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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Settled science: there is a scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change

Sou | 6:18 PM Go to the first of 57 comments. Add a comment

You probably think this topic has been done to death, however there are still people who won't or can't accept that there is a strong scientific consensus on climate change. Even people who accept the strong scientific consensus keep coming up with claims that it isn't. The science on the consensus is "settled science". (I say that to annoy science deniers who don't understand the difference between settled science and ongoing research.)

There are two new papers about the extent to which there is a consensus that humans are causing global warming. One is a rather silly comment by Richard Tol (who can't let it go). The other is a reply to Richard's comment by a team of heavy hitters, including many of the people who have already published papers quantifying the consensus, plus more. The reply is much more than a mere reply. It's a synthesis of the consensus papers and something that you'll no doubt find useful the next time you come across a climate science doubter.

Richard Tol finally got some of his nonsense published at ERL

After many, many attempts, Richard Tol finally managed to persuade an editor at Environmental Research Letters to publish a slightly polished compilation of his dumb blog comments protesting Cook13. They were presented as a comment on Cook13 - three years after the fact.

I can't say why ERL accepted his latest version. Did they think he'd stop harassing and badmouthing ERL? That would be an error. Was it a flip of the coin? Or could they have been using Richard as bait to attract a paper from a bunch of heavyweights?

If it was the latter, then their plan paid off. In the same issue there's a paper with a comprehensive view of the climate consensus literature to date. It's by a team of heavy hitters, including many of the people who have already published papers quantifying the consensus, plus more.

Going by Richard's comment at WUWT, the ERL editors did try to get him to be more coherent than his blog idiocy but weren't very successful. His opening line was not supported by anything he wrote, nor the literature. It was:
Cook et al's highly influential consensus study (2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024024) finds different results than previous studies in the consensus literature. 
Richard got the first part right. Cook13 has cemented even in the minds of deniers that there is a scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming. The 97% number is promoted widely, particularly on denier blogs. Cook13 has won an award, been cited by the US President, and has now been downloaded  476,300 times, which must be a record of some sort. So Richard is correct that Cook13 was a highly influential consensus study.

A consensus on consensus: it's settled science

It's the second part that he got wrong. The 97% consensus finding of Cook13 is comparable to the findings in other similar studies. The Consensus on Consensus paper in the same issue of ERL was much more than a rebuttal to Richard's silliness. It stands high in its own right. The authors of other consensus papers have done a review of all the main consensus studies in the literature. The Cook16 Consensus on Consensus paper has this very telling graphic, plotting the results of the different consensus studies against climate science expertise. I've added some highlights to the chart from Cook16 circling the results showing that the greater the expertise in climate science, the stronger is the consensus (the highest expertise is to the right of the chart):

Figure 1 | Level of consensus on AGW versus expertise across different studies. Right colour bar indicates posterior density of Bayesian 99% credible intervals. Only consensus estimates obtained over the last 10 years are included (see S2 for further details and tabulation of acronyms). Source: Adapted from Cook16

The bias of Richard Tol and his lack of independence

Richard Tol is not an "independent" researcher. He is one of the advisers to the anti-mitigation lobby group the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK, which is an activist lobby group for more, not less, global warming. Whether Richard is trying to prove his worth to the GWPF, or whether he is only driven by an obsession with trying to find a flaw in Cook13, we'll probably never know. He is obsessed to the extreme, there's plenty of evidence for that even here at HotWhopper - see here and here.

Despite his own lack of independence, one of Richard's claims at WUWT is that the researchers were not "independent".  All he says about that in his ERL comment was:
The paper argues that the raters were independent. Yet, the raters were drawn from the same group. Cook et al (2013) are unfortunately silent on the procedures that were put in place to prevent communication between raters.
Richard doesn't say what "group" that was. Is he saying that because the people categorising the abstracts are associated with they are not independent? That would be like saying that the scientists at the Bureau of Meteorology are not independent on weather because they work for a weather bureau. Or that scientists at the University of Melbourne are not independent because they work at the University of Melbourne. It's not the same as saying that Richard Tol is not independent because he works for the GWPF.

The GWPF is a lobby group agitating for more global warming and promotes science disinformation. It rejects mainstream science. SkepticalScience on the other hand, communicates mainstream science.  If it has articles supporting action to mitigate global warming it is consistent with science and with every major scientific organisation and almost every national government. It is in the interests of the well-being of humanity. The GWPF lobbying is against the interests of humanity and is inconsistent with science.

There is no consensus on plate tectonics - applying Richard Tol's screwed up thinking

By far the biggest flaw in Richard's thinking is when he assumes that "no position" is the same as "it's not human activity".  When Cook13 came up with 97% consensus, it was 97% of abstracts that expressed a position on the cause of modern warming. It wasn't 97% of all papers in their larger sample. It wasn't a percentage of all scientific papers ever published on climate. It wasn't a percentage of all scientific papers in the world on any topic. No. It was a percentage of all the papers in the sample that expressed a position on the cause of warming.

Richard didn't do any analysis of his own but what he did was logically flawed. He weirdly wrote in his ERL comment:
Cook et al (2013) estimate the fraction of published papers that argue, explicitly or implicitly, that most of the recent global warming is human-made. They find a consensus rate of 96%–98%. ... If [papers that do not take a position are] included, Cook et al find a consensus rate of 33%–63%. 

He got his 33% by using the wrong sample. I don't know where Richard got his 63% from and I can't be bothered trying to figure it out. It's weird enough that he'd want to include in the sub-sample, papers that do not take a position. Let me illustrate with the table below:

It's obvious that 3,896 + 78 + 40 = 4,014. Richard is wanting to argue that it equals 11,944.

For anyone who is having trouble wrapping your head around this, consider the following. It doesn't matter what the size of the large sample is. All that you are interested in is the sample that expresses a position on the subject. The overall sample could be 11,944 or 21,944. The sub-sample that you are interested in is the one that expresses a position on the cause of the current warming:

For another example, you could be interested in the percentage of rabbits in Australia that have been infected with calcivirus (thanks TP):
  • If you were Richard Tol, you'd divide the number of rabbits in Australia infected with calcivirus by the number of rabbits in the entire world
  • If you were a skeptical scientist, you'd divide the number of rabbits in Australia infected with calcivirus by the number of rabbits in Australia.
As the authors of Cook16 point out, Richard's logic would mean there is no consensus on plate tectonics:
...applying Tol's method to the established paradigm of plate tectonics would lead Tol to reject the scientific consensus in that field because nearly all current papers would be classified as taking 'no position'.

Richard is doubly biased in his wrong bias - where is the 0.7% denial?

Nowhere in Richard's paper did I see him use his wrong arithmetic on the proportion of papers that disputed the fact that humans have caused global warming. If he had, he'd have written about how only 0.7% of the larger sample disputed this fact.  You can see where I got that number from in the table above. Of all the 11,944 papers in the full sample, there were only 78 that disputed the fact that humans are causing global warming and 78/11,944 = 0.7%. Of course the proper calculation is the proportion in the sub-sample that took a position, which is 4,014. When you do the proper arithmetic: 78/4,014, you get 1.9% - still a very small number and one that Richard Tol doesn't mention in his comment.

More gobbledegook from Richard Tol

Richard managed to sneak in a lot of the gobbledegook he's tried out on blogs before. At least this time he avoided arguing that the abstracts must have got tired :)  The thing is, if Richard had truly been interested in the extent to which published research supports the fact that humans are causing global warming, he'd have done his own research. Instead he complains about non-existent date stamps, and poses meaningless rhetorical questions falsely implying some nefarious activity or the other in the style of paranoid conspiracy theorists.

I don't think there's any question that Richard Tol is nutty as a fruit cake about the Cook13 paper. The one remaining question is what possessed ERL to publish such a ridiculous comment so full of holes.

Meanwhile, over at WUWT - Claim: ERL should retract all papers written by scientists

True to form, Richard has used the climate conspiracy blog WUWT to add some stuff that would never have got past the ERL editors or reviewers. He first took a swipe at the journal that did publish his comment, and wrote:
Unfortunately, Environmental Research Letters does not believe in open discussion and forced me to hide the rather severe methodological critique on Cook’s 2013 paper behind a superficial literature review.
What he was referring to was the fact that ERL editors asked him to put his comments in the context of other literature on the subject. Richard didn't like that because it meant he had to fudge a lot. The findings of Cook13 after all, are consistent with all the other research on the subject, as illustrated in the Consensus on Consensus paper. At WUWT Richard added:
This allows Cook 2016 to hide their response to my critique; but they admit that Cook 2013 misleads the reader on the independence of the raters and on the information available to the raters. This is normally sufficient for a retraction: the data behind Cook 2013 are not what Cook 2013 claim they are.
So now Richard is complaining that ERL "hid" the reply to his comment. Except it didn't. The Consensus on Consensus paper is there in plain sight on the ERL website. It's there in the "Reply" section, just underneath the "Comment" section. As for Richard claiming that "they admit" something or the other - I've not got a clue what Richard is talking about. ERL stands by Cook13 and the ERL editorial board voted it as the best ERL article of 2013.

The real "batshit crazy" notion of Richards is his claim that the paper should be retracted because the authors are not "independent". Richard's notion of "independence" of "raters" is somewhat warped. I think he's arguing that the people who assigned categories to the abstracts accept mainstream science, therefore they are not "independent". Extending that argument to all the papers published in scientific journals - they should all be withdrawn on the grounds that scientists accept science therefore they cannot be independent.

The rest of his comment is the sort of nonsense he's tried on here. He knows the sample size. It's in the paper. The size of the large sample is 11,944 and the size of the sub-sample that expressed an opinion on the cause of warming is 4,014. Richard has access to both samples as do you. So he's no excuse for not knowing the size.

For starters, Richard largely agrees with the findings of Cook13, so I don't know why he queries the extent to which different people might differ in their interpretation. In any case, any small difference in how different people interpret abstracts is counteracted by the methodology, where at least two people categorised each abstract and differences were resolved by a third party. You'll notice that Richard didn't do any research of his own on the subject, so this is pure speculation on his part. The evidence shows that any differences were very minor.

Goodness only knows what he's talking about with "phases". That's a new one to me.

For Richard's parting shot, he wrote:
It’s a funny thing that – you exactly reproduce someone else’s findings and they accuse you of misrepresentation. It’s their numbers. If this is wrong, it is their fault.
Nope. If you misrepresent the findings as Richard has, then it's misrepresentation. A false reproduction is a false reproduction. Flawed logic and wrong arithmetic remains flawed logic and wrong arithmetic. False allegations like Richard's are still false allegations.

PS: The invisible "second critique" :)

PS I just noticed that Richard Tol claims at WUWT that there are "two critiques", his and one that he "hasn't seen". I don't know of any published paper other than Richard's comment and the Consensus on Consensus reply, so he may have just made that up out of thin air too. Anthony Watts turned Richard's "two critiques" into a "second rebuttal" and wrote: "The second rebuttal to Cook will be added once we have it and will appear here."

I have a very strong hunch that the poor little WUWT-ers will be waiting for a very long time for that "second rebuttal". (Richard's been hoist with his own petard. Ain't karma a bitch!)
Added by Sou at 8:24 pm AEST 13 April 2016

Consensus on Consensus: A Synthesis

As I said earlier, the good thing that came out of all of this is that you now have access to a synthesis of all the main consensus papers of the past decade or so, put together by the many of the authors of those papers. These include scientists of some considerable standing in the scientific community. (Richard Tol is a minnow by comparison with the combined effort of the authors below.) Here is a list of the authors of Cook16:

  • John Cook, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Australia; School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Australia; Skeptical Science, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Naomi Oreskes, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, USA
  • Peter T Doran, Geology and Geophysics, Louisiana State University, USA
  • William R L Anderegg, Department of Biology, University of Utah, USA; Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University, USA
  • Bart Verheggen, Amsterdam University College, The Netherlands
  • Ed W Maibach, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University, USA
  • J Stuart Carlton, Texas Sea Grant College Program, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX USA
  • Stephan Lewandowsky, University of Bristol, UK, School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Australia
  • Andrew G Skuce, Salt Spring Consulting Ltd, Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, Skeptical Science, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Sarah A Green, Department of Chemistry, Michigan Technological University, USA
  • Dana Nuccitelli, Skeptical Science, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Peter Jacobs, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University, USA
  • Mark Richardson, University of Reading, Reading, UK, now at Jet Propulsion Lab, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA
  • Bärbel Winkler, Skeptical Science, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Rob Painting, Skeptical Science, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 
  • Ken Rice, Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

From the WUWT comments

I don't know if there's a sensible or non-conspiratorial comment among the "thoughts" at WUWT. I haven't read them.

References and further reading

John Cook, Naomi Oreskes, Peter T Doran, William R L Anderegg, Bart Verheggen, Ed W Maibach, J Stuart Carlton, Stephan Lewandowsky, Andrew G Skuce, Sarah A Green, Dana Nuccitelli, Peter Jacobs, Mark Richardson, Bärbel Winkler, Rob Painting and Ken Rice. "Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming" Environmental Research Letters 11, no. 4 (2016): 048002 doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048002 (open access)

Cook, John, Dana Nuccitelli, Sarah A. Green, Mark Richardson, Bärbel Winkler, Rob Painting, Robert Way, Peter Jacobs, and Andrew Skuce. "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature." Environmental Research Letters 8, no. 2 (2013): 024024. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024 (open access)

Richard S J Tol 2016 "Comment on 'Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature." Environmental Research Letters 11, no. 4 (2016): 048001  doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048001 (open access)

Consensus on consensus - article by ATTP at ...and Then There's Physics

Devastating Reply To Richard Tol’s Nonsensus In Peer-Reviewed Journal - article by Collin Maessen at Real Skeptic

Consensus On Consensus - article by Stephan Lewandowsky at Shaping Tomorrow's World

It’s settled: 90–100% of climate experts agree on human-caused global warming - article by Dana Nuccitelli at The Guardian

Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming - article by Bart Verheggen at Our Changing Climate

Research by AUC faculty member confirms scientific consensus that human activity is changing climate - news item from Amsterdam University College

Yes, there really is scientific consensus on climate change - article by John Cook at Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Die Ursachen des Klimawandels: Es herrscht Konsens über den Konsens - article at

From the HotWhopper archives

The Evolution of a 97% Conspiracy Theory - The Case of the Abstract IDs - this is one of the HotWhopper articles on Richard Tol's obsessive campaign against Cook13. There are more articles in the list at the bottom of the article, and you can search for his name in the search bar up top. (Richard has commented here rather a lot, providing material for a number of HotWhopper articles.)

Cook et al Paper Confirms 97% Scientific Consensus - Prompting Silly Conspiracy Theories from Anthony Watts and WUWT - May 2013


  1. About this little remark by Tol over at WUWT:

    "It’s a funny thing that – you exactly reproduce someone else’s findings and they accuse you of misrepresentation. It’s their numbers. If this is wrong, it is their fault."

    He already said something similar over at Real Skeptic when I published the initial responses from cited authors:

    "It is quite a spectacle, with people taking issue with their own research. The Oreskes-Cook comparison is most clear-cut, because they used the same approach and even partly the same categorisation. Oreskes finds 75% in agreement, 25% no position, and 0% disagreement. Cook find 33% in agreement, 66% no position, and 1% disagreement. How could anyone claim that Oreskes and Cook find the same thing?"

    In a later comment he continues with:

    "Or take Verheggen’s study. In the sample selection phase, they decided that these are the people they want to ask. After having seen the answers, they decided that some of their interviewees are not worth listening to."

    At this point I'm wondering if Tol has any bridges left to burn...

    1. At this point it looks as if the only people Richard thinks are worth asking are the "climate hoax" conspiracy theorists at WUWT.

      He's made his bed ...I doubt there's a soul left in the world with any credibility who would take Richard Tol seriously on anything at all.

    2. There still might be folks who aren't aware of his shenanigans who initially might not have a clue what they're getting themselves into. Plus you have the 'think tank' crowd who regard him highly.

    3. The other day on ATTP, Tol made a reasonable comment. It was shocking.

    4. Shocked and stunned

    5. Tol was interviewed by the BBC's environment correspondent Roger Harribin for a radio 4 programme on Climate Change

      He came over as on the right side of bat sh1t crazy, making a few welcome and obvious contributions to the debate - I.e the poor will be the overwhelming losers as the effects of AGW bite

      Full transcript here

      I suspect he simply plays to the gallery

  2. BTW - I've added a postscript about the invisible missing "second critique" that Richard Tol and Anthony Watts are hanging out for :)

  3. I've gradually come to the conclusion that Tol is motivated by attention seeking and contrarianism, and despite his degrees and early academic promotion simply isn't that bright. In some ways he resembles a more successful version of Lubos Motl.

  4. they seem to me like intellectual "tire Kickers"

    A tire kicker is someone who's going to ask, and ask and ask, with very little chance of them ever paying for your services. A tire kicker is a lo-baller, a time waster and a constant danger to any independent worker.

  5. Replies
    1. High somewhere between 95 and 99%
      Close to 97% maybe.
      I'd expect their must be a better way to spend his time.

  6. II am uncertain as to the precise definition of academic misconduct but I am certain that finding that definition will never involve enrolling in an ethics course at the University of Sussex.

  7. Tol's request for a retraction is hilarious, considering that correcting the many errors in his 2009 paper actually altered the conclusion (despite his claims it didn't). This is actually a ground to retract a paper according to the COPE - although I readily admit not all journals follow their guidelines, even if they are a member of COPE.

    The reported misrepresentation of prior literature, as documented in the reply to Tol's comment, would also be a reasonable ground to retract a paper. Or rather, it should have been detected by the peer reviewers, and thus have been commented on as a major flaw in the comment.

  8. Sou : I don't know if there's a sensible or non-conspiratorial comment among the "thoughts" at WUWT. I haven't read them.

    Well Wagen has been making some sensible points. He/she is being met with usual derision, disdain, and total incomprehension one would expect. It is not clear if any of the regulars have seen Cook13. I take that back ristvan may have read it.

    I was fascinated by JohnKnight's contribution however.

    The Government (Admin/CIC in particular) has the power to send all the little “Wagens” it feels like to places like WUWT . . perfectly “legal” since laws against propagandizing us were set aside a few years ago. I suggest folks stop being so silly as to think that power is not being exercised, routinely.

    I have not the slightest idea what he thinks he is talking about but it is outstandingly nuts.

    1. jkrideau:

      "I have not the slightest idea what he thinks he is talking about but it is outstandingly nuts."

      It is a very common suspicion among the far-right here in the US that those that dare disagree with them in blog posts or the like are very likely paid agents of the federal government which is doing everything possible to enslave the populace.

    2. Same thing with the Berners, but that phenomenon will be gone in a couple of months.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Well yes but where did this come from, "perfectly “legal” since laws against propagandizing us were set aside a few years ago."

      Oh wait , if you are nuts already I suppose this makes a lot of sense.

    5. Irony alert!

  9. Usually the very mention of his name brings Richard Tol to the comment thread himself. I guess he must be busy signing off prints with the dedication "To myself with deep respect and affection, Richard"

    1. Time to fire up the bat signal!

      Or not.

    2. Richard probably knows he's worn out his welcome here.

      Any comments from him that are outright misrepresentations would disappear. I wouldn't normally do that when I mention someone in an article, but Richard's a special case and he's had more than his fair share of comments here already.

  10. Under their Scope and key information section, Environmental Research Letters states "Comment articles must be submitted within 6 months of the date of publication of the original article in ERL. Comment articles submitted after this date will not be considered for publication in the journal." It looks like ERL has set up a situation where they might have a hard time refusing other Comments that are submitted longer then 6 months after the original article.

    1. I should have also noted that ERL also states "Once the Comment and Reply articles have been published, this represents the final formal published discussion in ERL, i.e. further Comment and/or Reply articles responding to the original Comment and Reply articles will not be considered for publication." So if there is a "rebuttal" to the Cook et al reply then ERL is breaking a lot of their own rules. Why Trump, sorry Tol, deserves this much attention is beyond me.

  11. Catmando, Tol's too busy over at ATTP's, I suspect. You simply could not make it up. The word 'shameless' seems barely adequate...

    And, lest we forget - #FreeTheTol300!

  12. Just FYI: I'm on the ferry from Vancouver Island (where the masked Tim Ball hides out) to Vancouver -- that crank reporter was doing the trip in the opposite direction. I got as few as three bars of cell phone service, below deck next to the Starbucks dispensary.

    My conclusion: reporter needs a better cell phone.

    1. I remember that well.

      "The Governor's source has led June Sarpong to a small town on the edge of civilization. It's here that a global warming critic says he's hiding for his life." excerpt from Conspiracy with Jesse Ventura, c/o potholer54.

      Scientific consensus and arguments from authority (Tim Ball section)

      Tim cleverly maintains a listed phone number and address in Victoria B.C. to throw the Mannian hit squads off his trail.

    2. @magma, lol I actually re watched that a few weeks ago

      It is fantastic, as are all potholer's videos

  13. Sou,

    I see you're active on the thread over at ATTP's blog. I feel I would be remiss to not repeat my comment directed at him here as well:

    I have recently changed position on C13, and my present opinion is that the way the endorsement categories were written left too much open to subjective interpretation. Specifically, the definition of AGW is not consistent across all categories.

    I haven't dug into C16 yet, and will (and should) reserve comment until I have done so.

    1. Hi Brandon. Your comment doesn't seem to me to be "specific" :(

      Since the results were corroborated by a survey of authors, I can't see that this could have been a big problem. The authors had some training to start with to help get a consistent approach.) Any disagreement would have been one of degree within a category, not between major categories. (There wouldn't have been much disagreement between an abstract going into the "endorse AGW" pile vs one going into the "dispute AGW" file. Nor too many disagreements between "no position" and either "endorse" or "dispute" I'd have thought.)

      Perhaps you could try a sample yourself - others have tried a hundred or two, and got a similar breakdown to Cook13. I doubt you'd come up with much different.

      The more interesting finding from the public's point of view is that there are so few papers disputing the mainstream findings. That's not often mentioned. Why not focus on that and see if you can get it up or down? (Most papers these days wouldn't express an opinion either way, just like most chemistry papers don't express an opinion on the existence of atoms and molecules.)

    2. Hi Sou,

      I realize my comment isn't terribly specific, let me see if I can at least summarize my position. I think C13 tried to do two things at once with the same survey instrument: a literature review, and an expert opinion review. Either would have been fine on their own, or both done "separately" as part of the same paper. I think it's all but certain that the vast majority of working climate scientists endorse the IPCC position of >50% warming since 1950 due to human activity, but very few *papers* explicitly do -- as you allude -- simply by virtue of the fact that most climate papers aren't attribution studies.

      If what we want to promote -- and rightfully so -- is that 90+ percent of climate scientists endorse the IPCC postion, I think we should use survey instruments which put those kind of explicit questions to authors in lieu of backing into it by doing a reivew of their work. I could, and would, defend that kind of survey.

      I close, realizing I am unresponsive to several of your points. I did read them.

    3. I can't agree with you Brandon. There have been opinion surveys. The beauty of Cook13 was that it was a survey of published science which IMO has more value. Not only that, it was a huge sample. Much bigger than any other published study and much more thorough. You might find one or two papers that you might have put into a different category, but when you've got a sample size of nearly 12,000 papers, giving a sub-sample of more than 4,000 that expressed a position - it's hard to beat by any measure. The sample size involved reduced the error margins enormously.

      It wasn't a literature review in the usual meaning of the term. Nor was it an expert opinion review, although they did ask the authors what position they took in their own papers. It was a survey of the literature to categorise it as accepting or rejecting science.

      If what you want to gauge is the opinion of scientists, those have been conducted as well. This was not that. It was an assessment of where the science itself stands, not the personal opinion of scientists. (Papers tend to be evidence-based, not opinion-based, so they carry more weight.)

      Anyone is free to do their own research of course. Richard Tol refused to. None of the deniers have done so, though one of them started something along the lines of Cook13. (It probably went the way of the WUWT conspiracy survey that got buried by Steve McIntyre.)

    4. To me the author survey was more of a check of the abstract review, although this could have been clearer. That is, the authors survey was meant to answer the question how well the abstracts reflect the scientific opinion expressed in the papers themselves. Unexpectedly, the abstracts are less informative.

    5. Sou,

      I understand you don't agree with me, and think I understand a lot of why. I have, in fact, in the past made similar arguments in support of C13. I'm not saying it's all bad, only that I have enough reservations that I can't in good conscience defend it or promote it.

      Anyway. Your post today is about C16, not C13. I don't wish to further distract from that discussion.

    6. Sort of to Brandon ...

      It comes to me that these endless arguments about the minutiae of consensus are just playing the deniers' games.

      It is not like it is some human drug trial with a need for ethics and protocols and double blinds because it involves lives. It is an administrative exercise that could have been repeated a thousand times by now, as has repeatedly been pointed out to deniers. Is anyone seriously arguing that the abstract assessors may have got together and colluded to bias the result? Or that they got tired and not so good as they should have been? Tosh!

      As an economist once wrote:

      “The consensus is of course in the high nineties. No one ever said it was not.”

      I think that finishes the discussion.

    7. Marco, I'm with you on that one. The authors knew perfectly well that their objectivity and expertise at classifying the abstracts would be questioned by deniers. So they preemptively asked the authors to classify their papers themselves.

    8. Jammy Dodger,

      It comes to me that these endless arguments about the minutiae of consensus are just playing the deniers' games.

      It's a question I ask(ed) myself a lot, and one I don't take lightly.

      Is anyone seriously arguing that the abstract assessors may have got together and colluded to bias the result?

      In a word, yes. But I'm not one of them.

    9. It comes to me that these endless arguments about the minutiae of consensus are just playing the deniers' games.

      Yup, it's FUD, FUD, FUD, all the way down. See, eg. the 1998 API memo and everything since.

      I *cannot bear* these arguments about C13 and consensus which is why I almost never comment on them but I will say this: the existence of a strong (near unanimous) scientific consensus on AGW* is self-evident and literally undeniable. End of. The rest is indeed FUD. Hockey Stick Wars redux.

      *It's real, it's us, it's potentially dangerous.

    10. BBD makes a good point. As Cook16 authors wrote: "From a broader perspective, it doesn't matter if the consensus number is 90% or 100%. The level of scientific agreement on AGW is overwhelmingly high because the supporting evidence is overwhelmingly strong."

  14. Brandon Shollenberger notes that the draft version of Cook 2016 includes a response to James Powell's work, whereas the published version does not.

    1. Perhaps there is a clue in the word "draft"?

    2. This may well be because Powell hasn't gotten his work published.

      But are you sure you want to promote his work? He gets a 99.9% consensus...

      Oh, and when will you retract your 2009 JEP paper? If you really are so confident that Cook 2013 should be retracted, you *must* retract your own article (regardless of the correction). After all, the errors materially affected the conclusion.

    3. Richard is making a habit of receiving and using stolen goods and not understanding what he gets. He's not just a teller of tall tales and maker up of fiction and flaws that a child could see through, he misrepresents stuff that he has no business getting. He's now got what he deserved, big time. Shame, shame and more shame. (It's water off a ducks back with Richard though. One could almost pity him for not being able to feel normal human emotions like shame.)

      Powell's findings are higher than Cook13 - Richard and Anthony Watts must be very hard up for an audience to have misrepresented it. Andy Skuce has an article at SkS critiquing something he wrote recently.

    4. No, seriously, *implied* mud-slinging simply won't do. What is Tol actually accusing them of here? If he has anything of substance to offer why this asinine tactic?

    5. >>Perhaps there is a clue in the word "draft"?

      Another clue was in the word "confidential" written in upper case. Another clue was in the code of ethics that Richard tossed in his WPB without reading. Still another clue was that he got it from the same script kiddie who led him astray the last time.

    6. I think the IPCC had to change a draft report once after some economist bloke used incorrect data. More worryingly still, the statement they had to remove had been inserted into the draft report at a late stage after it had been sent to independent reviewers for comment. I can't remember the name of the bloke.

    7. Above, some wonder why Anthony Watts refers to TWO comments on Cook 13 to which Cook 16 responds.

    8. More of the same!

      Dear Lurkers, do you suppose anyone is actually taken in by this schtick? Who hasn't already fully imbibed their nourishing Denial Koolaid, of course...

  15. It looks like the media is ignoring Tol and reporting on the consensus on the consensus: . Where Tol is mentioned at all, it is only to point out that he has cherry picked his results. He has become too transparent it seems.

    1. Maybe that's why Richard is doing the rounds, trying vainly to get someone to take his nonsense seriously. Fat chance here (or at ATTP's). He should stick to WUWT with the rest of the climate conspiracy mob, where he fits right in.

    2. I warned Richard some time ago that he was burning through his academic credibility at an alarming rate and that this would be a one-way process. It's pretty much over now.

  16. 1) I know many hundreds of scientists across at least a dozen institutions, and only one or two do not accept the consensus - and these few are outright nutters and contrarians in other areas as well, for the sake of it or simply for ideological reasons, rather than because they actually have any basis in fact for their divergence.

    2) I read at least several scientific papers each working day, sometimes up to around a dozen. In a year I'd probably come across two or three during my work (blog reporting necessarily excluded because it's selective for contrarianism). That works out to >99% consensus.

    3) If there are thousands of papers on climate change that do not accept the consensus, as there would need to be to get a figure close to 90% or less, where's the list?

    4) Go to WoS/InCites or Scopus/SciVal and search for climate change papers. Download into a database bucketloads or truckloads of papers on climate change. Ask your local denier for one hundred random number between 1 and x, where x = number of papers downloaded. Assess the papers thusly numbered in one's database. Count the number of non-consensus papers. Rinse and repeat for as long as one likes to elicit from the deniers claims of data manipulation and conspiracy.

    5) Anyone who says that there is not a >97% expert consensus on the human cause of contemporary climate change is ignorant and/or ideologically blinkered and/or deliberately lying.

    6) The fact that we're still arguing about this indicates that the Denialati's propaganda machine is still succeeding, and that we've lost the battle to do something about saving the planet from climate change.

    7) Anyone who in the face of the facts is still resisting the consensus, and hence mitigation, is no less than a criminal against life on Earth.

    8) Retract your 2009 paper Richard. It contains irretreivable errors.

    1. 6) The fact that we're still arguing about this indicates that the Denialati's propaganda machine is still succeeding, and that we've lost the battle to do something about saving the planet from climate change.

      I agree with the first part, at least. My only comment on the latest ATTP round (apart from agreeing with a comment by Victor Venema) was

      "Do not feed the Tol."

      It's a waste of time and energy.


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