Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Sound Of Settled Science

It must be hard to be a climate change denier. Think about it, you scour the globe seeking any contrarian view available, then quickly seize upon it and present it as proof of a manufactured scam perpetrated on the world by a left-wing agenda and misguided scientists. Then, as people digest the new "claims", the denier posterchild fails to stand-up to scrutiny. Such is the case with the scientific "consensus" idea, as it relates to man-made global warming.

Naomi Oreskes released a study in 2004 that sampled scientific journals to gauge support/resistence to the idea of man-made global warming. Oreskes conclusions supported the "consensus" idea, with an overwhelming number of papers in agreement. Recently, Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte conducted a "similar" study of all papers released between 2004-2007. Schulte's conclusion found only minimal support for the "consensus", in fact the vast majority of papers showed no agreement whatsoever. Enter the denier crowd, the Schulte conclusions spread like wildfire through the online flat earth society (mostly conservative blogs, go figure), hailed as more proof that global warming was a ruse.

However, and don't expect to find the follow-up on the denier sites, Schulte's "study" is now crumbling, once people actually point a critical eye. Here is a terrific rebuttal (h/t desmogblog) that essentially shreds the conclusions, and exposes Shulte and his conclusions for what they are. Oreskes responds here, some highlights:

The Schulte piece is being published in Energy and Environment, a known contrarian journal. It was posted on the minority blog of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, whose leader thinks that global warming is a "hoax." It was circulated on the internet by Marc Morano, a long-standing contrarian and former reporter and producer for the Rush Limbaugh Show, and who was involved in the "swift boat" campaign against John Kerry.

The piece misrepresents the results we obtained. In the original AAAS talk on which the paper was based, and in various interviews and conversations after, I repeated pointed out that very few papers analyzed said anything explicit at all about the consensus position.This was actually a very important result, for the following reason. Biologists today never write papers in which they explicitly say "we endorse evolution". Earth scientists never say "we explicitly endorse plate tectonics." This is because these things are now taken for granted. So when we read these papers and observed this pattern, we took this to be very significant.We realized that the basic issue was settled, and we observed that scientists had moved on to discussing details of the problem, mostly tempo and mode issues: how fast, how soon, in what manner, with what impacts, etc.

Oh well, I suppose the deniers still have that miniscule, statistically irrelevant, can't even see the deviation on a graph, NASA temperature adjustment to cling onto. The reality based community is already booking advance cruises through the Northwest Passage, the deniers too clever to see the concrete, determined to stop the left-wing conspiracy. Keep scouring, something will stick, I'm sure of it.


Another ouch.

No comments: