“Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”
Remember that statement, a while back, from some bloke on Twitter? What we now know with more than 97 per cent certainty that this guy – or whoever is in charge of running his Twitter account – is either wilfully dishonest or woefully ill-informed.
The “97 per cent” claim is an utter nonsense. This report released today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation explains exactly why.
First, that word “dangerous”. This is a concept that was never mentioned in the study responsible for that 97 per cent claim. The paper was written by an Australian warmist activist called John Cook (and others). It drew its conclusions having allegedly reviewed 12,000 papers on climate change and found – so it claimed – that the vast majority of them supported the “consensus” on global warming.
But here the watch-the-pea-under-the-thimble game begins. The “consensus” which the Cook et al paper supports is so banal and trivial as to scarcely be worth stating, viz:
• that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas;
• that human activities have warmed the planet to some unspecified extent.
Since even the vast majority of sceptical scientists agree with this statement you might wonder why, when Cook et al released their findings they got so much attention in the global media. (And they really did. That tweet of @barackobama’s helped, of course. But you only have to recall how many occasions you’ve heard that “97 per cent” figure cited as unquestionable “proof” of the existence of man-made global warming to appreciate how effective this propaganda exercise was; and also to realise just how ineffective the world’s media generally is at subjecting such claims to any kind of rigorous analysis).
But this fudge, of course, was always part of the plan. We know this because John Cook’s internet home is an alarmist propaganda website called Skeptical Science. Unfortunately for Cook, a security lapse at his site in 2012 led to the disclosure of private email exchanges between Cook and his co-conspirators.
Here’s one from Cook himself, explaining the purpose of the paper:
It’s essential that the public understands that there’s a scientific consensus on AGW. So [Skeptical Science activists] Jim Powell, Dana [Nucitelli] and I have been working on something over the last few months that we hope will have a game changing impact on the public perception of consensus. Basically, we hope to establish that not only is there a consensus, there is a strengthening consensus.”
Two things are immediately apparent from this email.
1. Cook had decided even before he began his investigations what those investigations would reveal.
2. This was always going to be a PR exercise, not a scientific one.
Next we find Cook digging himself still deeper by referring to a chosen methodology – its name coined by one of his associates, Ari – as the “porno approach.” What he means, presumably, is that rather than allowing for rigour and nuance, his paper will be researched in such a way as to deliver the most dramatic, headline results possible. Not just tasteful nudie pix, then, but hardcore with donkeys…
Okay, so we’ve ruled out a definition of AGW being ‘any amount of human influence’ or ‘more than 50 percent human influence.’ We’re basically going with Ari’s porno approach (I probably should stop calling it that) which is AGW = ‘humans are causing global warming’. e.g. – no specific quantification which is the only way we can do it considering the breadth of papers we’re surveying.
Under these criteria even an otherwise arch-sceptical paper conceding that, say, the methane from the farts of beef and dairy cattle might have a marginal influence on climate, could be claimed by Cook et al as being in support of the “consensus.”
As Andrew Montford’s GWPF report goes on to reveal, this is more or less what happened. He cites two examples of scientists who had written highly sceptical papers which – much to their mortification and irritation – they discovered had been graded by Cook and his team as endorsing the “consensus.”
“It is not an accurate representation [of my work]” wrote one, Nir Shaviv.
Statistically and scientifically, as Montford goes on to detail, Cook et al’s survey was a dog’s breakfast. (“This is garbage, and a crisis,” wrote one critic, all the more damningly because he self-describes as a believer in man-made global warming, “It needs to stop, and [such] papers need to be retracted immediately, especially Cook, et al (2013)”)
Elsewhere in the report, Montford finds space to chronicle dodgy goings-on at the University of Queensland, where Cook is the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute. Rather than ‘fess up to the scandal, the University responded with blustering threats and a press release containing a pack of lies.
But for me the most interesting part of Montford’s report is the light it sheds on the modus operandi of the wider climate change alarmist establishment, from the Guardian journalists who disseminate this naked propaganda to the politicians, from Barack Obama to UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey, who use it to justify their dubious policies.
Here is Davey, talking last year on the BBC’s Daily Politics Show, to Andrew Neil:
We’ve had a complete unchallenged view of the climate change deniers. I think we need to have rather more balance in the debate, particularly when we saw a recent analysis of 12,000 scientific papers…and of the scientists who expressed a view – these were climate change papers – of the scientists who expressed a view 97 per cent said that climate change was happening and that it was human-made activity.
Most neutral observers on hearing such a claim would, I imagine, find it highly persuasive. “12,000 scientific papers? Sounds a lot! 97 per cent? Wow!” And while they might find Davey a fairly slippery character, they would have no real reason to question the analysis he is citing. As a senior government minister heading a department full of experts in the field he must surely know what he’s talking about. Right?
So this is where we’re at in the climate wars. (And where, indeed, we have unfortunately been at for a very long time). You can be the biggest, most risible assclown in the history of junk statistics and pseudoscience but so long as you can somehow cobble together a half-way plausible paper, no matter how inept your methodology, which helps prop up the vast man-made global warming industry then you have it made: the President of the USA will Tweet you; your University will back you to the hilt; your colleagues will rally round you; you will get a very favourable write-up in the Guardian (and myriad other alarmist publications); your critics will be sidelined and ignored.
But wait. It seems that Cook and his friends have now produced a response to these criticisms almost as devastatingly convincing as that original report. Over a period of 97 Hours Of Consensus, his website will be showing cartoon caricatures of climate scientists from around the world, each with little speech bubbles coming out of their cartoon mouths explaining exactly why global warming is more real and dangerous than ever before.
For further updates don’t watch this space because I’m afraid, cynic that I am, I find this all a bit desperate, childish and silly. Instead, why not check out @barackobama’s Twitter feed? I’m sure he’ll be reporting on this exciting development in our understanding of the climate change phenomenon any second now…..
Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.