The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 28, 2014

Consensus on climate change fuzzy science


The Mankato Free Press

---- — Help! I am evidently an uneducated fool, or so I read. I keep reading that 97 percent of climate scientists agree to CO2 induced warming, but then by innuendo I am called a ‘flat-earther’

Who in their day were part of the 97 percent. So, which is it? Readers, you decide.

A subgroup in a set of scientists was limited to 10,257 and each sent e-mails with two relevant questions. Eliminated from the original e-mailing were atmospheric physicists, (surprising !?) and more. There were 3,147 replies. The first question was ‘When compared with pre1800’s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant’? I would have answered ‘Risen.’

Question two: ‘Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperature’? Answer yes or no. Hmm, I find that to be a non question. What does significant mean? 10 percent?, 25 percent? Land use,could be a factor. Many scientists with whom I have contact found themselves unsure of how to answer this question.

Of those 3,147 replies, the number considered was reduced down to under 300, then down to 79 for the first question and 77 for the second question, of which 75 answered yes. End of story! 75 of 77. We have a 97 percent consensus. Interesting! The study, which can be found on line was done by a University of Illinois graduate student Maggie Zimmerman in 2008

What was the percentage before reducing down to 77? (Hint- it was much less than 97 percent) And why 79 for the first question and 77 for the second? Two did not say temps had risen on the first question, so the second question could not apply. Of those 79, two said not rising, and two more said not human activity. Just that alone would be 75 of 79 or about 95 percent. So, readers, do you think this is a viable statistical study? The 97 percent meme soon became gospel.

Then in 2013 there came a second 97 percent study “Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in The Scientific Literature.” The results were presented to the general public in the Guardian by Australian staff writers John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli. It was taken from the antithetically named website ‘Skeptical Science’ hosted by Cook and Nuccitelli. The investigation was done by, oh yes, Cook and Nuccitelli.

A follow-up article (rebuttal) titled “Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: a Rejoinder to ‘Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change” decisively rejects a supposedly near-unanimous consensus on the study of climate change and states that it is misleading and misinforming the public.

The paper by Legates et al, is by four senior researchers, with Dr. David LeGates, director of Climatic Research at the University of Delaware stating “It is astonishing that any journal could have published a paper claiming a 97 percent consensus when on the authors’ own analysis the true consensus was well below 1 percent.”

The words of another Australian, Professor Brian J O’Brien, who had worked closely with astronauts on the Apollo missions make clear an underlying problem. Printed in Australia’s Herald Sun on July 24, 2011 was his lament on the science of climate change; “wildly exaggerated”...certainly not proven” and “sadly, no senior independent scientists in the field.” O’Brien’s next statement defines the problem “The funding for climate change research was only going to what you call true believers.”

In President Eisenhower’s farewell speech: “the prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and gravely to be regarded.” Or, as I was told by one scientist: “Say ‘climate change’ go past go and collect $200,000.”

In the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fourth report only 57 scientists of the reported 2,500 deal with attribution of change and some of them vehemently disagreed with the final draft for policymakers. In my opinion, the original mistake was made when the IPCC was assigned the question, “Has Carbon dioxide caused global warming.” The question should have been: “What factors may cause global warming?” It is hard to do unbiased research when the results may eliminate your job.

Nothing I have written up to this point proves or disproves much of anything. I want to take the interchange beyond the usual unsubstantiated facts and the “he said, she said” motif to some actual discussion which might be of benefit. Crucial decisions are being made and most institutions accept anthropogenic Climate Change as gospel without bothering to investigate or analyze it.

Darryl Biehn is a retired teacher in physics and advanced placement chemistry. He has been studying the science of climate change for five years. He lives in Madison Lake.