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Mike Haseler's survey of sceptics

Many readers will remember Mike Haseler's survey of sceptic opinion. The initial results are now available and a press release has been issued.

The Scottish Climate & Energy Forum has been conducting a survey on the background and attitudes of participants to online climate discussions. Thanks to the generosity of all who participated, the survey has had a massive response which will take time and resource to process. However initial analysis already shows that the actual views and backgrounds of participants are in sharp contrast with some high-profile statements being made about the participants. Therefore I felt we should make these initial results known as soon as practical to avoid further damage, both to the reputation of those involved in the online debate, as well as those making the unfounded and presumably mistaken accusations of “denial”.

As such, I am releasing the following statement regarding the survey.

A sceptical consensus: the science is right but catastrophic global warming is not going to happen

A recent survey of those participating in on-line forums showed that most of the 5,000 respondents were experienced engineers, scientists and IT professionals most degree qualified and around a third with post graduate qualifications. The survey, carried out by the Scottish Climate and Energy Forum, asked respondents for their views on CO2 and the effect it might have on global temperatures. The results were surprising. 96% of respondents said that atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing with 79% attributing the increase to man-made sources. 81% agreed that global temperatures had increased over the 20th century and 81% also agreed that CO2 is a warming gas. But only 2% believed that increases in CO2 would cause catastrophic global warming.

So what's going on?

Above all, these highly qualified people - experts in their own spheres - look at the published data and trust their own analysis, so their views match the available data. They agree that the climate warmed over the 20th century (this has been measured), that CO2 levels are increasing (this too has been measured) and that CO2 is a warming gas (it helps trap heat in the atmosphere and the effects can be measured). Beyond this, the survey found that 98% of respondents believe that the climate varies naturally and that increasing CO2 levels won't cause catastrophic warming.

Mike Haseler

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Reader Comments (50)

Bish, repetition from the second "A sceptical consensus: the science is right but catastrophic global warming is not going to happen "

Feb 25, 2014 at 12:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

@ ... the science is right but catastrophic global warming is not going to happen

The "science", so called, is, for the most part, shabby, innumerate Cli-Fi.

Try this on for size: "A sceptical consensus: catastrophic global warming is not happening, is unlikely to happen and would, up to and including the most extreme scenarios, be better adapted to that avoided, all things being equal."

Feb 25, 2014 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil and Keith's Career Trick

Well done Mike.

I like Jo Nova's take on the survey and her comments on Lew's efforts.

Feb 25, 2014 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

But only 2% believed that increases in CO2 would cause catastrophic global warming.

How pleasing. It appears I'm a member of a robust 98% consensus team.

Feb 25, 2014 at 12:28 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

I think the one sentence statement may not adequately represent the responders. I took the survey, and I don't believe it asked the question "Is the science right?" So how can you put this in front of your statement? If only 81% believe that CO2 is a warming gas, right away you have a substantial number of people saying the science is wrong. (I personally am not one of those, but I think plenty of other aspects of the science are wrong, from using treemometers to measure a number--global temperature--that has no meaning. If there are others like me, who accept that CO2 can warm the atmosphere, but find other things wrong, then we all add to the 19% who think the science is wrong.)

I suggest rethinking the one-sentence summary. Providing the actual numbers for some of the more central questions and responses would be useful.

Feb 25, 2014 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterLance Wallace

Please please correct the repetitious sections. The repetition makes it look like an incompetent piece of work which may reflect on the message.

Feb 25, 2014 at 1:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Hanwell

I think the "Science is right" part needs more qualification. How about "climate data is trustworthy, but the assumptions underpinning the models predicting catastrophic warming are wrong".

Feb 25, 2014 at 1:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobL

Um, doesn't "the science" say that catastrophic global warming is going to happen? So if it's not going to happen, the science isn't right. Right?

Feb 25, 2014 at 1:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke in Central Illinois

Um, doesn't "the science" say that catastrophic global warming is going to happen? So if it's not going to happen, the science isn't right. Right?
Feb 25, 2014 at 1:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke in Central Illinois

Most of the science probably is, roughly, correct. But that doesn't mean it is correct enough, or that each niche can be properly implemented in a computer program. Or that all the roughly-correct sub-modules can then be stitched together by some genius in a manner that produces a working super-program that can adequately represent the earth's myriad complexities.

Many scientists, engineers and programmers who have worked in other disciplines will just laugh at that thought. So the models have to be judged on their predictions, which fail some rather undemanding standards and give cause to suspect confirmation bias in their output.

Feb 25, 2014 at 2:23 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"...They agree that the climate warmed over the 20th century (this has been measured),..."

erm, Let's see;
I'd agree that the climate warmed from the 1970s through the 1990s.
I'd agree that the climate warmed from 1900s through the 1930s.
I'd agree that the climate warmed during the late 1800s.

I'd also agree that there have been periods of cooling between all previous warming cycles; with the exception that earth has been warming (recovering) since the little ice age.

I agree that CO2 is a GHG! I agree with the physics concept on paper is relatively proper.
I'd also agree that actual performance of CO2 within complex earth atmospheric dynamics is almost unknown and that trillions of dollars or euros have failed to investigate this point directly.

Which leaves me waiting for proof that 4 molecules of CO2 amongst 10,000 gaseous neighbors causes any significant lasting warming. Yeah, infra-red bands yada yada; we are talking about energy exchanges using photons that like to travel at the speed of light? Or collisions between gases following Boyle's Law and convection of the more active molecules to regions of lower pressure...

Be careful of jumping to assumptions just because we chose certain very short answers over other less preferable very short answers.

Feb 25, 2014 at 2:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

1878 to 1944 to 2010. The 66 year cycle. Barely any change in temperature. Keep it in perspective.

CO2 may be a GHG, but its a pretty weak one. A wuss. A wimp. Natural cycles dominate.

AGW = natural cycle deniers.

Feb 25, 2014 at 3:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

"Overwhelmingly participants in this large scale survey support the science"

I agree with others that this is very poorly worded.
Does "the science" include all the devious number juggling, the poor siting of thermometers, cherry-picked proxies. the heat hiding under the sofa, sorry, I mean sea? I could go tediously on.

Say exactly what "the science" includes and excludes or this statement will be misused as suggesting that Mann et al (who have hijacked the term "the science") are basically doing correct science but just happening to come to a different conclusion.

Feb 25, 2014 at 3:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

An editor is needed - desperately.

Feb 25, 2014 at 3:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

Yeah, our 98% beats their 97%. Easy. :)

Feb 25, 2014 at 3:42 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Haseler uses the word science as it should be used--to refer to those things confirmed by observations.

We should never refer to such usage as "poorly worded." That just plays into the hands of those trying to redefine the word.

Feb 25, 2014 at 4:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon

I cannot remember from the survey. Were we asked if the current temperatures are unprecedented?

Feb 25, 2014 at 4:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Norman

One of our main arguments has been that consensus is not science, using historical events to make our point. By our own scientific values, sceptics should be working to falsify the hypothesis that "the science is right but CAGW is not going to happen". At least we would have a falsifiable hypothesis, whereas the Warmists have carefully ensured that their hypothesis is unfalsifiable, thereby transforming scientific enquiry into political activism.

To start shouting."consensus" at this stage seems to me to be running into a glass house of our own making and of doubtful logic, to say the least.

Feb 25, 2014 at 6:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Lohse

After the floods what do the public opinion polls say.

Feb 25, 2014 at 7:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

I agree with others about "the science"; what does "support the science" mean? I can't recall the questions, but I'm sure when we see more detail, some of the wording will need clarifying. Having looked at the survey questions again, I see no questions from which one could conclude that the participants "support the science".

In particular the following statement is wrong. I for one am not one of the "they", as I don't agree with the statement.

They agree that the climate warmed over the 20th century (this has been measured), that CO2 levels are increasing (this too has been measured) and that CO2 is a warming gas (it helps trap heat in the atmosphere and the effects can be measured).

Feb 25, 2014 at 7:18 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

' and the effects can be measured' in carefully balanced laboratory experiments...

Feb 25, 2014 at 8:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

I was one of what I will assume to be many who read the survey, couldn't exactly fit with many of the offered responses and didn't submit it. Bfwiw, I fit the demographic, am a tepid-warmer and see natural cycles as dominant.

Feb 25, 2014 at 8:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Sorry about this but there is no such thing as the science and thus the science can't say anything.
If this term is to be used then you need to define what you mean.
I filled in the survey and by your definition then I agree with the science however the science says the oceans are becoming acidic etc etc which I disagree with? Consequently I don't agree with the science.
My suggestion is not to keep the best to the last but put it at the front .
98 % of 5000 scientists,engineers and It professionals state that catastrophic global warming won't happen.
Great work and please take the above as constructive criticism and best wishes in taking this forward.

Feb 25, 2014 at 8:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

I completed the survey. I'm pretty certain I did not see any question along the lines "The science is right: yes/no".

Where can the original survey questions be seen, please?

Feb 25, 2014 at 8:26 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

so the science is that CO2 in the atmosphere acts to retain heat in the atmosphere, and as a result we are all going to die. THATS IT? ON THE BASIS OF THIS THEY ARE KILLING PEOPLE NOW?

Feb 25, 2014 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered Commenteralastair harris

Martin, the survey is no longer available on the website.
But the key questions that it asked on climate are covered in the second paragraph.
Temp increased in the 20th century.
CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
CO2 is increasing...

Feb 25, 2014 at 9:18 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Since 8:56AM I have had spittle flecking the inside of my computer screen. I'm on Firefox. Anybody else have the same problem?

Feb 25, 2014 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Gone now as if by magic. Must have been a virus.

Feb 25, 2014 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

I also responded to the survey. It did not ask if I thought the "science was right" and like another contributor above I considered whether or not to complete the questionnaire and decided on balance to do so - recognising that the questions appeared somewhat "loaded".

One question asked if CO2 was a green house gas to which I responded yes, another question asked if the global average temperature had risen during the twentieth century, to which I also responded yes as the temperature at the end of 2000AD was indeed most likely higher than at the end of 1900AD. I recognise that the difference was probably not as great as many "warmist" investigators and CAGW advocates wish to portray in that the data is inconsistent due to "adjustments", differences in the number and location of measurement stations, inappropriate measurement locations and that there have been cooling periods as well as warming ones in the period referenced. Another question asked if warming could attributed to human activity, to which I also answered yes as changes in albedo due to agriculture and forestry could play a (minor) role in the temperature change. Another question asked if CO2 has increased as a result of human activity to which I answered yes, as the carbon flux from burning fossil fuels is around 6 Gt/yr.Another question asked if I thought warming would be catastrophic as claimed by "warmist" advocates to which I answered in the negative.

So overall it would appear that a majority of respondents answered more or less as I did.

However as a professional earth scientist of over 40 years standing and having studied paleoclimatology for most of that time I found the questionnaire was poorly designed and would inevitably result in very "unnuanced" conclusions.

Nevertheless I do think that exercises like this are not completely without value, showing as they do, that the raw politico-dogmatic posture of "warmist" advocates, including much of the "Science Establishment" and of EU and UK bureaucracy and politicians is not shared by a large body of their scientifically and technically educated constituents.

It was not nearly as bad a survey as those which have been used in this country ( Rep. of Ireland) which claimed to be exercises in " Public Consultation" in the context of the Aarhus Convention requirements. These latter surveys only ask respondents questions which are blatently "loaded" and do not allow any responses other than to choose between various of options about how to respond to CAGW in different ways.

Feb 25, 2014 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterGlebekinvara


Yeah I had the same problem, now resolved thankfully!

Feb 25, 2014 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterTom O'Connor

Am I required to accept the "science" of Mann and CRU and believe in the predictive power of a bristlecones entrails to be part of the skeptical science accepting consensus? Reading the comments above I am, I think with most others, outraged by the idea that to be characterised as accepting "the science".

I would be delighted to be part of a post grad consensus but I do not accept the science that involves positive cloud feedback and the range of alchemies ("science") used to generate clouds in computer models that support this idea. Then there is the "science" used in the models to treat how rates of heat flow by convection and evaporation cool the surface and respond ... or fail to respond.... to increased surface temperature. So do I accept the "science" beyond Stefan Boltzmann and the absorption spectra of carbon dioxide (which I indeed calculate myself as producing a 3-4W change in radiated heat loss from the surface and 1 deg C surface temperature change if - and only if - you suspend convective and evaporative responses to surface temperature changes and all other negative feedbacks) - NO!!!!

I accept well established physical laws that describe the world and make testable predictions but I reject "the science" that has been heaped on top of them that is neither mathematically rigorous nor empirically expedient to describe observations. Which pretty well means all the climate science that supports this nonsense and is used by the models.

Feb 25, 2014 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrago12

The survey questions can be seen here

Feb 25, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip thanks for correcting me. I was looking at the scottish sceptic site, where the link leads to a page saying it's no longer available. This was also the link publicised at WUWT.

Feb 25, 2014 at 10:32 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I don’t think sceptics would normally claim to be part of any consensus at all and it seems to be a mistaken characterisation of scepticism that this survey refers to a consensus of sceptics. The existence of a consensus in any extensive field would suggest that the members of the alleged consensus are simply not questioning the details. Sceptics do not do that.

We should exclude mathematics from the discussion because it is man-made and man decides whether or not a mathematical proof is right.

I believe a true sceptic would never stop questioning the assumptions. He would never accept any physics theory as an unchallengeable description of nature and he would be constantly aware of the possibility that nature is about to spring yet another wholly unexpected surprise.

A sceptic would in no circumstances propagate a theory which conflicts with observations: “Theory guides, but experiment decides.” The physics of today is very different from that of a century ago, but nature is the same.

Feb 25, 2014 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Well

I must admit to feeling a sense of vindication at the result that 98% do not think there is anything catastrophic happening. With the incessant drumbeat of the ridiculous “denier” theme coming from the media fuelled ideology, even I was beginning to doubt myself. Now I know the truth ….. And is is somewhat liberating.

Thank you Michael Haseler.

Feb 25, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterImranCan

I think the majority sceptic opinion is best encapsulated by the Lindzen line that AGW is trivially true, but swamped by natural variability. I would add that many consider the likely future effects net beneficial, particularly the CO2 crop yield enhancement.

Feb 25, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

Um, doesn't "the science" say that catastrophic global warming is going to happen? So if it's not going to happen, the science isn't right. Right?

No. this is the shell game. The science that almost everyone agrees with says that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

This does not itself imply catastrophic effects; that requires models and hypotheses which are disputable.

From the IPCC AR5 draft report:

Atlantic MOC collapse - Very unlikely that the AMOC will undergo a rapid
transition (high confidence)

Ice sheet collapse - Exceptionally unlikely that either Greenland or West
Antarctic Ice sheets will suffer near-complete disintegration (high confidence)

Permafrost carbon release - Possible that permafrost will become a net source of atmospheric greenhouse gases (low confidence)

Clathrate methane release - Very unlikely that methane from clathrates will undergo catastrophic release (high confidence)

Tropical forests dieback - Low confidence in projections of the collapse of large areas of tropical forest

Boreal forests dieback - Low confidence in projections of the collapse of large
areas of boreal forest

Disappearance of summer Arctic sea ice - Likely that the Arctic Ocean becomes nearly ice-free in September before mid-century under high forcing
scenarios such as RCP8.5 (medium confidence)

Long-term droughts - Low confidence in projections of changes in the frequency and duration of megadroughts

Monsoonal circulation - Low confidence in projections of a collapse in monsoon circulations

Note that the only one which is "likely" is the Arctic sea ice one, and this only on the basis of "high forcing scenarios" which are totally at variance with observations.

Feb 25, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Everyone is saying that 'the science is right' is the wrong way to put things. What the Alarmists have done is specify a couple of obvious truths - that the temperature was going slightly up during the 1990s, and that CO2 'absorbs heat'(deliberately simplified phrase!) and said that the second must have caused the first and we're all going to fry. These last two points do not follow from the first two.

It’s as if someone had pointed out that a pedal cycle works by a chain connecting the pedals to the wheels, and a particular cyclist is increasing his pedaling rate – therefore he’s going to break the sound barrier. The mechanics, in this case are settled, in just the same way as the science is, but the projected speed is NOT going to be achieved…

By now I don’t believe that this misunderstanding is a simple error. I think it is the result of willfully ignoring clear facts because there is a lot of social pressure to do so since there is a lot of money at stake…

Feb 25, 2014 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Martin, the survey is no longer available on the website.
But the key questions that it asked on climate are covered in the second paragraph.
Temp increased in the 20th century.
CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
CO2 is increasing...

Feb 25, 2014 at 9:18 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I remember the questions but agreeing with those statements only agreed with observational data, it does not mean agreeing with the Science or any of the useless Models.


Feb 25, 2014 at 1:45 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Here are the questions that required a response of Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree:
- Global temperature is currently warming
- Man-made sources have increased global levels of CO2
- CO2 will cause catastrophic global warming
- Climate varies naturally
- CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
- The level of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing

Sadly, many commenters seem to believe that the statement regarding catastrophic warming is supported by "the science." It's not.

Feb 25, 2014 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon

Witches exist.
There are more witches than before.
Witches do things.
Whatever witches are doing won't amount to anything important.

With CO2 replaced by witches, you can see both the absurdity of the witch hysteria and why logical thinking like this won't change the policies of those who are afraid of CO2 (or witches).

The global warming frenzy is not knowledge but anxiety based. No amount of knowledge can remove a deeply set sense that one's life is about to spin out of control. Only experience, the experience that tomorrow is very, very likely to be like yesterday and the day before, and so the non-problems of yesterday and today will very, very likely happen tomorrow.

I fear we will need a large crisis to require concrete results, not conditional weasel words based on intellectually constructed houses of cards, from the warmist side before the CAGW affair will be settled. Something demonstrably falsifiable.

Feb 25, 2014 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

I filled out the survey as honestly as I could and I am glad that the interim results have been published. Even while doing it I had a feeling of being led, and like all the others I certainly don't accept a conclusion that "the science is right". What science? In climate debate, just as in political debate, so many of these studies end up with conclusions that fail to reflect the body of the study (Hutton etc).

Feb 25, 2014 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

@Mike Haseler,

Over on WUWT it says:
Given the huge number of responses and detail of questions a full assessment will take up to one year to complete. This is a huge commitment from an organisation that has no outside funding and is reliant on one full-time volunteer (Mike Haseler).

Do you need more volunteers? I think is essential to high-grade the data to get some solid results out within a month. A year is too long in this political climate. I'd be glad to help.

These websites can be used as a fair source of hypotheses to test and requested cross plots before people see the raw data. Do you have a link to the survey question text?

Feb 25, 2014 at 7:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Rasey

It's great to see that 4999 people think the same way that I do.

Feb 25, 2014 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterI'm Always Right

Professor Salby and a few others respectfully disagree.

Feb 25, 2014 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterKuhnKat

The supposed existence of a current 'radiative imbalance' (resulting in 'missing heat' that cannot be accounted for) is a cornerstone of AGW theory.

On a discussion thread here I posted more or less the following:

... The precision achieved by the most advanced generation of radiation budget satellites is indicated by the planetary energy imbalance measured by the ongoing CERES (Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System) instrument (Loeb et al., 2009), which finds a measured 5-year-mean imbalance of 6.5 W/m2 (Loeb et al., 2009). Because this result is implausible, instrumentation calibration factors were introduced to reduce the imbalance to the imbalance suggested by climate models, 0.85 W/m2 (Loeb et al., 2009). ...

(from "Earth's Energy Imbalance and Implications" (James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha, Karina von Schuckmann)

(Note that James Hansen is one of the archbishops of the AGW priesthood.)

Martin's translation: "The measurements are clearly erroneous. So we doctored them to fit our models (which, by the way, remain unvalidated because there is no way of validating them without precise measurements) "

[The output of an unvalidated model is not observational data - it is just an illustration of someone's hypothesis.]

My conclusion: Asking where 'the missing heat' is hiding is about as meaningful as discussions of the number of angels dancing concurrently on a pinhead. Or, to put it another way, one of the cornerstones of AGW theory is bollocks.

Yet, in the survey, I seem to have been counted as saying 'the science is right". Something does not add up right if that is so.

Feb 25, 2014 at 8:58 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I voted "No" on the catastrophic global warming question, and as a cAGW acceptor on the rest.

It was not the best designed of questionnaires. I would prrticularly have liked to ask the survey compilers what they meant by catastrophic.

Feb 25, 2014 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

NW points out something very important in this: The IPCC is backing away like crazy from the apocalypse, but the believers are having none of it. This is a sea change in IPCC, and leaves the AGW obsessed and their favored political leaders very exposed.

Feb 25, 2014 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Heh, yep, more discussion of 'Just what do you mean by 'catastrophic'?'

Well, some mean the catastrophic economic and social damage done and to be done by vain efforts at mitigation and by hubritic impulses to purvey a self-destructive narrative.

Feb 26, 2014 at 8:09 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

The questions have been re-posted on

Feb 26, 2014 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterCPSJ


Any numbers?

Feb 26, 2014 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

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