If you have the temerity to challenge calls for the government to take aggressive action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, you will probably have someone call you a “climate science denier.” You will further be lectured that “97% of climate scientists agree” on this consensus.
What’s the source of this bogus stat? Cook et al. (2013) is a paper which claims to do the following:
We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11,944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming… Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research. [Bold added.]
To repeat, there’s a bait-and-switch occurring here. As Friedman spells out in a very straightforward way, all you need to do is actually look at Cook et al.’s own tables in their paper to see that others (including Cook himself in a subsequent paper!) are misrepresenting their findings. Only 1.6% of the surveyed abstracts clearly say that humans are the main cause of global warming. The 97.1% figure includes papers that merely claim that some amount of warming can be attributed to human activities.
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