Wednesday, December 4, 2013

James L. Powell PhD Examines: "What AGW Consensus?"

{final edit 12/5, 18:45}

This website will be changing its character over the next couple months.  Up to now I've seen it as a kind of Information Kiosk, but I believe it's time to get a bit more personal and expand on the 'virtual dialogue' I've been pursuing through various venues.

You see, considering the steady stream of venomous personal attacks I've experienced while traversing the internet  -  and realizing that this is exactly what every person, who has ever talks about the 'State of Climate Science' (and the dangers manmade global warming is creating for the wellbeing of the future), has been put through - I figure it's time to stop ignoring the behavior.  

There needs to be more done to expose this tactic of hysterical personalizing and demonizing for the cynical act of misdirection that it is.  We need to learn about and discuss the substance of the problem and the science, not get distracted by contrived scandal and hurtful personal attacks.

I'm thinking of fighting back by getting down'n personal myself, but I intend to be more constructive about it, since learning and teaching, not bullying, is my ultimate goal.  Besides, I've led an interesting multi-faceted life and may as well share some of it before it's over.   Towards that end, I will try to approach this blog as a journal project of sorts.  Won't happen immediately, lots of other things going on, besides I've never been able to keep a journal so it's something I'm going to have to work into.  But, I did want to mention it.

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Finally, to the feature of this post, which I'll admit is a direct reaction to some of the relentless vile, misrepresentations and hate mongering of a certain debating-mate over at SkepticForum.  

The character keeps getting spookier in it's attacks on  for being who they are -  that is - an information resource that provides peer-reviewed published science papers in a learning atmosphere geared to the lay-public.  Articles that are well researched and linked back to original sources, followed by one of the healthiest comments/discussion boards on the internet.

I'm still trying to comprehend how the SkepticalScience's style of open exchange of valid information can be rejected by rational people.

You know, it's one thing to find fault here and there, but to try and write off, heck condemn, the entire's effort as something akin to nazis is nothing less than paranoid crazy-making.  Hate-mongering and desperation at it's lowest. 

One thing that enrages these denialist types is the scientific consensus and the fact that 97% of published climate science papers agree on the basic understanding of what global warming is - and looked at as a whole, they give a complete description for why it is happening; and the dangers it poses.  

Now that the site's founder John Cook and a number of others have published a science paper on the topic, he and his website have become enemy #1.  {There's information on Cook et al (2013) after the main feature of this post.}
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That is why I'm sharing this review by James Lawrence Powell PhD.  A man who was appointed by President Reagan to the National Science Board, then reappointed by George H. W. Bush.  By all standards a distinguished patriotic scientist.

Dr. Powell has a website where he discusses his own examination of the climate science literature.  The following is a copy of his home page and I repost it here for your information and encourage you to follow the links to Dr. Powell's website, since that's where the details are.   Powell also shares some thoughts in a few videos.

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James Lawrence Powell
Science and Global Warming

As discussed in detail here, I searched the Web of Science for peer-reviewed scientific articles published between 1 January 1991 and 9 November 2012 that had the keyword phrases "global warming" or "global climate change." The search produced 13,950 articles. See methodology.

By my definition 24 of the 13,950 articles, 0.17% or 1 in 581, clearly reject human-caused global warming or endorse a cause other than CO2 emissions for observed warming. The articles have a total of 33,690 individual authors (rounded to 33,700 in the figure). The 24 rejecting papers have a total of 34 authors, about 1 in 1,000. 

What can we conclude from this study? 
1. In the scientific literature, there is virtually no disagreement that humans are causing global warming. 
2. The authors of the handful of papers that reject human-caused global warming tend not to agree with, or even to cite, each other's work. 
3. Other than those authors themselves, only a handful of other scientists cite the few rejecting articles. Those who do cite them do not themselves necessarily reject human-caused global warming.  
4. The rejecting authors have no alternative theory that satisfactorily explains the observed warming.  
5. Some of the most vocal global warming deniers (for example, Lindzen, Monckton, Singer, and Watts) have never written a scientific paper in which they say explicitly that human-caused global warming is false. Why? Because if they did, they would have to come up with the evidence to back up the claim, and there is no such evidence. If there were, surely they would have told us by now.  
6. The vast majority of climate scientists accept the theory that human emissions of greenhouse gases are causing the observed global warming. Here is how I arrive at this deduction.
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When a new scientific theory is first proposed, scientists often go out of their way to state explicitly that they reject it, or that they accept it. This was the case with continental drift in the 1920s, with plate tectonics in the 1960s, and with the Alvarez theory of dinosaur extinction in the 1980s. 

One reading the literature in these fields can usually tell from the title of an article alone whether an author rejects the new theory. But after a theory achieves maturity and becomes the ruling paradigm, scientists no longer see any point in stating explicitly that they accept the now-no-longer-new theory. They take it as a given, often as an observational fact—like the measured movement of tectonic plates and the measured global temperature rise. 

To explicitly endorse the ruling theory would have the counter-effect of suggesting that the theory is in doubt. It is obvious that global warming has achieved the status of the ruling paradigm of climate science. 

Thus it is reasonable to assume that publishing scientists who today reject human-caused global warming would make it clear that they do so, while publishing scientists who accept the theory would not feel the need to say so explicitly. 

As a practical matter, virtually all of the global warming papers that Oreskes (link to Dr. Naomi Oreskes lecture) and I separately reviewed can be classified as about effects, mitigation, adaptation, methods of detecting, climate modeling, and paleoclimatology. Authors of these papers would hardly be likely to deny the existence of the very thing they are writing about. 

It is theoretically possible that a paper on paleoclimatology could be the exception, dealing with the lack of evidence for CO2-driven global warming in the geologic past, say, leading the author to question the seriousness of modern, human-caused global warming. 

I did not find such papers. What we know for a fact is that among the authors of peer-reviewed articles, only a tiny fraction, which I estimate as about 1 author in 1,000, rejects human-caused global warming. In my opinion, based on my understanding of the history of science, it is reasonable to conclude that nearly all publishing climate scientists accept that human activities are causing the Earth to warm. 

Polls of scientists reinforce this conclusion, but polls are no substitute for the primary, peer-reviewed literature, the ground truth of science.

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James L. Powell was born in Berea, Kentucky and graduated from Berea College with a degree in Geology.

He holds a Ph.D. in Geochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and several honorary degrees, including Doctor of Science degrees from Berea College and from Oberlin College.

He taught Geology at Oberlin College for over 20 years.

He served as Acting President of Oberlin, President of Franklin and Marshall College, President of Reed College, President of the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, and President and Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.

President Reagan and later, President George H. W. Bush, appointed Powell to the National Science Board, where he served for 12 years.

Asteroid 1987 SH7 is named for him. He is the author of ten books, including From Heresy to Truth: Deep Time, Continental Drift, Meteorite Impact, and Global Warming, to be published in 2014 by Columbia University Press.

Powell currently serves as Executive Director of the National Physical Science Consortium.

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The Cook et al. (2013) - Yes, the 97% consensus result is robust

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What the science says...
There have been no valid criticisms of the Cook et al. (2013) 97% consensus paper.
Climate Myth...
97% consensus on human-caused global warming has been disproven
Cooks ’97% consensus’ disproven by a new peer reviewed paper showing major math errors (Anthony Watts)

Communicating the expert consensus is very important in terms of increasing public awareness of human-caused climate change and support for climate solutions.  Thus it's perhaps not surprising that Cook et al. (2013) and its 97% consensus result have been the subject of extensive denial among the usual climate contrarian suspects.  After all, the fossil fuel industry, right-wing think tanks, and climate contrarians have been engaged in a disinformation campaign regarding the expert climate consensus for over two decades.  For example, Western Fuels Association conducted a half-million dollar campaign in 1991 designed to ‘reposition global warming as theory (not fact).’
The 97% Consensus is a Robust Result
Nevertheless, the existence of the expert consensus on human-caused global warming is a reality, as is clear from an examination of the full body of evidence.  For example, Naomi Oreskes found no rejections of the consensus in a survey of 928 abstracts performed in 2004Doran & Zimmerman (2009) found a 97% consensus among scientists actively publishing climate research.  Anderegg et al. (2010) reviewed publicly signed declarations supporting or rejecting human-caused global warming, and again found over 97% consensus among climate experts.  Cook et al. (2013) found the same 97% result through a survey of over 12,000 climate abstracts from peer-reviewed journals, as well as from over 2,000 scientist author self-ratings, among abstracts and papers taking a position on the causes of global warming.
In addition to these studies, we have the National Academies of Science from 33 different countries all endorsing the consensus.  Dozens of scientific organizations have endorsed the consensus on human-caused global warming.  Only one has ever rejected the consensus - the American Association of Petroleum Geologists - and even they shifted to a neutral position when members threatened to not renew their memberships due to its position of climate denial.
In short, the 97% consensus on human-caused global warming is a robust result, found using several different methods in various studies over the past decade.  It really shouldn't be a surprise at this point, and denying it is, well, denial.
Quantifying the Human Global Warming Contribution
There have also been various studies quantifying the human contribution to global warming, as we have previously documented. ...
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mrtapeguy said...

Wow...wondering why no one has addressed this post at all. Powell is currently being quoted as the definitive proof.

citizenschallenge said...

Not sure if you are trying to be sarcastic or what.
Powell is not the "definitive proof" he is pointing at what the science studies have been telling us.
That is where you'll find your definitive proof, if you investigate it in good faith with curiosity and a desire to learn.
How climate change deniers got it right — but very wrong
By Tony Dokoupil | 06/16/15

It turns out the climate change deniers were right: There isn’t 97% agreement among climate scientists. The real figure? It’s not lower, but actually higher.

The scientific “consensus” on climate change has gotten stronger, surging past the famous — and controversial — figure of 97% to more than 99.9%, according to a new study reviewed by msnbc.

James L. Powell, director of the National Physical Sciences Consortium, reviewed more than 24,000 peer-reviewed papers on global warming published in 2013 and 2014. Only five reject the reality of rising temperatures or the fact that human emissions are the cause, he found. …