No Meaningful Consensus Among Climate Scientists

by | Mar 24, 2020 |

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The meme of “an overwhelming consensus” of scientists favoring one particular view on climate change is very popular, despite its implausibility. In fact, the claim of 97% agreement throughout the literature that mankind is responsible for warming in the past century readily falls apart upon inspection. Here’s why.
First, polls that ostensibly support the 97% consensus idea either ask the wrong people or ask the wrong question (or both – see here). Regardless, every reader should recognize that there are essentially no groups who agree on anything at such a high level. And, of course, even if they did, it would prove nothing about nature. The validity of scientific hypotheses are not decided by a show of hands. When Albert Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity, German scientists compiled a book titled Hundert Autoren gegen Einstein (A Hundred Authors Against Einstein), published in 1931. “Why 100?” Einstein asked. “If I were wrong, one would have been enough.”

That climate change is real and happening is clearly true; Climate is always changing. To say it is due to human activities begs the questions, “how much?” and “how do we know?”

Nearly all scientists understand that some of the past century’s warming trend is due to natural causes. The issue is how much is natural variability and how much is due to man-caused greenhouse gases and land uses such as agriculture and forestry?
Some scientists believe it is difficult or meaningless to ascribe a single temperature to the globe and then to attribute changes to that statistical abstraction to human causes. And whether climate change is dangerous or not is a subjective and political decision, not a scientific concept. Who is at risk? When? And how do the risks created by climate change compare to other risks we face every day?
At times, consensus may have a place in science, but only in contexts different than what occurs in climate science. It is typically achieved over an extended period of time by independent scientists following the conventions of the Scientific Method, in particular not neglecting the need to entertain competing hypothesis. Consensus emerges from open debate and tolerance of new theories and discoveries; it is not handed down by an authoritative international organization tasked with defending a single paradigm. 
Yet, this is exactly what the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been charged to do; find man’s role in climate change rather than find all the factors that control climate. In following this path, the IPCC has chosen to vilify scientists who disagree with the UN body’s effort. All of their reports are framed around providing support for the hypothesis of human-caused climate change. As a result, variables that logically would be expected to impact climate change have been neglected in these assessments. The list below includes a dozen such variables about which little is understood.
1- changes in seasonal solar irradiation
2- energy flows between the ocean and atmosphere
3- energy flows between the air and land
4- the balance between the Earth’s water, water vapor, and ice
5- the impact of clouds
6- understanding the planet’s ice
7- mass change among ice sheets, sea level, and glaciers
8- the ability to factor in hurricanes and tornadoes
9- the impact of vegetation on temperature
10- tectonic movement on the ocean floor
11- the differential rotation between the earth’s surface and the planet’s core
12- the solar system’s magnetic field and gravitational interaction
Instead of experimentation and open debate, today’s science maintains that consensus brought about by deliberation among experts determines what is true enough to direct trillion-dollar public policy decisions.

This is purely politics and not real science at all. But it tempts scientists to simply sign on to the IPCC’s latest reports and pursue the research topics and methodologies approved for funding by the controlling agencies.

The result in climate science is too little hypothesis testing and too much amassing of data that can be dredged from mathematical simulations and cherry-picked observations to support the ruling world-view. US President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned of such an outcome of government funding of scientific research in his 1961 farewell address.
“The free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity… The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations and the power of money is ever present-and is gravely to be regarded.” 
The discipline of climate science is still immature, leaving many basic questions yet unanswered. Instead of conforming to a bogus consensus, climate science which is outside the IPCC’s mandate to find mankind guilty, is full of new discoveries, new theories and lively debate.
For example, Geophysical Research Letters published a paper in 2018 by Hyinskata reporting that carbon dioxide emissions from a subglacial volcanic caldera in Iceland is ten times greater than previous estimates of the total emissions from all Icelandic sources. Further measurements of subglacial volcanoes worldwide would seem to be in order to determine if Iceland is unique or if estimates of the emissions from volcanic eruptions around the world have long been underestimated.
Also in 2018, John McLean published An Audit of the Creation and Content of the HadCRUT4 Temperature Dataset. HadCRUT4 is from Hadley Centre and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom. It is the most widely used temperature data set in the world.
McLean found a great deal of erroneous data as well as sparse data heavily relied upon and adjusted to exaggerate warming. Simply cleaning up this database, which is relied upon by the IPCC, should be a high priority.
The idea that ‘the science is settled’ is an absurdity contrary to the very spirit of scientific inquiry. This is especially the case in a field that is evolving as quickly as climate science. Disagreements among scientists about methodology and the validity of claims in field make it difficult for fair-minded laypeople to judge where the truth lies. This problem is magnified when politicians and too many scientists embrace claims of a scientific consensus so as to free them of the obligation to look at the science and reach an informed decision. We must call them on it every time the argument is presented.


Note: Portions of this article were excerpted from Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels, produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) published by The Heartland Institute, with permission of the editors Joseph Bast and Diane Bast. The author strongly recommends the book for a complete exposé of the fallacies behind the climate delusion.

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Dr. Jay Lehr is a Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author, and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government and many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he received the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer, and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.

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Dave James
Dave James
2 years ago

Dr. Jay Lehr and Mr. Tom Harris assert the scientific consensus regarding climate change has been “..handed down by an authoritative international organization…” If fact, the scientific consensus is based on robust and compelling evidence of human-caused climate change. “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.” (Source “Scientific Consensus: Earth’s Climate is Warming” NASA)
Mr Harris and Dr. Lehr assert that there is not such thing as global temperature, “…it is difficult or meaningless to ascribe a single temperature to the globe…” Their assertion is not supported by the scientific evidence. “The three most highly cited combined land temperature and SST data sets are NOAA’s MLOST, NASA’s GISTEMP, and the UK’s HadCRUT. A new merged land-ocean temperature data set is available from the Berkeley Earth group.” (Source “GLOBAL TEMPERATURE DATA SETS: OVERVIEW & COMPARISON TABLE” NCAR UCAR Climate Date Guide)
Dr. Lehr’s and Mr. Harris contend climate scientist ignores their list of 12 variables but they are mistaken. For example: The impact of solar irradiance on climate is well understood by scientists. “The Sun provides the primary source of energy driving Earth’s climate system, but its variations have played very little role in the climate changes observed in recent decades. Direct satellite measurements since the late 1970s show no net increase in the Sun’s output, while at the same time global surface temperatures have increased.” (Source “Climate Change: Evidence & Causes” An overview from the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences)
Mr. Harris’ and Dr. Lehr’s opinion piece consists of excerpts from the Heartland Institute’s “Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels” report. Acting as PR agents for the Heartland Institute is nothing new for Dr. Lehr and Mr. Harris. Their opinion piece titled, “Climate Realists To Debate Empty Chairs In Times Square Event” was basically an press release from the Heartland Institute promoting one of their up-comming events. (Source “Climate Realists To Debate Empty Chairs In Times Square Event” By Dr. Jay Lehr & Tom Harris, Sep 18, 2019, America Out Loud)
To their credit Dr. Lehr and Mr. Harris disclose the close connection to the Heartland Institute in their by-line. (If Dr. Lehr wished to be fully transparent, then he would describe his on going relationship with the Heartland Institute as well as his former relationship.)

Tom Harris
2 years ago

Great to see the ‘Dave James’ taking so much time trying to refute us. As my WWII Lancaster bomber pilot friend said, “If we returned from bombing raids over Germany and were not shot up badly, we knew we were not over the target. No one wastes ammunition if you are bombing a cow pasture.”
‘Dave James’ clearly recognizes we are right over the target, the shaky science underpinning the entire climate scare.

Dave James
Dave James
Reply to  Tom Harris
2 years ago

It does not take much time to see the flaws in his and Dr. Lehr’s opinion pieces. Mr. Harris disputes none of my comments. Mr. Harris asserts that I recognize he and Dr. Lehr are “right over the target.” However, as my posts show Dr. Lehr’s and Mr. Harris’ opinion piece is false and misleading.
In the marketplace of ideas, weak arguments based on unsupported assertions and falsehoods can only succeed if they are not counter by strong arguments based on facts and evidence.
Mr. Harris rejects the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change and embraces false conspiracy theories. For example: Mr. Harris and Dr. Lehr blame Al Gore for “the dangerous mythology of dangerous manmade global warming.” (Source “HOW AL GORE BUILT THE GLOBAL WARMING FRAUD” Oct 19, 2018, The Heartland Institute)
However, Mr. Harris also claims “man-made carbon dioxide causing global warming” was a “myth” created by Maurice Strong. (Source “$312 Billion: Green Energy Makes Ontario the Most Debt-Ridden Province on Earth” by Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris, Jun 18, 2018, PJ Media)

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