Global warming skeptics are not enemies of science

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Is there an overwhelming scientific consensus in favor of the manmade global warming theory, or is this simply a talking point? We believe the latter is true, and since the claim keeps being made it may be useful to explain our reasoning. Here goes.

A. Science is not about building consensus, so even if there were a 97% scientific consensus it wouldn’t matter.

The goal of science is objectively verifiable truth, and the history of science includes many theories that were abandoned due to the discovery of contrary evidence. People once believed that our planet was the center of creation, for example, but it’s now accepted that the Earth revolves around the Sun, which in turn is only one of countless stars in the universe.

For clarity, let’s begin the current discussion with a definition. The manmade global warming theory (MMGWT) is three-pronged: (1) combustion of fossil fuels is causing an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; (2) rising CO2 levels have become the prime driver for rising global temperatures, at least over the next 100 years or so; and (3) projected global warming would have seriously adverse effects for humans and other life forms if allowed to continue. Establishing a global warming trend due to natural causes, to which human activity is making only a modest contribution, wouldn’t qualify because there isn’t much humans can do about the level of solar activity, variations in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, etc.

Assuming for the sake of argument that 97 out of every 100 scientists buy into the MMGWT (as will be seen, this is debatable), a cadre of unconvinced scientists would remain who could challenge the theory. Moreover, there appears to be plenty of contrary evidence they could bring to bear. Climate common sense, John Greer slide show, SAFE newsletter,
Spring 2016.

Claims that “14 of the 15 warmest years on record have occurred since the year 2000” and “2015 was the hottest year” are based on an averaging of inherently unreliable surface temperature readings (going back to about 1880). Satellite temperature readings (starting about 1979; there are also weather balloon data back to 1958) indicate that there has been no significant global warming over the past 15 years or so. Also, studies based on indirect evidence (such as ice core analysis) have established that the climate was warmer in earlier periods, e.g., medieval times, than it is today.

As for projections of global temperatures by 2100, the computer models in use have consistently forecast temperature increases that failed to occur. So while further research on this subject is certainly in order, there is no apparent necessity for a quick transition to less reliable and more costly energy sources.

Suggestions that all of the scientists who question the MMGWT are hacks won’t pass muster either, as there are some undeniably brilliant scientists in this category, e.g., Freeman Dyson at the Princeton Institute of Advanced Study. Let the truth prevail, part A,

B. Concern about global warming varies with political affiliation, which suggests that far more is involved than validity of the MMGWT.

Consider the results of a 2014 poll. The question asked was “How much do you personally worry about global warming?” Only 1/3 of the adult population said they worried “a great deal” about this issue, while 43% responded “only a little” or “not at all.” Americans have low levels of concern on global warming, Frank Newport,,

MMGWT adherents tend to discount the apparent apathy about global warming on grounds that human beings are shortsighted creatures. After all, how many of us expect to be around in 2050 or 2100 when the consequences of global warming will supposedly become catastrophic?

It’s harder to explain, however, why Democrats and Republicans answered Gallup’s question so differently – with Independents falling in between.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 2.35.29 PM

All Americans live on the same planet, with essentially the same interest in a hospitable environment. Accordingly, why should their opinions about the validity of the MMGWT vary with political affiliation (as the Gallup poll results indicate)?

We think the answer is that the MMGWT has been used to support a host of government policies that are more appealing to big government fans (many of whom are Democrats) than to conservatives (mostly Republicans or Independents). When 56% of Democrats (but only 16% of Republicans) said they “worry a great deal” about global warming, they were probably thinking about hoped-for victories on policy issues rather than a feared increase in average global temperatures by 2100.

Some examples: Restrain exploitation of energy resources (limit offshore oil drilling, regulate fracking, block the Keystone pipeline) – tax fossil fuels more heavily while subsidizing alternative energy sources – force energy conservation (hike mileage standards for motor vehicles, phase out conventional light bulbs, set standards for microwave ovens) – require states and ultimately countries to reduce overall carbon emissions.

Recall that a bill to approve the Keystone pipeline was passed by Congress in early 2015 – only to be vetoed by the president. A handful of Democratic senators were supporting the bill (making it filibuster-proof), so Senate Democrats sought to maneuver Republicans into taking positions that might prove politically embarrassing. Thus, Republicans reluctantly voted against the MMGWT, albeit engineering a second resolution to mitigate the possible damage. In 50-49 vote, US Senate says climate change not caused by humans, Sean Cockerman,,

•The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta.

•The Senate, with [Senator James] Inhofe’s support, did pass a separate measure saying that climate change is real — just not that human activity is a cause. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was the only senator to vote against it.

To be complete, some pollsters have reported less of a partisan divide on global warming than Gallup does. The key seems to be phrasing the question(s) in an abstract way. Say climate change versus global warming – don’t ask about one’s personal state of mind - if human causation is mentioned, set the bar very low – equate “clean energy” with economic opportunity rather than added cost. Republicans reportedly respond to the rephrased question(s) in a positive way. GOP voters support clean energy but tired of climate change politics, Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner,

A poll of 1,200 registered voters, which was purposely oversampled to reach 500 Republicans, found 72 percent of Republican voters want to speed up the development and use of clean energy. In addition, 56 percent of Republicans say the climate is changing and mankind is contributing some amount to that change.

For their part, climate alarmists have been broadening their assault on global warming (now almost invariably referred to as climate change), as though hoping that some ancillary claims will stick if the MMGWT is ultimately rejected. EPA head [Gina McCarthy]: Dire climate change report [which is labeled as a scientific assessment, but was released by the White House] bolsters Clean Power Plan defense, Kyle Feldscher, Washington Examiner,

Air pollution, allergens, extreme heat and cold, increased risk of various diseases, less food safety, more wildfires and harsher storms were among the environmental consequences of climate change. In addition, it could have psychological effects ranging from slight stress to suicidal thoughts due to the trauma of the various environmental disasters that could come from climate change. The report predicted increased rates of premature deaths and increased sickness and disease among a wide swath of the public.

C. The claim of a 97% scientific consensus is contrived.

According to a “tweet” of President Barack Obama, “97% of scientists agree: Climate change is real, manmade and dangerous.” But as Dr. David Legates (an eminent climatologist at the University of Delaware) suggested in a recent column, the statement shouldn’t be taken at face value. The starting point is to break the claim down into its three components. Deep-sixing another useful climate myth,,

Any competent scientist would agree that
climate change is real because the climate has been changing throughout the Earth’s history and will continue to do so.

Similarly, there’s no reason to doubt that
human activity affects the climate to some degree, e.g., “downtown areas are warmer than the surrounding countryside, and large-scale human development can affect air and moisture flow.” This begs the question, however, as to whether human effects on the climate are material in relation to the natural factors that have driven major climate changes over the ages.

As for saying
climate change is dangerous, says Legates, “this is pure hype based on little fact.” He goes on to identify ill-advised governmental action, not global warming, as the real risk.

It would be far more deadly to implement restrictive energy policies that condemn billions to continued life without affordable electricity – or to lower living standards in developed countries – in a vain attempt to control the world’s climate. In much of Europe, electricity prices have risen 50% or more over the past decade, leaving many unable to afford proper wintertime heat, and causing thousands to die.

What about the purported 97% scientific consensus in favor of the MMGWT? This claim has been supported by classifying scientists as on board, says Legates, in the absence of definitive proof of their disagreement.

One study accepts agreement with the claim that the “Earth’s climate is being affected [to whatever extent] by human activities” as support for the consensus – another counts scientists as supporting the consensus unless they had “signed statements strongly dissenting from the views” of the UN-led Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a third assumes that “any paper which did not provide an explicit, quantified rejection of [the] supposed consensus was in agreement with the consensus.”

The last of these studies (published in 2013) was based on examining the abstracts of
11,944 papers published over a 21-year period. Hmm, sounds impressive, but Legates et al. concluded from said abstracts that only 41 of the papers explicitly supported the supposed consensus.

The 97% consensus claim will probably continue to be made. See, e.g., “Research shows there’s no debate; Study shows experts do agree on climate change,” Chelsea Harvey (Washington Post), reprinted in the News Journal on
4/22/16 (Earth Day).

The study referenced in today’s headline is a just published paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters, which purportedly confirms “a well-known and widely cited statistic: 97 percent of scientific experts agree that human-caused climate change is real.” And while the story recites criticism of this thesis as well as the arguments in favor of it, the suggested conclusion at the end of the article is that “the consensus on, well, the consensus is growing ever stronger” and “scientists say it’s still important to make sure the public is well-informed that the debate is over.”

David Legates got the proverbial last word, however, in another forum. Based on the way in which the supposed consensus is being defined, it was reported, Legates could be counted as supporting a consensus with which he profoundly disagrees. Obama’s 97 percent climate change consensus includes “deniers,” Valerie Richardson, Washington Times,

[According to Mr. Legates,] few reputable scientists would disagree that the climate changes, or even that humans have an impact on climate. Where he and other scientists part company with the “consensus” is on the narrower issues of whether human activity is the primary driver of global warming or whether it signals imminent climate disaster. “Neither of these arguments have been proven, and they represent the extremes to which the ‘believers’ will go to push their agenda,” said Mr. Legates in an email to The Washington Times. “These questions are seldom addressed by the ‘believers’ when they are trying to manufacture their supposed ‘consensus’ since they will not find widespread agreement.”

D. MMGWT adherents have been overly anxious to suppress the expression of contrary opinions; this suggests a lack of confidence in their own position.

Stigmatizing intellectual opponents is a longstanding practice in the political realm. See, e.g., Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinksy, 1971. But as one reviewer of that book noted, the results aren’t likely to prove productive. “You don’t get moral results from immoral means,

The tactics listed in the book are tactics designed to get political power. But ideas are not politics. When ideas are imposed through political power, they often engender a backlash from below because “a person convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still” to use an old English proverb. When people are victimized by politically imposed ideas, that only makes martyrs that spread opposition to those ideas.

In any case, Alinskyite tactics are antithetical to the scientific method, which is designed to discover truth rather than win arguments. Yet there have been repeated efforts to impugn the integrity of scientists who have dared to question the MMGWT.

One idea was to contact universities with which the skeptical scientists are associated, inquiring about their funding sources and possible “conflicts of interest.” Whoever decides what is true will rule, part I (global warming alarmists attack skeptical scientists),

The attorneys general of 15 states (not including Delaware), Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands recently announced a criminal probe of companies that might be funding anti-MMGWT research. 16 Democrat AGs begin inquisition against “climate change disbelievers,” Hans von Spakovsky,,

Speaking at a press conference on March 29, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “The bottom line is simple: Climate change is real.” He went on to say that if companies are committing fraud by “lying” about the dangers of climate change, [the AGs] will “pursue them to the fullest extent of the law.”

So what’s next? Will Marc Morano be prosecuted for making Climate Hustle, a film that seeks to emulate the success (in reverse) of Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth? Probably not, but once craziness get’s started it’s hard to say how far it will go.

Incidentally, we should note that there will be an introductory showing of Climate Hustle tonight (May 2) at theaters across the country. People who have been going along with the MMGWT may find the film an eye opener. “Climate Hustle” demolishes climate alarmism, Paul Driessen,,

Is there really a “97% scientific consensus” on this? Or is “dangerous manmade climate change” merely the greatest overheated environmentalist con-job and shell game ever devised to advance the Big Green anti-energy agenda? See this amazing film on May 2, and find out for yourself.

Delaware showings will be at Cinemark Movies 10 and Regal Brandywine Town Center 16. To buy tickets, visit

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Here’s a balanced article that demonstrates a warming trend based on satellite date over the past 35 years, but also shows that less warming has been occurring than was indicated by most climate models. - SAFE director

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