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In this Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 photo, a flock of Geese fly past the smokestacks at the Jeffrey Energy Center coal power plant as the suns sets near Emmett, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Report: There is no 97 percent global warming consensus

The vaunted scientific consensus around manmade global warming may be exaggerated, according to a study by the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

A May 2013 report by climate scientist John Cook and fellow researchers found that among “abstracts expressing a position on [manmade global warming], 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”

This is misleading, writes Andrew Montford of GWPF, since the methodology of Cook’s report reveals that the researchers cast such a wide net to create the 97 percent consensus that it encompasses people who don’t believe in catastrophic global warming.

To be part of the “consensus” one need only agree that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that human activities have warmed the planet “to some unspecified extent” — both of which are uncontroversial points.

“Almost everybody involved in the climate debate, including the majority of sceptics, accepts these propositions, so little can be learned from the Cook et al. paper,” writes Montford. “The extent to which the warming in the last two decades of the twentieth century was man-made and the likely extent of any future warming remain highly contentious scientific issues.”

Montford points out that there are two possible ways one can view of the “consensus” around manmade global warming. One is “shallow” view that human activity caused some unspecified extent. The other is the “deep” view that human activity is the main driver behind global warming.

According to Montford, the Cook paper takes the “shallow” view because his study counted a paper as endorsing the “consensus” if it accepted the concept of anthropogenic global warming, either implicitly or explicitly, regardless of whether it quantified the extent of human influence on the planet’s temperature.”

Most papers implicitly endorsed Cook’s consensus, Montford claimed.

“A paper was only said to reject the consensus if it minimised the human contribution, for example by proposing that natural mechanisms dominate or, more explicitly, suggested that the human contribution is minimal,” Montford wrote.

Activists and even the Obama administration has touted Cook’s study as proof that the science surrounding global warming is settled and that it’s primarily driven by human activity, such as burning fossil fuels.

“So the question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgment of science — of chemistry and physics and millions of measurements — has put all that to rest. Ninety-seven percent of scientists, including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data, have now put that to rest,” President Obama said while unveiling his new plan to combat global warming. “They’ve acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it.”

Climate scientists have been struggling to explain why the Earth has not warmed in at least the past 15 years despite rapidly rising carbon dioxide emissions from human activity.

“The consensus as described by Cook et al. is virtually meaningless and tells us nothing about the current state of scientific opinion beyond the trivial observation that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that human activities have warmed the planet to some unspecified extent,” Montford concluded.

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