Climate change consensus study examined

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 02:08 PM GMT on Ιούνιος 21, 2006

I've had several people ask about the study Al Gore talked about in his movie, which found no scientific papers disputing the reality of human-caused climate change over the past ten years. Well, to be sure, there have been a few papers disputing the reality of human-caused climate change published in the past ten years, but they didn't happen to have the key words "global climate change" included in their citations. The study Gore cites was published in December 2004 in Science magazine by Naomi Oreskes, a professor at UC San Diego. The article examined peer-reviewed studies in the world's major scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 containing the phrase "global climate change" as keywords. Oreskes found that 75% of the 928 articles with those key words in their citations agreed with the consensus position stated by the UN's panel on climate change, that the observed global warming over the past 50 years has been caused in part by human activity. The other 25% of the papers took no position, and none of the papers disagreed with the consensus view. While the study is not a perfect measure of the scientific uncertainty in the published literature, the study does show that an overwhelming majority of published scientific research supports the idea that human activity is significantly modifying Earth's climate.

As Gore noted in his movie, the situation is quite different in the media, where about half of the stories in the study he cited cast doubt on the reality of human-caused climate change. The media are fond of trying to report both sides of an issue, so in the name of journalistic fairness, the public is receiving a highly skewed view of the scientific debate on climate change. In many cases, the opposing views presented by the media are from fossil fuel industry-funded "think tanks" that routinely put out distorted and misleading science intended to confuse the public.

I've collected a list of climate change position papers put out by the major governmental scientific institutes of the world that deal with the atmosphere, ocean, and climate. All of these organizations agree that significant human-caused climate change is occurring:

United Nations IPCC
American Meteorological Society
U.S. National Academy of Sciences
American Geophysical Union
National Center for Atmospheric Research
Royal Society of the United Kingdom
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

Science Council of Japan, Russian Academy of Science, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Chinese Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Royal Society (UK)

Australian Academy of Sciences, Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Royal Irish Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Royal Society (UK)

If anyone can find examples of governmental scientific organizations that deny the consensus position, I'd be happy to make a second list of links. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have long been hostile to international climate change negotiations, so their scientific organizations may well have official positions opposing the consensus. However, the Saudis are apparently changing their stance, as announced in May 2006 at a U.N. sponsored meeting in Germany. "I believe the petroleum industry should actively engage in policy debate on climate change as well as play an active role in developing and implementing carbon management technologies to meet future challenges," said the president of the Saudi state-run oil industry giant, Aramco. In 2005, both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol to limit greenhouse gases. The Protocol does not call on them to reduce their emissions.

In summary, there is an overwhelming level of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. Those who defend the contrary view are fond of pointing out that we shouldn't stifle their opposing point of view, since heroes like Galileo with his sun-centered solar system view and Wegener with his continental drift theory both challenged the overwhelming scientific consensus of their day and were proved to be correct. That is true. However, Galileo and Wegener did not have the public relations staff of multi-billion dollar companies helping them promote their contrary views. I'm not too worried about the contrarian view of human-caused climate change being stifled, and contrarians are encouraged to publish in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. I would like to see the media sharply reduce their coverage of the contrary views of such think tanks as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, George C. Marshall Foundation, and scientists such as S. Fred Singer of SEPP. Getting one's climate science information from these sources it similar to getting one's news from a tabloid newspaper. Sure, some of the stories are true, but a lot of the material is of questionable quality, to say the least. The media should focus on getting their scientific information from leading scientists who regularly publish in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Jeff Masters

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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147. atmosweather
4:30 PM EDT on June 21, 2006
Its amazing what Andrew did though. It rivaled any other storm for rapid deepening and took everyone by surprised. As you say, Katrina and Wilma were the same way, so I don't think anyone can fault the NHC for their underestimations. Additionally, flight level conversions were a lot lower back in 1992, so surface winds were automatically adjusted lower than the storms actually produced (the reason why Andrew was upgraded to a Category 5 landfall in Florida in 2002).
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145. TampaCat5
8:32 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
BTW, the difference between advisory landfall intensity and (well, many years later) agreed upon landfall intensity is dramatic. 115 knots vs. 155 knots.
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144. TampaCat5
8:28 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
Charley was forecast to be a Cat 3 at landfall. I remember this distinctly.
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143. Weather456
8:30 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
thats 50mph
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142. rwdobson
8:28 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
"If we had a storm like Andrew headed for Florida this year with ~36-48 hours from landfall with winds at 85 knots I bet you that the NHC wouldn't predict a category 5 landfall either."

but brave bloggers would fact, they would have predicted CAT 5 for every storm that season but only been right on this
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141. Weather456
8:27 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
agree with redefined....even with alberto this wasnt supose to go above 50knots.

they are excellent with track forecast but very poor in intensity....
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140. redefined
8:20 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
How has NHC progressed? Look at hurricane Charley in 2004 - it went from a cat 2 to a cat 4 in one day and made landfall as a cat 4 hurricane. I don't think anyone expected it to be more than a category 2 at landfall. Same with Katrina - we only began forecasting a possible category 4 landfall after it intensified to a category 5 hurricane. What about Wilma? Went from a tropical storm one day to a category 5 hurricane the next. Nobody expected it.

Hurricane intensity is still very hard to predict. If we had a storm like Andrew headed for Florida this year with ~36-48 hours from landfall with winds at 85 knots I bet you that the NHC wouldn't predict a category 5 landfall either.
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139. KShurricane
3:13 PM CDT on June 21, 2006
Wow, 48 hours before landfall and they said Andrew would only be a Cat 2? Try telling that to the old NHC radar unit. Just shows you much we didn't (and still don't) know about the factors controlling hurricane intensity.
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138. TampaCat5
8:13 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
Correction ~36 hours!
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137. TampaCat5
8:01 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
Have been reading through the Andrew Forecast discussions. It's amazing how the NHC has progressed. Read this. ~48 hours before a Cat 5 landfall and that is all anyone had to go by.
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136. ProgressivePulse
7:56 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
Actually looks like that convection that broke off is shielding the disturbance from the shear a little bit.
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135. Ldog74
8:01 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
Andrew did'nt just turn into a Cat 5 a day after it was born scotsman, it almost diminished.
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134. Ldog74
7:56 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
Gulfman, read prelim 01 and through the second full paragraph of prelim 02, Andrew encountered strong vertical shear and the pressure rose considerably,(up to 1015 mb) but flight level winds were still reported at 70kts.
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133. TampaCat5
7:59 PM GMT on June 21, 2006

11 AM EDT THU AUG 20 1992

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132. ProgressivePulse
7:50 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
It is starting to back into the High behind it, not travel to much further east.
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130. Tazmanian
7:47 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
time 205 update

An active tropical wave is along 76w S of 20n moving W 15-20 kt.
Strong well-defined low/mid level curvature signature is
observed on satellite imagery

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129. NAtlanticCyclone
7:45 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
The western side of the system seems to be developing convection and we could see a big blow up tonight and maybe depression status before tomorrow's 5pm update timeframe.
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128. ProgressivePulse
6:53 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
Looks like "Clash of the Titans" on the NW ATL WV Loop. Ought to see some action tonight, if there is to be any that is.
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127. NAtlanticCyclone
7:32 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
If you look at the shear maps on the tropical weather page of wunderground you can see that a corridor of less shear develops around the disturbance and all the way up the East Coast after the trough moves by. This will be interesting to watch as the yellow indicates some shear but I believe its caused by the Bahamaian disturbance something to look at though none the least.
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126. NAtlanticCyclone
7:21 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
The northern convection(old convection) looks to be currently taken northeasterly with the trough that has just passed south of New England this morning. This will now definitely allow the low to spin up deeper and deeper convection closer to the center and then the pressure will begin to fall as we get closer to the dinurnal maximum when the heat energy is the greatest stored over the open waters. This will begin to dwindle a little bit tomorrow as the dinurnal minimum aprroaches, but then will take off and that's when our depression forms and maybe tropical storm Beryl is here for the weekend.
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125. rwdobson
7:24 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
53rd with another enthusiastic prediction. But a "wide open" circulation is not a TD. it has to have a closed circulation. May still become a TD but is not yet one.
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124. Weather456
3:15 PM AST on June 21, 2006
Didn't stormtop say nothing until July 4th. Well the US got an early independence.
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123. 53rdWeatherRECON
6:59 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
The area of convection has grown considerably in the past 12hrs and been very persistant(also throwing up some new really tall, cold, cloud tops. So what I am going on abscent 1008 and all the other criteria is that this convection will cause the pressure to start falling. The aforementioned "swirl and outflow" will form some what of a disorganized (wide open) but present Low level circulation and at that time(5pm est Thurs) This should be TD2! I will definitly give the credit where credit is due. This time NAtlanticCyclone and I think weatherboyfsu were pointing torwards development of this system before the CMC. This will definitly form TD2 there is just no stopping these convection bursts from all quadrants therefore Tropical Depression status will be attained.
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122. Weather456
3:05 PM AST on June 21, 2006
tampacat 5 go to my blog....look at the my links and click "FLhurricane"

then you'll see tropical weather outlook above history and you'll be taken to it......

I cant add a link to the page somethiing kinda wrong.
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121. thelmores
7:04 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
knew i shoulda learned html....LOL
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120. NAtlanticCyclone
7:00 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
The disturbance near Panama is really showing signs of organization. I believe its a low pressure system that is trying to form there. The Bahamas disturbance is also trying to develop outflow to the north and east, but on the WV it shows its trying to get moisture on the west side too. If this keeps up we could have a depression by 5pm tomorrow or maybe a little earlier. The models are not accurate in trying to see where as it will make landfall yet or it's intensity would finally be, but keep an eye on this we could be seeing a tropical storm beryl from this along with the disturbance to the north of Panama. These are the only areas to pay attention to right now, and maybe Africa to with that strong wave that has just moved off the coast.
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119. thelmores
6:54 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
img src=""

looks like we are getting an increase in the cold cloud tops......
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118. Ldog74
6:58 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
Yea SJ you right, Andrew in '92 was a 40kt tropical storm with a reported central presure of 1015 mb (it was noted as astonishgly high by the NHC).

There are weak highs with that pressure all the time.
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115. Weather456
2:55 PM AST on June 21, 2006
some people dont seem to understand and learn from last year storms and recently alberto.

Wind sheer and sea surface temps donot always matter for a storm to develop.

The systems nowadays donot care about climatology. Once you have a disturbance its need to be watch....

Cant judge a storm by its appearance.
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112. TampaCat5
6:54 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
I was just looking through the NHC tropical weather outlook between June 1 and July 15. boy were they off....they only was sure on tropical storm Arlene and Hurricane Dennis...but poorly off on Bret (because of its proxmity to land) cindy the same and Emily they said upper level winds

Where are these archives found?
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111. HAARP
6:51 PM GMT on June 21, 2006

lol controlling the weather

it is possible to do this the proof is irrefutable...

the chinese just made it rain to stop a dust storm...

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109. StormJunkie
6:50 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
Hey Gulf, Afternoon.

Don't take this the wrong way, just good debate for all to learn by.

2 and 3 are not facts and I am not sure that 1 is either.

Last year storms formed in shear over 15kts (TD10/TD12/Katrina) and ssts below 80. I know this is not the norm, but it has happened.

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107. HAARP
6:46 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
OK Dr Masters...

Tell me why any organization would produce a paper that would basically cut off the money flowing into there pockets???

I see my days of supporting your great website are becoming numbered...your political views are creeping into the forefront of this blog and that is sad...

stick to the weather and try to be unbiased ...saying all the papers that oppose your theory are put out by special intrests without proof is so irresponsible it is sickening
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2:41 PM EDT on June 21, 2006
It looks like I'm seeing anti-cyclonic outflow from the N, W to the SW side of the blob. I also see outflow on the E side, but it does not have the anti-cyclonic signature. It seems to be trying to get it's act togeather.
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104. IKE
1:38 PM CDT on June 21, 2006
That buoy 120 NM east of Cape Canavarel has a pressure of 30.13. That's awfully high.
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103. IKE
1:36 PM CDT on June 21, 2006
Freeport in the Bahamas has a WNW wind. Must be a low around....

But they show wind speeds at 105 mph. Uh...that's probably a little off.
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102. jeffB
6:22 PM GMT on June 21, 2006
Slowchaos wrote:

With that statement you seemed to be promoting the idea of either overtly or covertly suppressing free speech by having the news media ignore the contrary view. You attempt to give weight to your argument with the sheer number of those on your side, as if you should be heard more loudly because of numbers on your side.
The sheer number of believers equates to nothing in my book. NOTHING.

It's certainly possible for the vast majority of believers to be wrong!


There are lots of people who believe that governments are secretly controlling the weather. Some of them even post here. Do you think "the media" owe them coverage equal to that given conventional forecasts?

There are people who believe that they see faces, buildings, cities, amusement parks in photos returned from Mars. Do you think the media owe them coverage equal to that given NASA researchers?

There are people who believe that conventional medical care goes against God's will, and no illness should be treated with anything other than prayer. The next time there's an outbreak of a communicable disease in your area, do you think the media should divide their time equally between treatment and prevention tips and exhortations to prayer?

Holding a minority belief doesn't make you wrong, but neither does it somehow entitle you to an equal share of the public's attention.
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99. Levi32
10:02 AM AKDT on June 21, 2006
53rd, colorado state site has floater one on the Bahamas system, and has since Monday. Link

I'll be back on later this afternoon. See you all later!
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98. FLCrackerGirl
1:54 PM EDT on June 21, 2006
Jedkins, Gulfstream Boost?
PBG00, Vero?
You'All Maybe Right.

(sigh) Not Again...
(I Really Hate Being in "Break Point" City)
Fran From Vero Beach

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