Out of Control Policy Blog

A Scientific Consensus on Global Warming?

Today's CO2andClimate.org climate alert offers a detailed debunking of the notion of a "scientific consensus" on global warming. Here's an excerpt:

    "The phrase "scientific consensus" suggests something approaching unanimous agreement among scientists. However even a rudimentary survey of scientific literature reveals there to be very little agreement on the subject of climate change. The unfortunate and inaccurate characterization of consensus is used as a rhetorical bludgeon of skeptics and is the basis of a push for industrialized nations to "do something" to reduce the atmosphere's greenhouse gas concentration.

    Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offered an explanation of the phenomenon during a recent National Press Club briefing "Climate Alarm – Where does it come from?":
      With respect to science, consensus is often simply a sop to scientific illiteracy. After all, if what you are told is alleged to be supported by all scientists, then why do you have to bother to understand it? You can simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief, and you never have to defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all scientists except for a handful of corrupted heretics.

    The theme of scientific consensus creeps into documents such as the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Overview Report (2004) and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Third Assessment Report (2001).

    . . . .

    ...in fact, neither the IPCC nor a particular scientist has convincingly demonstrated how human-caused contributions to atmospheric greenhouse gases are responsible for 'most' of the observed warming over the past fifty years."

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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