Survey: Less Than Half of all Published Scientists Endorse Global Warming Theory
August 29, 2007 11:07 AM
IPCC co-chairs for Netherlands and Sierra Leone debate changes to the Report Summary.
Comprehensive survey of published climate research reveals changing viewpoints
In 2004, history professor Naomi Oreskes performed a survey of research papers on climate change. Examining peer-reviewed papers published on the ISI Web of Science database from 1993 to 2003, she found a majority supported the "consensus view," defined as humans were having at least some effect on global climate change. Oreskes' work has been repeatedly cited, but as some of its data is now nearly 15 years old, its conclusions are becoming somewhat dated.
Medical researcher Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte recently updated this research. Using the same database and search terms as Oreskes, he examined all papers published from 2004 to February 2007. The results have been submitted to the journal
Energy and Environment
, of which
has obtained a pre-publication copy. The figures are surprising.
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
papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."
The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007),
only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results.
These changing viewpoints represent the advances in climate science over the past decade. While today we are even more certain the earth is warming, we are less certain about the root causes. More importantly, research has shown us that -- whatever the cause may be -- the amount of warming is unlikely to cause any great calamity for mankind or the planet itself.
Schulte's survey contradicts the United Nation IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (2007), which gave a figure of "90% likely" man was having an impact on world temperatures. But does the IPCC represent a consensus view of world scientists? Despite media claims of "thousands of scientists" involved in the report, the actual text is written by a much smaller number of "lead authors." The introductory "Summary for Policymakers" -- the only portion usually quoted in the media -- is written not by scientists at all, but by politicians, and approved, word-by-word, by political representatives from member nations. By IPCC policy, the individual report chapters -- the only text actually written by scientists -- are edited to "ensure compliance" with the summary, which is typically published months before the actual report itself.
By contrast, the ISI Web of Science database covers 8,700 journals and publications, including every leading scientific journal in the world.
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