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A new survey

A new survey of climate scientists has been published. The author team is headed by Bart Verheggen and includes John Cook. Here's the abstract:

Results are presented from a survey held among 1868 scientists studying various aspects of climate change, including physical climate, climate impacts, and mitigation. The survey was unique in its size, broadness and level of detail. Consistent with other research, we found that, as the level of expertise in climate science grew, so too did the level of agreement on anthropogenic causation. 90% of respondents with more than 10 climate-related peer-reviewed publications (about half of all respondents), explicitly agreed with anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) being the dominant driver of recent global warming. The respondents’ quantitative estimate of the GHG contribution appeared to strongly depend on their judgment or knowledge of the cooling effect of aerosols. The phrasing of the IPCC attribution statement in its fourth assessment report (AR4) providing a lower limit for the isolated GHG contribution may have led to an underestimation of the GHG influence on recent warming. The phrasing was improved in AR5. We also report on the respondents’ views on other factors contributing to global warming; of these Land Use and Land Cover Change (LULCC) was considered the most important. Respondents who characterized human influence on climate as insignificant, reported having had the most frequent media coverage regarding their views on climate change.

Having Cook on the author team is obviously going to lead many people to write the paper off without even taking a look at it. When you are proven to have set out to write a paper to meet a predetermined conclusion, that is the way people will treat your work. 

But I'm sure we will all look at the paper carefully. Thoughts in the comments please.

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Reader Comments (66)

I didn't know that there was AGW in 1868. Still, that won't stop Cookie.

Aug 11, 2014 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Carter

Since when did having 'climate-related peer-reviewed publications' have any worth as a measure of ability to actually 'do' the science?

Aug 11, 2014 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

Was Q1 "Does your research grant depend upon you reporting adverse effects of Climate Change"?

If not, why not?

Aug 11, 2014 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Based on email address availability, 7555 of them were contacted. Of these emails, ∼1000 were returned undelivered or unread

Oh dear - based on many years of IT experience, I can inform everyone that, technically speaking, this statement is bollocks.

Aug 11, 2014 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

What is meant by "recent global warming"? Since the LIA? Since the turn of the millenium? Is it spelled out in the paper?

Aug 11, 2014 at 4:37 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The prominence given to opinions - what elsewhere is called hearsay evidence - leads one to conclude that there is a lack of direct, unambiguous, scientific evidence. Coherence of beliefs of academics in a subject area that will have multiple possible perspectives is just confirmation that people pursue what they believe in. If funding and status only goes towards one of many possible hypotheses - and prejudice against those who do not toe the line - this will just exacerbate the issue.

Aug 11, 2014 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

In other news, most fortune-tellers believe in a spirit-world.


Aug 11, 2014 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

"Respondents who characterized human influence on climate as insignificant, reported having had the most frequent media coverage regarding their views on climate change."

What do you suppose was the reason for including this little snippet?

Aug 11, 2014 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia


Yes, I'd like to know how one determines with any level of certainty whether an email is either read or unread, deleted, forwarded, or printed and used as a firelighter by the recipient.

Well I read it. The paper that is. There's an hour of my life I'll never see again. Thanks Bish :-)

I wonder, is it significant that 70% of those contacted couldn't be bothered to return the questionnaire?

No need to answer. I don't really care.

Aug 11, 2014 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterHG54

In other news, scientists who can't provide evidence to backup their claims like to create surveys that make them look better to someone who doesn't know any better.


Aug 11, 2014 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Questions unanswered:

Q1: The rate of warming from 1900 to 1945 was higher than 1945 to present day despite the fact that after 1945 man-made CO2 began its large rise. Why is that?

Q2: One third of all man-made CO2 was released after 1998. Why did the Pause occur after 1998?

Q3: How many excuses have you come up for the Pause?

Q4: Why do you still blame CO2?

Q5: Do you know what the AMO is?


Aug 11, 2014 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

My impression from a first pass over the paper is that, for a paper on "consensus" it demonstrates quite a range of different opinions!

Aug 11, 2014 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

Given the difficulty presented to skeptics who wish to write a peer reviewed paper this poll is already stacked in favor of the climate hysterics. More importantly, who cares how many think-alikes there are in the world? It takes only one person to invalidate a hypothesis - the alarmists have given us that. The models, all of them, are wrong. All 90% of the think-alikes have nothing but models to base their shared beliefs on because observed does not support that belief.

Aug 11, 2014 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterdp

As some here know I have a professional interest in surveys, especially surveys of professionals: see my submission to the recent Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. So I'll try to do a careful review of this paper, especially to see if it adds anything to what I said there. But, as I'm going away tomorrow, this will take a few days.

Aug 11, 2014 at 5:51 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

The key question was not asked: Do you think AGW is dangerous/catastrophic/the end of the world?

The questions that were asked could be summarized in one line: Do you generally agree with the findings of the IPCC? Seeing that the IPCC reports are essentially a consensus building exercise, the findings of this paper are rather moot.

However, I wonder why the authors did not highlight in the abstract where the findings differed slightly from the IPCC consensus. The one that caught my eye was on climate sensitivity:

"The peak for the ECS range (2.5−3.5 °C) is in the
middle of the “likely” range as assessed in AR5 (1.5−4.5 °C).
On the other hand, the skewed distribution shown in Figure 8,
with more responses for lower rather than higher values of
ECS, is different from the distribution as inferred from theory
and as assessed by the IPCC, which has a fat tail toward higher

Aug 11, 2014 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterpotentilla

So the abstract confirms ("90% of respondents with more than 10 climate-related peer-reviewed publications...") that it's easier to get papers published if you agree that GHGs dominate warming.


Aug 11, 2014 at 5:54 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Here's what I think. This is a groundbreaking research paper; 90% of climate scientists, whose jobs / careers / mortgages, academic credibility, and future research funding, all depend on the still unproven thesis that anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 is the dominant factor in the Earth's climate system, all agree that anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 is the dominant factor in the Earth's climate system.

Well, (as an old bloke I heard about but never actually met used to say): strap me to me a tree and call me Brenda.

Personally I am with the other 10%, who are apparently not so easily convinced that a couple of mild decades in the late 20th Century were all down to a little extra atmospheric CO2. Especially since I am generally wary of people who digitally manipulate historic images so they appear to be Nazis. But who am I to question the high priests of climate science and their pals in the tree hut?

Herr Cook

Aug 11, 2014 at 6:00 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

"Respondents who characterized human influence on climate as insignificant, reported having had the most frequent media coverage regarding their views on climate change".

This is a very odd statement. Does it mean that those respondents 'had the most frequent media coverage' that they had ever had, which could almost none at all or a great deal, depending on previous coverage of them. Or does it mean that they had more coverage – in which case, how could they know? – than those 'who characterized human influence on climate change as' significant.

I strongly suspect that the sentence is merely sloppily written. Note, for example, the obviously redundant comma between 'insignificant' and 'reported'. But I also strongly suspect that, without being able to provide any actual evidence to back up the point, the statement is intended to suggest that a gullible media are much more strongly swayed by 'deniers' than by serious scientists. For anyone who has seen the likes of the BBC in acton, this is copper-bottomed nonsense on stilts.

In short, it looks to me that what we are seeing here is another example of the smear-by-vague-implication that is so routine a part of the alarmist agenda.

Aug 11, 2014 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

Brenda! Brenda! yes you, the one strapped to a tree, could we have a bit less of the flippancy please. We are trying to save the world FFS.

Aug 11, 2014 at 6:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

No climate scientist (whether alarmist or lukewarmer) has learned anything, or changed their mind about anything, in the climate science debate, since I (an independent scientist in physics) became aware of it over 4 and 1/2 years ago. In particular, none of them has learned anything from the simple Venus/Earth temperatures comparison I performed over 3 and 1/2 years ago, which showed that the Venus/Earth temperature ratio is a constant that is precisely explained by the ratio of the two planets' distances from the Sun and nothing else (so there is no global warming "greenhouse effect", due to increasing CO2, at all). Pointing out the obvious (to a physicist) elementary errors of fact as well as theory in the consensus "explanations" has had no effect; pointing out that the temperature has gone up and down several times since 1880, while CO2 has increased monotonically, so there is no long-term correlation of temperature and CO2 at all, has had no effect (pointing out that indeed, and again quite obviously to a competent scientist, they have hung their whole program solely on the short warming period between 1975 and 2000, has had no effect). Pointing out the obvious errors, and even outright clear fraud, in the adjustments made to the measured temperatures, has had no effect.

These people are merely repeating the same incompetent refrain--"there is 97% (more or less) consensus that the science is settled"--they have been promulgating for years, to soothe the unknowing public. Surely by now we can't expect any of them to accept the facts, all contrary to their religiously-held beliefs, and come clean; after all, all of our institutions have been suborned by their false science, so they are only motivated to freeze out the harsh (for them) truth, long enough to establish their political goals, which are frankly tyrannous, and clearly ruinous. There is obviously no truth to be found in them anymore, and no reason to read their empty propaganda. They are criminals to science, they have brought it to utter ruin in their determination to have their way over the truth--the hard, physical reality, which belies everything they swear to so sincerely, so self-righteously. This generation is lost.

Aug 11, 2014 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Dale Huffman

Two things come immediately to mind. First, ".... various aspects of climate change, including physical climate, climate impacts, and mitigation". No one studying climate impacts or mitigation should have been included simply on the basis that they are likely to have no direct experience in terms of causes other than accepting what others have told them and a predisposition to assuming that any climate change is dangerous if not catastrophic.

Secondly the line, "Respondents who characterized human influence on climate as insignificant, reported having had the most frequent media coverage regarding their views on climate change." For anyone that even occasionally follows climate science as disseminated by the MSM this is obviously either a complete fabrication or a deliberate misrepresentation.

Aug 11, 2014 at 6:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter C

Peter C, agreed. I wrote this comment at Bart Verheggen's blog. I stated essentially the same point.

Problems with this study are two-fold:

[1] The use of Cook et al’s data as source. Cook’s search terms: ‘global warming’ and ‘global climate change’, while appearing intuitive, does not fetch relevant papers from Web of Science. Most of Cook et al’s papers are retrieved by the search phrase ‘global warming’. The authors failed to reveal this bit of information in their paper. ‘Global warming’ is a phrase used by workers in the climate impacts and mitigation fields. It stands to reason their database of email addresses is constituted predominantly by researchers working in these areas as the addresses were sourced from the papers.

Scientists and workers in these areas are not suitable targets to determine in-depth views on orthodox IPCC climate science positions on attribution. Additionally, they are unlikely to disagree with IPCC positions. It would violate assumptions of their own fields of expertise.

[2] Jim Prall has an extensive list of scientists publishing in climate fields. Prall’s list, however, includes scientists associated with the IPCC reports themselves. For instance, the list included 916 scientists who were contributors to the IPCC AR4 report. Interviewing scientists who were authors of the IPCC reports on whether they agree with IPCC formulations is circular. Dennis and Bray have previously demonstrated that IPCC authors are likely to agree with summary conclusions of reports they were authors on.

The real interesting remaining bit in the data is the fraction of respondents that were not in Cook’s ‘global warming’ retrieved authors, or not IPCC AR4 or AR5 authors. Closer examination of the paper’s data might provide useful information, on *how big this fraction really is*. Or, if the authors pursue the same data practices as one of the present papers’ authors, John Cook, we might never learn the answer to such questions.

Aug 11, 2014 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

I did look at the paper, carefully at first, then to be honest, I just skimmed through the rest.

I cannot therefore comment on the detail, but I do wonder about the point of the study. Who is it trying to convince or impress? Surveys of this type that try to define the nature and credibility of the consensus seem a bit worthless to me, though I'm sure some government minister or other will learn the outcome in order to regurgitate it in BBC interviews.

Perhaps that is the point of it.

Most climate scientists need to keep the alarmist belief going to preserve their jobs, so I'm afraid their credibility is so shot to bits that this sort of study also has no credibility.

A more interesting survey would explore issues like the following:

How many climate models have been validated ? (Based on agreement between forecast and reality.)
Should models that have not been validated be used for policymaking?
Why are models that did not predict the pause still in use?
If CO2 provides the most powerful forcing and nothing else can cause such a rate of warming and nothing else can stop it, how do you explain the last 16+ years?

Such a survey would be very interesting.

Aug 11, 2014 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Well, I will await the judgement of those with time to dig through the figures. But on a cursory skim, this one looks very much better than the usual stuff. They appear to have learnt some lessons from the criticism and improved. Well done!

There are several things I would note:

1) The consensus position being tested is relatively weak. I think it corresponds to a climate response around 1 C/2xCO2, which is roughly what Nic Lewis and co. have been saying. As such, I don't think the majority of sceptics need to take this is as a strong statement. How the media will likely present it is another matter.

2) The numbers look a lot more plausible and in line with other sources, giving around a 15% scepticism rate. I'm not sure about their selection methodology - anything that involves surveying publications has question marks over it, and while their inclusion of around 5% known sceptics may help to redress this, it seems to be a bit arbitrary. That needs looking into more closely.

3) Their title says "scientists" but their survey is of "climate scientists", in a broad sense. The two are different populations, and the title ought to more accurately reflect that. It's only one word, after all.

4) I thought it interesting how far the AR4 WG1 authors are from the wider population. It's a big step.

5) They're asking better questions, and surveying people rather than papers. That's good. I particularly liked the one where they asked about reasons (fig 6).

6) While I haven't found much to argue with in the numbers, some of their discussion seems a little 'contentious'. There's quite a bit of speculation in there, and it might be interesting to categorise which bits are backed up by numbers and which bits are being 'creatively interpreted' or not quite right. The bit about the IPCC toughening up their statement, for example, when what I think they did was to add a new statement to their existing one, which is still there.

7) As several people have noted above, the big question is still the 'is it dangerous?' one. Although I wouldn't get your hopes up that the numbers will be all that radically different. They are climate scientists, after all. :-)

Aug 11, 2014 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

If they are complaining about sceptics getting too much media coverage then that is breathtaking brass-necks. I ONLY know who the sceptic scientists are from reading the relentless attacks on them in propaganda outlets for The Team, such as the Guardian.

Can't really be bothered reading the views of people working on Climate Models about how wonderful those Climate Models are. The Climate System is not a gas jar.

Aug 11, 2014 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

The authors present numerous summary, aggregate statistics. Unfortunately, these can be misleading. It would be best for them to make raw survey data available.

Aug 11, 2014 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

Cook, a tedious and talentless moron, has modelled himself after a plethora of feeble-minded charlatans, carpetbaggers and Maoists.

The sad and sorry Global Warming scam - having ceased to have any impact on the atmosphere it's supposedly warming in a dangerous fashion - is now said by such deranged dilettantes, and their supplicants, to have sank to the bottom of the ocean.

Even a backward child could tell you that heat rises.

Jesus wept.

Aug 11, 2014 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterFergalR

Nullius in Verba: Thank you for that informative summary. I'll also await Robin Guenier's evaluation with interest.

Aug 11, 2014 at 7:25 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

This is one of the chores of the age: critically reviewing the machinations, be they in notionally scientific papers or in PR initiatives, of those who are hellbent on spreading alarm about our impact on climate. I think there is a calm and well-informed collection of folks who are collectively very good at such reviews, and they might well be growing in numbers. Most of them, I suspect, would rather be spending their time in other ways than dealing with the guff from deluded, demented, deranged or merely fanatical activists, but the sooner the zealots' balloons are burst, the sooner more productive work can be pursued, and the sooner the dreadful impacts of the climate scare campaigns will begin to be cleared up.

Aug 11, 2014 at 7:40 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

It would be interesting if we could tally the total funding the 1868 have benefited from. Money talks.

Aug 11, 2014 at 8:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe D'Aleo

I've often wondered what Cook's qualifications were. He seems to have ersatz academic status though association with a university, or is it Lewandowsky..?

Aug 11, 2014 at 8:14 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


Aug 11, 2014 at 8:16 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Phillip Bratby @ 4.37: ""recent global warming" essentially refers to AR$ "since mid 20th century" and AR5 "1951-2010".
But the reference to "climate sensitivity" quotes "0.8c post industrial" taken as since 1850. The questions seem to have an inconsistency in quite basic concepts.
In respect of the questions:
Q1 -Q5 are opinion about undetermined questions - i.e. the controversial "facts".
Q6 is the only question about known facts - providing the respondents are truthful!
Q8-10 are simply asking opinion without factual support.
Q11-12 ask for an assessment of oneself.
Q13-19 ask for opinion on specific issues giving a multiple choice of all possible "positions" on these issues which, almost needless to say are all unresolved.

Given the number of respondents (1878) and the number of possible answers, the combinations are large number ( I am too tired to calculate it) - as are the number of "conclusions" it is possible to draw from this maelstrom of data.
I note though that the "headline" concensus is now only 90% . This means 7% have come across!

The question I would ask is - how many of the respondents were Chinese?

Aug 11, 2014 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenese2

'level of expertise in climate science' ≡ 'level of funding'

Aug 11, 2014 at 8:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterHamish McDougal

"Respondents who characterized human influence on climate as insignificant, reported having had the most frequent media coverage regarding their views on climate change."

"What do you suppose was the reason for including this little snippet?

Aug 11, 2014 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia"

Certainly it was not science nor open honest research.

However, frequent use and utter reliance upon hallucinogenic substances comes to mind as likely.

Aug 11, 2014 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

"90% of respondents with more than 10 climate-related peer-reviewed publications (about half of all respondents), explicitly agreed with anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) being the dominant driver of recent global warming."

Gatekeeping can be really effective...

Aug 11, 2014 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterKuhnKat

If the IPCC admits that only 3% of atmospheric CO2 is man-made, how the hell can anyone, let alone a "scientist" assert that this 3% controls the earth's climate? Say it again and again until it sinks in. Otherwise Cook et al are charlatans, or worse are propagandists for a subversive cause against our way of life. I hope the pollies come to their senses soon - I'm weary of this bullsh!t.

Aug 11, 2014 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBoyFromTottenham

I vaguely remember this Verheggen chap as an expert Phd on "null roots" in statistics or something?

Aug 11, 2014 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul the Nurse

They are still working from the same plan laid bare in the Climategate files - keep "peer reviewed papers" for the Chosen and dismiss anything contrary to the narrative as invalid due to not peer reviewed.

Aug 11, 2014 at 9:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Interesting, 1868 Climate scientists believe (have faith in) that global warming exists, contrary to the empiric evidence of the last 14 years - actual data from the field - empiric evidence ??????

Can we begin calling them deniers of science yet ? or when can we ?

Aug 11, 2014 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Engineer

I think Cookie would look fetching dressed in a sandwich board

Aug 11, 2014 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Latest survey of climate scentists reveals that the number of sceptics has more than tripled in just over a year!

I really think I am starting to catch on to some of this climate statistics stuff.

Aug 11, 2014 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

I found Figure 8 regarding climate sensitivity to be highly interesting. It looks like there are a lot more scientists who think ECS<2.5 than scientists who think ECS>3.5. Which means that more scientists agree with Nic Lewis than with Dessler or Trenberth.

Also another interpretation for the higher rate of agreement among scientists with greater than 10 publications is the age factor, as it is the older scientists who will have the most publications. This result may have less to do with level of expertise, and more to do with younger scientists being more open to alternative explanations and ideas.

Aug 11, 2014 at 11:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJDS

In other news, 9 out of 10 cat owners who expressed a preference said their cat was SICK TO BLOODY DEATH of hearing about how convinced climate change scientists were about climate change.

Aug 11, 2014 at 11:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

"Latest survey of climate scentists reveals that the number of sceptics has more than tripled in just over a year!"

Add to that the fact that Oreskes 2004 also showed the 97% figure, and we have the makings of a very impressive reverse hockey stick.

Aug 11, 2014 at 11:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

One hundred percent of parking wardens thought that parking restricts should be tighter , too.
Oddly it is quite normal to find those with a strong vested interesting in promoting an idea they benefit from tend to keen on the idea ,. And with climate 'scientists' you have many who otherwise would never get a job in academia , let alone the buckets of research cash throw at them thanks to 'the cause '
Meanwhile it will interesting to see how they defined what a climate 'scientists' is given this is title they given to failed politician, railway engineers, rubbish cartoonists , and fizz pop psychologists . None of which have actual training in the area .

Aug 11, 2014 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Whenever I read about another so-called SURVEY claiming some kind of consensus on AGW, I am reminded of the admirable Judith Curry's very early blogs.

In essence (my interpretation) she said that being an expert in one particular area of a large and complex field of scientific research, she gave it her best shot, at the same time assuming her fellow researchers in other areas were honestly doing the same; I believe it was 'Climategate' that opened her eyes.

I imagine that there are serious scientific folk ploughing their lonely furrow adding to the data, but unaware that it may be manipulated by IPCC or idiot Cooks.

Aug 12, 2014 at 12:03 AM | Registered CommentermikemUK

Bart V used to comment on Tom Fuller's old blog. I mentioned one time in the comments that alarmist scientists were guilty of hubris. Given that no one can predict the future (see Tetlock's research if one needs an academic to confirm the obvious) and that the current state of the science leaves us ignorant of how a large number of critical climate pieces actually work, anyone who claims to know what the climate will do in 100 years is clearly too arrogant.

Bart informed me that I was the one guilty of hubris for having the temerity to question the experts.

The fool having demonstrated how he "thinks", I've never seen much purpose in reading anything further that he had to say.

Aug 12, 2014 at 2:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterstan

When questioned why was included in a team of distinguished academics like John Cook, Wayne Rooney expressed his life long love of science. Reminding us he was the owner of the world's only customised Higgs Boson.

Aug 12, 2014 at 3:12 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Why don't you kids form an army and kill these [snip -manners]? Because you aren't kids. I see.

Aug 12, 2014 at 4:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

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