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Posted by wmmbb in Global Warming (climate change).

I did not get the point of the scientific consensus on Climate Change. There is more to say but three issues stand out:

  • Science, and in particular Climate Science proceeds by elimination of alternative explanations for hypotheses and observed phenomena. Up to the point when consensus or established theory is developed, the science is in a state of flux with competing explanations.
  • The notion that consensus that increasing Carbon Dioxide and other Green House Gases, including Methane and Water Vapour was finally settled in the 1980’s with the view that this condition is causing climate change and global warming.
  • There is a deliberate intention of the paid of the Climate Change lobby is to create doubt about the Consensus, including the idea it is “argument from authority”.

Scientific enquiry is evidence-based as it is related to prior research. The inquiry is developed around a specific proposition, a hypothesis, consistent in the case of a consensus with an established theory eg Climate Change. Research is a test of both the hypothesis and the theory. Constant testing and self correction are characteristic of science. Once completed the research is then subject to peer review and open enquiry by publication. “Each successful prediction adds to the weight of evidence supporting the theory, and any unsuccessful prediction demonstrates that the underlying theory is imperfect and requires improvement or abandonment.” (IPCC 2007) From the same source, “A characteristic of Earth sciences is that Earth scientists are unable to perform controlled experiments on the planet as a whole and then observe the results.” Dynamic system science has challenges, and inherently greater uncertainty. The most recent IPCC report stated that 95% confidence to the theory. Thus it would be surprising if either climate scientists or their research did not overwhelmingly support the consensus.

Whether of not a scientific consensus exists we can look at three criteria. Therefore the point at which Climate Change became the scientific consensus, the theory was assumed in research undertakings should be able to identified. Consilience of evidence is an impressive feature of Climate Change Theory. The diverse lines of enquiry fit together. Even when satellite temperature data appeared to contradict other temperature readings, this was resolved in the favour of the theory. Social calibration is implicit but critical requiring all climate scientists to use the same standards of evidence and agree on the meaning of common concepts. Thirdly, the idea of social diversity, suggests that people from different backgrounds and values are involved. In a global and multidisciplinary science this might a given. (I am not very good at applying these.) The scientific consensus on climate change had not been established in the 1970’s but was during the 1980’s.

Here is what I should have said.

“Hopefully your answer looked something like this: Basic consensus is overwhelming agreement on a topic, but scientific consensus would be overwhelming agreement on a scientific topic based on a consilience of evidence.”

Too verbose.

Andrew Montford in The Financial Post is not impressed by scientific consensus.

ABC Catalyst addresses the question: What happened to Global Warming:



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