Watt did Anthony expect?

Anthony Watts reports on an Al-Jazeera interview with Michael Mann and Dana Nuccitelli in which Michael Mann compares the disinformation claims around global warming with those used – in the past – by the tobacco industry. I happen to agree with this. I think we will look back on this era and be amazed that “climate skeptics” had such influence despite the overwhelming scientific evidence in support of anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Dana Nuccitelli is also quoted as saying

There is a false balance of media coverage where two or three percent of skeptics get close to 50 percent of the media coverage because the media feels that they have to show a balance where they are showing both sides of the issue. But in the process they are giving that two or three percent 50 percent of the coverage and actually creating a false balance and false perception that there is a big divide among climate experts about the cause of global warming.

This gets Anthony up in arms because this is based on what Anthony claims is a study that “doesn’t hold up” to scrutiny. Please. This should at least be something that even Anthony can accept. There are regular post on his own blog (Watts Up With That (WUWT)) suggesting that such a strong consensus indicates a fundamental problem with climate science (I’m not suggesting that there is a problem, I’m simply suggesting that claims of a strong consensus are regularly made on WUWT).

Imagine you were to randomly select 100 scientists, each of whom had been an author on at least one peer-reviewed paper that addressed whether global warming was anthropogenic or not. If you were to ask these 100 scientists if they endorsed AGW or not, it seems clear that typically more than 90 would say that they did (maybe even more than 95). Therefore, to get the proper balance in the media when discussing climate science, the views of those who regard themselves as “skeptics” should rarely be considered.

Having said that, it’s clear that global warming “skeptics” have a very high level of political influence. When discussing the politics of climate science, it would seem reasonable for “skeptics” to have quite a prominent place. This, however, would at least start to make it clear that their views are influenced more by their ideology than by the current scientific evidence. I suspect it is fear of this becoming more apparent that is driving Anthony Watts to claim that the 97% consensus claim does not stand up to scrutiny. Showing that the scientific evidence rejecting AGW is vanishingly small rather undermines the primary motivation behind his WUWT site – that it is a science site that presents and scrutinises the scientific evidence for global warming.

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