Friday, May 04, 2007
Who will you believe?
I had been meaning to post on this for a long time now, even before the debate started on my previous post. You hear a lot about the supposed "global warming controversy" and skeptics can easily find a handful of scientists who are willing to oppose the mainstream scientific consensus that global warming is happening and it is humanly caused. So I got curious. I was wondering what the actual percentage of scientists there were that doubted the global warming consensus (I'm not really interested in what politicians, pundits, special interest groups, or sci-fi authors have to say about it), compared to those scientists who were convinced it was real, serious, and humanly caused.

It didn't take much digging online to find a list. and Wikipedia offer a list of skeptical scientists that they say " intended to be comprehensive but may be incomplete." (In other words, these were all the ones they could find, but they're not ruling out the possibility that others are out there.) So how many are there? Twenty-two. That's it. Less than two-dozen scientists who doubt global warming could be found.

In contrast, the article on scientists that support the consensus view can't even list individual scientists because there are too many. Instead they list 16 different scientific organizations, each of which represents dozens if not hundreds of scientists who all support the idea that global warming is happening, it is serious, and it is our fault.

That's a huge difference. Who are you more likely to trust? A handful of skeptics (some of whom aren't even in climate related fields, and some of whom actually work for the oil industry), or the consensus opinion of hundreds of qualified scientists from around the world?

Frankly, the overwhelming number of scientists on the side of global warming theory discredits any attempt to suggest political bias regarding global warming. These are experts coming from all over the world, from a wide diversity of political contexts. It makes no sense to suggest scientists from France or Brazil or China (for example) are simply in the pocket of left-wing activists here in America.

Indeed, if there has been any political pressure to skew the data, it has come from the other direction. CBS recently reported that:

Climate scientists at seven government agencies say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming.

The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning. Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to "global warming" or "climate change" from a report.

There may be a global warming conspiracy out there, but my guess is that it is coming from those who want to deny it is actually happening, rather than from the majority of scientists who agree on their basic conclusions.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not just a blind devotee of scientific opinion. Science has often been wrong before, and we need those who will challenge the conventional wisdom to offer new theories. However, I am not an expert on climatology and I have to believe someone. And if it comes down to believing views supported by big corporations with an obvious financial interest in denying global warming versus the views of numerous independent scientists who come from a variety of backgrounds but all reach similar conclusions, well, I know who seems more credible to me.

Who would you trust?

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posted by Mike Clawson at 11:58 AM | Permalink |


At 5/04/2007 07:39:00 PM, Blogger Joy


What I am reading is compelling. It was so much easier being a right-winger! With knowledge comes responsibility!



At 5/05/2007 10:35:00 AM, Anonymous Dan Harlow

Great picture Mike :)
Of course the picture only proves global warming for women but not for white males who run the big corporations that pollute the environment :)

The fact that political agencies in America actively attempt to "down play" (suppress) the data is scary. While I do understand a politician trying to protect his district / state from legislation that could impact its citizens financially (loss of jobs, taxes, etc) there has to be accountability too.

Politicians are in a position to receive the latest scientific data before the general public sees it and are "trusted" by the people who voted for them to make decisions that represent the greatest good for the greatest number.

Unfortunately, we have allowed our politicians to run wild with big business and they have become insulated from the real world you and I live in. In short, we are not represented (liberal or conservative) and our government has become an institution which no longer speaks for the common man and women.

On a positive side, I believe Washington DC lies at or near sea level, so maybe they will see the effects of global warming sooner than me in Colorado which is a mile up :)


At 5/16/2007 04:08:00 PM, Blogger Aussie John

You said,"Less than two-dozen scientists who doubt global warming could be found." Quote:
"Nearly all of the initial 17,100 scientist signers have technical training suitable for the evaluation of the relevant research data, and many are trained in related fields. In addition to these 17,100, approximately 2,400 individuals have signed the petition who are trained in fields other than science or whose field of specialization was not specified on their returned petition.

Of the 19,700 signatures that the project has received in total so far, 17,800 have been independently verified and the other 1,900 have not yet been independently verified. Of those signers holding the degree of PhD, 95% have now been independently verified. One name that was sent in by enviro pranksters, Geri Halliwell, PhD, has been eliminated. Several names, such as Perry Mason and Robert Byrd are still on the list even though enviro press reports have ridiculed their identity with the names of famous personalities. They are actual signers. Perry Mason, for example, is a PhD Chemist."

Just wondering??


At 5/16/2007 06:47:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Sorry Aussie, but this decade old petition has been exposed as a deceptive fraud by Sourcewatch. The paper it is based on is not an actual peer-reviewed scientific article. Also, according to Sourcewatch, the source of the article and organizers of the Petition, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, are headed by Arthur B. Robinson, "an eccentric scientist who has a long history of controversial entanglements with figures on the fringe of accepted research. OISM also markets a home-schooling kit for "parents concerned about socialism in the public schools" and publishes books on how to survive nuclear war." (So clearly they have a political agenda and don't seem to be the most credible scientific sources.)

And as for the signatures, their methods of collection are highly suspect and there is almost no way of verifying the legitimacy of these signatures or the credentials of the signers. They claim that these signatures have been "independently verified" but fail to say how or by whom. Frankly, I'm not inclined to simply take their word for it.

If there really were such a large percentage of qualified scientists against global warming, I would think we could find that out without relying on suspect fringe scientists like the OISM.


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