Climate Change: a Liberal Examines the So-Called Consensus

I am a liberal.  A liberal too liberal to have voted for Hillary Clinton.  I’m too liberal to be a Democrat but probably too independent anyway to be partisan.

As liberal as I am, I find myself rather comfortable in discussions with conservatives.  Most of my family and many of my friends are Republicans.  They consider me confused.  I consider them to be entitled to their views.

Climate-change denial seems to rank among my liberal friends at about the same level as drowning puppies and serving red wine with fish.  American culture would proffer few greater outrages.

A discourse on the supercilious tone of my fellow lefties will have to wait for another day.  Today I will instead criticize my fellow liberals for an egregious inaccuracy in their own blind acceptance of a figure they so love to quote when waxing self-righteous on the topic of climate change.

We all know the figure.  Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama have included it as they inveigh against impending environmental catastrophe.  Brooklyn hipsters have it tattooed on their forearms.  It’s a rather magic and mystical number: 97.

Ninety seven percent of the scientific community, say our leading liberals, agree that human activity drives climate change.  Whose word we should take for it would seem to be anyone’s guess.  If Senator Sanders says it and Barack Obama says it, it must be so.  No?

Well, I have some news, and I don’t know how well people will receive it.  I urge more sensitive readers to sit down before reading on.

The revelation is essentially this: facts and figures come across as being much more authoritative when they are attributed to credible and meaningful sources.  When no such attribution follows the figure–or when the utterer utters the figure without uttering the original utterer–a critical element in debate becomes nothing more than a platitude.

So here is the explanation that is so often left out.

And we need to start by being more precise.  The figure is 97.2 percent, so most talking-point liberals have clearly been perpetuating an inaccuracy.  Shame on them.

This percentage, by the way, comes from a comprehensive and detailed study published in 2013.  A dozen scientists, led by Sarah Green of the University of Michigan and John Cook of the University of Queensland in Australia , reviewed the abstracts of over 4,000 scholarly articles on climate change.  Their findings–reviewed by their peers–indicate that 97.2 percent of the articles attribute climate change to human activity.

So, in addition to an omission of point-two percent, we have to notice another glaring inaccuracy: it isn’t 97 percent of the scientific community; it’s 97.2 percent of the scientific community that specializes in scientific inquiry related to climate change.  This would mean 97.2 percent of the people who (presumably) understand this salient matter more than anyone else on the planet.

And the other 2.8 percent?  Don’t their views count?  At one point in human history, perhaps there were fewer than three percent of educated people who maintained that the Earth was round–or that base metals could not chemically be converted to gold–or that our universe was not geocentric–or that men were capable of replacing a roll of toilet paper in the dispenser.

We must–no matter what mindless liberals would assert–look and listen closely when it comes to the 2.8 percent.

It just happens that Robert Brulle of Drexel University did during the very same year–2013.

He traced funding for climate-change denial research back to conservative foundations.  Roughly 25 percent of denial research was funded by Donors Trust, a foundation whose donors cannot be found out.

And two-years later, Justin Farrell of Yale University determined a significant correlation between corporate funding and publication of research casting doubt on human involvement in climate change.

So of the 2.8 percent of experts dissenting, many receive their funding from either entities hiding their influence or from organizations who stand to benefit from published results.

Liberals, therefore–and especially the liberal media–must apologize for leaving out so much of the story.

And conservatives who thrive on casting doubt should appreciate the doubt that that all of this casts on the doubt that had previously been cast.  Doubters could doubtless love anything more than doubting doubt.

And the certainty that remains should make our path forward clear.

3 thoughts on “Climate Change: a Liberal Examines the So-Called Consensus

  1. Nicely written, Paul. However there is not only a “traceable” “conservative” bias, it seems to go both ways, as is with the recent revelation of the former NOAA climate Scientologist who manipulated climate change data to support the our last (democratic) administrations agenda…http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/5/climate-change-whistleblower-alleges-noaa-manipula/
    …either way, I think climate change is something that should be a bi-partisan concern and addressed as such…It is absolutely a crying shame when SCIENCE and the SAFETY of mankind is overshadowed by politics…

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