Climate Denial and the Death of Rationality – Part 2

It always makes me sad when I have to write these posts again because it means that more and more public stupidity is on display, and this time it’s people in real power. Post November 4th midterm elections, the United States now has a slew of non-scientists in positions where scientific decisions are made. For example, the Chairman of the Environmental Committee is a fine individual who blatantly ignores all the evidence to the contrary.

In this short post, I just want to provide a brief update to the article I wrote a couple months ago called “Climate Denial and the Death of Rationality” because some new and very interesting data have come out that brings the hammer down even harder. So join me after the jump! Until then, enjoy some Colbert.

 

All joking aside, this year has been a bad year for climate deniers, first with Cooke’s study and now with geochemist James Powell’s massive meta-analysis. James Powell conducted a meta-analysis of the 10,885 papers on climate science published in the last year and found that only two…that’s right, TWO…rejected anthropogenic warming. As Salon’s Lindsay Abrams writes on the subject:

As geochemist James Lawrence Powell continues to prove, the only people still debating whether or not climate change is “real,” and caused by human activity, are the ones who aren’t doing the actual research. In an update to his ongoing project of reviewing the literature on global warming, Powell went through every scientific study published in a peer-review journal during the calendar year 2013, finding 10,885 in total (more on his methodology here). Of those, a mere two rejected anthropogenic global warming. The consensus, as he defines it, looks like this:

Powell even had to expand that itty bitty slice of the consensus pie five times for us to make it out – the actual doubt about climate change within the scientific community is even tinier.

Adding this new data to his previous findings, Powell estimates that the going rate for climate denial in scientific research is about 1 in 1,000. The outliers, he adds, “have had no discernible influence on science.” From this, he comes up with a theory of his own:

“Very few of the most vocal global warming deniers, those who write op-eds and blogs and testify to congressional committees, have ever written a peer-reviewed article in which they say explicitly that anthropogenic global warming is false. Why? Because then they would have to provide the evidence and, evidently, they don’t have it.

What can we conclude?

1. There a mountain of scientific evidence in favor of anthropogenic global warming and no convincing evidence against it.

2. Those who deny anthropogenic global warming have no alternative theory to explain the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 and global temperature.

These two facts together mean that the so-called debate over global warming is an illusion, a hoax conjured up by a handful of apostate scientists and a misguided and sometimes colluding media, aided and abetted by funding from fossil fuel companies and right wing foundations.” (Abrams)

What’s more, as Ashutosh (Ash) Jogalekar, Chemist and Philosopher of Science, adds in his article in Scientific American where he assumes the argument that “consensus doesn’t prove anything”:

Now I understand as well as anyone else that consensus does not imply truth but I find it odd how there aren’t even a handful of scientists who deny global warming presumably because the global warming mafia threatens to throttle them if they do. It’s not like we are seeing a 70-30% split, or even a 90-10% split. No, the split is more like 99.99-0.01%.

Isn’t it remarkable that among the legions of scientists working around the world, many with tenured positions, secure reputations and largely nothing to lose, not even a hundred out of ten thousand come forward to deny the phenomenon in the scientific literature? Should it be that hard for them to publish papers if the evidence is really good enough? Even detractors of the peer review system would disagree that the system is that broken; after all, studies challenging consensus are quite common in other disciplines. So are contrarian climate scientists around the world so utterly terrified of their colleagues and world opinion that they would not dare to hazard a contrarian explanation at all, especially if it were based on sound science? The belief stretches your imagination to new lengths.

Those who think scientists keep silent on global warming presumably because they fear the barbs of the world demonstrate a peculiar kind of paranoia, especially since what they fear largely does not exist. More prosaically they need to recall Carl Sagan’s words again because the claim that scientist don’t dare to speak out against global warming in the literature is, quite definitely, an extraordinary claim. And it doesn’t seem to stand up to even ordinary evidence (Jogalekar).

In all honesty though, there is no “controversy” over anthropogenic climate change, when the numbers are 99.99% agree vs. 0.01% who disagree, there is no debate.

More Americans believe the Sun revolves around the Earth than actual scientists disagree with anthropogenic climate change. It’s over. Stop.

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References:
Abrams, Lindsay. “10,883 out of 10,885 Scientific Articles Agree: Global Warming Is Happening, and Humans Are to Blame.” Salon. Salon, 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

<http://www.salon.com/2014/03/25/10853_out_of_10855_scientists_agree_man_made_global_warming_is_happening/>.

Jogalekar, Ashutosh. “About That Consensus on Global Warming: 9136 Agree, 1 Disagrees. | The Curious Wavefunction, Scientific American Blog Network.” Scientific American. Scientific American, 10 Jan. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

<http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2014/01/10/about-that-consensus-on-global-warming-9136-agree-one-disagrees/>.