One of the interesting things that I’ve noticed since delving into the “climate wars” some 14 months ago, is the “evolution” of the determination of the so-called “overwhelming scientific consensus” regarding climate change aka “global warming”, how it was initially contrived, how often it’s been touted – and how more recently it has “shrunk” even to the point that “hockey team” member, Gavin Schmidt, has acknowledged that the science is not settled.
Events of the past year have resulted in some rather desperate attempts to shore-up the “consensus” – including one particularly shoddy study published in the illustrious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) entitled “Expert credibility in climate change“. As I had noted last July:
In a nutshell, the authors contend that quantity [of publications] trumps quality in determining the “credibility” and “expertise” of those whose voices should be heard on the subject of “climate change”.
This PNAS “study” notes that their “finding complements direct polling of the climate researcher community, which yields qualitative and self-reported researcher expertise”. This “direct polling” was conducted by Doran and Zimmerman in 2009. When Sam at Climatequotes recently examined Doran and Zimmerman, he concluded:
This survey should not be cited as evidence that a consensus exists among climate scientists regarding AGW. This is due to the fact that it does not ask the scientists if human activities are the primary cause of increasing temperatures. The questions asked only pertained to ascertaining whether or not climate scientists agree that the earth has warmed and humans have played any role, and it did a poor job at ascertaining these facts as well. Anyone using this study to claim that 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are the primary cause of global warming is ignoring the ambiguous and poor phrasing of this survey questions. The survey does not ask if global warming is primarily driven by human activity, so the survey responses cannot answer this question.[emphasis added -hro]
Sam’s excellent analysis, which is well worth reading, btw, includes responses from climate scientists, Patrick Michaels, Richard Lindzen, John Christy, and Bob Carter. His follow-up post, in which he poses the question, “What would an accurate survey of climate scientists look like?” was, in fact, the inspiration for this one of mine!
A significant role in the building of the “scientific consensus” has been played by various institutions and organizations – from which some individuals have chosen to resign, as a consequence of the organization’s “official” position on climate change, including most recently Steven J. Welcenbach whose Jan. 22 letter of resignation from the American Chemical Society (ACS) includes:
The American Chemical Society (ACS), formerly the largest scientific society on Earth, has been fully transformed from a respected, credible scientific organization to a fully engaged Progressive Political Action Committee.
The respectability and credibility of ACS has been waning for quite some time. […] The content of [C&E News] has steadily become based upon hearsay and unproven claims, such as the report last fall about the “pollution fallout” of the “undersea oil plume” from the BP incident in the Gulf last spring. No data was provided. No proof required. Just speculative claims of disaster from the handsomely paid authors of calamity. Such an article typifies the scientific journalistic prowess of C&E News and thus ACS. [h/t Jo Nova]
As Dr. Ross McKitrick recently wrote:
Individual experts can speak for themselves if they desire. Official “society” statements put words in peoples’ mouths, imposing groupthink and conformity and fostering bitterness on the part of those who find themselves with no voice. They silence and marginalize members who disagree with some or all of the statement, demoting them to second-class citizens in their own profession, regardless of their numbers or credibility as scientists.
Official statements replace the slow process of winnowing scientific truth by promoting a political “appeal to authority.” It encourages journalists, policymakers, educators and others to rest their case on the “Expert Statement” rather than on the evidence. Consequently, public debate becomes less informative, and more authoritarian.
Which leads me to my invitation! My questions are somewhat different: I’m interested in the role of human generated C02 and in how scientists would communicate their views on climate change to the general public. I would like to hear from at least 1500* scientists of any and all “persuasions”. So, if you are a scientist, please click here to complete a short survey. If you are not a scientist, feel free to tell those of your friends who are – and/or to leave your thoughts on the survey in the comments below this post.
* I’ll update this post from time to time with a count of valid responses received, and of course will publish the results in a future post.