A crumbling consensus

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 31, 2007

Courtesy of QandO, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary, we have this story from Daily Tech on what the scientific consensus is on anthropogenic global warming.

In 2004, history professor Naomi Oreskes performed a survey of research papers on climate change. Examining peer-reviewed papers published on the ISI Web of Science database from 1993 to 2003, she found a majority supported the "consensus view," defined as humans were having at least some effect on global climate change. Oreskes' work has been repeatedly cited, but as some of its data is now nearly 15 years old, its conclusions are becoming somewhat dated.

Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte recently updated this research. Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal Energy and Environment, of which DailyTech has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.

Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."

The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results. [emphasis in original]

Why the changes?

These changing viewpoints represent the advances in climate science over the past decade. While today we are even more certain the earth is warming, we are less certain about the root causes. More importantly, research has shown us that -- whatever the cause may be -- the amount of warming is unlikely to cause any great calamity for mankind or the planet itself.

The good thing is, science is likely to eventually figure out this whole global climate thing. What I'm afraid of is that they won't figure it out quickly enough to halt politicians from wrecking lives and economies -- especially those in poor, developing nations.

0 comments on “A crumbling consensus”

  1. of course anyone questioning AGW is painted as anti-progressive/tool of BigOilâ„¢/Crank/....

    the efforts to shut down any debate of whether man's impact is causing climate change ("weather") vs, uh....say....sun activity, is emblematic of what our society would be like if the Donks/Nutroots got in power. Question Hillarycare? Lose your grants and prepare for an IRS audit, all the while being treated like a child molester in the press

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