A View From the Cheap Seats

January 16, 2008

2,500 Scientists Do Not Agree

Filed under: Environment,Global Warming,National,World — trzupek @ 11:33 am
Tags: , , , ,


By Rich Trzupek

For many people who are trying to make up their mind about global warming, the most troubling piece of evidence is this: the “fact” that the 2,500 scientists who make up the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agree that human activity is causing climate change. The recent release of the Senate minority report casts doubt on consensus among the scientific community at large, by listing more 400 scientists from two dozen countries who disagree with IPCC’s conclusions. More damning still is a particularly informative article, authored by Tom Harris and John McLean, that demonstrates that there isn’t even consensus among the IPCC.

It is true that there are about 2,500 scientists in the IPCC as a whole. However, only about 600 of those scientists are part of Working Group I (WG I), the sub-committee that actually comments on the causes and severity of climate change. Of those 600, only 62 reviewed and commented on the critical chapter that attributes climate change to so-called “greenhouse gases” generated by human activity. According to Harris and McLean, 55 of those 62 had a vested interest (by organizational or research ties) in producing the “right” answer.

Having reached a very tenuous conclusion in the WG I report, the IPCC further skews the message in the only document that the majority of the media ever reads: the “Summary for Policymakers”, which is essentially a dumbed-down executive summary written for politicians, journalists and other non-technical types. This summary is not written by scientists, as it is essentially a PR document and is, therefore, expected to reinforce the “right” message even further.

To summarize, it is not the conclusion of 2,500 IPCC scientists that human activity causes global warming. That is a conclusion reached by a committee composed of a fraction of those scientists, of which only a smaller fraction actually reviewed and commented on that conclusion, before the message was diluted once again in a politically-motivated executive summary. This is homeopathic science, in which the truth is watered down so many times that by the time you get to the final product, facts are not detectable by conventional means.

As many scientists have noted (including your humble correspondent), a lack of consensus does not mean that one particular group is wrong or right. So, the fact that the IPCC “Summary for Policymakers” does not represent consensus is not, in itself, damning. The lack of consensus simply makes the “Summary for Policymakers” irrelevant, from a scientific point of view.

In order to evaluate the actual science, we must turn to an independent review of IPCC’s work. Arguably the best independent review comes via IPCC members themselves, in the form of the Independent Summary for Policymakers (ISPM), authored by IPCC member Dr. Ross McKitrick with nine co-authors. To date, it has been reviewed by 55 scientists, who agree with the reports conclusions and who “strongly agree” that it should be used to convey “the current state of climate science to policy makers and other general readers.”

The ISPM will be a challenging read for most non-technical types, but its 64 pages are damning, for anyone with the time and tenacity read and truly understand it. McKitrick et al are careful not to rule out any conclusions at this point in time and steps through the IPCC report and associated science without bias, as a good scientist should. However, at the end of the day, the unbiased reader is left with only one conclusion: while it is possible that human activity can contribute to global warming, it seems very unlikely that contribution is at all significant and, moreover, the means used to attribute global warming to human activity (computer modeling) is extremely unreliable.

Or, to quote the report: “The hypothesis that greenhouse gas emissions have produced or are capable of producing a significant warming of the Earth’s climate since the start of the industrial era is credible, and merits continued attention. However, the hypothesis cannot be proven by formal theoretical arguments, and the available data allow the hypothesis to be credibly disputed. Arguments for the hypothesis rely on computer simulations, which can never be decisive as supporting evidence.”

Does McKitrick dismiss greenhouse gases as a cause of global warming outright? Of course not. Nor should he. But his conclusion is a far cry from the sheer panic one finds in the Summary for Policymakers that Al Gore and his disciples quote so frequently. There is a big difference between “continued attention” to a hypothesis, and a mad rush to ration the world’s energy supply before we are swept away by a wall of water or devoured by homeless polar bears.

Dr. Vicent Gray, a fellow IPCC member put it succinctly. “The text of the IPCC report shows that this is decided by a guess from persons with a conflict of interest, not from a tested model,” Gray said.

So what if we can’t, in fact, do a damned thing to affect the climate of the planet? What if the changes are natural – beyond our control – as they have been in the past? In that case, do we really want to waste untold amounts of money and effort on a “solution” that is anything but, when we should be using our resources to prepare for a new – unstoppable – reality?

Global warming is often presented as a liberal-conservative issue. It’s not. It’s a science vs. propaganda issue and, despite what the Gorephiles preach, the real scientists have real doubts that mankind has much to do with the climate at all.

As a chemist and environmental scientist of very modest accomplishment, I am appalled at the way science has been perverted in the name of politics by the global warming crowd. There is joy in the scientific method, and in the doubt, the skepticism, the challenges and defense that ultimately, inevitably, leads to the truth – whatever that truth may be. It is a joy that I, like many students in the sciences, first experienced in college and it has stuck with me every since.

This abomination that a failed divinity student and his friends have foisted upon science disgusts me. It should disgust you. And I can not help but believe that, in time, Gore will be discredited once more and cosigned to the dust heap of history, where he belongs.



  1. The magic “2,500” number has been quoted repeatedly by the media, until it has become general knowledge. Trzupek’s lead article has shown that it is an illusion.

    Unfortunately, illusions that are repeated over and over again die hard.

    But I wondered, where did the “2,500” number originally come from?

    It was mentioned in a press presentation given on November 17, 2007 by IPCC Chair, Dr. Pachauri, at the 27th Session of the IPCC in Valencia, Spain.


    But the magic “2,500” number actually was reported much earlier by the media. An Editorial in the International Herald Tribune of 23/6/97 was entitled “Take warming seriously”. It was picked up from The New York Times; and it said:
    “One reason why the industrialized nations opted for voluntary targets at Rio (in 1992) was that main-stream scientists simply could not agree whether man-made emissions had contributed to the small rise in global temperatures that began late in the 19th century. In 1995, however, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, consisting of about 2,500 scientists, concluded that they had.”

    This appears to be the first mention of the “magic number”.

    Just shows that an illusion can be kept alive a long time if you keep repeating it over and over.


    Comment by Max — January 17, 2008 @ 12:20 pm | Reply

  2. Al Gore has not been discredited on global warming. You claim to be a scientist and then fail to understand that not all scientists always agree? Global warming is truth. Your lies are transparent as glass.

    Comment by Scott Casper — January 17, 2008 @ 4:07 pm | Reply

  3. Al Gore has been discredited over and over on his version of global warming, i.e. imminent catastrophe with 6 meter waves swallowing New York City and hurricanes battering the US coasts, etc. all due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

    This is pure self-serving political polemic and is not supported by real science.

    That is not to say that the Earth has not warmed somewhere under one degree Celsius over the past century.

    So Scott Casper is right on one thing: “Global warming is truth”.

    But Al Gore’s version of global warming is not. It is pure science fiction.


    Comment by Max — January 17, 2008 @ 10:33 pm | Reply

  4. Max has it right. Does Mr. Casper believes that man is the only influence on the climate? As Mr. Trzupek and many other scientists have explained, there are dozens of factors and human activity is a pretty small one. Mr. Casper says the Trzupek’s “lies are as transparent as glass”, but can’t actually point to any “lies”. Typical. If you don’t like the message, attack the messenger.


    Comment by Dave W. — January 18, 2008 @ 10:29 am | Reply

  5. […] came from… Try to get through the entire article. I know you’ll want to puke, but just try… 2,500 Scientists Do Not Agree A View From the Cheap Seats From another source… […]

    Pingback by Global Warming - Reality or Myth? - Golf Forum - Golf Rewound is the Family Friendly Golf Forum and Discussion Group — January 19, 2008 @ 2:46 pm | Reply

  6. Scott needs to do a wee bit more research from outside the Daily Kos website.

    Comment by Wild Bill — January 21, 2008 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  7. How about finding a better messenger? I can get a more valuable and factual evaluation of Al Gore’s position on global warming from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Inconvenient_Truth. This is a model for objective writing that Trzupek could benefit from studying.

    Comment by Scott Casper — January 21, 2008 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

  8. Wikipedia is objective? Give me a freakin’ break. When countries don’t allow “Inconvenient Truth” to be shown in classrooms because Gore’s message is found to be “extremely flawed” tells anyone that is truly objective that his research is a pile of dung. Trzupek is an environmental engineer by trade and is an author on the subject.

    Michael Moore would be very proud of you right now.

    Comment by Wild Bill — January 21, 2008 @ 3:57 pm | Reply

  9. I would be honored if a celebrated author and filmmaker like Michael Moore was proud of me. Thank you for the compliment. It’s sad, though, that you don’t recognize what objective writing is when you see it.

    Comment by Scott Casper — January 22, 2008 @ 11:17 am | Reply

  10. If you would be honored if Michael Moore was proud of you, then you my friend, have no idea what being objective is all about.

    Comment by Wild Bill — January 22, 2008 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

  11. Let’s be honest.

    Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” is a political film.

    It has nothing to do with “truth”.

    Its intent is to frighten people into supporting a political agenda.

    It has very little to do with science. While it refers to scientific theories and computer-generated projections, it grossly exaggerates even the most pessimistic scenarios published by the UN’s IPCC (itself a political organization selling a political message in order to gain support for a political agenda).

    It has been quite normal throughout history for politicians to resort to scaremongering to incite fear in the general public in order to gain support for a political course of action.

    One group of politicians frightens us with WMD in the hands of a tinhorn dictator (expressed in the apparition of “the mushroom cloud smoking gun”) to gain support for starting a war, costing hundreds of billions of dollars plus several thousand lives and achieving nothing.

    Another group uses disastrous climate change (expressed in the apparition of “6-meter waves swallowing New York City”) to gain support for draconian carbon taxes and cap and trade schemes, costing hundreds of billions of dollars and achieving nothing.

    Frightening the adult public for political gain is bad enough. But most adults can use their common sense to separate hyperbole from fact. If the scare mongering gets too shrill, they begin to become skeptical.

    On the other hand, frightening impressionable school children is criminal, no matter how supposedly “noble” the political cause.

    Al Gore’s horror film should have no place in the classroom.


    Comment by Max — January 22, 2008 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  12. You guys are having too much fun with this one.

    Max, Wild Bill and Dave W. have all made points that I agree with. And, judging by the number of hits that this particular post is getting, this is an issue that a lot of people are interested in. As a scientist, my biggest problem with the issue is the way that one side (the alarmists) have tried to silence the healthy debate that is at the core of the scientific method. Consider a few quotes:

    Attempting to discredit those scientists who question the theory that humans are causing climate change, Al Gore said: “There are still people who believe that the Earth is flat.” (November 5, 2007)

    Gore also compared global warming skeptics to people who “believe the moon landing was actually staged in a movie lot in Arizona.” (June 20, 2006)

    On CNN, Miles O’Brien said: “The scientific debate is over. We’re done.” (July 23, 2007)

    ABC News Reporter Bill Blakemore said: “After extensive searches, ABC News has found no such [scientific] debate on global warming.” (August 30, 2006)

    This is just plain silly. There is zero – and I repeat ZERO – validity to the idea that a “consensus” of scientists agree that that man is exercising a significant influence on earth’s climate. At best, there is a slight majority who believe that is the case. More likely, based on what I know and discussions I have had with my colleagues in environmental science, it’s a slight minority.

    We can – and should – debate the relative effect of the many other mechanisms that affect the climate, like solar flux, cloud cover and “feedback” mechanics. These are all topics that will, understandably, bore the snot out of the average reader.

    My intent is not to argue that the question is settled in either direction. It is rather to try to educate the average (non-scientific) reader about the way that the issue has been politicized. As Max sagely points out, too many politicians – of both parties – are all too ready to exploit fear and ignorance to achieve their ends.

    Consider, dear readers, that the majority of us believe that it’s important to have our children vaccinated, yet we are still willing to consider arguments and research to the contrary. The use of antibiotics was rarely questioned, until recently, when a thoughtful minority wondered whether we are overusing this miraculous cure. I’m not saying that the minority is right in either case, but the questions that they raise are important. Science advances when it is challenged.

    The way that the Gorephiles attempt to stifle any debate is deeply troubling. If this is indeed a an issue of vital importance, is it not vitally important to get it right?

    Comment by trzupek — January 23, 2008 @ 12:04 am | Reply

  13. To the article which Rich Trzupek makes reference:

    Tom Harris and John McLean did a convincing job of debunking IPCC’s magic “2,500 scientists” number.

    So far the “howls of outrage” in response to this article have been pretty weak and unconvincing.

    The “2,500” number that Pachauri and the media like to quote is apparently a hoax, until some one can come with a factual rebuttal listing the “2,500” by name and scientific credentials and demonstrating that these “2,500” have truly supported the IPCC statement that “most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”.

    Until that happens we should assume that the “2,500” number is an illusion.



    Comment by Max — January 23, 2008 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  14. There is nothing wrong with debate, as long as it is two sides with differing interpretations of the facts trying to reconcile them. To be fair, the article above does touch on that.

    The problem is the Republican dogma that increasingly creeps into the piece. Republican dogma is not interested in facts or reconciling to them. It insists that global warming does not exist and Gore — and anyone supporting his view — is “disgusting.” What’s more disgusting here? Gore bringing the general public, kicking and screaming, into view of the immediate danger of global warming? Or naysayers who would rather stick their heads in the sand because reality has become too frightening?

    Comment by Scott Casper — January 25, 2008 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

  15. Message to Scott Casper

    Agree with you, Scott, that the debate should be limited to “two sides with differing interpretations of the facts trying to reconcile them”.

    Do not see how “Republican dogma” has crept in, but it should not be part of the discussion. Not everyone who believes that Al Gore’s movie is a gross exaggeration of the facts based on faulty or distorted science (and should not be used to frighten impressionable school children) is a Republican. Some are not even US citizens, so could care less about US politics.

    But regardless of (US) party affiliation, a large part of this debate IS political.

    Al Gore is a politician. His film is, by definition, a political statement.

    Sen. Inhofe is a politician. His report to the US Senate was a political statement.

    When James E. Hansen stated in testimony to the US House of Representatives that “there must be a rising price (tax) on carbon emissions” he made a political statement.

    The UN’s Ban Ki Moon and Rajendra K. Pachauri are politicians. Their separate statements to the press in November were political statements.

    The UN’s IPCC is also a political body. Its 2007 “Summary for Policymakers” is a political statement.

    As I pointed out earlier, politicians (of all parties) have been known to use fear to justify their political agendas.

    H.L. Mencken once observed, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

    He wrote this long before Al Gore’s film or the IPCC 2007 SPM report came out, but it expresses the current situation quite accurately…



    Comment by Max — January 25, 2008 @ 5:18 pm | Reply

  16. The media, environmentalists, the Gore possee and others seem to confuse Global Warming and anthropogenic (man-made) warming as the same thing. The often do this by referring to climate change and then in the very next breath start banging on about turning your lights off, recycling, reducing carbon blah blah blah.

    As I see it there are 2 parts to this debate:

    1. Global warming: an observed trend that suggests that the average temp of the world is increasing

    2. Man-made warming: the theory that the burning of fossil fuels, emissions of methane, CO2, SO2, NO2 into the atmosphere, etc etc is causing a warming effect.

    What most of the sceptics are saying is that the agree that the first premise is possible and that the evidence suggests we are in a warming period BUT they do not agree with 2nd premise i.e. man-made warming. So I think most people agree with the symptom but not the cause.

    So the discussion really should be: are humans causing the world to warm-up. My opinion: No Way!!!

    Comment by Dave Moore — March 30, 2008 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

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