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An interesting take on a climate poll

The Von Storch & Bray annual poll of opinion among climatologists is always interesting. Here's an new and interesting take on it by Joseph Bast:

Thirty-five percent [of climatologists] responded “very much” when asked the following question: “How convinced are you that most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic causes?” On a scale from 1 to 7, with 1 being “not at all” and 7 being “very much,” 83 percent answered 5, 6, or 7. Only 1 percent said “not at all” and only 11 percent answered 1, 2, or 3. Answers to the question “How convinced are you that climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to humanity?” were similar.

However, the Bray and von Storch survey also reveals that very few of these scientists trust climate models — which form the basis of claims that human activity could have a dangerous effect on the global climate. Fewer than 3 or 4 percent said they “strongly agree” that computer models produce reliable predictions of future temperatures, precipitation, or other weather events. More scientists rated climate models “very poor” than “very good” on a long list of important matters, including the ability to model temperatures, precipitation, sea level, and extreme weather events.

Given that the reliability of the predictions from climate models is the chief evidence for the global warming hypothesis, this is, as Bast notes, a very surprising set of opinions for climatologists to hold.


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Reader Comments (21)

More evidence that AGW is not about science.

Jan 7, 2010 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Also strikes me as a contradictory set of opinions.

Jan 7, 2010 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTilo Reber

It's contradictory, but hardly unprecedented.

There are plenty of intelligent people who are religious for emotional/cultural/philosophical reasons but their intellect is unconvinced by The Bible. Some of them are even clergymen who see the "literal truth" as something for the little people.

There are plenty in the AGW camp who either don't believe in, or don't care about, the "literal truth" but just want AGW to be true anyway because they desire the consequences of everyone believing in AGW.

Jan 7, 2010 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

It would have been interesting to have had them state what evidence they based their views on:

Computer climate models

Instrumental records

satellite data

Tree ring reconstructions

Reconstructions from other proxies


Other (state with specificity)

Jan 7, 2010 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

83% want their discipline to continue to provide them with a living: not too surprising, is it? However, it is droll to see them pay at least lip service to intellectual seriousness by dismissing the absurd climate modelling enterprise. The fact that they don't see that their opinion on the second undermines their faith in the first just supports my observation that they are a dismally dud bunch of "scientists".

Jan 8, 2010 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

Does anyone have a link to the actual poll? I looked in the Bast post and on Die Klimazwiebel and couldn't find it. Cheers!

Jan 8, 2010 at 1:30 AM | Unregistered Commenterkmye

There are "predictions" and there are "scenarios".

I don't think climate people believe their models can "predict" future weather. At least they say that they can't.

A hypothetical poll question about the most probably future climate scenarios, informed by the models, would probably get rather different answers.

So, IMHO, the poll means less than it appears to.

Jan 8, 2010 at 1:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterEngineer Bob

The phrasing of the questions seems a little loopy. Wouldn't it be more adequate to ask something like:

The problem posed by human-induced climate change is most likely:

a. catastrophic
b. grave
c. significant
d. minor
e. non-existent

In this way, won't have to make awkward choices when they consider it significant but not catastrophic.

But then, "climate science" and "statistical skill" don't seem to mix ...

Jan 8, 2010 at 2:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike

The propaganda and media manipulation continues unabated, though, it appears:

See (what I think is) an excellent article on this subject here here

It seems there's a reason why the hockey stick graph is still going strong on Wiki: While William Connolley, he of Climategate scandal infamy, is still head of warmism and censorship in Wiki, that site's authority and independence (such as it is) is junk.

You'd better click the link above pretty fast, though, because this comment from the discussion section, written by the author of the blogpost linked to above (National Post writer, Lawrence Soloman ) will have disappeared by tomorrow. But I'll copy the whole thing here, just for the record, so that if it is deleted, at least you'll know what it said.

Remind people this is not factual data.

This is reconstructed by climate models and is not actual fact. This needs to be stated somewhere.-- (talk) 18:45, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

No it isn't William M. Connolley (talk) 20:10, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

With comments by the much discredited William Connolley... nice... you AND Wikipedia are a joke when it comes to being reliable sources of information.... stop deleting my comments. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:02, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

"How does Wikipedia work and how do Connolley and his co-conspirators exercise control? Take Wikipedia's page for Medieval Warm Period, as an example. In the three days following my column's appearance, this page alone was changed some 50 times in battles between Connolley's crew and those who want a fair presentation of history.

Read more: " —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:18, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

As I said, this will, sadly, be 'disappeared' by Connolley very soon. But that's what these people will always do, at least while they're in control. They are trying to hide the rapid decline in the credibility of MMCC (AGW) ideology. While the entire Northern Hemisphere shivers in an Arctic freeze, (which is unsurprising given that we might be a few years into a new Maunder Minimum), with levels of desperation and abandon proportional to the drops in temperature, these zealots increasingly abuse their control of information providers like Wiki, and their nefarious influence over the news agenda.

Their stranglehold is finally slipping, though, thank goodness.

Jan 8, 2010 at 3:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterdenverthen

Turkeys do not vote for Christmas

Naturally these climatologists see their work of being of great importance to mankind, if it wasn't they would be out of a job.

So there is much work to be done at public expense to ensure they can discover just how dangerous the threat of climate change is. And what humans can do about it.

That they do not believe in predicting climate using models is hardly surprising, they know that the models cannot do so and therefore much more work, at great public expense, is obviously needed.

Very good for the climatology business.

Not contradictory at all really.

Kindest Regards

Jan 8, 2010 at 4:15 AM | Unregistered Commentera jones

Street crime is not the game Grand Theft Auto; the former happens in the real world to real people, whilst the latter happens in a computer.

The weather is not 'climate'; the former happens...

Jan 8, 2010 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterWormsnapper

A Jones has put his finger on it.

Jan 8, 2010 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterAileni Noyle

All those Phd's and no-one can see the paradox they're stuck in, it would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

Jan 8, 2010 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnon

"We know this from an international survey conducted in 2008 by Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch."

A little disingenuous methinks... I would like to see a contemporary survey of those same scientists.

Jan 8, 2010 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennis

How very reassuring it is to see climate scientists exhibiting their overwhelming consensus in such a profoundly logical manner.
We are indeed very fortunate to have such clear thinkers, such outstanding minds, working on this most important of subjects.

I am once again astounded by their inability to reason?
I am obviously a slow learner!!

Jan 8, 2010 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen


"Given that the reliability of the predictions from climate models is the chief evidence for the global warming hypothesis"

But that's not true - it's not even close to the truth. The best evidence for it is empirical observation (the physics, the geologic record, ice cores, observations of earth from space, and pretty much every signal in the natural world). It is impossible to explain all these without CO2.

Bast also has it backwards, as the models tend to provide any basis there is to argue that it won't be as bad as all that - i.e. they place limits on the danger. To claim there are no reliable models is to claim that we are rapidly altering a major climate parameter with no idea of the consequences. Probably that is not a good plan then.

Jan 8, 2010 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank O'Dwyer

It would be interseting to find out the scientific background of these climatologists. Are they soft scientists like Jones, Briffa, Mann etc, i.e. tree ring samplers with no real scientific training? How many of then are real scientists?

Jan 8, 2010 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Frank O'Dwyer: I'm not sure how you can say "It is impossible to explain all these without CO2" without reference to models. Surely it is the models which tell you what happens when extra CO2 is removed.

Jan 8, 2010 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Fisher

I find it odd that no clear distinction is maintained between "anthropogenic causes" and "anthropogenic CO2 causes". That's because if the phenomenon is supposed to be just the former, the supposed cure seems to be all about the latter. We're only going to tackle a subset of human causes if we fixate on CO2.

if the poll had been “How convinced are you that most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic CO2 causes?”, I wonder how different the result would have been?

Jan 8, 2010 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard M

Here's a link to the survey:
I thought it was fascinating.

Jan 8, 2010 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeR

Dear Bishop Hill

Doublethink springs to mind.

'Answers to the question “How convinced are you that climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to humanity?” were similar.'

Does not 'climate change' include both warming and cooling? Give me warming every time; global cooling would be seriously bad news - bigger heating bills just as fossil fuels start to run out, shorter growing seasons when world population is almost certainly way above sustainability and still growing.

As a proxy for curbing oil consumption without having to discuss peak oil, curbing CO2 emissions for spurious anti-climate change reasons fits the bill nicely.

Why does all the clamour to 'stop' climate change remind me of King Canute?

The Sun ought to have a big influence on our climate, but experts tell us this is not so. Just one point: the Maunder Minimum of sunspot activity occurred in the Little Ice Age; sunspot activity since about 1950 until the last solar cycle (number 23) has been at record levels.

We really do not know enough about climate or the Sun's influence to be able to predict what the climate will be like in 2100, when all of the predictors and their children will be dead anyway; anyone who is making a living predicting climate in 2100 is therefore pretty much safe from censure when it turns out they were wrong (or fame if they turned out to be right). There are large pots of money to be had for those who tell stories that certain parties like to hear, or want to hear; there are plenty of people who will tell those stories for a modest fee (£13.7 million IS modest in some circles).

Basing predictions on datasets collected over many decades using many different instruments in different locations and housings, while the environs underwent anthropogenic environmental changes (AEC), made by many different collectors of varying skill and dedication (including getting the reading times right) and retrospectively adjusting them to iron out any anomolous anomolies suggests to me a huge area for fortuitous adjustments in favour of a preconceived idea. Read Richard Feynman's Comencement Address at Caltech, 1974 on 'Cargo Cult Science' -

I used to take met readings at school (max/min, ground, wet and dry temps in F, estimate wind force (Beaufort) and cloud cover in eighths). I was told that the station would become established after 20 years of readings and I vaguely recall we were over half way there.

I wonder if my readings contributed to 'global warming'.


Jan 8, 2010 at 10:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDP

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