The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%’

Joseph Bast and Roy Spencer recently addressed “the origin of the false belief—constantly repeated—that almost all scientists agree about global warming.” It’s an article I’ve been waiting for someone to write. My personal thanks to Mr. Bast and Mr. Spencer. Their article (with the above title) is posted at the Wall Street Journal, though it’s only available to subscribers. Fortunately, the National Center for Policy Analysis has prepared a nice summary of it. Here is an excerpt from the NCPA post:

Global warming advocates routinely toss out the statistic that 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is real and man-made. Where did that figure come from? Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, and Roy Spencer, principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, explain the history behind the misleading number.

In short, there is no basis for the claim that 97 percent of scientists believe that man-made climate change is a dangerous problem.

In 2004, Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard science historian, examined 928 abstracts of scientific journal articles, finding that three-quarters of them believed that humans were responsible for most of the observed warming of the last half-century.

  • However, Oreskes did not analyze articles by prominent scientists — such as Richard Lindzen and John Christy — who question the “consensus” view.
  • Additionally, a recent study in Nature magazine confirms that academic abstracts often contain claims that are not proven in the studies themselves.

Read more: NCPA