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Monday, Jun 25, 2018
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The dubious source of that ‘97 percent’

In the to-and-fro of climate change and humankind’s contribution to it, man-blaming purists apply as a cudgel, relentlessly and as Gaia gospel, the “97 percent of climate scientists agree” claim. The Right Stuff mentioned in a recent column the assertion’s dubious underpinnings, but it appears the debunking requires at least a restating.

Not that this will matter to the True Believers who will not be happy until we all are collected into clusters of high-rise hives, routed from suburbia so our master-planned subdivisions can be bulldozed for solar arrays, our commutes accomplished aboard wind-powered light rail and our extracurricular activities dictated — for our own good — by Those Who Know Best.

Acknowledging up front that disciples of the Church of Climate Change Hysteria will not abandon the center pole that supports their religion, how others came to their skeptical view nonetheless bears reiterating. In short, it’s not all about the 2013 survey conducted by Aussie blogger John Cook and some pals.

Writing in the May 26, 2014, Wall Street Journal, Joseph Bast (president of the Heartland Institute) and Roy Spencer (principal research scientist for the University of Alabama at Huntsville) note the inconvenient findings of David R. Legates (University of Delaware geography professor and former director of its Center for Climatic Research) and three coauthors.

Having scrutinized the same papers as Cook & Co., Legates and his team reported “only 41 papers — 0.3 percent of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0 percent of the 4,014 expressing an opinion, and not 97.1 percent — had been found to endorse” the notion that human activity is responsible for most current warming. Additionally:

[C]limate scientists including Craig Idso, Nicola Scafetta, Nir J. Shaviv and Nils- Axel Morner, whose research questions the alleged sensus, protested that Mr. Cook ignored or misrepresented their work.

The pair go on to cite surveys problematic for the Cookians conducted by German scientists Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, George Mason University (of American Meteorological Society members), the Petition Project and even the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change to conclude: “There is no basis for the claim that 97% of scientists believe that man-made climate change is a dangerous problem.”

Moreover, having come upon the complete survey that somehow was left lying around on the internet, AGW skeptic-blogger Brandon Schollenberger says Cook’s conclusion does not necessarily square with the details of his research. We can’t be sure about that, however, because the University of Queensland quickly claimed Cook’s work was proprietary intellectual property and vowed to sue Schollenberger if he continued to report based on what he’d learned.

In short, the “97 percent” figure is based on disputed findings of a survey the responsible institution has seen fit to shroud in mystery.

This does not mean global climate isn’t changing. It is, as it always has. Nor does it mean that humans are not contributing in some fashion, or that life on Earth won’t find the evolving climate generally superior to what we have now.

What it does mean is that we appear to be far from settled science (AGW ain’t gravity), and that lack of knowledge should give caution to policy makers eager to engage in solution-shaping. If they insist on plunging ahead, Americans who surely will shoulder the burden of global wealth redistribution via unwarranted — so far as we know — carbon restrictions should push back, hard, at the ballot box and in every imaginable public square.