dept of Agriculture's change in dairy product labeling.
No animals were were abused or injured in the creation of the above message although animal by-products may be involved.

Anonymous said...

Could these statistics possibly mean that:

94% of survey respondents have been bukkakied with so much MSM propaganda that they believe that man is the culprit?

Keep in mind, this means that they "believe" this is what is happening. That they "believe" the 1 % rise in global temperature over the last 100 years is somehow due to man. Whoa...how can I take advantage of some MSM propagated brainwashing campaign too.

Anonymous said...

John K. says. Now how do you buy carbon credits and who do you buy them from. GE the parent company of MSNBC. And what is a carbon credit. Gore uses gallons of fuel in his Gulfstream5 and does what put it back into the ground? LOL Or perhaps he plants a tree which does not even start to scrub CO2 till it has been around for ten years. Gore took you and look at the lefties in here. Parting with their money to make Gore rich. What a bunch of suckers.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: You lefties have been had. Had by GE (a big corporation) and Gore. It appears that the North polar ice cap is not decreasing at all. According to NASA (JPL) it is the natural result of ocean currents. It shifted. A natural, not man made event. But hey, if you lefties want to lay out your money to make Gore rich on this issue, be my guest. I have a few carbon credits for sale.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: Tonight is light up night in Pittsburgh. Turn all the lights on. Pittsburgh will use more energy tonight than some small third world countries. Oh yah, global warming is such a crisis we have to act now! You lefties have been conned.

Anonymous said...

I love it how John K, while posting 4 out of the last 10 comments, has said nothing about the actual post.

We must then assume he ACCEPTS the basic premise that there IS a scientific consensus about global climate change.

Or else he would have disagreed.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: There is no scientific consensus that man is causing global warming. If man is not causing it, then we can't stop it. You left wingers have been had by GE and Gore. Light up the City, yah buddy. And then tax the public to buy those carbon credits. LOL LOL LOL