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Commentary: Garbage in, Garbage out in Glasgow, Scotland

By David R. Legates

No doubt you’ve heard—and always at ear-drum-shattering decibels—that “97 percent of all climate scientists agree” that climate change is real, will be devastating to life on earth, and is largely or entirely due to human emissions of greenhouse gases.

The participants at the COP-26, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, screamed pretty much nothing else two weeks during the first two weeks of November 2021.

The problem is, the “97 percent consensus” is pure fiction.

I should know. In 2013, I and several other researchers showed in a paper in Science & Education that the “97 percent” figure came from John Cook and colleagues at the University of Western Australia—who basically cooked the books.

Selective Use of Abstracts

Cook and his comrades did not in fact poll the world’s climate scientists. Not even close.

They simply collected the abstracts of nearly 12,000 journal articles and then subjectively designated whether the abstract of a given paper either endorsed or rejected “the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”

Two-thirds of the abstracts, however, expressed no opinion, and of the remaining nearly 4,000 very few explicitly agreed—by the authors’ own assessment—with the stated consensus position. My colleagues and I were forced to conclude that “the 97 percent consensus claimed by Cook et al. turns out upon inspection to be not 97.1 percent but 0.3 percent.”

The “97 percent” consensus is, as we said then, “one of the greatest items of misinformation that has been circulated on either side of the climate debate.”

Cornell Continues Consensus Propaganda

But the propaganda continues to this day—and is now even more extreme.

Just in time for COP-26, a new “consensus” was announced. A new group, led by researchers at Cornell University, wrote an article entitled, “Greater than 99% Consensus on Human Caused Climate Change in the Peer-reviewed Scientific Literature.” It was published published in the same journal in which Cook’s flawed consensus study was published.

Incredibly, the methodology in the newest article is even more flawed than that employed by Cook et al. This latest clutch of climate alarmists randomly selected a mere 3,000 papers from more than 88,000 climate-related papers published since Cook—and then applied Cook’s subjective assessment to this tiny fraction of the available abstracts.

Surprised to learn that only four were determined to be skeptical of human-caused global warming?

And the authors were also biased regarding the rest of the abstracts. For example, they noted that “a majority” did not state a position on whether climate change was human caused. But unlike Cook et al., who discarded such papers, this new group of researchers simply asserted that the act of publishing on climate change— in fact, just the authors’ mentioning of the term—was enough to have those articles logged as favoring the consensus.

One would be hard pressed to come up with a more perfect example of circular reasoning.

Action Demanded

The situation would be laughable but for the draconian measures climate alarmists, citing this so-called “99 percent” consensus, have been calling for in Glasgow—which, mercifully, on November 12.

If these persons get their way, the needless human suffering will be no joke because it will mean a premature end to the use of reliable fossil fuels. As always, it will be the poor in all countries—who can stay alive only when affordable energy is plentiful—who will be harmed the most.

Unless the thinking part of U.S. electorate starts a sustained revolt at the polls, you, thanks to your tax dollars, will be helping to finance that misery, based on no consensus whatsoever.

David R. Legates, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of Climatology in the Department of Geography and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics at the University of Delaware.

This article was originally published by the Independent Institute and is republished with permission.

IT'S BACK: The Heartland Institute's Next CAN'T MISS Climate Conference spot_img
David Legates, PH.D.
David Legates, PH.D.
David R. Legates, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor of Climatology in the Department of Geography and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics at the University of Delaware.

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