Unfortunately, some misuse science. Some of their intentions, are far from benevolent. They see science as a mechanism for political power and control. There is great danger from those who would use science for political control over us.

How do they do this? They instill, and then continuously magnify, fear. Fear is the most effective instrument of totalitarian control.

Chet Richards, physicist,


Friday, 21 March 2014

Occam’s Broom and the stink of ‘97% of Climate Scientists’

‘The molecular biologist Sidney Brenner recently invented a delicious play on Occam’s Razor, introducing the new term Occam’s Broom, to describe the process in which inconvenient facts are whisked under the rug by intellectually dishonest champions of one theory or another…The practice is particularly insidious when used by propagandists who direct their efforts at the lay public …their carefully crafted accounts can be quite convincing simply because the lay reader can’t see what isn’t there.’                            Source: Daniel C Dennett

This Broom is so widely used in climate-scare propagandising that it could be the basis of a book about that dark art.  I want to focus on just one of the displays of it and that is the mis-use of the statistic '97% of climate scientists'.  To mix the metaphor, here is a source of one foul smell that no amount of brushing can remove.  It is the smell of deliberate deceit repeated over and over again.

As we shall see, the 97% figure, or ones like it, come from very unsatisfactory sources, and are not at all what they are sometimes made out to be, often by innuendo, insinuation, or juxtaposition.  The deceit occurs when the audience is encouraged to conclude that the 97% agree that there is a dreadful crisis associated with our CO2 emissions, and that draconic interventions by governments are all but immediately required if we are to survive the imminent catastrophe. 

In reality, the figure generally means, where meaning can be found in the studies which have produced it, that a non-random selection of people or papers contains around 97% of items supporting the twin notions that we affect climate with our CO2 emissions and that there has been overall global warming during the 20th century to which we have contributed.  

Note there is nothing intrinsically alarming about either of these notions because they are unquantified.  Some scientists believe for example that our impacts on the climate system have been too small to detect so far using global measures such as mean temperature, and may well remain so even if ambient CO2 levels continue to increase this century.

Here is a prominent example of 'propagandists directing their efforts at the lay public', published in the Wall Street Journal in 2012:

'The world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible. Impacts are already apparent and will increase. Reducing future impacts will require significant reductions in emissions of heat-trapping gases.  Research shows that more than 97% of scientists actively publishing in the field agree that climate change is real and human caused.  It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses’
I have put the key phrase in bold to help it stand out.  Notice the tone of the surrounding text.  This is the insidious part.  It would seem, would it not, that this 97% of scientists hold that 'humans are primarily responsible', that 'significant reductions of heat-trapping gases' are required, and it would be 'reckless' to 'ignore the enormous risks'.  That is crisis talk.  We do not know how many scientists, or what proportion of them, believe there is such a crisis.  The 97% is not that figure, nor indeed has it been shown to be the proportion who agree that all of climate change is human caused (another insidious insinuation in the above quote).

Here is a more straightforward usage on a NASA site, one which might well be widely referenced by schoolteachers, pupils, and the authors of school materials:

'Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.'

We also have this notorious tweet from the office of the US President, Barack Obama in 2013:

‘Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.’
Anthony Watts described the tweet quite simply as a lie: 
Here’s the genesis of the lie. When you take a result of 32.6% of all papers that accept AGW, ignoring the 66% that don’t, and twist that into 97%, excluding any mention of that original value in your media reports, there’s nothing else to call it – a lie of presidential proportions.’

Lifting the Rug

The notion of an overwhelming consensus in support of alarm is generally traced to one or other of 4 studies:

All 4 have been severely criticised.  
For example, re the Oreskes study of a set of papers she located from the years 1993 to 2003, the theoretical physicist Lubos Motl was not impressed and supports Benny Peiser's view: 'In light of the data presented above (evidence that can be easily verified), Science should withdraw Oreskes' study and its results in order to prevent any further damage to the integrity of science.'  A medical researcher, Klaus-Martin Schulte also took a critical look at Oreskes' methods, and using them on more recent papers, published between 2004 and 2007 he found:  'Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category  (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis.  This is no "consensus."'
Doran and Zimmerman's work was essentially a student project given an elevation and prominence which it did not, to put it mildly, deserve. In an attempted census of some 10,000 targets, only about 3,000 responded, and of these a subset of about 77 was singled-out to produce the 97% statistic since 75 of them agreed with quite innocuous, but carelessly worded, statements about climate to the effect that it has been warming recently, and humans could have contributed to it in a 'significant' way.  WUWT has relevant links.
Anderegg at al has been described as 'having so many defects it should never have been published' (see source of this observation and other criticisms in this post by Tom Harris.  Roger Pielke Sr. noted that the paper illustrates 'how far we have gone from the appropriate scientific process.'
Cook et al has also been shredded by informed commentators, appalled at what they found in it.  It actually contradicts what it is purporting to show, as noted by Brandon Shollenberger: 'This study done by John Cook and others, praised by the President of the United States, found more scientific publications whose abstracts reject global warming than say humans are primarily to blame for it.  The “consensus” they’re promoting says it is more likely humans have a negligible impact on the planet’s warming than a large one.’    Marcel Crok was a little harsher, he provides chapter and verse to show why the Cook et al paper is both 'meaningless and misleading'.  Christopher Monckton finds that 0.3% 'consensus' is more convincing than 97% using the Cook et al data, and he also has useful, and critical, insights on the other source papers.*
Andrew Montford has written a brief and very accessible overview of some of the shortcoming of the last three papers.  He points out that their  ' results add up to little more than “carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas” and “mankind affects the climate.” These are propositions that almost everybody in the climate debate accepts; ‘  He has also published a trenchant analysis of the Cook et al paper ins this GWPF note.  In it he quotes Mike Hulme, by no means a climate sceptic, writing 'The [Cook et al.] article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed.   It obscures the complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate in this country that the energy minister should cite it.'
Let me end with the words of commentator Barry Woods on the WUWT blog:: '.. I would like to put aside any criticism of the methodology or conclusions the scientists behind the Doran, Anderegg or any other similar paper make, and reserve my strongest criticism to others that misrepresent them, or go much further than the conclusions. My strongest criticism is not for those politicians, environmentalists, journalists or scientists, that use the soundbite of ’97% of scientists’ in complete ignorance of its source, or do not check the citation for themselves ...No, I reserve my strongest criticism for those activist scientist that know full well the source of the ’97% of scientists’ soundbite and use it anyway, ... and then use it to imply that there is some consensus of future dangerous or catastrophic risk, or that certain policies that must be taken, because of this consensus.'
I think Barry is right.  Irresponsible people can deploy Occam's Broom on this as much as they like, but the rotten smell of their '97%' insinuations will not go away.  Their rug has been lifted on that one.  In due course, I hope this particular deception will be removed from materials aimed at schoolchildren.  In the meantime, teachers and pupils alike can express their disdain by holding their noses as and when they come across it.
* Note added 26 March 2014. I forgot to mention the important study published by Legates in 2013 about the Cook et al. nonsense.  A useful report on it can be found here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/03/cooks-97-consensus-disproven-by-a-new-paper-showing-major-math-errors/  Extract: 'Dr Legates said: “It is astonishing that any journal could have published a paper claiming a 97% climate consensus when on the authors’ own analysis the true consensus was well below 1%." '  

Note added 14 March 2017.  The corrupted-by-campaigners organisation NASA has long had a 97% claim up on its website.  Here is a report on just how shonky their reference to support it is: https://realclimatescience.com/2017/03/massive-fraud-at-nasa-climate/
'If you actually click on the reference, you quickly realize that the claim is fraudulent. '
Further Reading
(1) The NIPCC 2013 report 'Climate Change Reconsidered II' is a good source of counter-arguments linked to the scientific literature and taking a contrary position to that promoted by the IPCC leadership.
(2) The Popular Technology website has compiled a list of over 1,350 'peer-reviewed papers supporting skeptic arguments against ACC/AGW alarm'. 

(3) For a very recent exposure of Occam's Broom being deployed by IPCC scientists see :

IPCC Scientists Knew Data and Science Inadequacies Contradicted Certainties Presented to Media, Public and Politicians, But Remained Silent

Note added 10 May 2014  A further refutation of the Cook-junk is about to be published as a journal note.  More details here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/10/john-cooks-97-consensus-claim-is-about-to-go-pear-shaped/ )
Note added 4 Sep 2014  More devastating analysis of the Cook et junk:
'This all tells us:

1) They blatantly, cavalierly, and repeatedly violated the methods they claimed in their paper, methods that are crucial to the validity of a subjective rater study – maintaining blindness to the authors of papers they rated, and conducting their ratings independently. This destroyed the validity of an already invalid study – more coherently, it destroyed the validity of the study if we assumed it was valid to begin with.

2) These people were not in a scientific mood. They had none of the integrity, neutrality, and discipline to be subjective raters on such a study. We could've confidently predicted this outcome in advance, given that they're political activists on the subject of their ratings, had an enormous conflict of interest with respect to the results, and the design appointed them subjective raters of written work, placing them in the position to deliver the results they so fervently sought. Just that fact – the basic design – invalidates the study and makes it unpublishable. We can't go around being this dumb. This is ridiculous, letting this kind of junk into a scientific journal. It's a disgrace.'
Note added 16 Sep 2014    Andrew Montford has written a report on the Cook et al.travesty - one of the sources of '97%'.  He concludes the consensus they produce is 'virtually meaningless'.  

Note added 21 Dec 2014  Popular Technology have listed their top 97 articles refuting the '97% consensus':  http://www.populartechnology.net/2014/12/97-articles-refuting-97-consensus.html  They note, 'The following is a list of 97 articles that refute Cook's (poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed) 97% "consensus" study. The fact that anyone continues to bring up such soundly debunked nonsense like Cook's study is an embarrassment to science.'
Note added 18 May 2015.  The '97%' nonsense is still being used, presumably because the propaganda benefits are many.  Here Ross McKitrick shows once again how shoddy it is: http://business.financialpost.com/fp-comment/climate-change-consensus-among-the-misinformed-is-not-worth-much
Note added 13 August 2015.
Here is a 2014 article by James Delingpole which provides some useful insights into the tawdry methods and motivation of Cook et al:  http://www.breitbart.com/london/2014/09/08/obama-s-97-percent-climate-consensus-debunked-demolished-staked-through-the-heart/

Here is an August 2015 post by the MEP Roger Helmer (hat tip Climate Science) noting that a somewhat more respectable (but imho still very unsatisfactory) survey in which less than 50% of respondents took the IPCC party line:  https://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/new-study-destroys-that-97-of-scientists-claim-or-not-as-the-case-may-be/
Details of that survey can be obtained here: http://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/climate-science-survey-questions-and-responses

Note added 23 March 2016.
Anthony Watts: 'I don’t like to use the word “fraud”, and I can’t recall if I’ve ever used it in a title. In this case it is warranted. Brandon Shollenberger writes of a new book, The Climate Wars: How the Consensus is Enforced, that proves without a doubt that John Cook and his “Skeptical Science” team are nothing but a gang of “say anything” activists, and that the much repeated “97% consensus” is indeed nothing more than a manufactured outcome.'
See: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/03/12/the-cook-97-consensus-paper-exposed-by-new-book-for-the-fraud-that-it-really-is/

Note added 23 October 2018.
Three cheers!  The President of the USA speaks sense on climate, and in particular recognises there is substantial disagreement on the topic amongst scientists: 
See: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/10/23/president-trump-thinks-scientists-are-split-on-climate-change-hes-right-dana-nuccitelli-is-wrong/

Note added 19 February 2019.
They are still at it re this 97% nonsense.  It is yet more evidence that alarmists don't read, don't think, don't care about anything other than their own gurus and sacred slogans!  But this piece also includes a useful rejoinder:

Note added 25 Sep 2019
Here is a good, and still highly relevant, essay on the 97% mythology:
It is quite astonishing how this nonsensical claim is still widely used by the zealots - like crazed fanatics, they ignore reality as they rant and rave at us.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Driven demented by fear, a mother thinks of setting herself alight to draw attention to the (missing) global warming crisis

Here is a woman who looks young enough to have been exposed to climate alarm propaganda throughout her school and college years.  Children get frightened by that, and some may never grow out of it as they get older.  She may well be one of them:

Climate Mom
In an article (hat-tip Climate Depot) on an Oregon news-site, she explains:

'A Tunisian man set himself on fire in 2010 and sparked an international movement. Don’t tell my family, but I’ve considered that route. I mean, wouldn’t any parent sacrifice a kidney, lung or life for her child? Imagine the headline: “Soccer mom desperate to save children’s future self-immolates.”'

On her own blog (linked to below the pic), she displays this banner:

This may represent a delayed success of sorts for the climate alarm campaigners.  Some of them, including for example UNESCO and also Pachauri of the IPCC, want children to be little political activists.  First they scare'em then they snare'em.  Well, this woman got so scared she thought of killing herself for the sake of her children.  I'd say she was snared as well.  Let us hope for her sake, and her children's, that she calms down a lot more and starts to develop a calmer perspective on climate variation and its various causes.

PS Another example, from 2013.  Here is a father from the other side of the States: 'When Ian Kim imagines the world his 7-year-old daughter will be living in 20 years from now, he says, it keeps him up at night. Images of ever more frequent super storms like Sandy, along with rising seas, or drought and heat waves wreaking havoc with crops haunt his waking hours.  “It’s a huge worry for me,” said Kim, a self-described environmental and social justice activist. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 10.” '  Once you are such an activist, you do need a good crisis to keep you going, even it is largely in his own mind.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

For the Climate Classroom Wall: two plots, two revelations - nought for the comfort of climate alarm campaigners

The valiant viscount, Christopher Monckton draws attention to this plot, and writes 'This graph is highly topical. It is right up to date. Remote Sensing Systems, Inc. (RSS) is one of the two satellite-based datasets (the other is the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH). And RSS is one of the five standard global temperature datasets, which include the two satellite datasets and the three terrestrial datasets – Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS); the Hadley Centre/CRU dataset, version 4 (HadCRUT4); and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). As this month, RSS is usually the first to report, and its latest monthly value, for February 2014, became available just hours ago. '

From the invaluable C3 website, which notes 'Scientists associated with the UN's IPCC predicted that the huge consumer/industrial emissions of the modern era would cause not only "unprecedented" global warming but also dangerous "runaway" warming, which would then produce "tipping point" climate change.
The climate science consensus today is that these speculative climate forecasts, based on flawed computer models, did not happen and expert analysis of the gold-standard of temperature datasets (the UK's global HadCRUT4) confirms it.
As this adjacent chart reveals, modern warming increases over the last 60 years don't even match the warming increases of the prior 60-year period, when earlier human emissions were just a fraction of contemporary amounts.'

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Pushing Climate Deception and Fear at Children - two US organisations carry on the despicable practice

EPA Video Contest Teaches Budding Child-Activists to Worry About 'Climate Change' 

This is the title of an article by Susan Solomon on the CNS News website (click the title to go there).

The article continues:

"(CNSNews.com) - The Environmental Protection Agency is co-sponsoring a "climate change video contest" that asks students, ages 11-14:" Why do you care about climate change?" And: "How are you reducing carbon pollution or preparing for the impacts of climate change?"

Students are advised to "be cool" and "be creative" in explaining "how climate change affects you, your family, friends, and community, now or in the future" -- and what they are doing to "prepare for a changing climate."
The Obama administration frequently uses video contests or "challenges" to advance its liberal viewpoint on a variety of issues, and this is no exception.
The climate-change videos may be up to two minutes long, and the top three winning entries will get prizes that can only be described as environmentally correct:
The first-place winner gets a solar-paneled backpack, which charges electronic devices; the second place prize is a "pulse jump rope" that generates enough energy to charge cell phones; and the third place prize is a "Soccket Soccer Ball," which turns kinetic energy from play into electrical energy that can be used to power small devices.
The prizes were selected and purchased by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), which is co-sponsoring the video contest with the EPA.
NEEF says students should read its "facts" on climate change before getting started on their videos.
Those "facts" include the following statements:
-- The signs of climate change are all around us (higher temperatures, wilder weather, rising sea level, more droughts, changing rain and snow patterns).
-- The climate you will inherit as adults will be different from your parents’ and grandparents’ climate.
-- Reducing carbon pollution, and preparing for the changes that are already underway, is key to solving climate change and reducing the risks we face in the future.
-- A major way carbon pollution gets into the atmosphere is when people burn coal, oil, and natural gas for energy."
See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/epa-video-contest-teaches-budding-child-activists-worry-about-climate#sthash.ybnmpob4.dpuf

Let us take a look at the 'four facts' in turn.  For the multiple points in the first, we shall compare them with conclusions reached from an analysis of peer-reviewed scientific papers compiled in the 2013 NIPCC report, Global Warming Reconsidered II, and in other works published since.  The reader is directed to this report, free to download using the links provided, in order to see the detailed arguments, data, and references to the scientific literature which buttress the statements I will reproduce below.

(1) The signs of climate change are all around us (higher temperatures, wilder weather, rising sea level, more droughts, changing rain and snowfall patterns).    

higher temperatures: It is widely accepted that there has been no appreciable rise in global mean temperature for nearly two decades, more than the lifetimes of the children being targeted.  This was preceded by an overall gentle warming over some 150 years, and upon which the rising CO2 levels have made no clear impact. In the NIPCC Report Chapter 4 (Section 4.1) we read 'Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers have presented evidence indicating temperatures of the past several decades are not unusual, unnatural, or unprecedented on a hemispheric or global scale.'


  The children being targeted by this latest in a line of odious initiatives, are in the United States where 'all around' them, they have been enduring one of the coldest winters for 35 years as shown in the plot on the left.

Notice also from that plot that there is also no obvious rising trend, certainly not one that anyone could notice

wilder weather  The NIPCC REPORT reviews observations of extreme weather in Chapter 7 (section 7.7) and concludes 'There has been no significant increase in either the frequency or intensity of stormy weather in the modern era.'
A more recent paper in 2013  has in fact found evidence of a decrease in climate variability in modern times.  The rising financial costs of extreme weather events, on the other hand, is explained more by societal than by climate changes, as described in a new paper reported on here at WUWT.

rising sea level A general rise in sea level is reasonably well-established as a feature of the 20th century, but what is not remotely established is any link between sea-level rises in the 2nd half of that century and the rise of CO2 levels.  As the NIPCC report observes in Chapter 6, 'If the late 20th century global warming was as extreme as the IPCC claims it has been, why can it not be detected in sea-level data?'

more droughts   'Data presented in numerous peer-reviewed studies do not support the model-based claim [that] CO2-induced global warming is causing (or will cause) more frequent, more severe, and longer-lasting droughts.' Source: NIPCC Chapter 7, Section 7.4.1

changing rain and snow patterns 'General trends in precipitation are examined in Chapter 6 of this volume, where observational data indicate there is nothing unusual or unprecedented about recent precipitation events and trends in most regions.' Source: NIPCC Chapter 7, Section 7.6

(2) The climate you will inherit as adults will be different from your parents’ and grandparents’ climate.  This is a statement which has been true throughout our existence as a species.  It is a platitude.  It is of course being used here as a veiled threat to add to the sense of foreboding that the sponsoring organisations clearly wish to instil in the young.
(3) Reducing carbon pollution, and preparing for the changes that are already underway, is key to solving climate change and reducing the risks we face in the future. 
Well, it is of course not 'carbon pollution' they are mostly talking about here.  That term has been chosen because it makes for more effective propaganda that the correct term 'carbon dioxide'.  Would we refer to the release of water vapour to the air as 'hydrogen pollution'?  The water molecule is H2O.  The carbon dioxide molecule is CO2.  That piece of minor insidiousness aside, the idea that reducing CO2 levels is 'key to solving climate change' is nothing but fantasy.  The climate will change whether or not CO2 levels change.  Even if we had the ability to control CO2 levels - and it is far from obvious that we do - the idea that they provide a control-knob with which we select a climate of our choosing is absurd.  As for 'preparing for changes already underway'. it is also somewhat underhand.  Throughout our history we have sought to improve our ability to cope with climate variation, and we have actually become pretty good at it in the more industrialised countries.  
(4) A major way carbon pollution gets into the atmosphere is when people burn coal, oil, and natural gas for energy. 
When did 3 or 4 % of something become a 'major' part of it?  The general carbon cycle, which has CO2 as an important airborne carrier of carbon, is not particularly well-understood and measured.  The error bars on our estimates of various contributions and reservoirs in it are way larger than any plausible contribution from our industries.  That contribution is estimated as being about 3 or 4% of the total flux of carbon dioxide from all sources every year into the atmosphere.  In other words, a modest variation in emissions from the sea surface, or from tropical and subtropical vegetation could readily swamp our emissions in terms of magnitude. Once more, we see we are dealing with propagandists here.  The fact that our consumption of fossil fuels involves the release of CO2 to the atmosphere is not in doubt.  What is in doubt is how important that it compared with other contributions or sources of variation.  Some analysts argue that it is of negligible importance, attributing a more important role to sea-surface temperature variation.

This "climate change video contest" being sponsored in the USA by their EPA and NEEF organisations will serve no good purpose.  It is primarily a way for such organisations to judge the impact that their propaganda, and that of others intent on indoctrinating the young using climate scare materials, has had on this age group, 11-14 year olds.  What have the youngsters picked up on?  What has had most impact on them?  What new materials or spins would be most effective in increasing their fear and commitment, or rather those of the next waves of pupils?

It is not hard to refute or at least challenge the arrogant assurances of climate alarm campaigners.  Simple checks can do it, as shown above.  One day, perhaps it will be the pupils themselves who will do that in their own classrooms and homes, and thereby help put an end to the moral and intellectual abuse that they and their predecessors have been exposed to about climate and carbon dioxide.

Note added 07 Jan 2015.  In 2009: 'The Danish government in partnership with CNN just launched a new YouTube channel and a call for entries for individuals to "raise your voice" for climate change. The channel pulls together videos by celebrities, climate experts and concerned citizens. The best videos will be aired throughout the upcoming COP15 climate talks in Copenhagen this December.'
See: http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/computers/blogs/raise-your-voice-on-climate-change#ixzz3O80sjk8lHere is one such video shown in Copenhagen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkHfb2g7fMoDespicable or what? (hat-tip for reminding us of this piece of work: Climate Science )