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The 34% Consensus

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Matt Ridley brings some objectivity to an issue where it is sorely lacking- Climate Change

It is a long post and is a compilation of a few of his articles:

excerpts:

The climate change debate has been polarized into a simple dichotomy. Either global warming is “real, man-made and dangerous,” as Pres. Barack Obama thinks, or it’s a “hoax,” as Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe thinks. But there is a third possibility: that it is real, man-made and not dangerous, at least not for a long time.

This “lukewarm” option has been boosted by recent climate research, and if it is right, current policies may do more harm than good. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other bodies agree that the rush to grow biofuels, justified as a decarbonization measure, has raised food prices and contributed to rainforest destruction. Since 2013 aid agencies such as the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank have restricted funding for building fossil-fuel plants in Asia and Africa; that has slowed progress in bringing electricity to the one billion people who live without it and the four million who die each year from the effects of cooking over wood fires.

It cannot be what is happening to world temperatures, because they have gone up only very slowly, less than one-half as fast as the scientific consensus predicted in 1990 when the global warming scare began in earnest. Even with this year’s El Nino-boosted warmth threatening to break records, the world is barely half a degree warmer than it was about 35 years ago (the surface data sets say nearly 0.6 degrees, the satellite data sets about 0.4 degrees of warming since 1979). Also, it is increasingly clear that the planet was significantly warmer than today several times during the last 10,000 years. [An excellent source of charts and data on climate is at: http://www.climate4you.com]

Nor can it be the consequences of this recent temperature increase that worries world leaders. On a global scale, as scientists keep confirming, there has been no increase in frequency or intensity of storms, floods or droughts, while deaths attributed to such natural disasters have never been fewer, thanks to modern technology and infrastructure. Arctic sea ice has recently melted more in summer than it used to in the 1980s, but Antarctic sea ice has increased, and Antarctica is gaining land-based ice. Sea level continues its centuries-long slow rise – about a foot per century – with no sign of recent acceleration.

Perhaps it’s the predictions that worry the world leaders, then. Here, as we are often told by journalists, the science is “settled” and there is no debate. But scientists disagree: they say there is great uncertainty, and they reflected this in their fifth and latest assessment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It projects that temperatures are likely to be anything from 1.5C to 4.5C degrees warmer by the latter part of the century – that is to say, anything from mildly beneficial to significantly harmful.

The 40,000 people meeting in Paris over the next ten days are committed to the view that the weather is certain to do something nasty towards the end of this century unless we cut emissions. In this they are out of line with scientists. A survey of the members of the American Meteorological Society in 2012 found that only 52% agree that climate change is mostly man-made, and as to its being very harmful if unchecked, only 34% of AMS members agree. The rest said they think it will be either not harmful or not very harmful.

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The Publication Bias

From The Truth Wears Off by Jonah Lehrer in The New Yorker:

An excellent article on the publication bias- keep in mind that in order to be peer reviewed it has to be published- although up to a third of articles claimed to be peer reviewed in one of the IPCC report were not. IN Mann’s case 43 of the peer reviewed had also co – authored studies with him- again I question some of the peer review process.  It is supposed to be squeaky clean. If it is not then there is corruption that is quite damaging to the scientific profession.

 Jennions, similarly, argues that the decline effect is largely a product of publication bias, or the tendency of scientists and scientific journals to prefer positive data over null results, which is what happens when no effect is found. The bias was first identified by the statistician Theodore Sterling, in 1959, after he noticed that ninety-seven per cent of all published psychological studies with statistically significant data found the effect they were looking for. A “significant” result is defined as any data point that would be produced by chance less than five per cent of the time. This ubiquitous test was invented in 1922 by the English mathematician Ronald Fisher, who picked five per cent as the boundary line, somewhat arbitrarily, because it made pencil and slide-rule calculations easier. Sterling saw that if ninety-seven per cent of psychology studies were proving their hypotheses, either psychologists were extraordinarily lucky or they published only the outcomes of successful experiments. In recent years, publication bias has mostly been seen as a problem for clinical trials, since pharmaceutical companies are less interested in publishing results that aren’t favorable. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that publication bias also produces major distortions in fields without large corporate incentives, such as psychology and ecology.

Stated in another way-  97% of egg-lovers claim eggs are awesome. 97% of the Flat Earth Society believe the Earth is flat. 97% of the Labour Party believe in Labour. 97% of musicians think that people need music in their lives. 97% of climate scientists believe in anthropogenic global warming. 97% of YouTube commenters believe that they know everything. I think there’s a pattern here.

Lehrer further illuminates-

 Such anomalies demonstrate the slipperiness of empiricism. Although many scientific ideas generate conflicting results and suffer from falling effect sizes, they continue to get cited in the textbooks and drive standard medical practice. Why? Because these ideas seem true. Because they make sense. Because we can’t bear to let them go. And this is why the decline effect is so troubling. Not because it reveals the human fallibility of science, in which data are tweaked and beliefs shape perceptions. (Such shortcomings aren’t surprising, at least for scientists.) And not because it reveals that many of our most exciting theories are fleeting fads and will soon be rejected. (That idea has been around since Thomas Kuhn.) The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything. We like to pretend that our experiments define the truth for us. But that’s often not the case. Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe. 

 

 

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Historical Temps

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Mentality of Religious Fanaticism

From Matt Ridley and Benny Peiser  at The Wall Street Journal, Your Complete Guide to the Climate Debate;

To put it bluntly, climate change and its likely impact are proving slower and less harmful than we feared, while decarbonization of the economy is proving more painful and costly than we hoped. The mood in Paris will be one of furious pessimism among the well-funded NGOs that will attend the summit in large numbers: Decarbonization, on which they have set their hearts, is not happening, and they dare not mention the reassuring news from science lest it threaten their budgets.

Casting around for somebody to blame, they have fastened on foot-dragging fossil-fuel companies and those who make skeptical observations, however well-founded, about the likelihood of dangerous climate change. Scientific skeptics are now routinely censored, or threatened with prosecution. One recent survey by Rasmussen Reports shows that 27% of Democrats in the U.S. are in favor of prosecuting climate skeptics. This is the mentality of religious fanaticism, not scientific debate.

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The 97% Fraud- Part Deux

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A closer look at the climate-change consensus. From National Review by Josh Gelernter

For starters, though, Reuters and the president are wrong about what Cook’s study claims. It does not claim that 97 percent of scientists believe that climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous. What it claims is that 97.1 percent of the relevant scientific literature agrees with the much more conservative claim that humans are contributing to global warming in an unspecified amount.

But even in making that considerably more anodyne assertion, the “consensus” is on shaky footing. According to the abstract for Cook’s paper, 66.4 percent of the abstracts Cook and his team looked at neither supported nor opposed the position that man causes global warming. Which gives you not a 97.1 percent consensus, but 97.1 percent of the remainder, which is 32.6 percent. That is, 32.6 percent of peer-reviewed global-warming literature agrees that global warming is man-made. That’s not overwhelming.

And even that number is highly suspect; many scientists have objected to their papers having been categorized as supporting Cook’s position. A number of avowed man-made-warming skeptics were evidently surprised to find their papers included in Cook’s 97 percent monolith. According to a paper written by University of Delaware professor David Legates, et al., for the journal Science & Education, just 0.3 percent — not 97 — of the papers Cook examined explicitly endorsed his position.

Professor Richard Tol of the University of Sussex published a rebuttal of Cook’s paper in the journal Energy Policy. According to Tol, the 97 percent claim, “frequently repeated in debates about climate policy, does not stand. . . . [Cook’s] sample is not representative and contains many irrelevant papers. Overall, data quality is low. Cook’s validation test shows that the data are invalid. Data disclosure is incomplete so the key results cannot be reproduced or tested

.”Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/427055/climate-change-no-consensus