John Oliver Cites Phony Scientific Consensus in Favor of Global Warming, or Human Caused Global Warming, or Something
Our friend carlitos provided this John Oliver clip:
If you can’t watch the video, it shows John Oliver claiming . . . well, something. Like many people, he jumps all over the place, equating “climate change” with the idea that “humans are causing climate change” (not the same thing) and glossing over the extent to which scientists believe humans are to blame.
What I want to focus on is his citation of a survey of scientific papers “that took a position on climate change.” Of those, Oliver claims, “97% percent endorsed the position that humans are causing global warming.” Oliver then dramatizes that by imagining a debate between 97 people who believe in, I don’t know, climate change, or climate change caused by humans, or something, and 3 who reject the premise entirely. Ha ha.
[M]any sceptics have pointed out that the 97% figure encompasses the arguments of most climate sceptics. In evidence to the US Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee last week, Roy Spencer, a climate scientist who is routinely vilified for his apparent climate scepticism, claimed that his arguments fell within the 97% definition. Here in the UK, climate sceptic blogger and author of the Hockey Stick Illusion, Andrew Montford tweeted in the wake of the survey, ‘isn’t everyone in the 97%? I am’. This prompted Met Office climate scientist, Richard Betts to poll the readers of the Bishop Hill blog, ‘Do you all consider yourselves in the 97%?’. It seems that almost all do.
Just as Donald and Painter’s evidence to the STC reflected either naivety or a strategy, Nuccitelli’s survey results are either the result of a comprehensive failure to understand the climate debate, or an attempt to divide it in such a way as to frame the result for political ends. The survey manifestly fails to capture arguments in the climate debate sufficient to define a consensus, much less to make a distinction between arguments within and without the consensus position. Nuccitelli’s survey seems to canvas scientific opinion, but it begins from entirely subjective categories: a cartoonish polarisation of positions within the climate debate.
Either through idiocy, ignorance, or both, global warming alarmists and the liberal media have been reporting that the Cook study shows a 97 percent consensus that humans are causing a global warming crisis. However, that was clearly not the question surveyed.
Investigative journalists at Popular Technology looked into precisely which papers were classified within Cook’s asserted 97 percent. The investigative journalists found Cook and his colleagues strikingly classified papers by such prominent, vigorous skeptics as Willie Soon, Craig Idso, Nicola Scafetta, Nir Shaviv, Nils-Axel Morner and Alan Carlin as supporting the 97-percent consensus.
Cook and his colleagues, for example, classified a peer-reviewed paper by scientist Craig Idso as explicitly supporting the ‘consensus’ position on global warming “without minimizing” the asserted severity of global warming. When Popular Technology asked Idso whether this was an accurate characterization of his paper, Idso responded, “That is not an accurate representation of my paper. The papers examined how the rise in atmospheric CO2 could be inducing a phase advance in the spring portion of the atmosphere’s seasonal CO2 cycle. Other literature had previously claimed a measured advance was due to rising temperatures, but we showed that it was quite likely the rise in atmospheric CO2 itself was responsible for the lion’s share of the change. It would be incorrect to claim that our paper was an endorsement of CO2-induced global warming.”
When Popular Technology asked physicist Nicola Scafetta whether Cook and his colleagues accurately classified one of his peer-reviewed papers as supporting the ‘consensus’ position, Scafetta similarly criticized the Skeptical Science classification.
“Cook et al. (2013) is based on a straw man argument because it does not correctly define the IPCC AGW theory, which is NOT that human emissions have contributed 50%+ of the global warming since 1900 but that almost 90-100% of the observed global warming was induced by human emission,” Scafetta responded. “What my papers say is that the IPCC [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] view is erroneous because about 40-70% of the global warming observed from 1900 to 2000 was induced by the sun.”
More at the link.
The real result of the survey is that most papers do not take a position or are uncertain (which is the position of most skeptics), as opposed to actively denying either global warming or any human contribution to it (as few skeptics do). Meaning that when you cite only papers that “take a position” you are throwing out most people, who might take a position, but whose position might be that of skepticism. Here is what the study actually says according to its abstract:
We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.
Here is the chart from the detailed study:
OK. Let’s say I take a survey: where do you believe Elvis lives, Memphis or Seattle? If you say: “I take no position, because Elvis is dead” your opinion is thrown out. Of the people who select one, 97% pick Memphis.
Voila! There is an overwhelming consensus that Elvis is alive and he lives in Memphis.
These distortions are entering the marketplace of ideas and being spread by clowns like Oliver. We need to fight the distortions.