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New Survey: Less Than Half Of Climate Scientists Agree With The IPCC’s Key Claim

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Jo Nova

I used to think there was a consensus among government-funded certified climate scientists, but a new study by Strengers, Verheegen, and Vringer shows even that is not true.[1] The “97% consensus” is now 43%.

No 97% consensus, man-made global warming, survey climate scientists

Finally there is a decent survey on the topic, and it shows that less than half of what we would call “climate scientists” who research the topic and for the most part, publish in the peer reviewed literature, would agree with the IPCC’s main conclusions. Only 43% of climate scientists agree with the IPCC “95%” certainty.

More than 1800 international scientists studying various aspects of climate change (including climate physics, climate impacts, and mitigation) responded to the questionnaire. Some 6550 people were invited to participate in this survey, which took place in March and April 2012. Respondents were picked because they had authored articles with the key words ‘global warming’ and/or ‘global climate change’, covering the 1991–2011 period, via the Web of Science, or were included the climate scientist database assembled by Jim Prall, or just by a survey of peer reviewed climate science articles. Prall’s database includes some 200 names that have criticized mainstream science and about half had only published in “gray literature”. (But hey, the IPCC quoted rather a lot of gray literature itself. Donna LaFramboise found 5,587 non peer reviewed articles in AR4.)

Fabius Maximus deserves credit for finding and analyzing the study. He notes that only 64% agreed that man-made CO2 was the main or dominant driver controlling more than half of the temperature rise. But of this group (1,222 scientists), only 797 said it was “virtually certain” or “extremely likely”. That’s just 43% of climate scientists who fully agree with the IPCC statement. This survey directly asks climate scientists, unlike the clumsy versions by John CookWilliam Anderegg, or Naomi Oreskes that do keyword surveys of abstracts in papers and try to “guess”.

Fabius Maximus suggests we exclude the “I don’t knows” which brings up the number to 47%. Since these are “climate scientists” I don’t see why those responses should be excluded. An expert saying “I don’t know” on the certainty question is an emphatic disagreement with the IPCC 95% certainty.

The IPCC AR5 Statement:

“It is extremely likely {95%+ certainty} that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. ”

—  Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I.

Climate scientists, survey, consensus, 97%, certainty,

Climate Scientists, consensus, survey, 97%, 43%, certainty

The researchers acknowledge that skeptics may be slightly over-represented, “it is likely that viewpoints that run counter to the prevailing consensus are somewhat (i.e. by a few percentage points) magnified in our results.” I say, given that skeptics get sacked, rarely get grants to research, and find it harder to get published, they are underrepresented in every way in the “certified” pool of publishing climate scientists. Skeptical scientists, I daresay, would be much less likely to use the keyword phrase “global warming” in the papers they do publish. I imagine it’s easier to get papers published that don’t specifically poke the mainstream buttons.

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