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Survey SAYS? Global Warming is Real!

A recent survey asked the opinion of 3146 scientists regarding human-induced global warming.  And the surveyed scientists think it’s a fact.

The survey was conducted online by academics at the University of Illinois and was a total of 9 questions.  The scientists who participated in the survey were listed in the 2007 edition of the American Geological Institute’s Directory of Geoscience Departments.

Among the nine questions, the two important questions were:

1. Have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels?
2. Has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures?

90% agreed with the first and 82% agreed with the second.  According to the data, the strongest consensus came from climatologists who are active in climate research (or who were at the time the survery was answered).  97% of them agreed that humans play a role in global climate change. The groups who were least in agreeance (heh) with this opinion were the petroleum geologists (47%) and the meteorologists (64%).

Peter Doran, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and one of the survey’s authors commented on this:

“Most members of the public think meteorologists know climate, but most of them actually study very short-term phenomenon.”

Doran also commented on the climatologists’ consensus:

“They’re the ones who study and publish on climate science. So I guess the take-home message is, the more you know about the field of climate science, the more you’re likely to believe in global warming and humankind’s contribution to it.

“The debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes,” said Doran.

So what does this survey tell us?  Absolutely nothing.  Well, it tells us what about 3100 well-educated people think is going on with global warming.  Is this survey proof or evidence?  Nope.  It’s opinion, well-informed and educated opinion, but opinion.  Quoting this survey as evidence for human-caused global warming is a textbook argument from authority.

Don’t get me wrong, I share the majority opinion.  But I don’t think surveys like this should be paraded across the media as evidence for human-caused global warming.  I’ll take facts, data and statistics anyday over this.

13 comments to Survey SAYS? Global Warming is Real!

  • Steve Page

    On another board, I’m actually discussing climate change at the moment with someone who is “unconvinced, due to all of the scientists who don’t believe that it’s happening”, and it’s like trying to convert Dawkins to paganism, or deskankify Ann Coulter. I won’t even mention this survey to him, as he would cherry-pick the data and state that 18% of scientists – nearly one in five! – don’t agree that man-made climate change exists.

    Oh, and at the risk of being a pedant, there’s a typo in consensus (from the sentence “Doran also commented on the climatologists’ concensus:”, and “the strongest concensus came from climatologists”) and you’ve put ‘survery’ twice in the penultimate paragraph, as well as in the opening paragraph and elsewhere. Sorry.

    /nitpicking

  • KeithJM

    I think the world is warming and humans probably at least play a part in that warming. That having been said, surveys aren’t science. Even surveys of scientists. This is the sort of thing Creationists do to justify “controversies” because they don’t have actual evidence to back up their point of view.

    Questions like this are questions of fact:
    Have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels?

    Why not show the studies? If the problem is that the science is complex (some places have seen lower temperatures, although the global mean temperature has risen) don’t shy away from the complexities. Acknowledging complexity in complex systems is intellectually honest.

    Details and facts are what makes science different than religion. Polling people to decide what most people believe to be true is not science, and the argument that a survey should sway our beliefs is just argumentum ad populum.

  • KeithJM

    By the way, I just read the rest of the article. I guess we’re in agreement :)

  • Jim Shaver

    Steve Page:

    “…it’s like trying to … deskankify Ann Coulter.”

    Classic! :D

  • boowhip

    “…it’s like trying to…deskankify Ann Coulter.”

    argumentum ad hominem

  • unigolyn

    “argumentum ad hominem”

    Actually, it’s not an argument at all. In this context it’s a literal simile used to convey the futility of an endeavor.

    Out of context, it might be construed as an ad hominem attack, which is not a logical fallacy, but a rhetorical tactic.

    But that would require that Ann Coulter was actually a human being.

  • Aragon

    I find it sad that one of the few times this forum choses to post on the “theory” of Man Made Global Warming it does so by referencing a survey. But, having said that, I again read the posting here and my heart warms,

    “Don’t get me wrong, I share the majority opinion. But I don’t think surveys like this should be paraded across the media as evidence for human-caused global warming. I’ll take facts, data and statistics anyday over this.”

    Yes! I don’t care what your opinion either way is on Global Warming so long as you take a look at the “facts, data and statistics….”.

    Probably the best site to be found which consistently references “facts, data and statistics …” is http://www.climateaudit.org/

    The survey is just that, a survey, and no more. Additionally, it is obvious from the way the survey results are written up that an agenda is being advanced.

    As yet, I have been unable to review the actual data produced by the survey. I can’t find it anywhere and it is not posted.

    “According to the data, the strongest consensus came from climatologists who are active in climate research (or who were at the time the survery was answered).” It would be nice to see the data.

    “climatologists who are active in climate research (or who were at the time the survery was answered).” How was active defined. It would be nice to see the survey’s working definition.

    “2007 edition of the American Geological Institute’s Directory of Geoscience Departments” It would be nice to have some information on this directory and the departments to which it refers. If it is academically oriented then alarm bells should go off, especially, where funding is involved.

    “2. Has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures?”
    It would be nice to have the surveys working definition of “significant”. Do they mean significant as in statistical variation or as in effect upon humans or as in temperature itself?

    ““The debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes,” said Doran.”
    Nothing to see or debate here, just move along. What a rhetorical peice of crock. The debate is raging. The only understanding of nuances is the (after the fact nuances of tweaking your computer modeling to match your desired theory). Yes, I couldn’t resist the temptation to argue here.

    “They’re the ones who study and publish on climate science. So I guess the take-home message is, the more you know about the field of climate science, the more you’re likely to believe in global warming and humankind’s contribution to it.” Is Doran a scientist or a proponent? How about, “They’re the ones who [get paid to] study and publish on climate science [and if there is no MMGW they are out of jobs!]. Really, how does Doran’s rhetoric even pass the smell test when it comes to objectivity. The point here is not that Doran is right or wrong, but that he presents his study using rhetoric which belies an obvious agenda. This is not scientific.

    Aragon

  • Aragon

    Why did my last comment questioning global warming get censored?

  • SFW

    All I can say is that the SGU crew do a wonderful job, but you will all have egg on your faces for not seeing anthropogenic warming for the scam it is. It has all the marks of a scam – no evidence, dodgy computer models, celebrity endorsements, ad hominem attacks on those who disagree, relys on consensus not evidence and as usual=follow the money. Have you ever noticed tha Al Gore buys his carbon credits from himself? Please SGU look at the claim: Rising CO2 directly causes increases in global temprature, there is not a shred of evidence to support this, there is just no evidence. If it is true why has the world cooled over the past 10 years when CO2 levels are still rising? Why were the 1930′s very hot when CO2 levels were stable? There are many more questions like this and the CO2 theory does not account for any of them. Please SGU study the evidence and get off the ‘Consensus’ train, I am sure you are all bright enough to do this.

    Yours Sincerely

    Stephen Williams
    Melbourne
    Australia

  • Aragon

    I Second the Thoughts and Comments of Stephen Williams of Melbourne.

    Ignore the hype and attend to the data. Do this and your conclusion regarding MMGW will be – poppycock!

  • durnett

    SFW: I’m not sure where you are getting the data that shows that global temperature has dropped in the past 10 years. I’m looking at the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis from NASA (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/)and it appears to show that the period from 1997 to 2007 was warmer than the period from 1987 to 1997. Please provide your source.

    As for your information about Al Gore. he is a speaker on the subject of global climate change, but he is not the source for the conclusion that the activities of man are the cause of ongoing warming. The International Panel on Climate Change provided an exhaustive report that showed a correlation between the level of several greenhouse gases – not simply CO2 – and the rise in temperature. The report also reviewed a proposed mechanism that would link these two phenomenon. Further, the report detailed human activities that were adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and to the oceans.

    I agree with the sentiment that this is emerging science and should not be accepted without some rigorous review. However, all of the rigorous review that I have seen so far supports the hypothesis that man is causing global climate change – specifically an increase in overall global temperature. If you have peer-reviewed, published information that contradicts this, please post a link. I would be very interested in learning about it.

  • SFW

    Hi durnett and everyone else

    I only look at these things every now and then so I am sorry for the delay in responding. durnett you take issue with my claim that the earth is cooling and ask for peer reviewed confirmation. This peer reviewed thing is a little hard to come by all I can give you is the raw data and let you draw your own conclusions. Have a look at these two sources and let me know what you think – http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/20/dr-syun-akasofu-on-ipccs-forecast-accuracy/ and http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/20/dr-syun-akasofu-on-ipccs-forecast-accuracy/ . You will note that 1998 was indeed a warm year and that there has been a cooling trend ever since if you dispute this let me know. Back to my original post I said that there is not a shred of evidence to support the anthropogenic warming theory, I ask you durnett to show me anything that can prove a definite link between human activity and ‘Global Warming’ I am not including the heat island effect in urban areas but an actual raising of average global tempratures by human activity. If you can show me one confirmed link between the two I will reconsider my opinion.

    Steve Williams
    (Note that I am pleased and proud to say who I ma and not hide behind a nom de plume’.

  • SFW

    Of course that should have read “who I am” not “who I ma”. I guess I should post without the benefit of alcohol.

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