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Consensus on Consensus

MrT

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"What's important is that this is not just one study -- it's the consensus of multiple studies," Sarah Green, one of the authors and a professor at the Michigan Technological University, says. This consistency across studies contrasts with the language used by climate change doubters. This perspective stems from, as the authors write, "conflating the opinions of non-experts with experts and assuming that lack of affirmation equals dissent."

A research team has confirmed that 97% of climate scientists believe climate change is caused by humans. That is the link to the actual paper, but you can review discussions of the article from Science Daily and Michigan Tech University.

The point of this research is to further emphasis that the strongest level of consensus is found amongst the experts in this field.

Environmental Research Letters published the paper this week. In it, the team lays out what they call "consensus on consensus" and draws from seven independent consensus studies by the co-authors. This includes a study from 2013, in which the researchers surveyed more than 11,000 abstracts and found most scientists agree that humans are causing climate change. Through this new collaboration, multiple consensus researchers -- and their data gathered from different approaches -- lead to essentially the same conclusion.

The key factor comes down to expertise: The more expertise in climate science the scientists have, the more they agree on human-caused climate change.
 

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The point of this research is to further emphasis that the strongest level of consensus is found amongst the experts in this field.

And that's the problem, of course: In this extremely politicized field, "expertise" pretty much equals sticking to the "consensus". If you apply for a grant as a "climate scientist", you are justifying the request by the ever-more-urgent "concern about global warming" etc. And if it is not "man-made", then perhaps there's not much that can be "unmade" by man, so what's the point. Of course, physicists of all stripes still can get funding for something else and keep resisting the "consensus" on individual basis, but then they will not be defined as "climate scientists".
 

OrphanSlug

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So, now what?
 

MrT

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And that's the problem, of course: In this extremely politicized field, "expertise" pretty much equals sticking to the "consensus". If you apply for a grant as a "climate scientist", you are justifying the request by the ever-more-urgent "concern about global warming" etc. And if it is not "man-made", then perhaps there's not much that can be "unmade" by man, so what's the point. Of course, physicists of all stripes still can get funding for something else and keep resisting the "consensus" on individual basis, but then they will not be defined as "climate scientists".

And that, my friend, is what we call an unproveable theory.
 

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Consensus doesn't make science. And, there really isn't a actual consensus to begin with when both sides of the argument often rely on cherry picked information to match their own agendas.
 

Cyrylek

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And that, my friend, is what we call an unproveable theory.

Not a theory, amigo, just the reality anyone who worked in academia for long enough is very familiar with: as soon as politics gets involved, huge biases and distortions occur in funding and in the very structure of scientific fields.
 

MrT

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Consensus doesn't make science. And, there really isn't a actual consensus to begin with when both sides of the argument often rely on cherry picked information to match their own agendas.

There are not two sides to the argument of whether there is a consensus amongst the experts.

Only those who accept the fact that a consensus exists and those who deny it or claim it is irrelevant.
 

MrT

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Not a theory, amigo, just the reality anyone who worked in academia for long enough is very familiar with: as soon as politics gets involved, huge biases and distortions occur in funding and in the very structure of scientific fields.

Then prove your assertion. That these publishing experts are doing so out of a desire to obtain funding as opposed to publishing the conclusion that the data requires.
 

MrT

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And yet, patently obvious to anyone who is looking for a justification to hold onto their previously held beliefs.

Went ahead and fixed that one for you.
 

MrT

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So, now what?

This thread isn't really devoted to the solutions that global warming requires. This is just further confirmation of the consensus amongst the experts that there IS a problem that requires solutions.
 

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There are millions of factors affecting the climate of this planet. Are we one of them? Without question. However take away the sun and you will find out how insignificant we actually are. Take away the moon and now we have no tides. Again you will find just how insignificant we are. What about our magnetic field. Remove that and see how significant we are. What about continental drift, ocean currents, super volcanoes, comet and asteroid strikes? They can bring about changes that again make us insignificant. We are still discovering the countless factors involved in climate change. The climate on this planet has been changing for billions of years and will continue with or without us. The ice ages and warm periods have come and gone for billions of years without our help. To assume all of a sudden the few hundred years we have been producing green house gases is the cause of climate change on this planet is simply stupid and arrogant the same as the belief we were the center of the universe. We are a factor along with millions of other things and most likely very far down the list in the order of significance. There is still more information that we have yet to discover and don't know. Most likely a lot more than what we do know. So forgive me if I don't believe the earth is flat and we are going to sail off the edge. I think there is a lot more to learn before we know it all.
 

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Went ahead and fixed that one for you.

Right, because putting words in people's mouths is how leftists "fix"everything everything. :roll:
 

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Then prove your assertion. That these publishing experts are doing so out of a desire to obtain funding as opposed to publishing the conclusion that the data requires.

The data does not require anything - it is what it is. Say, you have a set of data showing that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the acidity of the oceans had increased by so much. It correlates with the increase of the carbon dioxide release from fossil fuels by humans. Correlation is not causation, and in a system so complex and poorly understood you cannot really say whether our burning stuff accounts for 5% of the observed change, or 50%, or 95%.
Now, if you have Scientist A who emphasizes the possible connection (thus pleasing certain political forces), and Scientist B who says, basically, that he collected some data but God knows what it all really means, who do you think will get the money next time around?
 

MrT

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There are millions of factors affecting the climate of this planet. Are we one of them? Without question. However take away the sun and you will find out how insignificant we actually are. Take away the moon and now we have no tides. Again you will find just how insignificant we are. What about our magnetic field. Remove that and see how significant we are. What about continental drift, ocean currents, super volcanoes, comet and asteroid strikes? They can bring about changes that again make us insignificant. We are still discovering the countless factors involved in climate change. The climate on this planet has been changing for billions of years and will continue with or without us. The ice ages and warm periods have come and gone for billions of years without our help. To assume all of a sudden the few hundred years we have been producing green house gases is the cause of climate change on this planet is simply stupid and arrogant the same as the belief we were the center of the universe. We are a factor along with millions of other things and most likely very far down the list in the order of significance. There is still more information that we have yet to discover and don't know. Most likely a lot more than what we do know. So forgive me if I don't believe the earth is flat and we are going to sail off the edge. I think there is a lot more to learn before we know it all.

Yes, there is a lot more that we can and will continue to learn. Yes, humans are a fairly insignificant factor in the creation of our climate. However, that is not the same as saying that humans are an insignificant factor in the alteration to our climate.

We can study the influences and variability of the natural influences that you mention. We know, based on those studies, that the sun, the moon, continental drift, the magnetic field, ocean currents, super volcanoes, comets, and asteroid strikes are NOT the most significant factor in the alteration to our climate. That blame lies most significantly on the collective shoulders of humans because of the few hundred years of producing greenhouse gases at rates several magnitudes higher than any rate experienced during the previous hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of years.

And that blame is not based on a mere assumption, but on studies conducted by thousands of experts, millions of calculations, and billions of data points.
 

MrT

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The data does not require anything - it is what it is. Say, you have a set of data showing that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the acidity of the oceans had increased by so much. It correlates with the increase of the carbon dioxide release from fossil fuels by humans. Correlation is not causation, and in a system so complex and poorly understood you cannot really say whether our burning stuff accounts for 5% of the observed change, or 50%, or 95%.
Now, if you have Scientist A who emphasizes the possible connection (thus pleasing certain political forces), and Scientist B who says, basically, that he collected some data but God knows what it all really means, who do you think will get the money next time around?

Is that your method of proving your assertion? Asking a hypothetical question about two fictional scientists that may or may not receive funding from a fictional political force?

We are able to study the influences of potential factors on climate change. We can measure the influence of solar activity, volcanic activity, orbital mechanics, etc. We can control for those measures in our analysis. And that analysis can be checked, triple checked, and quadruple checked by multiple groups from around the world that depend, to some extent, on funding from a vast array of political forces.

And when you reach a level of consensus like the one referenced in the OP, the chances that some hypothetical bias is going to explain it all becomes increasingly unlikely.
 

Cyrylek

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Is that your method of proving your assertion? Asking a hypothetical question about two fictional scientists that may or may not receive funding from a fictional political force?

We are able to study the influences of potential factors on climate change. We can measure the influence of solar activity, volcanic activity, orbital mechanics, etc. We can control for those measures in our analysis. And that analysis can be checked, triple checked, and quadruple checked by multiple groups from around the world that depend, to some extent, on funding from a vast array of political forces.

And when you reach a level of consensus like the one referenced in the OP, the chances that some hypothetical bias is going to explain it all becomes increasingly unlikely.

You severely underestimate both the complexity of the system and our ability even to know what to measure. (Many factors we were even unaware of until recently, like the abundance of the methanogenic microflora on the ocean floor).

And then comes the analysis - never as straightforward as you seem to think, and, finally, modelling - basically weighing selected inputs by some artificial scheme, and, naturally, not including any unknowns.

In the end (after your quadruple checking) we can say: yes, there is this increase in greenhouse gases. And yes - here is the degree of correlation with burning fuels. And, assuming this and that, we can speculate that X or Y has happened or will happen. But that's a very different thing from saying "the warming is caused by human activity, end of story".

Reminds me of the socialist "scientific central planning": "We'll measure everything, double- and triple-check, and design the most efficient system, much better than capitalism with its wasteful competition and useless repetitive feedbacks!". Why has it failed so miserably? Because complex, always changing systems - like a living economy or an atmosphere of a planet - do not lend themselves easily to this kind of analysis, while predictive modelling is virtually impossible. Although it always helps with "funding" (in many senses) to pretend otherwise.
 

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The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90%–100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper.

Yes humans are causing some warming.

How much?

I know that those with limited capacity to think can only hold one idea in their heads at once but for us skeptics the argument is more complex.
 

Tim the plumber

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This thread isn't really devoted to the solutions that global warming requires. This is just further confirmation of the consensus amongst the experts that there IS a problem that requires solutions.

No. The quoted link does not address that question. There is no chance for any scientist to say that it is not a problem.
 

MrT

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Yes humans are causing some warming.

How much?

I know that those with limited capacity to think can only hold one idea in their heads at once but for us skeptics the argument is more complex.

A significant majority (78%, according to one study, of climate scientists that publish mostly on climate science) believe that global warming is mostly caused by humans.
 

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And that's the problem, of course: In this extremely politicized field, "expertise" pretty much equals sticking to the "consensus".
No it doesn't. It means actively publishing in the field.

If you apply for a grant as a "climate scientist", you are justifying the request by the ever-more-urgent "concern about global warming" etc. And if it is not "man-made", then perhaps there's not much that can be "unmade" by man, so what's the point.

Oh yes. I'm sure the fact that you have zero evidence to support your position is all part of the conspiracy.

Of course, physicists of all stripes still can get funding for something else and keep resisting the "consensus" on individual basis, but then they will not be defined as "climate scientists".

If you publish a scientific paper dealing with climate, you are a climate scientist by definition. If you don't publish anything in climate science, you're not. If you have a better way of defining things, please let us know.
 

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Consensus doesn't make science.

Yes, actually, it does. Because there cannot be a scientific consensus without strong evidential support.

And, there really isn't a actual consensus to begin with when both sides of the argument often rely on cherry picked information to match their own agendas.

Well one side of the debate relies on cherry-picked information, and the other side doesn't. So it's pretty clear which side is being deceptive.
 

Poor Debater

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There are millions of factors affecting the climate of this planet. Are we one of them? Without question. However take away the sun and you will find out how insignificant we actually are. Take away the moon and now we have no tides. Again you will find just how insignificant we are. What about our magnetic field. Remove that and see how significant we are. What about continental drift, ocean currents, super volcanoes, comet and asteroid strikes?

Has the Sun been getting warmer? No.
Has the Moon been changing? No.
Have we gotten a lot more comet and asteroid strikes in the past century? No.
Have the continents been drifting any faster recently? No.
Have we had more or fewer supervolcanoes in the past century than previously? No.
Does the magnetic field affect climate at all? Not so far as we can tell.

Has CO2 risen in the atmosphere by 40% since the Industrial Revolution? Yes.
Are humans responsible for that increase? Yes.


They can bring about changes that again make us insignificant. We are still discovering the countless factors involved in climate change. The climate on this planet has been changing for billions of years and will continue with or without us. The ice ages and warm periods have come and gone for billions of years without our help.

Yes, climate changes naturally. No, the current change is not natural. The current change, the one we're causing, is proceeding about 10 times faster than the fastest natural climate change in the geological record. That's why this one is different, and dangerous.

To assume all of a sudden the few hundred years we have been producing green house gases is the cause of climate change on this planet is simply stupid and arrogant

But it's not an assumption at all. It's based on evidence which has not been refuted. So your argument fails.

the same as the belief we were the center of the universe.
That belief failed because of evidence which was (and is) unrefuted. Which is the same reason climate denial has failed: zero evidence to support your position.

We are a factor along with millions of other things and most likely very far down the list in the order of significance.
Utterly and totally false, as mountains of evidence has already shown. Humans are responsible for the current climate change.

So forgive me if I don't believe the earth is flat and we are going to sail off the edge. I think there is a lot more to learn before we know it all.

Just because we don't know everything, that does not mean that the stuff we do know is false. You have zero evidence for your position, and you have not refuted the mountain of evidence that shows that you're wrong. And that's why scientifically, you've lost.
 

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The data does not require anything - it is what it is. Say, you have a set of data showing that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the acidity of the oceans had increased by so much. It correlates with the increase of the carbon dioxide release from fossil fuels by humans. Correlation is not causation, and in a system so complex and poorly understood you cannot really say whether our burning stuff accounts for 5% of the observed change, or 50%, or 95%.

Sorry, you're just plain wrong. The CO2 increase is 100% due to human activity, and it's very easy to demonstrate that fact.

From the Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysys Center (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp030/global.1751_2010.ems), total anthropogenic fossil carbon emissions from 1750-2010 were 364,725 MtC (derived from industrial records, not in dispute); if you burn 364,725 MtC you get 1.336 x 10[sup]15[/sup] kg of CO2 (basic chem). The mass of the atmosphere is 5.1480 × 10[sup]18[/sup] kg [Trenberth, K. E., & Smith, L. (2005). The mass of the atmosphere: A constraint on global analyses. Journal of Climate, 18(6), 864-875.] Divide our known contribution by the total mass of the atmosphere, and we know that we have added 1.336 x 10[sup]15[/sup] / 5.1480 × 10[sup]18[/sup] = 260 parts per million by mass, which for CO2 is 171 parts per million by volume. That's what we know we've added to the air, from industrial records.

But when we look at CO2 data, both historical (ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_annmean_mlo.txt) and from ice cores (ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/icecore/antarctica/law/law2006.txt) we don't see a rise of 171 ppmv during the period 1750-2010. We only see a rise of 113 ppmv in the atmosphere.

So what happened to the remaining 58 ppmv? Four hundred and fifty billion tonnes of CO2 cannot just vanish! It must exist somewhere. And the answer, of course, is that the natural world, the oceans and soils (plus a tiny bit for the lithosphere) has absorbed some of the CO2 that we have emitted into the air -- which is why it's not in the air any more. And that means that the natural world, taken as a whole, must be acting as a net sink for CO2, which means that the natural world cannot also be acting as a net source for CO2.

Therefore, humans are responsible for 100% of the atmospheric increase in CO2.

Q.E.D.
 
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