Friday, September 04, 2015

About that Scientific Consensus

For years it's been claimed that there's a 97%  consensus among climate scientists that anthropogenic or man-made global warming is occurring. The consensus holds that the resulting climate change is largely the fault of humans and the big emitter nations in particular.

Okay, but 97 or what's now closer to 98% isn't 100% is it? That means there is at least a 2% minority whose papers reject anthropogenic global warming. What of that 2%, how do we know they're not right?

Well, finally the scientific community has gathered up those contrarian papers and analyzed them collectively. Guess what? They're flawed. Sometimes they're just wrong. Some are outright deceitful. Now we have a scientific study of those studies and here are the common flaws that were found:

1. Start with a false assumption

2. Executed an erroneous analysis

3. A neglect of contextual information

4. Relevant physical interdependencies and consistencies were commonly ignored

5. Insufficient model evaluation

6. False dichotomy

7. Ignoring tests with negative outcomes (cherry picking) or assuming untested presumed dependencies

8. Misrepresentation of statistics

9. Many papers included speculations about cycles and presented implausible or incomplete physics

10. Some studies claimed celestial influences but suffered from a lack of clear, physical reasoning

It's important to recall that these contrarian studies dispute the consensus theory but they don't refute it. To refute it is to disprove it. That entails reproducing the impugned research and data to show that it's wrong. Disputing the consensus is tantamount to saying "I don't believe it." All of the consensus science is open to review and challenge. The data are disclosed so that others can reproduce the experiments, research and analysis.

The fossil fuel industry that has trillions of dollars in reserves at stake could easily retain scientists to challenge the consensus science if they believed it was wrong. It would be remarkably easy - and ridiculously cheap - to dispel the scientific consensus if it could, in fact, be refuted. But they're not doing that which raises a powerful inference that they know they can't disprove it.


Anonymous said...

The fossil fuel industry pwns the Con and Liberal party leadership. At least the Cons aren't fooling anyone.

The Mound of Sound said...

Your boy, Tommy, dances around the Bitumen Bonfire too. Just sayin'

Lorne said...

Sounds like these 'authorities' would make the perfect Fox News guests, Mound.

deb Scott said...

whats amazing is that so many politicians do step away from environmental issues, and I guess what bothers me, is if the biggest population of people want something done. And we vote, why do the corporations keep winning.
I mean once in power, it would be nice for leaders that lie to constituents so regularly, would instead lie to the corporations and their big band of lobbyists.
Whats the big deal, they still will get funding, but if they dont, these politicians should stop caring, as those lobbyists and corporations get one vote each, and for once, the leaders should start helping the majority not the wealthy minority.
imagine that, I just hope one day soon it happens, or this planet is finished.
I guess its like religion, you follow the wealthy leaders as they probably promise you a place in their wealthy heavenly bunker when the apocalypse finally comes.

Anonymous said...

Anyong said.....Every one of your points applies to Mr. Harper big time.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Lorne. These are indeed the pool of climate science 'experts' that FOX and other rightwing media outlets routinely draw from. They've achieved a certain celebrity status and, of course, rake in plenty of funding from the usual suspects.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Deb Scott - Why do corporations keep winning? That's the inevitable outcome of neoliberalism that has swept into the Western world. It's the bastard child of market fundamentalism and globalization. With each of those initiatives our governments have surrendered critical elements of our former national sovereignty and their compliance is monitored, regulated and enforced by the IMF, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. It results in a degree of 'political capture' that insinuates corporatism to isolate the public from their elected government. That leads to a weakened democracy that can eventually turn illiberal. America's "bought and paid for" Congress is an extreme example of what befalls democracy under neoliberalism.

Dipper trolls come here to insist that Tommy Angry Beard isn't neoliberal but they're really splitting hairs, drawing narrow and mainly irrelevant distinctions between Mulcair, or what he says, and Trudeau. The only way any leader can claim not to be neoliberal is to be committed to dismantling its hold on Canada's economy, our politics and our society.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anyong - great observation - and true.

Purple library guy said...

Dear me, apparently I'm a troll. Didn't realize. Here I thought I had actual opinions when all along it's just that I was a troll. Well, I know trolling is bad so I'd best not post here any further. See you elsewhere, perhaps.

The Mound of Sound said...

That wasn't aimed at you, PLG. If I thought you a Dipper troll I would have told you as much long ago.

Scotian said...


To be fair, MoS has never shied away from calling those like Ron and Gyor such trolls while specifically citing you as different, so I think you might want to reconsider that little snarkfest of yours there. Hells, I've never thought you were a troll, wrongheaded and at times overly partisan sure, but never a troll. Gyor and Ron, those two I am much closer to seeing as fitting the troll label than you for all that you and I have a long history of clashing.


I cannot say I am all that surprised at this conclusion from such examination, for all the times I have such minority dissents of climate change cited to me whenever I looked at the source information I kept running into many of the problems you have listed and I am just a lay person with some science knowledge and training in reference library work enabling my perceptions of such.

Your closing 2 paragraphs really says it all.

Purple library guy said...

On the topic, then, I believe the oft-cited 97% is well behind the times. When it comes to scientists with expertise related in any serious way to the climate, people who can publish in anything like a respectable journal, I'm pretty sure it's up at the 99.* level; deniers are pretty much down to scraping the decimals in that last percentage point.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ PLG - the consensus is about as close to unanimity as scientific opinion can get but it's not getting through to our political caste. They'll talk about carbon pricing but (a) talk is cheap, and (b) carbon pricing at this point is woefully inadequate as a response. That gives rise to a strong inference of insincerity, lip service.

Carbon pricing is a half-hearted stab at mitigation - emissions reduction - but it's not nearly enough. Our children, especially our grandchildren, are going to need much more for to help them cope, adapt if you like. These range from renewed and fortified infrastructure to taking apart the forces of neoliberalism that have undermined social cohesion. We have to recognize inequality in all its manifestations - economic, social and political - as a real threat to the next few generations. We also have to prepare for a world that abruptly falls off the perpetual, exponential growth paradigm that has long since ceased to benefit mankind.

Radical change is coming and it's going to take radical responses to meet the challenges.

Purple library guy said...

It's particularly sad because our climate needs direct government action, and our economy needs direct government action. We could help both at once if our dominant ideology didn't say direct government action (to do anything useful) is verboten.