We’ll ask them about that consensus

Earth with a thermostat

We hear repeatedly about an alleged overwhelming “consensus” of climate scientists who apparently all believe the same thing about the world’s climate. What, precisely, they all believe is not only undefined but also variable, according to whether we’re discussing human emissions of GHG, ocean acidification, the spread of malaria, the “loss” of polar ice caps, altered butterfly populations, extra floods, extra droughts, loss of polar bears, harm to poor people or dangerous sea level rise.

As, for example, in today’s story about NASA noticing a slight fall in sea level over the past year, where the reporter says, all wide-eyed and trusting:

The vast majority of climate scientists agree that the release of greenhouse gases by human civilization is driving global temperatures higher, with projections of sea-level rise ranging from one to six feet over the next century.

That statement appears alarming, until you notice it doesn’t say how much higher temperatures have gone or will go, nor whether the “vast majority of climate scientists” make any projection at all about sea-level rise.

I don’t believe statements like this and a lot of other people don’t believe this kind of climate nonsense. There are two parts to my disbelief: 1) that the “vast majority” of climate scientists agree and 2) that sea-level [will rise] from one “to six feet” over the next century.

It’s time to clear up this illogical twaddle

What is a climate scientist? I want a working definition!

Who is a climate scientist? I want names and email addresses!

What do they agree on — what is the “consensus” among climate scientists? I want the exact wording!

How much “higher” are we driving temperatures? I want numbers!

Then I will ask each “climate scientist” whether he or she is, or is not, part of that “consensus” — and put an end once and for all to this mindless pretence at guessing.

Our definition should clarify whether James Hansen, an astrophysicist, can be considered a cimate scientist and why. But answering how a politician could be a leading climate spokesman for so long is expecting too much.

This climate poll is a great idea! What could possibly go wrong?

Except, has it been done before? How many climate scientists are we likely to find (who speak English)? How many are there just in New Zealand? Will we need a vote on what we’re talking about before we can take a vote on the consensus itself? Is there anything else?

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One Thought on “We’ll ask them about that consensus

  1. Clarence on 26/08/2011 at 11:55 am said:

    Good questions. Here are some more:

    Are there some pre-requisites to eligibility for the description “climate scientist”? eg:

    1. Must they be on the public payroll, with their income dependent on the approval of politicians?

    2. Do they have to attend at least one annual junket (at taxpayer expense) so as to join in the group-think?

    3. Are they excluded if their papers are rejected by “Nature”, or fail to appear in IPCC reports?

    And, what constitutes a “consensus”? eg:

    1. If scientist A projects sea levels will rise 1 foot, while “B” projects a rise of 6 feet – are they in consensus?

    2. If both A and B believe sea levels will change (either up or down) – are they in consensus?

    3 If Lindzen and Hansen both believe “the release of greenhouse gases by human civilization” causes global temps to rise – as they do – are they blood brothers?

    Is there any discernible point in all this semantic waste of time? [Obnoxious verb removed. The target of your abuse here is unclear, Clarence, but the point of the post is to find a sensible means to destroy the false impression of consensus. Thanks for your perspicacity, as always, this time in extending the pitfalls in defining a consensus. – Richard T]

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