Why the Konsensus Doesn’t Talk About Legitimate Surveys of Climate Scientists

Almost since the beginning of the controversy over man-made climate change and its potential impacts on human society, policy advocates have jumped in front of the science repeatedly. This has contributed to a politicization of the issue and a polarization between skeptics and alarmists. Although both sides have contributed to this unfortunate turn of events, the harm done by alarmists is much greater.

There is a real consensus among climate scientists that global warming is real, in part caused by humans and likely to continue. That consensus has been measured by surveys of climate scientists. However, Alarmists don’t refer to these surveys much at all, first because the ‘consensus’ revealed by the surveys is not overwhelming enough and second, the surveys reveal problem areas within climate science that Alarmists don’t want to publicize.

Von Storch Bray 2008

In 2008, Hans von Storch and Dennis Bray surveyed 375 scientists from 34 countries who had authored papers in peer-reviewed climate journals. 65% had worked in climate science for more than 10 years and 66% had authored more than 6 papers. 78% of them were working in the physics of climate science, on model development, data acquisition, etc.

And 66% were either ‘very much convinced’ (35%) or ‘convinced’ (32%) that ‘most of recent or near future warming is/will be a result of anthropogenic causes. Furthermore, 62% were ‘very much convinced’ (35%) or ‘convinced 28%) that ‘climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to humanity.’

But because the survey also disclosed that climate scientists had very real issues with the quality of data they were working with and the ability of current models to predict precipitation in the future, the Alarmists don’t really like to talk about the von Storch Bray survey. Besides, 66% doesn’t sound… convincing enough.

Verheggen et al 2012

Atmospheric scientist Bart Verheggen teamed up with the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency to conduct a larger survey of climate scientists in 2012 . (Disclosure—I offered some advice to Verheggen on how to field the survey.) 1,868 scientists participated. The research went out of their way to insure that those skeptical of climate science were included in the survey. Some of the skeptics had not published in peer-reviewed journals—many had, as had all of those recruited in other ways.

More or less replicating the von Storch findings, Verheggen’s study found that 66% of the respondents felt that more than half of the global warming since the middle of the 20th Century was anthropogenic in origin. Those who felt that way were far more confident in their perception than those who felt that humans had been responsible less than 50% of the current warming period. This is a solid consensus about recent climate change.

Again, the survey has not been frequently cited by Alarmists—66% just isn’t sexy enough. So Alarmists went to work to create a false picture of a consensus that would satisfy their needs. Cue John Cook, Jim Prall and Stefan Lewandowsky…

The Disturbing Data From The Surveys

I mentioned above that one reason Alarmists don’t use these surveys in their discussion of climate change is that some of the data might not be helpful to their cause. Here are some examples.

In the Bray von Storch survey:

• 43% of the surveyed climate scientists said that the direction of research in climate science has been influenced by external politics in the last 10 years, either ‘very much’ or ‘much’.
• Only 9% said that atmospheric models are adequate in dealing with vapor in the atmosphere and only 1% said they were adequate in dealing with clouds. 2% said the models were adequate in dealing with precipitation.
• Only 5% said the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of turbulence and only 5% said the same for land surface processes. 9% said the same for sea ice and 32% said the same for anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
• Only 9% said that the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of model temperatures for the next 50 years.

In the Verheggen et al study:

• 30% of respondents set the lower bound for sensitivity at below 1.5C. 38% gave their best estimate for sensitivity at 2.4C or below.14% gave their upper bound for sensitivity at 4.4C or below.
• 46% of these climate scientists believe that the lower bound for sea level rise this century is below 26 centimeters. 40% believe the upper limit for sea level rise this century is below 70 cm.

This is why the Konsensus turned to John Cook, Prall et al, and Stefan Lewandowsky. The consensus wasn’t strong enough so they had to manufacture a Potemkin Village of opinion, a Konsensus.

13 responses to “Why the Konsensus Doesn’t Talk About Legitimate Surveys of Climate Scientists

  1. This is interesting, I had not heard of these two surveys!

    Permission to repost your essay? I post material on (the skeptic side) of climate change, at Deviantart.com. An art site, but has lots of politics of all kinds going on there.

    (My own view: Human-induced is less than 50% of overall climate change currently going on)

  2. Great column to use as a reference, Tom. I think it should also be added that if the 66% who are “convinced” by the current data are true scientists, they will change their opinion should new data cast doubt on their findings. Furthermore, if they can’t explain the hiatus, then nothing is written in stone, and that is how it should be in proper science. I would hope that the 66% would also admit that the science is woefully incomplete.

    If the science doesn’t evolve, then it’s not science. It’s something far more sinister.

  3. The true ‘consensus’ (for whatever that’s worth in science) is easy to find: the OISM Petition Project from just before Kyoto #1 listed more than 30,000 scientists by name, each of them with degrees in the hard sciences, engineering or mathematics (including more than 9,000 PhD’s) who all think that CO2 is harmless, and beneficial to the biosphere.

    Those numbers trump anything the alarmist crowd has ever come up with. That is the real consensus. Everything else is political spin.

    • Smokey,
      The problem with that OISM petition is that there are a few phonied up signatures and the cliamte obsessed point to that small percentage and dismiss the entire petition. Yet ironically Cook and Lewandowsky do fraudulent research and papers and when outed go on to greater glory.

  4. hunter,

    I’ve heard that one before. But every time I see someone claim that the Spice Girls, etc., are listed, I go to the site — and they’re not there.

    You can check every one of the 31,000+ names on the OISM site. They have all been vetted, in alphabetical order, along with their degrees in the hard sciences.

    The climate alarmist crowd just doesn’t want to admit that the true ‘consensus’ is on the side of skeptics of the man-made global warming scare.

    Alarmists cannot come up with even ONE PERCENT of the OISM’s numbers. They are just a small clique that makes a lot of noise, abetted by a complicit media.

  5. Pingback: Recognition and Attribution | The Lukewarmer's Way

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  7. Pingback: Verheggen’s Consensus: Not 97%, not 47%. It’s 66%. | The Lukewarmer's Way

  8. Pingback: More on Verheggen et al: Great Survey. Pity about the report… It’s still 66%. | The Lukewarmer's Way

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