The sky actually is falling. The most clear human finger prints on the atmosphere is found by satellite measurements. The lower atmosphere where the vast majority of GHGs are present is called the troposphere. Above that is the Stratosphere. If GHGs work like a blanket and are trapping more and more heat in the troposphere, there should be less heat reaching the Stratosphere. Over the past 35 years that is exactly what we have observed. The troposphere is warming and the stratosphere is cooling. In addition the stratosphere is also shrinking. As it shrinks it is getting thinner. So the upper layer of the stratosphere (stratopause) is actually falling.
What do the scientists say about this? Economic geologists indicated a 47 percent agreement on human attribution to global warming. Meteorologists gave a 64 percent agreement. Actual climate scientists were 97.4 percent in agreement that humans were the major contributor to global warming. The conclusion here is that the real experts are in virtual agreement on human attribution to global warming. The more in depth scientists focus on climate change the clearer the evidence points to human causes.
What does the scientific literature say? The number of papers in favor of human attribution make up over 97 percent. Those attributing climate change to other causes are less than three percent. In addition those favoring human causes tended to publish more research and in a wider selection of professional journals. Another way of measuring scientific credibility is how often a researcher is cited by other researchers who use the data. Poor research tends not to be cited by others while sound research may be used for further investigation.
Virtually every scientific organization that has made a public statement about climate change has endorsed the consensus. This includes the fields of chemistry, geology, physics, astronomy, oceanography, meteorology, environmental protection, paleontology and the atmospheric sciences. The diversity of consensus also applied to 80 countries with National Academies of Science. Not a single academy of science in the world has rejected human caused global warming.
There is a myth that 31,000 scientists have rejected human caused climate change. On its face this sounds quite convincing that climate science is not settled and has considerable opposition within the scientific community. Closer scrutiny indicates this is a grossly misleading representation. The petition was distributed by a group located in Cave Junction Oregon. The only requirement was a degree in any field of science. There wasn’t even strict adherence to that requirement. Between 1971 and 2008 there were approximately 10,000,000 degrees given in some scientific field. So what percentage of that ten million is 31,000? That comes to 0.3 percent. More importantly, only 0.1 percent of that 31,000 were found to be actual climate scientists. Therefore 99.9 percent of the signatories of the petition were not climate scientists. While a dentist or chemist may be classified as having a science education, they may also believe we faked the moon landing, Obama is a Muslim, or the earth is flat. If you want to know if a bridge is safe you would consult a structural engineer. If you want to know specifics about climate change you should consult climate scientists.
The public should not be confused when non-experts are used to distort what is actually overwhelming consensus among real experts.
Science is not a democracy, subject to opinion. It is a dictatorship and the dictator is evidence and rigorous analysis. No authority exists that can trump sound data based upon universally agreed upon research methods, quality assurance and quality control with rigorous analysis. Sound research is repeatable giving the same result with the precise same methods.
What does peer review mean? Scientific peer review occurs when experts in the field review a paper. The research is scrutinized against common standards of method and evidence. This is called social calibration by peers. After publication, the research is then subjected to the test of time. As knowledge and methods improve the research is constantly reviewed and tested again and again. Replication is fundamental to the scientific process. Scientists should be able to repeat an experiment and find the same result. The quality of the research can be measured by how often the original research is cited and how well it stands up to the test of time.
How is scientific consensus distorted? When special interests and the media give equal coverage to the scientific consensus and a statistically insignificant minority; the public gets a misleading perception of the facts and state of the science. This would be similar to giving a person stating the Earth is flat equal time with a recognized astrophysicist citing scientific consensus that the Earth is spheroid. Recently, print media has improved in presenting scientific consensus, while Television coverage still misleads the public nearly 70 percent of the time by giving equal representation to a contrarian view. Mass media analysis of motives behind the contrarian view is nearly nonexistent.
The sky actually is falling.