Who is a “Climate Scientist?” Maybe You Are.


Michael Crichton: “Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. 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. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

Whether Climate Change (nee Global Warming) is  as serious a problem as scientific, academic, governmental  and media elites tell us, is open to debate in my view, so I guess that makes me a “denier.”

The term “denialist,” with its subliminal echo of Peter turning his back on Jesus, is clever, but typical of the triumphalist crowing that is standard in AGW (Anthropogenic  global warming) proponents’ appeals to the larger public.

The framing of these appeals ranges from rude bullying, adolescent snark, to arrant silliness.  The physical sciences relevant to the study of climate change are not only beyond me, but beyond the mastery of any one person, but the tone of a message is a clue to the veracity of its originators.

“Consensus” and “the Science is settled” sound aimed to stifle dissent.

A case in point is this page from NASA, headlined “Consensus: 97% of climate scientists agree.”  So do nine out of ten dentists, according to Crest..

How is the casual reader is to determine the truth of this statement?  Most will simply accept it.   This is NASA, after all, the organization that led the Moon missions, and continues to expand planetary and cosmological knowledge.  It is, however,  also an agency past its glory days and hardly immune from unscientific posturing as a result of political pressure, as in its 2010 outreach to Muslims.

The consensus assertion is footnoted to three journal articles, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union Vol. and Science, 2010, 200, 2004, respectively.

The remaining 14 footnotes are policy assertions from various organizations including the IPCC.

The question that hit me immediately upon viewing this page was:  what is a “Climate Scientist?”  I was puzzled to see geologists and medical doctors being cited as such. I suppose geologists might be concerned with core samplings and such, but how did the doctors become climate scientists?  Extension courses?

As I looked over  the PNAS article,the question was quickly answered::

“This result (97 percent consensus closely agrees with expert surveys, indicating that ≈97% of self-identified (Bold italics mine) actively publishing climate scientists.”

That was enough for me. I went on to read the references at the end of the article.  While the greatest number were from Scientometrics, and are concerned with methodology in citation analysis, there are also those that lead one to suspect we are not dealing with entirely disinterested science.

(2000) Challenging global warming as a social problem: An analysis of the conservative movement’s counter-claims. Soc Probl 47:499–522

 The mission statement of Social Problems, from its inaugural issue states that the journal “…will devote itself to original research, whether empirical or theoretical, which brings fresh light to bear on the concepts, processes and consequences of modern science. It will be interdisciplinary in the sense that it will encourage appropriate contributions from political science, sociology, economics, history, philosophy, social anthropology, and the legal and educational disciplines.”

I don’t see anything to do with “modern science” there.  None of the disciplines mentioned would require even high school physics or chemistry.


(2008) The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism. Env Polit 17:349–385.

 A quick look at the free online sample of Environmental Politics will show that rather than science, politics – and environmentalist politics in particular – is exactly what it is about.


(2003) Defeating Kyoto: The conservative movement’s impact on US climate change policy. Soc Probl 50:348–373.

Those evil conservatives!

And then, there is this;

(2006) Science studies, climate change and the prospects for constructivist critique. Econ Soc 35:453–479.

Reminds me of the excruciatingly dull and largely content-free literary criticism I endured in grad school.


 (2009) Featuring skeptics in news media stories about global warming reduces public beliefs in the seriousness of global warming (Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Technical Paper), Available at http://woods.stanford.edu/research/global-warming-skeptics.html.

A technical paper?  Seriously?  Show me the math!  If AGW skeptics are featured anywhere save Fox(rarely) and Glen Beck, I missed it.

In addition to the risible assertion that one hundred per cent of climate scientists, whoever and whatever they may be have chimed in on AGW, neither the study nor the NASA page address the real issue which how devastating “experts” think this climate change will be, and how strong their support is for prevention and/or mitigation  measures, not to mention what and how extreme  such measures should be, or what they should be.

Climate Change/AGW may stem from science but as presented to the public it is all about politics, and the politics spread through both the mass media and obscure journals that almost no one will read form a positive feedback loop through peer approbation and shaming of outsiders with differing opinions.

polar bears

Drowning polar bears? Not these. But Al Gore is drowning in loot. He finally coughed up a license for the pic. http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s1887890.htm

I would no sooner leave the fate of our economies and, ultimately, our civilization to members of this unelected and self described scientific elite than I would to a curia of priests.