There Is Scientific Consensus On Anthropogenic Climate Change Among Climate Scientists
    By News Staff | May 15th 2013 09:52 PM | 22 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    An analysis of 4,000 abstracts of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of global warming and climate change has revealed an overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that recent warming is human-caused.

    Was there any doubt?

    The 4,000 abstacts were from papers published in the past 21 years that stated a position on the cause of recent global warming – 97 percent of these endorsed the consensus that we are seeing man-made, or anthropogenic, global warming (AGW). You won't find more than 3% of evolutionary biologists denying evolution either, but the paper in Environmental Research Letters also asked the authors of the papers to rate their entire paper using the same criteria. Over 2,000 papers were self-rated and among those that discussed the cause of recent global warming, 97 percent endorsed the consensus that it is caused by humans. 

    Nuclear physicists are also for nuclear power yet an alarming number of environmentalists are skeptical or even in outright denial - and the general public also has beliefs in stark contrast to physicists about nuclear power, just like the public does not agree about genetic modification to the same degree biologists do. 

    John Cook at the University of Queensland, who led the analysis, said in their statement,  "Our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary. There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception. It's staggering given the evidence for consensus that less than half of the general public think scientists agree that humans are causing global warming.

    "This is significant because when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they're more likely to support policies that take action on it."

    This is only a surprise to climate scientists. Biologists in America, with 45% of the public not accepting evolution, would love to have climate science levels of acceptance among the general populace. And nuclear physicists have it even worse. Cook is concerned about a chasm between the science consensus and public perception, but there is also an even wider political chasm between academics and the public and no scientists mind; academics are far out of the mainstream. It can't be factored out the impact that has on the acceptance of data when it comes to political hot-button topics.

    In March of 2012, the scholars used the ISI Web of Science database to search for peer-reviewed academic articles published between 1991 and 2011 using two topic searches: "global warming" and "global climate change".

    After limiting the selection to peer-reviewed climate science, the study considered 11,994 papers written by 29,083 authors in 1,980 different scientific journals. The abstracts from these papers were randomly distributed between a team of 24 volunteers recruited through the website - an advocacy group devoted to debunking climate change skepticism.  The volunteers determined the level to which the abstracts endorsed that humans are the primary cause of global warming. Each abstract was analyzed by two independent, anonymous raters.

    Of the 11,994 papers, 32.6 percent endorsed AGW, 66.4 percent stated no position on AGW, 0.7 percent rejected AGW and in 0.3 percent of papers, the authors said the cause of global warming was uncertain.  

    Co-author of the study Mark Richardson, from the University of Reading, said, "We want our scientists to answer questions for us, and there are lots of exciting questions in climate science. One of them is: are we causing global warming? We found over 4,000 studies written by 10,000 scientists that stated a position on this, and 97 percent said that recent warming is mostly man made."

    Visitors to the website were also solicited for money to publish the results as open access.

    Environmental Research Letters charged them $1,600 but their editor-in-chief, Daniel Kammen, still tried to pretend they were taking some moral high ground for science in their statement: "This paper demonstrates the power of the Environmental Research Letters open access model of operation in that authors working to advance our knowledge of climate science and to engage in a public discourse can guarantee all interested parties have the opportunity to review the same data and findings."

    They did it for science. And $1,600. In advance.


    Since 100% of peer-reviewers are AGW believers, there is hope in their passing 3% of the papers that they can still learn something.

    But at least they can be thankful that all the global 'warming' of the past 10–15 years is man-made.


    The set of peer reviewers would be the same as the set of authors so one would expect a similar (not higher) level of agreement.

    A good peer reviewer would simply review the evidence presented and arguments made without reference to their own position.

    Well, not really in this instance. The people doing the rankings were volunteers who are members of a site devoted to attacking climate skeptics, they were not picked because they were climate experts.

    I don't think it matters but it's not a 'study' any more than surveys of psychology undergraduates is. Obviously on a question like this; is nuclear power safe? Did evolution happen? Is global warming due to manmade CO2 emissions? the people in the field are going to say yes or they wouldn't be in the field.  And so will people who are devoted to a site affirming that.
    This was done by a group of people from Skeptical Science Blog, where they all shared notes, discussed papers etc, not so independent, here's a review of this independent review.
    Never is a long time.
    I have no issues with climate science but this paper is an example of the kind of partisan idiocy that skeptics complain about. Social psychologists would laugh at this methodology - and that is really saying something.
    Hank: Pot. Kettle. Black.

    As usual, you don't let the facts get in the way of your own "partisan idiocy".

    In addition to the analysis by the volunteers from the website they ALSO requested that the AUTHORS of the papers (including, according to him, Roger Pielke senior) state their views. The response from the authors showed that twice as many thought their studies explicitly indicated that humans were causing GW as the supposedly biased reviewers found. In short, the 'partisan' reviewers were exceedingly conservative and excluded thousands of papers which did not state human causation explicitly enough even though the authors felt that should have been clear. In any case, both the reviewer and author results came out to 97% consensus.

    So why is it idiocy on my part?  97% of evolutionary biologists accept evolution also - probably more - except they feel no need to ask each other something obvious and pretend it is a big news event.

    The deficit thinking agenda seems to be 'the public is out of the mainstream' - which is true, but a straw man since it is also true of every bit of science being done.  But, seriously, you don't find it funny that the raters were encouraged to match each other in a study?
    It is fascinating that you can simultaneously claim that the results of this study are obvious AND that it was conducted improperly. If the study is so unimportant and its results so inevitable why must you, being NOT AT ALL partisan, imagine malfeasance?

    'Well of course that was the result. Everyone knows that. But these people are biased and they must have done something shady.' Bipolar much?

    "But, seriously, you don't find it funny that the raters were encouraged to match each other in a study?"

    You realize this is just more ridiculous partisan BS, right? 'They fudged their results! But matched the authors anyway.'

    Finally, the illogic of your underlying claim should be obvious to anyone familiar with the history of AGW. When Arrhenius first proposed it in the 1890s there was near universal agreement that he was incorrect. Callendar in the 1940s made more headway, but was still very much in the minority. AGW didn't become the majority view until the 1970s. The simple fact that people work in a field does NOT determine their beliefs... until the evidence becomes overwhelming. This study is thus relevant in that it shows both that the common claim that scientific opinion on AGW is hotly divided is about 40 years out of date and that the evidence has reached the point where (nearly) everyone in the field is convinced.

    I said the methodology was crap. You say as long as the two results match, it doesn't matter if the methodology is crap, it matches your predetermined belief and therefore must be awesome. Then you call other people partisan who don't have a predetermined belief.

    John Cook is among the top raters in his own top raters graph - all of the authors are doing the ratings that a. How can you be surprised the level of confidence of paper authors match the confidence of authors who set out to show that paper authors had confidence?

    You're on some crackpot rant defending crap methodology of a survey of abstracts because you are concerned it debunks actual climate science. It certainly does not. Go scream at people on that Watts site or wherever you crawled here from.
    Yes... the lead author worked on the survey. How improper. What 'crap methodology'.

    I'd refute your arguments here, but seriously... why bother?

    Were you one of the raters?  You seem to have a lot invested in an open access paper that found nothing at all out of the ordinary - that climate scientists accept climate science - but had a methodology that is ridiculously flawed. In response, you continually act like a crackpot and try to insult people, even though no one disagrees about climate science and is just making goat noises at a vanity paper the authors wrote and then got readers to pay $1600 to publish.

    So, I ask again, if a group of skeptics got together and rated papers that disputed global warming and then asked authors if they agreed and wrote a paper declaring that 97% of scientists think it is fake, would that be legitimate to you? I am guessing you think that methodology is still valid then?
    Hank, let's be clear.

    1: You are insisting that the conclusion of this study was foregone because people wouldn't work in the field of climate science if they didn't believe in AGW... despite the historical evidence that MANY people have done just that and only came to accept AGW as the evidence has become overwhelming.

    2: You are insisting that the authors biased their results... even though you also say those results were inevitable. They also made all of the ratings available for review. Yet no one seems to be pointing to ANY that were incorrectly rated as pro AGW because the raters were, "devoted to a site affirming that".

    3: You are insisting that the methodology of the paper is "crap"... even though the independent peer reviewers of the highly respected Environmental Research Letters journal approved it as solid science. Your stated reasons for saying it is crap? The lead author runs a blog. The lead author performed some of the analysis. Somehow you apparently can't see that neither of those things has ANYTHING to do with the methodology of the paper.

    Throw in the nonsense about collusion on setting the ratings, the assumption that I must be one of the raters (nope), and your oh so calm language (e.g. "crap", "crackpot", "idiocy") and I've got some bad news...

    YOU are the 'ranting crackpot' in this conversation.

    Unfortunately, you have no idea if the paper was peer reviewed or not. It is an open access journal, that paper went through 'editorial review' and rarely one through peer review, yet you go further and insist a bunch of surveys have been vetted as 'independent peer reviewers of the highly respected Environmental Research Letters journal approved it as solid science'.  No one who knows what science is said it was science. It isn't science. Science, if you cared, is not rating abstracts and then tabulating statistics and declaring a percentage that agree. Never has been, never will be. You'd know that if you knew anything about science.

    Again, if 5 global warming deniers get together and read an article denying global warming, that would be 'peer review' too. Is it legitimate to you?  No one is skirting the issue but you. You have a personal agenda and no sense of logic. But you are fast wearing out the 'at least you are on our side against global warming deniers' free pass. Any other crackpot with no clue and too much attitude would have been bounced already.
    If you truly believe that meta-studies like this one are 'not science' then your opinion is inconsistent with that of most scientists (and journals).

    If you truly believe that Environmental Research Letters does not conduct peer review on ALL papers it publishes then your belief is at odds with reality.

    It's not a meta study, it is a review. Reviews are studies, sure, they are not science. You seem to think the two are synonymous, which means your 'reality' is some philosophical subjective thing where science is anything you want to call it. Hint: math is not science either, even though it is in journals. Economics is not science either.  It isn't complicated, any more than baseball is basketball.

    Someone needs to rename this site to 'NOT Science 2.0'. :]

    After all, THIS 'not science' article was put into the 'Social Sciences' section by the "News Staff". What's worse, there is also MATH on this site;

    Of course, there are definitions of 'science' as broad as 'all knowledge' and as narrow as the speaker needs them to be in order to be 'right'. Your sole remaining point has thus devolved into a purely semantic argument... a narrow definition of 'science' at odds with the name/content of the site itself.

    Of course there is math. Math is the language of science. There is also a policy section, since the bulk of science funding in America is now done by the government so politics is important.  Where would you put policy articles, under geology?  That makes no sense at all.

    I guess you are a troll. You can't be as clueless as you come across.
    I was one of the raters until my arm problem (RSI) kept me from writing.  I can assure you that I did not confer with anybody about my ratings.  Abstracts were presented randomly from a database.  Each rater was required to read a randomly presented abstract and determine what the abstract had to say - if anything - about anthropogenic climate change.  I can assure you that I was exceedingly careful not to let any personal bias intrude.

    Each abstract was rated independently.  The system ensured that each abstract was rated twice: blindly.  Only in the exceedingly rare case of a rather obscure use of language did we exchange views - and then only about the topic of the abstract, not what it said or implied about climate change.

    Every effort was made to ensure that the survey was conducted as scientifically and as ethically as is humanly possible so that the people who claim that there is no consensus would find nothing in the survey on which to found a legitimate complaint.

    Even when intruders downloaded whole sections of the skeptical science site, nothing was found of any scientific value to the promoters of the view that climate change / agw isn't real.
    Yes, you are in Cook's graph that I pasted above. That's no issue - the issue is that the paper authors are misrepresenting themselves and the methodology. Well, maybe they aren't. They never said it wasn't a crap method. But the shills circling the wagons around this nonsense are. No one seems to mention that Cook runs that site, they make it sound like this was some randomized, anonymous group doing the ratings.

    Seriously, if a group of Exxon executives got together and found a bunch of papers that disputed global warming and then wrote the authors of the papers to ask if they agreed and wrote a paper saying '97% of scientists agree global warming is fake', we'd be calling 'bullshit' even louder.
    Seriously, if a group of Exxon executives got together and found a bunch of papers that disputed global warming and then wrote the authors of the papers to ask if they agreed and wrote a paper saying '97% of scientists agree global warming is fake', we'd be calling 'bullshit' even louder.

    Thank you for the 'even louder' concession.  :-)

    I would love to debate this with you all day but I have to ration my writing so as to avoid a recurrence of the RSI problem  I am currently writing about the invention of the lead-acid battery.  Strange to relate, we do not know everything there is to know about that technology: not all of the facts are in.  As you know, apart from the 'no consensus' brigade, we have to contend with people who say we should do nothing about agw until 'all the facts' are in.  Now, Svante Arrhenius investigated not just the warming effects of CO2 but the physical chemistry of wet batteries.  People who reject his findings on CO2 must, in order to be consistent, reject his findings on electrochemistry.  After all, the properties of the crank have been known in full since antiquity.  (There may be a pun in there somewhere.)
    In short, the 'partisan' reviewers were exceedingly conservative and excluded thousands of papers which did not state human causation explicitly enough even though the authors felt that should have been clear.
    So you claim they excluded any paper that the science didn't really agree with AGW, just because the author believed it should, yet say the 97% that agree is somehow meaningful?

    Maybe they should have put those thousands of paper in the inconclusive or not supportive of AGW category? Regardless of the authors opinion, and accept that not 97% of the papers actually support AGW.
    Oh, let's also remember that there's a difference between GW and AGW, and how the question is phrased matters.
    Never is a long time.
    reviewers were exceedingly conservative and excluded thousands of papers which did not state human causation explicitly enough even though the authors felt that should have been clear.
    Let me clarify that.  Some papers which merely mentioned agw, or which endorsed global warming without specifying its cause/s were not classed by any reviewer as specifically endorsing the agw view.  After review it was found that some authors in this category actually supported the view that gw was anthropogenic.  Those authors were surprised at the categorisation since they thought their view was perfectly clear.  There was nothing untoward in this process.