Debunking the “97% of scientists agree on man made climate change” myth
PASADENA, CA, July 21, 2015 – Arguing with people who have already come to a conclusion based on a loose understanding of half the story is difficult. Large amounts of misinformation are unfortunately common in today’s political arena thanks to social media, shoddy journalism, millennial ambivalence and a generally apathetic view toward data and public policy. Nowhere in today’s society is this idea more prevalent than the climate change debate, formally known as global warming.
Global warming was the hot topic about 10 years ago when Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth”, hit theaters and almost instantly scared millions of people into believing the Earth was hanging on by a string thanks to irresponsible Americans filling up their gas tanks one two many times.
The green energy lobby took charge and didn’t look back, raising hundreds of millions of dollars and sponsoring regulation after regulation with the intent of eliminating fossil fuels and ignoring the unintended consequence of killing jobs and destroying livelihoods. Day after day, the mainstream media spread the word that temperatures were soaring, the oceans were rising, and natural disasters were growing deadlier all because of man made global warming’s detrimental effect on the earth’s atmosphere.
After a few years of hysteria, something happened that brought the global warming train to a screeching halt. Scientists began to realize that the earth’s temperature wasn’t rising. In fact, we now know that the average global temperature hasn’t gone up in at least 15 years. Try as they might, and they did try, environmentalists could not cover up this contradictory piece of evidence, so they decided to change the name of their movement to “climate change”.
Man made climate change supporters, primarily on the left, have attempted to gloss over these glaring holes in their argument by creating the illusion that the scientific community is completely on their side and that any questioning of that science is a waste of time. They did that by coming up with the false narrative that 97% of all scientists agree with them and continued to repeat it over and over until people who weren’t really paying attention started to accept it as fact.
It’s not a fact but yet for some reason, everyone from the guy in line next to you at Starbucks all the way up to the President of the United States tout this statistic as indisputable evidence. The only truth regarding this statement is that it was dubiously manufactured in order to dilute the reality that scientists have not coalesced around one position one way or the other.
The 97% number was created by meticulously selecting certain surveys using murky terminology to formulate a specific narrative.
For example, one of the main sources of the 97% myth is a 2009 article by a student/teacher combo at the University of Illinois by the name of Doran and Zimmerman. The two of them conducted a two question online poll which concluded that 9 out of 10 scientists agreed temperatures were rising and mankind was the driving force. The survey was very heavy on temperature changes but very light on how humans played a role which essentially only confirmed that many scientists believe the climate is changing, which isn’t even remotely unusual.
Another problem with this survey was that the “scientists” who were surveyed were scientists in the same way Bill Nye the Science guy is a scientist (he’s not, his highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree in engineering). Strangely, only 79 of the 3100 responses to this poll were from people who considered themselves experts in climate science. This survey was clearly not the landslide statement that climate change believers made it out to be.
This type of obfuscation is unfortunately the norm for those that veraciously support the idea of man made global warming. Another popular survey, from Stanford University, interviewed 200 hand selected “prolfiic” writers who all concluded that greenhouse gasses were the reason for most of the earth’s warming, which we determined earlier likely wasn’t even occurring. The survey did not provide details about how serious this threat was and the degree to which human pollution played into that. It also failed to address the fact that a sample size of 200 doesn’t even remotely form a 97% consensus among the thousands of scientists who have weighed in on the subject.
Another popular study, performed by Australian blogger John Cook in 2013, was almost immediately debunked by Science and Education. That repudiation didn’t stop green energy supporters from spreading the false findings as fact. When these studies are examined carefully, it is revealed that the questions are asked and the respondents are chosen in a way that can be used to make several different points.
Do many scientists believe that temperatures are rising because of man made factors? Of course. That’s never been in doubt, but it is irresponsible and reckless to claim that 97% of scientists agree on that. It’s simply not true. The media has also completely failed to report the existence of many studies showing that a majority of scientists are skeptical of man’s connection to global warming. It may be difficult for some to admit it, but the jury is still out.
Believing that humans are contributing to climate change is one thing, but ignoring inconvenient facts and accusing your opponents of denying science is another. Humans aren’t going extinct like Jerry Brown irresponsibly implied this weekend and global warming did not create ISIS like Democrat presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley claimed a few days ago.
Hysteria like that, on either side of the argument, has done nothing but polarize Americans and until we acknowledge that sometimes both sides of the spectrum bring rational contributions to the debate, expect more of the same counter productive hyperbole.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andymarkmiller @smallgovreport