Earlier this month, John Cook of Skeptical Science published a ground-breaking study in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters showing that 97% of scientists agreed that global warming is being caused by humans. This study received far-ranging acclaim both in the media and in a number of scientific journals for both its thoroughness and its accuracy. The study is now considered to be the definitive work on scientific consensus on the issue of human-caused climate change.
Over the years, an increasing consensus among scientists that humans are causing an ever more visible and damaging global warming has served as a warning to the world’s public. Sadly, this message has been confused — primarily by monied interests who spend massive amounts to spread doubt on the issue of human caused climate change. The result is that only about half the public believes there is a scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming. In one example, The Heartland Institute, which receives large sums to operate PR campaigns on behalf of oil companies, recently engaged in a campaign to misinform the American public by directly targeting teachers and school children.
The most recent example, however, takes aim at the 97% study itself. According to reports from DeSmogBlog, a non-profit PR firm, which receives most of its money from oil companies like Talisman Energy and operates under the dubious name Friends of Science, has been issuing attack statements directly aimed at creating doubt in the validity of the 97% report. These statements appear to be crafted to generate exactly the kind of misunderstanding the 97% report reveals.
‘Friends of Science’ asserts:
Detailed analysis shows that only 0.5% (65 of the 12,000 abstracts rated) suggest that humans are responsible for more than 50% of the global warming up to 2001, contrary to the alleged 97% consensus amongst scientists in the Cook et al study. Citing fear mongering and faulty methodology Friends of Science reject the study and President Obama’s tweet as careless incitement of a misinformed and frightened public, when in fact the sun is the main driver of climate change; not human activity or carbon dioxide (CO2).
It is important to note that ‘Friends of Science’ did not reveal their methodology to support this statement. Frequent requests for this methodology among the media have been met only with silence. Equally telling is the fact that the statement attempts to politicize the issue by harping on President Obama’s tweet rather than seeking to logically refute the 97% paper. Finally, the organization leans on the typical climate change denier claim that the sun is the primary driver of present warming. A claim that has been dis-proven over and over again in the scientific literature, should ‘Friends of Science’ care to read it. Or they could simply go argue with NASA whose instruments show that though solar irradiance is declining, the Earth is still accumulating more heat than it radiates out into space. Clearly, based on these statements alone, it’s obvious ‘Friends of Science’ doesn’t even know the science they’re purportedly talking about.
On the other hand, the 97% percent study is entirely transparent in its own methodology. In short, John Cook’s survey asked the scientists who authored the papers what the consensus position of those papers were.
From the 97% study methodology:
Nobody is more qualified to judge a paper’s intent than the actual scientists who authored the paper. To provide an independent measure of the level of consensus, we asked the scientists who authored the climate papers to rate the level of endorsement of their own papers. Among all papers that were self-rated as expressing a position on human-caused warming, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. This result is consistent with our abstract ratings, which found a 97.1% consensus.
In addition, the entire database of the 97% study’s methodology is available as part of the study’s publication. So from ‘Friends of Science’ we have a statement issued that is unsupported, that directly goes against the scientific findings of major organizations like NASA, and that directly refutes the claims made by scientists about the papers they authored.
Not very scientific. And not at all friendly to science. But you can bet that the denier blogosphere will go nuts over this ‘Friends of Science’ canard.