In his letter to the editor (The Record, May 10), Steve Faraher-Amidon quotes “97 per cent of all climate scientists say climate change is real and a man made (sic) problem.”
This “97 per cent” number appears so often that people accept it as fact when it is not. Space only permits me to address his first point.
He refers to the 2004 article by geologist and historian of science Naomi Oreskes. The key paragraph in her article states “The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75 per cent fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25 per cent dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position [that global warming is anthropogenic].”
Also remarkably, the papers chosen excluded several written by prominent scientists skeptical of that consensus. Furthermore, the claims made in abstracts — short summaries of academic papers — often differ from those made in the papers themselves.
Prof. Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University analyzed all abstracts listed on the ISI databank for 1993 to 2003 using the same keywords (“global climate change”) as the Oreskes study. He found 1,117 abstracts (not 928). Of the 1,117 abstracts, only 13 (or 0.1 per cent) explicitly endorse the ‘consensus view’. In addition, 34 abstracts reject or doubt the view that human activities are the main drivers of “the observed warming over the last 50 years” and 44 abstracts focused on natural factors of global climate change. Fully 470 (or 42 per cent) abstracts include the keywords “global climate change” but do not include any direct or indirect link or reference to human activities, CO2 or greenhouse gas emissions, let alone anthropogenic forcing of recent climate change.