About That “Climate Consensus”

The most tiresome cliché of the climatistas is that “97 percent of scientists ‘believe’ in human caused climate change,” though I am always grateful for how they used the term “believe,” since the whole matter has taken on the attributes of religious commitment, if not fanaticism in many cases.

The backup for this refrain is exceedingly weak. One study purporting to establish the “97 percent” consensus figure, from John Cook of the University of Queensland in Australia, does no such thing, which is obvious from reading just the abstract. (See my 2014 article in the Weekly Standard that goes through this in detail.) The other main source is Naomi Oreskes, who is still dining out on once having reviewed 1,000 science journal articles (out of how many thousands in the total universe of climate science articles?), similarly finding that everyone agrees with the climatistas. Nothing to see here: move along to handing over your energy supplies to the government. Oreskes in particular likes to blame evil fossil fuel companies for spreading confusion about the rock solid science of climate.

A group of six social scientists (some of them prominent in climate circles, such as Mike Hulme), mostly in Britain, have decided to slap down Cook and Oreskes in the current issue of Environmental Communications. Entitled “A Reply to Cook and Oreskes on Climate Science Consensus Messaging,” the conclusions are rather brutal:

[T]he debate over the hiatus/pause in global temperature increase was not invented by fossil fuel interests, but is a subject of genuine scientific disagreement (Medhaug, Stople, Fischer, & Knutti, 2017). Second, there is increasing expert debate regarding how much carbon dioxide can be emitted while keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees C (Millar, et al., 2017a, 2017b; Peters, 2017; Rathi 2017). For climate scientists, there is no obvious consensus about questions such as these. On the other hand, Cook, Oreskes and others persists in messaging the minimalist fact that human influence on a changing climate is uncontroversial amongst scientists. (Emphasis added.)

Maybe Cook and Oreskes will follow Mark Jacobson’s example and sue these authors for disagreeing with them.

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