By now, just about everyone knows the often-cited statistic: 97% of papers agree that anthropogenic climate change (ACC, referred to as AGW in the article) is real. The remainder consists of dissenting papers that reject ACC– a total of 38 papers. As it turns out, those papers had not undergone peer review prior to being published and cited. In November 2016, a research paper was published in Theoretical and Applied Climatology Journal that reviewed these 38 contrarian papers. All of these papers contained major flaws, such as starting with false assumptions, neglecting context, cherry-picking data, misrepresentation of statistics, and even erroneous analysis.
For example, some of these papers claimed that the sun’s effect on global climate was such that greenhouse gases would have no effect, even though common sense tells us that both solar energy and greenhouse gases are mutually dependent factors in climatology. All the greenhouse gases in the universe would do nothing without an energy source, and celestial bodies cannot maintain their surface temperature without an insulating medium above the planet’s surface.
Cherry-picking data is said to be one of the cardinal sins of research, yet this was exactly what a number of these 38 papers did, using only favorable results and simply throwing out the unfavorable ones. Just as egregious is simply ignoring the greater context of the results or other data involved in generating the models, yet some of these papers are guilty of that, too.
Some papers “presented implausible or incomplete physics,” according to this article. The entire basis of climatology is based in physics, yet there are papers being cited that contain implausible physics. None of the results in these 38 papers could be replicated, meaning that the models used were tuned to provide a particular result. Katharine Hayhoe, the article’s lead author, commented, “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.”
So what does this mean? Anthropogenic climate change is no longer a scientific consensus. It is a scientific unanimity. Now, science isn’t absolutely perfect or correct all the time. Indeed, science never stops evolving. However, climate change is one issue that humanity cannot simply leave for tomorrow. Even if all the scientists in the world are wrong about climate change, the potential consequences of ignoring their warnings so vastly outweigh the potential benefits that it is not worth the risk. We have nowhere else to go. We cannot simply pack our bags and go to the planet next door. Even if the scientific unanimity is wrong, we can only benefit from the large scale sustainability research and development.