What Consensus? Two-thirds of climate studies (8,000) from 1991-2011 take no position on cause of global warming

An inconvenient fact from a new study attempting to bolster the 97% consensus myth.

The media release is below.


Study reveals scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change

A comprehensive analysis of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of global warming and climate change has revealed an overwhelming consensus among scientists that recent warming is human-caused.

The study is the most comprehensive yet and identified 4000 summaries, otherwise known as abstracts, from papers published in the past 21 years that stated a position on the cause of recent global warming – 97 per cent of these endorsed the consensus that we are seeing man-made, or anthropogenic, global warming (AGW)

Led by John Cook at the University of Queensland, the study has been published today, Thursday 16 May, in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters.

The study went one step further, asking the authors of these papers to rate their entire paper using the same criteria. Over 2000 papers were rated and among those that discussed the cause of recent global warming, 97 per cent endorsed the consensus that it is caused by humans.

The findings are in stark contrast to the public’s position on global warming; a 2012 poll* revealed that more than half of Americans either disagree, or are unaware, that scientists overwhelmingly agree that the Earth is warming because of human activity.

John Cook said: “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.”

In March 2012, the researchers 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 1980 different scientific journals.

The abstracts from these papers were randomly distributed between a team of 24 volunteers recruited through the “myth-busting” website skepticalscience.com, who used set criteria to determine 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.

From the 11 994 papers, 32.6 per cent endorsed AGW, 66.4 per cent stated no position on AGW, 0.7 per cent rejected AGW and in 0.3 per cent 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 4000 studies written by 10 000 scientists that stated a position on this, and 97 per cent said that recent warming is mostly man made.”

Visitors to the skepticalscience.com website also raised the funds required to allow the study to be accessible to the public.

Daniel Kammen, editor-in-chief of the journal Environmental Research Letters, said: “”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.”

* http://www.pewresearch.org/2013/04/02/climate-change-key-data-points-from-pew-research/

From Thursday 16 May, this paper can be downloaded from http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article

35 thoughts on “What Consensus? Two-thirds of climate studies (8,000) from 1991-2011 take no position on cause of global warming”

  1. Maybe they expressed no opinion because the subject of their research didn’t require them to do so. Maybe they did express an opinion and the researchers missed it. We just don’t know. Why do we care (do we care why people didn’t respond to a survey?).

  2. Well, 32.6% of them believe in AGW. The remaining 2/3rds either aren’t sure or deny AGW.

    I’d like to see the break down on where each of the scientists receive their paychecks. It would be interesting to see if those scientists who are on the “AGW payroll” believe in AGW at a higher percentage than those who are not on the “AGW payroll.”

  3. You are incorrect. That’s not what the article says AT ALL. Re-read the article: 12,000 papers analyzed; 4000 of which expressed ANY VIEW on AGW, of the 4000 97% expressed belief in AGW. Get it now? The other 8000, expressed NO OPINION — that’s not saying they expressed the view “no opinion” nor is it that they expressed an opinion “No.” They were merely mute.

    Are all you guys just lunatics? What’s wrong with your brains?

  4. Why does that matter… at all. Maybe they did have an opinion, but didn’t express it in the particular papers reviewed. You are over-thinking this. It’s like wonder why people don’t respond to a survey.

  5. If of 12,000 written by AGW supporters 97% said that GW was man made that means 3% of supporters have changed their mind or are undecided. So 8120 are undecided which I think is about right. Most sceptics of the theory are people who know that science is rarely if ever”decided”. This looks to me like a simple confirmation of the fact that most people are dubious about the theory and need much more evidence to adduce a dangerous threat.

  6. What matters is *why* two-thirds expressed no opinion. Was it because they had none? Or because the issue of cause was irrelevant to their paper?

  7. What you say is incorrect (and, “yes”, is see your “/sarc” but I don’t see the sarcasm, only the incorrect inference). Frankly, I don’t see why everyone is having such a hard time reading English.

  8. That may be true, but it is not contained within this article. The authors of the papers were not interviewed and so we do not know “what they agree to.” And while each and every article MIGHT have said [e.g., at the end] “global warming was a danger and would require much more extensive study and even greater funding” we haven’t a clue that this is the case.

  9. I dare say 97% of skeptics believe in global warming. Indeed I suggest 100% so believe. Of course end points matter. So I’d rephrase: “100% of skeptics believe the earth has warmed from 1850 to today.” And if it isn’t 100%, it’s darned close. Now anyone who believes that it’s [all or mostly] man’s fault is not speaking as a scientist, because there’s no real scientific basis to adjudicate this. There’s correlation, but that’s weak and poorly timed (2/3 of the last century’s warming was before the mid-40s but 75% of the human emissions happened after that time). But I have no real problem admitting humans have impacted the temperature, especially if you throw in albedo effects and the self-inflicted warming that results from living in cities (UHIE).

  10. Your survey analogy is incorrect.

    The 12,000 papers are not equivalent to 12,000 survey forms sent out. They are 12,000 datum points in the study. Of those 12,000 points, 4,000 fit a certain criteria. To now pretend that the remaining 8,000 pieces of data no longer count is to utilize the practice which the climate debate appears intent on trademarking – i.e. cherry picking.

  11. We all bring the baggage of past debate with us. Your point is 100% right on. But that’s not the point of this article. The point is that “scientists agree that there’s been [some] warming and that humans are [somewhat] the cause of this.” I can’t see anything controversial about this. Some warming [from some time or another] has occurred [to another time or another]…. FOR SURE. And we know that CO2 (and methane) are GHG’s and humans produce them [in some quantity or another], so given there’s no specific amount claimed, so what? And besides, this survey didn’t opine on whether these scientists even MADE a case for AGW (nor did they evaluate the validity of said beliefs).

    Finally, it’s only CAGW that matters. No one would give one hoot about GW or even AGW if it weren’t for the fear of CAGW. But there’s NO scientific basis for this concern, now that the UT water vapor feedback mechanism has been shown not to occur in nature [in the past record].

  12. David,

    This is nothing more than another means to get to the 97% number. Cook can now say that critics of the previous 97% number can be ignored because he has independantly arrived at the same figure. Therefore it must be valid.

    It’s a crock. Of the percentage which do include attribution, yes, an overwhelming percentage say human caused. Yet this does not change the fact that an overwhelming percentage of all papers make no attribution at all. Therefore you cannot say that 97% support AGW. And trying to infer that, which is exactly what the authors of the press release are trying to do, is misleading at best and dishonest at worse.

  13. This is getting silly. Think in terms of a survey. 12,000 surveys sent out, 4000 responses, 97% saying “the sky is blue.

    Putting aside why 3% don’t think the sky is blue, it is very much the proper way to look at this as 97% of those responding agreeing. NO ONE would say ONLY 1 out of 3 people surveyed think the sky is blue.

  14. A large percentage of studies funded by government grants to study global warming all agreed that global warming was a danger and would require much more extensive study and even greater funding.

  15. This is all nonsensical gibberish; it only takes one scientist to disprove a consensus. Were you aware that consensus has not been part of the Scientific Method since its inception almost a thousand years ago? Are you still a denier of plate tectonics? Do you believe that light requires a substance called ether to propagate?

  16. David,

    when someone tries to tap dance to the beat of parsing of words, it is often a sign of having nothing else to argue with.

    12,000 papers, a third of which attribute warming to human activity, the rest (except for a very small percentage) containing no atttribution claims at all. You can get no result other than 32% of papers published on the subject support anthropogenic.

  17. It is also well known that a large percentage of goverment and education workers are liberal. This issue has significant political implications. Cook’s results, therefore, are meaningless unless he can control for this aspect of his “study”.

  18. You suggest that “saying nothing of the kind” means they’re saying they disagree that GW >>> AGW. The 2/3rds are not saying either “no” or “No opinion.” They are merely mute.

  19. Yes, so far, so good. But of those WHO DID express an opinion 97% said they thought GW was AGW. You can’t include the rest of them as “Saying NO”. You can’t even include the rest of them as saying “NO OPINION” (although there was a tiny fraction who took this position). The simple fact is that the bulk of the papers were mute on the subject.

  20. David,

    12,000 papers looked at.

    32% of which (i.e. the 4000 number Mark Richardson refers to) supported the position that warming was human caused.

    That leaves the remaining 8,000 papers which do not state a position regarding causation.

  21. If that is so, then what does it say, as I get the same interpretation.

    (But then anyone who learned fractions would. )

  22. Sorry, guys, but this actually shows that ‘climate scientists [as defined] and [who express an opinion on the subject] generally believe in AGW. You can’t spin this away. Of course, who cares, because the issue has never been GW or AGW, but rather CAGW. This was not at issue in the survey.

  23. 97% of those who believe in AGW believe in AGW, so shown by the mythbusters from skeptical science. Isn’t that like saying that 97% of the folks in the free beer tent drink beer? Surely this was an honest and above board review. I’m very sure that the mythological 97% ad nauseum.

  24. What is the source for this PR?. It exists nowhere else but here and the link to the paper is 404.

  25. So if 1/3 of scientific papers on climate suggest AGW is correct, and 2/3 of papers on climate suggest nothing of the kind, the 1/3 is a consensus. This is the same sort of consensus warmers have been demonstrating for years, and they wonder why people think there is no consensus?

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