You’ve probably heard that 97 percent of scientists say global warming is real. Of course, that in itself is a meaningless statement, since no one disputes that the earth has warmed by roughly 0.8 degrees Celsius over the past century or so.
But the “97 percent of scientists believe in global warming” mantra became gospel on May 16, 2013, when President Obama tweeted “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous.”
What the president was referring to was a 2013 paper by the University of Queensland’s John Cook. In his research, Cook studied 11,994 papers published between 1991 and 2011 that mentioned the search words “global warming” and “global climate change.”
Guess what Cook actually found? Only 32.6 percent of the papers endorsed the view of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming. But of that group, 97 percent said that “recent warming is mostly man-made.”
And so, by a nice sleight-of-hand obfuscation, the great “97 percent consensus” was born.
Don’t believe me? Check out the actual paper, or the abstract, or the original article. In fact, let’s just say thank goodness that the originals are still posted online. Typically, when someone pulls off a con of such massive, world-wide proportions, they subsequently burn the evidence to cover their tracks.
Still don’t believe me? Here’s the actual, posted statement:
We find that 66.4 percent of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6 percent endorsed AGW, 0.7 percent rejected AGW and 0.3 percent were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1 percent endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.
Bottom line: In the actual study in question, only one-third of the 11,994 academic papers studied could be construed as arguing for man-made warming. The other two-thirds may have focused on other factors, perhaps the unprecedented increase in solar activity seen over the past century.