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Consensus On Consensus: Climate Experts Agree On Human-Caused Global Warming (theguardian.com) 795

mspohr quotes a report from The Guardian written by Dana Nuccitelli, environmental scientist and contributor to SkepticalScience.com: There is an overwhelming expert scientific consensus on human-caused global warming. Authors of seven previous climate consensus studies -- including Naomi Oreskes, Peter Doran, William Anderegg, Bart Verheggen, Ed Maibach, J. Stuart Carlton, John Cook, [Dana Nuccitelli] and six of her colleagues -- have co-authored a new paper that should settle this question once and for all. The two key conclusions from the paper are: 1) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it's somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists. 2) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.

Quoted from IOPscience: Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming. The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90%-100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper. Those results are consistent with the 97% consensus reported by Cook et al based on 11 944 abstracts of research papers, of which 4014 took a position on the cause of recent global warming. A survey of authors of those papers also supported a 97% consensus. Tol comes to a different conclusion using results from surveys of non-experts such as economic geologists and a self-selected group of those who reject the consensus. We demonstrate that this outcome is not unexpected because the level of consensus correlates with expertise in climate science. At one point, Tol also reduces the apparent consensus by assuming that abstracts that do not explicitly state the cause of global warming ('no position') represent non-endorsement, an approach that if applied elsewhere would reject consensus on well-established theories such as plate tectonics. We examine the available studies and conclude that the finding of 97% consensus in published climate research is robust and consistent with other surveys of climate scientists and peer-reviewed studies.

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Consensus On Consensus: Climate Experts Agree On Human-Caused Global Warming

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  • by zieroh ( 307208 )

    This should be fun.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @08:34PM (#51904771)

    That fixes it.

  • by John Smith ( 4340437 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @08:41PM (#51904805)
    A more accurate statement: 1. Over 90% of scientists think the Earth is more likely to be warming up than cooling down. Even skeptics usually agree with this. 2. Most of these scientists said humans had some sort of impact on the climate, but exactly how much was under debate. In fact, the consensus view at present is that the impact of CO2 is overestimated. Sources: IPCC using too many weasel words https://www.google.com/url?sa=... [google.com] https://www.google.com/url?sa=... [google.com] Sorry for the messy links.
    • by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @10:06PM (#51905293) Homepage

      "Some sort of impact" sounds like weasel words to me. The linked paper shows six independent studies that all agree; the consensus of 90-100% of scientists is that:

      human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century

      Which is a much stronger statement than you make out. Also, agreement with this position is correlated with expertise.

      The exact climate sensitivity is still being debated, but your links are nearly five years out of date.

    • Also (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @10:06PM (#51905297)

      How much the planet will heat up and what level is even harmful, instead of helpful, is very much up for debate.

      Since the next ice age is an inevitability, it's a race to see how much we as a people can prosper and prepare before we are all encased in a thousand years of winter - which is in the end vastly more a danger than even the most extreme warming forecasts.

      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )

        "the next ice age is an inevitability"

        No, it's been cancelled, at least as long as human civilisation is around.

        If we actually needed more global warming, therw are plenty of ways -- pumping out methane, for instance.
        Look at the ways proposed to terraform Mars. They'd all be much easier to do here.

        Of course, if we nuke ourselves back to the stone age, yes, the natural climate cycles will eventually reassert themselves.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Actually it's twenty odd thousand years of ice age and there are underwater caves with stalagmites and stalactites that prove that along with the total destruction of coral barrier reefs due to exposure to atmosphere. Now when is the key. We are still forced to protect what we can, for as long as we can and punish those who accelerate problems. So if acceleration of a problem is no problem to you, let's accelerate the demise of the fossil fuellers and their backers, die twenty years from now or fifty, what

      • How much the planet will heat up and what level is even harmful, instead of helpful, is very much up for debate.

        Since the next ice age is an inevitability, it's a race to see how much we as a people can prosper and prepare before we are all encased in a thousand years of winter - which is in the end vastly more a danger than even the most extreme warming forecasts.

        There will not be a new glaciation (ice age) as long as CO2 levels remain above 400 ppm. You can take that to the bank.

    • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @10:13PM (#51905333)

      A more accurate statement:

      Not really.

      1. Over 90% of scientists think the Earth is more likely to be warming up than cooling down.

      Yes, that's what TFA says.

      Even skeptics usually agree with this.

      Actually, the reason for studies like this is because there are plenty of "skeptics" (read, "deniers") who do NOT agree with this. Every time there's a story on Slashdot about climate change, there's a whole group of people who come out of the woodwork and try to cite how the data from the past X number of years is bad and the warming trend isn't real, etc. Or global cooling was a thing not so long ago. Or whatever.

      Yes, legitimate "skeptics" about the role of humans in climate change do generally believe that the planet is still warming. But there are plenty of others who dispute that.

      2. Most of these scientists said humans had some sort of impact on the climate, but exactly how much was under debate.

      Actually, most of the studies cited in TFA required that the respondents committed to belief that humans were a "significant" contributor to climate change, and some asked respondents whether humans were the "dominant" cause. The wording varied from study to study, and you can read the details in the full metastudy.

      Regardless, most of the studies in TFA imply something much stronger than your statement.

      In fact, the consensus view at present is that the impact of CO2 is overestimated.

      Nope. That's not the current consensus view. There have been some studies which have rejected the more dire models for CO2. But your links are a few years old. Basically, your links are referring to issues where models didn't predict the "slowdown" in climate change that happened in the early 2000s. It has now picked up again.

      And this is likely just due to random elements in a chaotic system. Subsequent studies have suggested that randomness in the earth's climate from year-to-year probably has multiple times the amount of impact that alterations to the CO2 model (or other factors, like sunlight absorption models, ocean absorption models, etc.) have.

      Bottom line: the validity of these models has to be judged over longer timespans, to avoid the year-to-year blips in a chaotic system. With that taken into account, the general CO2 models likely aren't that far off.

  • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @08:54PM (#51904873)
    I do not doubt that GW is happening. And I agree that it is likely mostly AGW. However, current ideas at stopping it are useless.

    Carbon caps are shit. 1% increases in efficiency here and there are shit.

    This leaves a few options:
    1. A tech breakthrough in energy production.
    2. Massive decrease in energy consumption, meaning a loss of lifestyle for a couple billion people.
    3. A stopgap until item 1 happens. This means nukes.

    Why is it we are not afraid to dump tons of radioactive elements into the air from coal plants (dilute yes), not to mention the ash and slag? We are not afraid to blow mountains to bits to do this: http://explore.org/photos/6235... [explore.org], but we are afraid to set aside areas for relatively safe plants and storage? WTF is wrong with us as a species where we will keep giving money to barbaric warlords for fossil fuels, but not invest in better sources? Who is responsible for the drumbeat of fear that prevents makes this our current reality?

    • In our defense, the drumbeats *are* very soothing [schlockmercenary.com].

    • by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @09:21PM (#51905029) Homepage

      1. A tech breakthrough in energy production.

      We already have nuclear technology available to us, ready to implement that produces nearly no waste (by reprocessing), is very safe, and burns much more abundant thorium for fuel (also burns most of what we currently consider waste, via reprocessing.) It would solve energy needs for the foreseeable future. Why is no one building these things?

      • by Layzej ( 1976930 )
        The solution is clear. We all need to write our congress critters or members of parliament and get them on board.
    • You forgot option 4 (not mutually exclusive with the other options): Researching methods to actively cool the planet, by increasing albedo, blocking insolation, etc.

      You know, it really doesn't matter whether the warming is anthropogenic or not. The planet is warming, and that's bad for us. We know that Earth has been much hotter than it is now, and much colder than it is now, and neither extreme is pleasant for humans. Until fairly recently we assumed that temperature changes happened slowly, but ice core

    • by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @10:32PM (#51905409) Homepage

      Actually, economists have been saying for decades that a price on carbon is the most effective [wikipedia.org] way to reduce emissions with least impact on the economy. And increases in efficiency have saved hundreds of billions [iea.org] annually.

      Further, we've already had tech breakthroughs in energy production, with solar and wind to name a few. These have allowed [iea.org] us to decouple emissions growth from economic growth for the first time in history. With renewable energy prices still dropping and storage technology improving fast, even fully-green baseline power is already achievable; no further breakthroughs required, and we don't need to slash our energy consumption either.

      For the record, I believe nukes should still be on the table, as there are cases where they still make the most sense. But their advantages have to be balanced against their price (both full-lifecycle cost, and potential failure risks), so I don't expect them to be widespread.

  • by srichard25 ( 221590 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @09:14PM (#51904983)

    Who needs the scientific method when we have CONSENSUS? Let's just call it a day and go home now.

    • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @10:31PM (#51905403)

      Who needs the scientific method when we have CONSENSUS? Let's just call it a day and go home now.

      Consensus is PART of the scientific method. It's the only way we actually get to DO "science".

      Imagine "science" without the possibility of consensus:

      "Hey, that whole gravity thing could be bogus! I know other researchers have verified it thousands of times, but maybe they're wrong. Let's just do some calibration tests every day in the lab to be sure stuff doesn't randomly start floating UP instead of falling down. After all, we can't accept consensus!"

      "Well, I was going to do a chemistry experiment today, but I don't really believe that whole atomic theory of matter. I mean, there's 'consensus' on the idea that molecules are made up of atoms, and a substance has consistent properties based on that. But maybe water isn't really made up of H2O. Maybe if I zap it with electricity, it will turn out that it's actually made of microscopic gnomes! The gnomes could be magically giving the illusion of molecular structure. Before I start my chem experiments, I need to be sure my hypothetical gnomes aren't going to ruin the properties of my solvent. So let's test for gnomes every day!"

      Obviously these are ridiculous examples. But actual science in practice requires that we accept a bunch of "givens" to actually make progress. Those are generally derived through scientific consensus. Yes, sometimes even those fundamental assumptions are shown to be wrong, at which point we have a "paradigm shift" (in Thomas Kuhn's terms) or modify the "hard core of our research program" (in Imre Lakatos's terms).

      But "normal science" simply couldn't operate without foundational assumptions. Acting like there's no role for consensus in science is just ridiculous.

      Now -- I understand that there may be greater range for doubt in the scientific community about how climate change works exactly than, say, for the basic idea of gravity or that water molecules are H2O. That's reflected in TFA -- the numbers vary from 90% to 99% consensus... I assume for gravity and water the numbers would be more like 99.999%.

      There's still room for people to try to question the foundational assumptions within normal science. But TFA notes that for most scientists, they consider questioning the assumption itself to be less worthy of attention than refining the models within the paradigm. That's how science works... in reality. The bizarre pseudo-Popperian nonsense that sometimes gets spouted around here that "every scientific fact is always up for falsification!" simply isn't true.

      If your lab equipment seemed to indicate that your water was made of tiny gnomes, the vast majority of scientists would probably assume there was something wrong with the equipment -- or that someone was playing a prank. And that would be a heck of a lot more likely than that they had just falsified the atomic theory of matter by discovering tiny magical gnomes that produced the illusion of molecular structure. Realizing this is part of being a scientist, and that involves accepting current consensus about foundational concepts.

      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday April 14, 2016 @02:00AM (#51905863) Journal

        Consensus is PART of the scientific method. It's the only way we actually get to DO "science".

        No it's not, the scientific method is based on proof and a chain of reproducibility. If you ask, "How do we know X is true?" You can find a paper, and reproduce its results. The paper is probably based on other papers, and if you want to, you can reproduce those results. If you want to, you can follow the chain all the way back to Galileo dropping balls off the leaning tower of Pisa.

        As soon as you get to a point where someone says, "We know X because we voted and have consensus," the chain of reproducibility has been broken. Suddenly you are relying on the authority of the group, not on evidence. There always needs to be the option to reproduce, otherwise it's not science. Surveys are not climate science, they are political science.

        • by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Thursday April 14, 2016 @04:04AM (#51906181)
          So what is it about the science of climate change that you cannot verify yourself ?

          Suddenly you are relying on the authority of the group, not on evidence. There always needs to be the option to reproduce, otherwise it's not science. Surveys are not climate science, they are political science.

          Exactly. Surveys among scientists are a way to derive policy from science. How else would you do it ? Have the President and Senate go out with thermometers and test it themselves ? Of course, scientists themselves are not basing their opinion on consensus. They are free to disagree and show evidence for their position.

  • by BlueCoder ( 223005 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @10:06PM (#51905295)

    Lets get on with it. Everyone kills themselves except for me and 30,000 of the most genetically fit women. It will totally work. Problem solved.

    So who now is in denial?

  • For all the harping of the issue, lets pretend for a min that 100% of everyone agrees, AGW is real and it is a problem.

    Now what?

    What I do NOT see is anyone putting fourth solutions that will prevent it from becoming a massive problem over time.

    I see numbers that are "safe" from 300 up to 450 PPM CO2, but the problem is, even the White House Council on this says that to keep CO2 at 450 PPM that every nation must cut at least 60% CO2 and every industrial nation must cut by at least 80% by 2050.

    The US put out

  • Climate Experts Agree On Human-Caused Global Warming

    With carefully redefined terms [wikipedia.org], it is possible to make any statement truthful. For example, if we denounce any "skeptic" as not an expert (and worse) [realclearscience.com], the above-quoted statement automatically truthful.

    And if the denounced non-scientists insist on voicing their ridiculous opposition, we prosecute them as racketeers [scienceblogs.com]. Surely, such felons can not be considered "experts", can they be?

    Problem solved — 100% unanimity achieved...

  • I too believe global warming is real and man made, but I also recognize that scientific "consensus" means absolutely nothing whatsoever when controversial ideas are involved. At one point the scientific consensus was in favor of earth being flat, and not washing hands before surgery. If you want a more recent example, look up the discovery of heliobacter pylori as a cause of ulcers. Dude almost got laughed out of his scientific field because "consensus" at the time was that ulcers are "because of the nerves

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