Of all the published scientific research on climate change, 97% of the papers conclude that global warming is real, problematic for the planet, and has been exacerbated by human activity.
Yet, climate-change deniers like to quote from the 3% of papers which draw a different conclusion.
Now, a review published in the Journal of Theoretical and Applied Climatology (November 2016, vol.126, issue 3-4 p699-703) by Rasmus E. Benestad and colleagues describes how replication of the methodology of the 3% of studies has failed to draw the same conclusions and only found biased and faulty results.
Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, worked with the team of researchers to look at the 38 papers published in peer-reviewed journals in the last decade that denied anthropogenic global warming.
“Every single one of those analyses had an error—in their assumptions, methodology, or analysis—that, when corrected, brought their results into line with the scientific consensus,” Hayhoe wrote on her Facebook page.
Broadly, there were three main errors in the papers denying climate change. Many had cherry-picked the results that conveniently supported their conclusion, while ignoring other context or records. Then there were some that applied inappropriate “curve-fitting”—in which they would step farther and farther away from data until the points matched the curve of their choosing.
Those who assert that these papers are correct while the other 97% are wrong are holding up science where the researchers had already decided what results they sought, the authors of the review say. Good science is objective—it doesn’t care what anyone wants the answers to be.
In an article for the Guardian, one of the researchers, Dana Nuccitelli points out another red flag with the climate-change-denying papers: “There is no cohesive, consistent alternative theory to human-caused global warming,” he writes. “Some blame global warming on the sun, others on orbital cycles of other planets, others on ocean cycles, and so on. There is a 97% expert consensus on a cohesive theory that’s overwhelmingly supported by the scientific evidence, but the 2–3% of papers that reject that consensus are all over the map, even contradicting each other.”
Satellite images of Lake Chad from 1963 to 2007 give evidence of global warming