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Wednesday, Dec 19, 2018
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About that ‘97 percent’: It ain’t necessarily so

Even as Golden State Gov. Jerry Brown attempts to spin the raging wildfires of Southern California for political gain, the notion on which he stakes his bravado has never looked shakier.

First, Brown’s argument, from Politico:

The Republican Party is “in denial” about climate change, California Gov. Jerry Brown said on Sunday, suggesting the wildfires in his state were related to global warming.

“As we send billions and billions of tons of heat-trapping gases, we get heat and we get fires and we get what we’re seeing,” the Democratic governor said on ABC’s “This Week.” Major wildfires in the San Diego area, due in part to extreme drought, forced thousands of residents in the area to evacuate.

“Humanity is on a collision course with nature, and we’re just going to have to adapt to it the best we can,” he added.

The governor also took a swipe at Republicans for denying climate change, which he said was likely to blame for the increase in wildfires. “It is true that there’s virtually no Republican who accepts the science that virtually is unanimous,” Brown said. “There is no scientific question. There’s just political denial for various reasons best known to those people in denial. But whatever the thoughts of the Republicans, we in California are on the front lines.”

Now, about that “virtually ... unanimous” science. We’ve heard for years about that “97 percent” agreement among climatologists regarding man’s role in global warming, or climate change, or, the latest term of art, climate disruption. Data recently leaked from the University of Queensland reveal Prof. John Cook, the foremost promulgator of the 97 percent claim, has, well, cooked the books.

Having reviewed some 11,000 climate science articles, Cook and his team of eight coauthors concluded:

We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW [Anthropogenic Global Warming], 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. [Emphasis added.]

Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus.

Is that plain enough? Fully two-thirds of the 11,000 scientific articles Cook and Co. reviewed took no position on AGW. Then, when authors graded themselves, some flipped, but more than a third still declined to say yay or nay on AGW. Perhaps the discrepancy can be attributed to peer pressure. Even so, 64.5 percent — the number who did take a position — is a long way from 97 percent.

At the risk of offering too much explanation, Steven Hayward, who studies this stuff relentlessly, posts this at Power Line:

Let’s translate: Among the one-third of papers that “endorse” the “consensus,” there is near unanimity. In other words, among people who agree with the consensus, nearly all of them agree with the consensus. ... [T]he only mystery here is that the number isn’t 100 percent. Perhaps this would have been too embarrassing to report, like a North Korean election. For this exercise all climate scientists may as well be called named Kim Jong Il.

However, Hayward reports, Cook will not share his data. “Shades of the East Anglia mob and their tree ring data.” But somebody got sloppy with the findings on the Internet, allowing blogger Brandon Shollenberger to discover it “and starting noting its weaknesses.”

Writes Hayward, “Then the predictable thing happened: the University of Queensland claims that the data was hacked, and sent Shollenbeger a cease-and-desist letter. That just speaks lots of confidence and transparency, doesn’t it?”

The Daily Caller lays out the saga in educational, dismaying detail. This is one cat the University of Queensland wants very much back in the bag.

This is not to say Gov. Brown is altogether incorrect — the climate, indeed, is changing, as is its perpetual nature — or that he is wrong to insist that Americans must be prepared to cope with what comes.

Where conservatives and Washington Republicans who are also climate-change skeptics differ is meant by taking the proper preparations, and at what cost coping should come. Brown, like — to pick a number — 97 percent of those who buy into AGW, want Americans to surrender the quality of life, economic security and liberty that come from our country’s cheap and abundant sources of fossil fuels in pursuit of an expensive, freedom-crushing Big Government green energy gambit that has next to no chance of shaving more than fraction of a degree from the temperature “surge” projected by computer models that have demonstrated an inability even to predict the past.

Climate-change alarmists would have us crush our economic structure, dishing out nothing but heaping gobs of pain for negligible gain (unless you happen to be a Democratic donor with a rent-seeking “renewable” energy company such as Solyndra). Better to keep that kind of capital out of bureaucrats’ hands, and let it find its way into free-market coping mechanisms, such as construction design, farming techniques, desalination technology, irrigation, ever-better smokestack scrubbers, new transportation propulsion systems and other innovations.

Because what the revelations involving Michael Mann’s broken hockey stick, from East Anglia and, now, from the University of Queensland, indicate is that they’re simply making most of it — especially the worst of it — up.