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Discussion > So who's not in the 97%?

I was interested, and pleased, to see Bishop Hill say on Twitter:

isn't everyone in the 97%? I am.


The survey conclusion seems to be "man affects the climate" right? To me that's barely even controversial.

To clarify, the so-called "97%" position seems to be defined as:

97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming

The Bish also describes himself as a "lukewarmer" on his twitter account. So he's not questioning whether AGW exists, just how severe it might be in the future - an area which I agree carries genuine uncertainty and hence is worthy of debate. (Bish, please feel free to correct me if I am misrepresenting your views here!)

However I'm interested to see the answer to the Bish's question "isn't everyone in the 97%?" amongst the readers here. Do you all consider yourselves in the 97%?

NB Being in the 97% on accepting AGW does not automatically mean that you think future AGW is going to be catastrophic, or even that you think there is a significant risk of negative impacts. Personally I think there are significant risks, but I'm not asking about that here. I'm just asking Bishop Hill readers whether you agree that AGW exists, regardless of your views on its future consequences.

So - is anyone here in the 3%?

May 16, 2013 at 8:47 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

I'm in the 97% (depending how you define 'consensus')

May 16, 2013 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Simmons

Maybe not everyone agrees with your definition...

Barack Obama tweets:

@BarackObama: Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous. Read more: http://OFA.BO/gJsdFp

Odd, since I can't find the word 'dangerous' in Cook's paper.

May 16, 2013 at 9:36 PM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

Hi Ruth

It's not my definition, it's the one in the paper.

You're right that 'dangerous' is not mentioned in Cook's paper - that's why I was very careful above to say that I was only asking about views on whether humans are causing warming, not the consequences of this. Where do you stand on that first question?

May 16, 2013 at 9:48 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming

The devil is in the detail (see Sir Humphrey Appleby discussing opinion polls with Bernard Wooley)

If by "causing" you mean the sole reason the climate is warming is anthropogenic then no I am definitely not in the 97% but I suspect that many in the 97% aren't either.

However if by "causing" you mean humans are contributing to the warming them I am definitely in the 97%

May 16, 2013 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Hi again Ruth

I've replied to Obama's twitter person to tell them that the Cook paper didn't actually mention 'dangerous'. They need to get their facts straight.

May 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

I'm in the 97% but whether the warming caused by humans is or ever will be detectable against the background of other causes of climate change - ask me again in 300 years.

May 16, 2013 at 10:02 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Ruth Dixon
The word “dangerous” isn’t in Doran and Zimmerman or Anderegg either, two papers which also produced the magic 97% figure.
We’re (nearly) all in the consensus. Maybe we should put up a site saying: “97% of climate denialists agree with 97% of climate scientists that there’s a 97% chance that some at least of the current global warming is caused by 97% of us humans”.
Maybe 97% of environmentalist journalists would take notice. Or maybe not. 100% of Professor Richard Betts agrees wirh us, which is already something.

May 16, 2013 at 10:02 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Thanks Richard. I do think that humans can change (and probably are changing) the climate, but would this put me in Cook's 97%? Category 7 is the strongest 'rejection' category and says:

7 Explicit Rejection with Quantification: paper explicitly states that humans are causing less than half of global warming.

Could I be so specific about the proportion of the past 100 years warming caused by humans. 40%? 60%? 80%? Other? Don't know.

It's interesting that when Cook asked the authors of the papers to rate their own papers, they did not all say that their papers endorsed the consensus.

Among self-rated papers not expressing a position on AGW in the abstract, 53.8% were self-rated as endorsing the consensus.

(Papers 'not expressing a position on AGW in the abstract' were 2/3 of the sample.)

Obviously the authors of those papers are unlikely to be rejecting the consensus, but in almost half the cases where the abstract expressed no view, the authors describe their own paper as taking 'no position on AGW'. Which to me makes it hard to argue that 97% of scientists .... (from this data, at least).

May 16, 2013 at 10:41 PM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

In the interests of accuracy, it's 96% of the scientists and 97% of the papers :-)

Among respondents who authored a paper expressing a view on AGW, 96.4% endorsed the consensus.

May 16, 2013 at 11:01 PM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

Every single living organism exerts an influence upon, and therefore affects, the climate of this planet as do inorganic activities both terrestrial, solar and galactic. All of these elements can be both proactive and reactive.

When we start concentrating our resources on unraveling the above we might just possibly be able to understand the complex reactive effects each contributing factor has. Piling resource upon resource upon one element can only be detrimental to our comprehension.

Am I of a consensus? Don't know, because I am only of data. So far previous "consensus" predictions on this subject have been contradicted by the subsequent actual observational data.

Do I understand the basic physics of CO2 being a greenhouse gas and therefore theoretically warming the atmosphere, yes definitely! Do I know how this planet deals with it and the effect it has upon other contributing factors and how they react? Definitely not! Does anybody?

Every time I find myself saying "I know" or "yes I agree with that (consensus)" or "that's wrong" I go away and read, starting here:-

So am I in the 3% Richard? What do you think?

PS, why does this particular branch of science have a need to seek solace in a survey derived "consensus"?

May 16, 2013 at 11:01 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

I too believe that humans have "some influence". I also think the Taliban have, at times, done "some good". Gloating over this 97% result is like rejoicing that you live in a refugee tent.

Why did they set the bar so low? The only explanation I can think of is that it's a strategy to help win over the less informed who will not read further than the first paragraph of yet another dull alarmist climate science article (likely copied from a press release).

May 16, 2013 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergenemachine

Nothing much is happening. The way to deal with the possibility of man-made global waring by CO2, which I don't accept as a 100% certainty but a reasonable hypothesis waiting to be proven, is to get richer and adapt.

In the meantime, it is stupid to debate the numbers who believe or don't. What AGW proponents ought to do is produce the best evidence. Currently the evidence is shoddy. A falsifiability criterion would be nice too. Or a set of experiments to demonstrate AGW happening in the lab or out in the field. When I asked for that in another thread there was no useful response. If you tell me there is NO experiment, that does not fill me with confidence over how you reached and sustain your position.

Am I in the 97%? I reject your premise.

May 16, 2013 at 11:29 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

I'm in the "97%" under some definitions but not under others.

I have no trouble with the basics of a CO2 "greenhouse effect" so I think that human activities have some significant effects upon climate (and of course by land use activities etc., not only CO2).

I consider myself to be in the "lukewarmer" category, with large questions about climate sensitivity, genuine (as opposed to over-hyped) impacts, and feasibility issues of mitigation vs. adaptation.

Do the "97%" all agree that humans are causing a ***majority*** of temp. Increase and "climate change" and that such changes are catastrophic?? That is where my hunches would part company with those who are catastropizing on these issues.

"Dangerous" strikes me as a weasel word. It has such a wide range of possible meanings and implications. "Catastrophic" climate change would be a major concern, but not every "dangerous" outcome is worth the cost of avoidance in risk/cost/benefit terms.

In any case, Cook and allies seem to be tossing "dangerous" into the publicity mix when it was not in the study. Just as we have seen with similar studies in the past, a very bland result (agreement on some amount of AGW) is radically over-hyped into claims of "catastrophe consensus" which are not supported by the terms and questions in the study.

Cook et al. are engaged in obfuscation, manipulating ambiguities (and worse) in the terms used in some of these studies.

May 17, 2013 at 12:17 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Dr Betts --
The original "97%" questions, from Doran&Zimmerman, are:

1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?
2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?
Of these specialists [those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change], 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2.

I'd answer yes to both of those questions. In fact, I'm surprised that the response was not unanimous in such a group.

May 17, 2013 at 12:27 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

So - is anyone here in the 3%?

Where is MDGNN or whatever he calls himself nowadays?

May 17, 2013 at 5:21 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I am happy to include myself in the 97% who accept AGW but without accepting that it is going to be a problem or even discernible against the background mix of natural effects.

I would, however, like Richard Betts to justify his comment

"Glad you hear you're in the 97%! But not everyone is, especially many of your Bishop Hill readers, it seems!"


May 17, 2013 at 5:29 AM | Registered Commentermatthu

I have said this before, but will repeat it, doesn't every single living organism have and effect on the climate? I was surprised that Zimmerman got only 97% to answer yes to her fatuous questions. I don't believe anyone would think that human activities have no effect on the climate, they must do.

Having said that, I don't believe scientists, or anyone else can predict the future state of the climate, and they should stop pretending they can because this pretence is causing, and will cause more, hardship for humans alive today. Nor can Richard, or any of his colleagues predict catastrophic climatic events 50-100 years out with anymore certainty than I can predict the winner of the Grand National, and they should stop doing that too. Or better still turn their attentions to the Grand National rather than supporting the environmentalists in their bid to take over our lives lock stock and barrel.

May 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I'm with geoffchambers and geronimo.
It would be slightly odd if man had no effect on the planet he lives on.
Whether that effect is meaningful in any way or whether he can do anything to prevent other than to commit mass suicide or stop breeding (and that would also have an effect in a different way) is another matter altogether.
As it happens I think that on balance man's influence on his environment has been and continues to be beneficial. I also think that that influence is not something that can be predicted (unless you happen to be Hari Seldon) and that those who claim that they have the slightest idea what the climate will be in 20 or 30 or 50 years are deluded and quite possibly dangerous.

May 17, 2013 at 8:57 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I'm not sure of a lot of things in climate science.

Why should temp feedbacks on CO2 warming be positive rather than negative?
Why should we expect CO2 to reduce food production?
Why do we expect it to endanger more species than it protects?
Is the only trace gas we have changed significantly really the dominant global temperature control?

May 17, 2013 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered Commentergenemachine

OK - I will go first. I am in the 3%.

My reason? - there is no empirical evidence at all to support the AGW hypothesis. GCMs that predict AGW have proven themselves to be worthless. All of the evidence shows that AGW is entirely negligable.

May 17, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

I hope the idea of this question was to show that we all disagree on a much narrower range of issues than some in the media (and on the fringes of both sides) would have us believe.

At the end of the day, the core debate is on sensitivity, which is a fancy word for "how much?" This is a sensible place to debate, and all the rest is just theatrics, which some people enjoy more than a bit of science.

The "consensus" on "how much?" used to be 4-6 degrees, which always seemed way too high to me. Recent papers are bringing it down towards a Lindzenian 1-2 degrees. When you get down to those levels, the sensitivity is lost in the noise of intergalcial trends and we don't need to be alarmed.

May 17, 2013 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I’m prepared to accept the lab effect of CO2 on temperature (1.2 ºC per doubling CO2) and am open to being convinced of more or less effect in the real world. I'm less sure what effect this would have on weather but reject the idea that all changes would be bad ones. I accept that mankind has an impact on climate and the environment beyond CO2. I am however very much anti the unprofessional way the science has developed and the myth factory that has been built upon it. I despise the social hysteria, moral blackmail, hypocrisy, criminal wasting of money, lack of honesty about human needs and nature and the abysmal technology that has been woven around AGW and as such have to strongly reject the whole thing until either the physical evidence shows a strong positive feedback or climate science and camp followers have a major credibility overhaul.

May 17, 2013 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Trying to answer the question, and thinking yes - no - yes ??? makes me realise that it just illustrates (again) the dishonesty of John Cook and his team.
Yes, I agree that human activity can influence the climate.
No, I do not support 'the consensus' as it is normally portrayed, which is the IPCC statement that most of the warming is manmade.
Cook has fabricated a false question and deliberately misinterpreted the results, as highlighted by Brandon's post at Lucia's and also here.

May 17, 2013 at 12:19 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Perhaps the question would better be:

"Do you think that human activity is having any measurable effect upon the Earth's climate?"

Answer: yes / no / don't know.

And perhaps:

"Do you have reason to believe that human activity will have any measurable effect upon the Earth's climate in the future?"

Answer: yes / no / don't know.

(my answer to both would be no)

May 17, 2013 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff