Consensus from Heritage


Heritage Link

The Consensus

The Myth of the 97 Percent. There are profound uncertainties in nascent climate science. Nevertheless, global warming hypotheses have been narrowed in the press and public debate to a “consensus” view of catastrophic global warming in a political world that prizes agreement and confidence over exploration, and a media that thrives on crisis. This advances neither science nor sound public policy.


A common claim among proponents of action on climate change is that the overwhelming majority of climatologists agree on global warming science. One commonly cited statistic is that 97 percent of climatologists agree on global warming. This 97 percent number is recited and embellished by politicians and environmental activist organizations pushing to decarbonize America and the world’s energy sector. In a 2014 commencement speech at Boston College, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists tell us this is urgent.”[2] This is, in fact, not the case.


The figure comes from a 2013 Cook et al. study in Environmental Research Letters that examines the abstracts of nearly 12,000 academic papers on climate change and global warming between 1991–2011. Of those papers, 66.4 percent expressed no opinion on anthropogenic warming, 32.6 percent “endorsed” anthropogenic warming, 0.7 percent rejected anthropogenic warming, and 0.3 percent were unsure of the cause.[3] Of the 33.6 percent expressing an opinion on man-made global warming, “97.1 percent endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”[4] Importantly, the claim says nothing about urgency or danger.


Cook’s paper was the subject of much criticism. Richard Tol, a professor at the University of Sussex, warned that “[t]his claim, frequently repeated in debates about climate policy, does not stand. A trend in composition is mistaken for a trend in endorsement. Reported results are inconsistent and biased. The sample is not representative and contains many irrelevant papers. Overall, data quality is low.”[5] David R. Legates, former director of University of Delaware’s Center for Climatic Research, along with three other researchers, analyzed the same set of papers in the Cook study. They found that a mere 0.3 percent of all papers, or 1 percent of the 4,014 papers expressing an opinion on the matter, claim that the majority of warming since 1950 is man-made.[6]


Further, the Cook et al. study is misleading as to what there is consensus on and glosses over major points of uncertainty and disagreement in the scientific community. To be clear, Cook et al. do not attempt to quantify how much global warming is man-made, or even say that man-made emissions contribute to the majority of global warming. The specific or even generalized amount of warming caused by anthropogenic emissions, according to Cook’s study, is undetermined. Furthermore, the search terms Cook used to aggregate the climate papers exclude research papers from climate “skeptics,” such as MIT atmospheric physicist and former Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contributor Dr. Richard Lindzen.[7]


The 97 percent statistic is nothing more than a false talking point; no overwhelming consensus exists among climatologists on the magnitude of future warming or on the urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Section for a video or follow-on comment

We should revisit occasionally what the proper role of government is.   As the constitution was a good sense of direction, we need a core set of principles to add in order to deal with the future.


So many want to engineer society, remove risk, assist certain groups, rather than let individuals thrive and raise communities.  Why?


Is Democracy where we all "get it good and hard" or is it the best means to a free society?


Should we roll with the special interests, or make the government achieve its proper role, what is that role, and how to do this?


When do deficits and governments become too large?


Government is becoming more elitist while trying to sell corrections to problems it created, what makes this possible?


Could include a pic

This could also be inserted into the field above, or erased


Currently as a society, we are having a most difficult time discussing political issues.  What is driving this?   And why a rebirth in political culture would be a good thing.


Market Economy

Are "markets" dead as some would conjecture? Or is free enterprise what got us here?


Economic Theories

At the heart of economics there are several possible economic schools of thought, the essence of these schools of thought and how they relate to our lives.


Add Comments


Powered by Disqus