A Few Things Ill Considered

A layman's take on the science of Global Warming featuring a guide on How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

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There is no Consensus

(Part of the How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic guide)

This article has moved to ScienceBlogs

It has also been updated and this page is still here only to preserve the original comment thread. Please visit A Few Things Ill Considered there. You may also like to view Painting With Water, Coby Beck's original fine art photography.



  • At February 26, 2006 1:40 PM, Blogger Dano said…

    Don't forget Oreskes' paper, just to yank some chains!

    'bout time you got a blog, sir.



  • At February 26, 2006 10:49 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Thanks, Dano! Yes, I will surely add Oreskes. I was prematurely outed so I have been scrambling to cover the usual suspects and so cutting some corners.

  • At June 25, 2006 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ack. While I agree with the point (there is certainly a scientific consensus on this issue) I honestly think that Oreskes' paper should not have passed peer review. Just look at the difference searching ISI for "climate change" and "global climate change" and common skeptic names. For some reason, skeptics never seem to include the word "global" in their keyword analysis. (I am not a skeptic, but coincidentally enough, all the papers I am on would also have been missed by Oreskes' methodology. But I was dubious about it even before I noticed that fact!)

  • At June 25, 2006 8:53 PM, Blogger coby said…

    I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of the approach taken in that paper, not least because it strikes me as pretty subjective. As for your specific point, I don't know, it sounds "statistically fluky" (to use technical language ;) But it does seem like a reasonable data point.

    I would be interested to see a few abstracts that you think should have been included in her survey but would not have accepted the consensus position.

  • At February 20, 2007 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is like Democrats saying, "Americans are against the war in Iraq. We have a concensus."

    Beware of the Neo-Communist Democrats, they are a devious bunch.

  • At February 25, 2007 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So there's a consensus. So what. A consensus also clearly believes various body piercings are attractive.

  • At February 25, 2007 2:44 PM, Blogger coby said…


    You should educate yourself on the difference between an opinion of a fashion statement and an empirical reality.

  • At March 11, 2007 7:59 AM, Blogger Ed said…

    "So there's a consensus. So what."

    Well, if you'll remember, this item was in reply to the assertion that there is no consensus. So, there's a consensus, so there's a consensus.

  • At August 10, 2007 9:58 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I am not a "climate scientist" (there really is no such thing due to the limited knowledge,) but I am a logical person. I see a very close similarity between on how the c02 global warming zealots argue facts to how religious zealots people argue facts (I am neither, don't believe in god and don't believe in human c02 caused global warming. I just love how historical facts can be put aside by saying something like, the reason for the warming is different than it is today (D you know what I'm talking about.) I can see real facts like, their is a cyclical trend in mean temperatures (yes, I can take numbers and graph them in excel as I am an IT guy, and that mean temperatures can warm or cool with increasing levels of c02. It appears to my little mind that other variables are being ignored (and probably not understood.) It would be really nice to be able to argue that no matter what happens, something else is to blame but my hypothesis is still correct. Show me a model that can take historical data, not ice core and tree ring studies which are interesting but take a leap of faith (there goes that religion thing again) to accept as fact. I really love to debate, but you members of the Socialist Church of the Global Warming International Communist, are about like debating religion with Osama Bin Laden or the Catholic Church during the centuries long inquisition. Good science deserves more study,not a political revolution. By the way who funds RealClimate.org? That may be the topic of my next post.

  • At August 12, 2007 12:58 AM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi BanjoBob,

    I think you are simply projecting your own ignorance of the subject onto the entire discipline. Sorry if that sounds snarky, but seriously, there are schools of, institutes of and journals of climatology. There are disciplines and subdisciplines and thousands of scientists around the world involved in them. You think they are all just twiddling their thumbs and gazing out the window wishing they had something to talk about?

    As for the rest... [yawn]... save the religious metaphors for someone who might get all worked up about it. As for myself, feel free to come back with something specific and serious to discuss.

    RC is a volunteer effort, btw.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  • At September 02, 2007 2:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Coby,

    You might want to include Australia's CSIRO in this list. The Australian Academy of Science is an awards and policy body (nothing wrong with including the perspective of several hundred scientists from there, of course), and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is the national institute where a lot op actual science gets done.


  • At October 26, 2007 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus ....rings so true. Your links to those who 'agree with the consensus' rings hollow. Try again. Btw, those are the words by author Michael Crichton

  • At November 15, 2007 3:00 AM, Blogger badcop666 said…

    AGW is a perfect example of a harmless, easy issue for middle class angst to attach itself to. While the bombs rain down on the third world, America lays waste to a seemingly endless supply of 'hostile' 'terrorist' states and despots, and the suffering and misery caused by malaria, starvation, poverty, civil war carry on unchallenged as usual - Global Warming is suddenly the big thing threatening the doom of humanity.

    Are you lot kidding?! Please say yes! Are you seriously gonna stand up in front of a town hall full of people from the third world already living in a twisted hell, and tell them that your computer models have shown you how terrible the world is going to get unless we offset our carbon footprint?! Really?

    Then I have to say, you are an incredibly stupid, arrogant, self-obsessed bunch of middle-class morons.

    The third world will go on suffering without your help, and you will continue to run around waving your arms in the air, living in the most comfortable, safe countries in the world, telling us all about how terrible things are.

    Get a life! Bad science from angst junkies - nothing new.

  • At December 12, 2007 10:59 PM, Blogger Will Nitschke said…

    Although evidence is required to prove a fact, and not just appeals to authority (and putting aside the problem of group think not withstanding), this is definitely the strongest circumstantial evidence in favour of human caused global warming I have read on this website so far.

    I am somewhat suspicious of the Oreskes study, however. Nobody in nearly 1000 peer reviewed articles questions the CO2 hypothesis or asserts a different scientific opinion? So the peer reviewed technical articles I have read arguing other positions (admittedly not mainstream positions) do not exist...?

    If the Oreskes study could be replicated by other researchers this would definitely increase the circumstantial evidence supporting the hypothesis, and put to rest the "there is no consensus" argument.

  • At February 28, 2008 6:18 PM, Blogger barry said…


    This is the best web page I've come across verifying consensus - very comprehensive. Check it out. You might like to include it in the top post.


    Exxon-Mobil's position on climate change and the IPCC.

    "There is increasing evidence that the earth's climate has warmed on average about 0.7 C in the last century. Many global ecosystems, especially the polar areas, are showing signs of warming. CO2 emissions have increased during this same time period - and emissions from fossil fuels and land use changes are one source of these emissions.

    Climate remains today an extraordinarily complex area of scientific study. The risks to society and ecosystems from increases in CO2 emissions could prove to be significant, it is prudent to develop and implement strategies that address the risks, keeping in mind the central importance of energy to the economies of the world.


    ExxonMobil scientists have undertaken climate change research and related policy analysis for 25 years and their work has produced more than 40 papers in peer-reviewed literature. In addition, our scientists participate in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and numerous related scientific bodies.


  • At July 11, 2008 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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