Climate change: no consensus on consensus
Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman, IPCC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The manufactured consensus of the IPCC has had the unintended consequences of distorting the science, elevating the voices of scientists that dispute the consensus, and motivating actions by the consensus scientists and their supporters that have diminished the public’s trust in the IPCC.
Our paper has just been accepted for publication. A link to the final manuscript is provided here [consensus paper revised final]. Below is a ‘reader’s digest’ version of the main arguments made in this paper
The United Nations initiated a scientific consensus building process with the objective of providing a robust scientific basis for climate policy, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). The key IPCC consensus finding from its latest assessment report is this statement:
“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”
The IPCC consensus findings on attribution have been echoed in position statements made by many scientific organizations. The IPCC consensus is portrayed as nearly total among scientists with expertise and prominence in the field of climate science. The idea of a scientific consensus surrounding climate change attribution has been questioned by a number of people, including scientists and politicians. Much effort has been undertaken by those that support the IPCC consensus to discredit skeptical voices, essentially dismissing them as cranks or at best rebels, or even politically motivated ‘deniers’.
Students of science are taught to reject ad populam or ‘bandwagon’ appeals, a sentiment is articulated by the motto of the UK Royal Society: ‘nullius in verba’, which is roughly translated as ‘take nobody’s word for it’. How then, and why, have climate scientists come to a scientific consensus about a very complex scientific problem that the consensus-supporting scientists themselves acknowledge has substantial and fundamental uncertainties?