The Marginal Science of Climate Denial

Posted on July 30, 2011


In my recent discussions with one of my readers, I made the statement that climate change denial is marginal science.  I have discussed this issue previously in Consensus in Climate Change Science where Dr. Naomi Oreskes 2004 study demonstrated that nowhere in 10 years of scholarly publication–1993 to 2003–did anyone question the basic idea of climate change as explained by the IPCC.  Oreskes study has never been successfully challenged, although the climate deniers certainly tried.

In More Fire Than Mongols: Illusions of Controversy in Climate Change, I talk about a study of scientists in the earth sciences which shows unanimity in regard to climate science increasing with direct knowledge of the subject, with actual climate scientists most likely to be in agreement with the IPCC view.

I discuss a similar issue in Study: Scientists Who Dispute Climate Change Are Less Qualified, which points out the generally low and marginal qualifications of the scientists who dispute climate change.  The following two diagrams from Discovery News illustrate the point.

The first diagram divides up scientists into the convinced and the unconvinced on human-caused climate change, then sorts them according to the number of peer-reviewed scientific publications they have made on the subject of climate. As the diagram makes clear, the more peer-reviewed work a scientist has done on the subject, the more likely a scientist is to adhere to the consensus view on climate change. In fact, 80% of the climate scientists who dispute the consensus view have published fewer than twenty publications on the subject.

Now look at this diagram.

The number of times a scientist has been cited by other scientists demonstrates how seriously her or his work is being taken by other scientists.  It is one of the ways lay persons can assess the credibility of scientists.  If other scientists don’t take a given scientist seriously, that is a good–if not a certain–indication that they have little to offer.

The above diagram shows how much more seriously scientists who accept the consensus view are taken than scientists who reject that view.

Climate denying scientists are in fact marginal.


See also Who to believe on climate change – Discovery News