AGW Science’s Constant Appeals To Authority Only Confirm Its Total Fallacy

On Consensus

By Ed Caryl

This is in response to comments made by reader G Mitchell.

We are constantly told that there is a consensus in climate science that CO2 is warming the planet, or the deep ocean, (or something) and that if we do not limit CO2 something bad will happen. As one can easily see, there is no consensus on the two “somethings” in that first sentence. We are told that CO2 is responsible for warming, cooling, less rainfall, more rainfall, less snow, more snow, less ice, more ice, more hurricanes, fewer hurricanes, more tornados, fewer tornados, and so on. Each of those things can also be good or bad, (but mostly bad) depending on where and when they happen. The “consensus” seems to morph to whatever bad thing the writer wants to prove. This isn’t climatology, it’s calamitology.

The appeal to authority is scientific fallacy 

The “Appeal To Authority” fallacy is used in each case to back up the claim. The “Trust me, I’m a Climate Scientist” fallacy is constantly used in either the first or second person. It should be pointed out that the title “Climate Scientist” is always self-bestowed, thus is as ephemeral and fallacious as the consensus.

One claim is that “97%” or “99%” of peer reviewed climate science papers support the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) meme. The first problem with this claim is that getting a paper past the gauntlet of peer review in many climate related journals requires bowing to the requirement for some mention of “global warming” or “climate change” or whatever phrase de jour.

Again and again we find papers that have little or nothing to do with climate change containing those phrases. There are over a thousand peer-reviewed papers taking the converse position. There are also papers cited as supporting CAGW that do not, in fact, support the premise. Fortunately, there are people keeping track of these. I direct the reader to here and here as just two collections.

No agreement on sensitivity means no consensus

There are several “facts” used to back up the claims by “Climate Science”. But there is no consensus on any of these. Climate sensitivity is the first and most important claim as it is the entire underpinning to the argument. There is no agreement on climate sensitivity, there are only opinions. Does the doubling of CO2 content in the atmosphere result in warming? If so how much? Opinions range from some small negative number to above six degrees C, including, of course, the number zero. Even the IPCC cannot settle on a number; the latest iteration being from 1.5 to 4.5°C. A range of three cannot be described as a consensus. The large numbers depend on there being a large positive feedback, as the basic radiation physics of CO2 alone describes a sensitivity of 1°C. The stumbling block of course is the unknown effect of water vapor and clouds. Water vapor is the other (and dominant) greenhouse gas.

No agreement on CO2 lifetime means no consensus

Another “fact” is CO2 lifetime in the atmosphere. This is described in peer-reviewed papers as from less than 7 years to over a hundred, the larger number of course, is used to predict doom. This is hardly a consensus.

Other “facts” in dispute include how much natural variability contribute to observed warming. Ocean cycles and solar variability are two important and heavily argued contributors. Volcanism, natural and man-produced aerosols are others. There is hardly a consensus in this area either. For some recent opinions, go here.

The “Appeal To Authority” and “Ad Hominem” attack fallacies are also used to put down the contribution of skeptical blogs and those that write for and comment on them. It is as if those that do not “believe” are refused a license to think. This is the crux of the problem. This is the reaction of the religious, not scientists. No other scientific field so denies the amateur a place. Why is this so? Follow the money.

Climate science does not require a specialist; it requires a generalist. The knowledge needed crosses all the boundaries. Knowledge in chemistry, physics, geology, biology, botany, mathematics, computers, literature, and library science are all needed, not specialist knowledge, general knowledge. The underlying data and principles involved are not difficult to understand. Anyone widely read in these fields can make a contribution, if they keep an open mind and just think.

My own contributions here are not intended as revealed truth, that would be a religious view. They are suggestions based on the data as found, meant to stimulate thought. This is the basis of science.


36 responses to “AGW Science’s Constant Appeals To Authority Only Confirm Its Total Fallacy”

  1. TimiBoy

    Oh my God Ed. I feel stimulated! 😉

  2. Kurt in Switzerland

    Ed, Pierre:

    Good post!

    The second sub-paragraph should say no consensus, not now consensus.

    One often hears something along the lines of: “Based on the wealth of peer-reviewed literature on the subject, the consensus of the experts is that global warming is real, it is affecting earth today and it will be far worse in the future, unless human GHG emissions are drastically reduced.”

    But I have yet to see a single study which can show that the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration (e.g., from 350-400 ppm) has resulted in any measured increase in net positive IR flux to the surface of the planet. It is all conjecture. My gut feeling is that any serious efforts at measuring the hypothesized phenomenon would be compromised by noise, natural fluctuations far exceeding the sought-after signal and calibration problems.

    Therein lies the problem: the hypothesis needs to have a testable falsification. Otherwise it is just a belief. And the longer the atmospheric temperature data fail to cooperate with the model projections, the more believers will move to the skeptic camp.

    Kurt in Switzerland

  3. Kurt in Switzerland

    Ed, Pierre:

    Nice post. Indeed, the much-heralded consensus is poorly-defined and is thus quite weak.

    The AGW camp needs to state a clear statement – a hypothesis, which may be falsified by actual data. I am not aware of any such statement. Therein lies the problem. Energy calculations are just that, calculations (not measurements).

    Net IR flux to/from the planet is likely far below the noise and/or calibration accuracy of the instruments. So we’ll have to make do with whatever the surface temperatures show over the next decade. If the divergence from model projections continues to grow, more and more of the thinking public will move to the skeptics’ camp.

    Note that the second sub-paragraph should say no consensus as opposed to now consensus.

    Kurt in Switzerland

  4. Casper

    Hi Pierre,

    Breaking news: AMNESTY FOR GREENPEACE ACTIVISTS done by Russian Duma,nId,1076580

    I told you Pierre they will be released on bail BEFORE THE OLYMPICS…

  5. tom0mason

    I’m sorry Ed but until you have a consensus on that theory it just will not fly!

    Seriously your put in a nutshell what I’ve been trying to get through to others for years. I will be quoting it liberally.

  6. Mike Heath

    I am not sure where to put this but I thought it was a nice illustration of the BBC propoganda.

    Checkout the story on BBC.

    Notice the CO2 in the second of the photos..

    The article is about air quality and polutants…
    The main pollutants:
    • Particulate matter – fine dust emitted by road vehicles, shipping and power generation. Experts are particularly concerned about particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres
    • Sulphur dioxide – emitted by power generation, industry and shipping. Damages health and acidifies land and water
    • Nitrogen oxides – emitted by road vehicles, shipping and power generation. Harms health and contributes to acid rain
    • Ammonia – emitted by livestock and through the use of fertilisers. Damages health and causes acidification
    • Volatile organic compounds – emitted from solvents, vehicles and power generation. They are a key component of ground-level ozone

    CO2 is not mentioned once, but the implication by joining the text and the photos is that CO2 is a pollutant, even the most important one since it has it’s own photo.
    How strange.

    1. DirkH

      “Volatile organic compounds – emitted from solvents, vehicles and power generation.”

      …and by plant stomata… (Isoprene I think; emitted by trees by the thousands of tons a day)

    2. DirkH

      ” They are a key component of ground-level ozone ”

      Oh I see you quoted them verbatim! I was about to ask what that shall even mean. A VOC is a VOC and Ozone is O3. One of them is not a component of the other.

    3. Ed Caryl

      And the CO2 in the second photo? Is inside the gas mask!

      1. Mike Heath


  7. Joe

    “Knowledge in chemistry, physics, geology, biology, botany, mathematics, computers, literature, and library science are all needed, not specialist knowledge, general knowledge.”

    You should add macro-economics to that list. The various RCP ‘projections’ used by the IPCC to predict/project when CO2 levels will double are based on economic forecasts into the century and beyond. Get those forecasts wrong and all those projections are also wrong, at least as to timing.

  8. Adrian O

    But of course. If they had data they would show the data.

    The funniest, and also saddest story was a fellow on the NYTimes DotEarth blog, newly come there, who said

    Why don’t the climate scientists show the data to everyone, so as to silence the deniers for good?

    He was like the kid who asks his parents “Why doesn’t the government take reporters to the North Pole to show them Santa Claus’ factories?”

  9. John F. Hultquist

    Data? We don’t need no stinking data.

  10. Mindert Eiting

    It is the task of historians to look back, but if one of them would have tried to predict the future, he certainly would not have considered that mankind became totally divided in the twentieth-first century about the existence of a malevolent molecule, neither that the faithful would have decided late 2013 to expel the protestants from their church. In order to return to that church before it is too late, we have to subscribe to some articles of faith. In a closed system on its way to equilibrium the back radiation effect must dwindle to zero because in equilibrium nothing can change any more. Because back radiation is produced by the cooler object, that object becomes warmer on its way to equilibrium. So its radiation dose increases. Consequently, there is a negative relationship between dose and effect. This opens the doors to hell, where eating one kilogram of salt is fine but eating one gram of it is lethal. Perhaps I am wrong but I will remain a protestant in 2014 if this article is not satisfactorily explained. Also the new truth table of the implication should be explained because the old version says that if p implies q, and p implies not-q, p must be false.

    1. DirkH

      ” In a closed system on its way to equilibrium the back radiation effect must dwindle to zero because in equilibrium nothing can change any more. ”

      Yes, but Earth surface + “warming blanket of CO2 (and H2O)” is not a closed system; energy enters from the sun and leaves to space. So the warmists don’t have a clear logical contradiction here.

      1. Mindert Eiting

        I will take in consideration that we have in both systems different laws of nature.

        1. DirkH

          Don’t twist my words. Warmism does not talk about an equilibrium in a closed system. It posits that
          a) energy flows from sun to surface
          b) from surface to GHG cloud in the atmosphere
          c) from GHG cloud in the atmosphere to surface
          d) from GHG cloud in the atmosphere to space
          (and some more, but this suffices for the greenhouse effect).
          There is no logical contradiction or magical energy multiplication in there; don’t make the mistake of misrepresenting warmism; that is just the erection of a strawman that you then knock over.

          The real question is in the things the warmists don’t understand – clouds, the sun, cosmic rays, water vapor content over time, ocean cycles…

          1. Mindert Eiting

            Take your bike and connect via a small tube the tyre with a soccer ball. Make many microscopic holes in the tyre and pump air into the ball. If you want, you can stop pumping during the night. Measure the pressure in the ball the next morning. If you repair some holes in the tyre, you will observe higher pressures in both ball and tyre with the same pumping effort. Does pressure in the ball result from back flow of air in the tyre? There is no flow from tyre to ball. Your step (c) is nonsense as it assumes that the cloud has become warmer than the surface. GHG may exist because CO2 may prevent some IR escaping into space. It does not warm the surface but reduces cooling of the atmosphere and therefore reduces heat transfer from surface to atmosphere, being a function of temperature difference. A false back radiation theory may imply a true GHG effect. I did apply the theory at a closed system, directly showing that it is absurd. The example above can be verified next Christmas.

  11. Robin Guenier

    Re the 97% claim, some might be interested to read this (my response to a current UK House of Commons select committee inquiry):

  12. G Mitchell

    Yours is the typical rant by someone who does not fully grasp Science. Much of the skepticism portrayed here and on other blogs lacks any sort of coherence, any constructive criticism and genuine healthy skepticism. It’s a potpourri of opinions, (long debunked) myths, conspirational thinking, politically and/or religiously motivated bias and a profound misunderstanding of what Science is all about (and above all, what it is not about).

    That many (if not all) of your fellow resident-skeptics here agree with you is obvious: yet that does not mean you are right. As is often the case with ‘skeptic blogs’, you’re stuck in your own little universe of wrongly labelled skepticism where blogposts are equalled to peer-reviewed papers and armchair experts (more often than not without any scientific background whatsoever) are on par with scientists with extensive scientific education, training and careers.

    You denounce the peer-review process yet link to a list of peer-reviewed papers which you and the person who compiled that list believe ‘support skeptic arguments’. The fact alone that you think Populartechnology’s (Poptech) list is supportive of your argument is indicative of how badly informed you are.

    Poptech cherrypicks single sentences or paragraphs out of otherwise decent research papers, omits the Conclusions of those papers (which often specifically accept CAGW) and the whole list solely depends on his personal understanding and expertise of climate science.

    Even in the case that it would be scientifically and ethically correct to cherrypick science papers for single phrases or paragraphs, the whole list still depends largely on it’s author’s expertise of the multiple scientific disciplines involved. If he gets something (fundamentally) wrong, papers will still end up on his list. And thus we can find papers on his list which show that it was warmer in the past, just because it has become ‘a skeptic argument’ due to a poor understanding of climate science on behalf of the list’s author. Whatever the ‘skeptic-argument-du-jour’ is gets included, it appears, without ever defining how those arguments are compiled and what exactly they are.

    A real scientific approach (with a healthy bit of real skepticism) would have pointed out these flaws long ago (as indeed Pielke Jr did along with many others; ). But apparently it is ‘good science’ to you.

    And thus it is no surprise that you cannot find any fault in the claim that the much talked about Climate Consensus is ‘shattered’ when compared with an Alexa Ranking on site popularity.

    You are not a skeptic; you are a wishful thinker; you merely wish claims and blogposts are true and completely fail to be objective and skeptic 24/7. You are only skeptic when the implications (real or perceived) of some particular scientific paper are contrary to your beliefs. The ones that support those are taken for granted instantly.

    That’s fine with me. It sure results in some amusing reading. But do not pretend to be on par with real scientists or even with real skeptic scientists because you completely lack the intellectual honesty and scientific integrity and coherence in your arguments.

    1. DirkH

      Yet, all the kings climate scientists have failed to produce a computer model that tops the simple assumption of constant temperatures, over the last 17 years.

      Now ain’t that strange.

    2. Ed Caryl

      That is an amazingly long response to remain fact-free. Can you actually address the points of non-consensus? Your response is just one long “Appeal To Authority” fallacy.

      1. G Mitchell

        It is you who failed to address the ‘non-consensus’ issue after I pressed you to name the ‘bad logic’ which you claimed was contained in my Alexy Ranking comment. Instead, you dedicated this entire post to me once again failing to explain how on earth an Alexa Site Popularity Ranking contradicts multiple peer-reviewed papers on climate science consensus.

        1. DirkH

          “multiple peer-reviewed papers on climate science consensus.”

          Well, Lewandowsky and Cook have delivered the proof that you can get any kind of excrement through peer review; that much is true.

          Einstein was never peer-reviewed by the way.

      2. Poptech

        His response is full of lies about my list.

    3. Robin Guenier

      G Mitchell: except to the extent that most climate scientists who are skilled in attribution probably agree that mankind has contributed to recent temperature change, there is, I believe, no good evidence of consensus – and, in particular, none supporting CAGW: see the link above to my select committee submission. If you have evidence to the contrary, I’d be interested to see it

      1. G Mitchell

        It all depends on what one understands for “no good evidence”. Judging by your committee submission, anything goes it appears.

        Cherry-picking a 2010 BBC interview with Professor Phil Jones migth be acceptable practice to you, it is not in the Real World.

        The same goes for misrepresenting the Cook et all. study (which, contrary to you claim, did ask the scientists surveyed to assess their own papers). Or being selectively critical of sample sizes in different consensus surveys: you critizise Doran et all. for that reason but describe as “rather more helpful” a survey with a smaller sample size.

        As for evidence regarding CAGW, read the latest IPCC report, just to start you of.

        1. Poptech

          Why are you lying about the Cook et al. Study?

          1. Are results in the Cook paper derived from the abstract ratings alone?

          2. Did every scientist respond to the self-ratings?

          3. Did the scientist self ratings match the abstract ratings?

          4. If the abstract ratings differ from the scientist self-ratings how can the abstract ratings be valid?

    4. Poptech

      It is disappointing to see G Mitchell be so dishonest like this. No matter how many rebuttals I post to the lies alarmist post about the list, I constantly have to add new ones.

      1. It is an outright lie that “I” cherry pick single sentences and ignore the conclusions of any papers. The only place select quotes are used is in the “CO2 Lags Temperature Changes” section for obvious reasons as the quoted section explicitly supports skeptic arguments. Scientific papers are cited for simple reasons like this all the time.

      2. It is another lie that any of the paper’s are chosen based on “my” scientific knowledge. As stated in the “Rebuttals to Criticisms” section of the list,

      “Criticism: Papers are listed based on the editor’s scientific knowledge.

      Rebuttal: None of the papers were chosen for inclusion based on the editor’s scientific knowledge, which includes university level physics and a Diploma in Environmental Science. Instead, the papers are either explicit to their position, were written by a skeptic, or were already cited by and determined to be in support of a skeptic argument by highly credentialed scientists, such as Sherwood B. Idso Ph.D. Research Scientist Emeritus, U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory and Patrick J. Michaels Ph.D. Climatology not the editor.

      Thus I am not including any papers solely on my understanding of climate science. The only ones I make any sort of decision on are ones that are written by a known skeptic or are explicit to their skepticism. This requires no such special scientific background. The rest were cited by highly credentialed skeptics who made this determination.

      3. You not liking a skeptic argument does not make it invalid, such as the existence of the MWP and periods that were warmer in the past.

      4. Roger Pielke Jr. (Ph.D. Political Science) didn’t point out anything but his ignorance of why the papers were included on the list and instead made false assumptions. Various clarifications were made to make this more clear and these can be found in a link in the Rebuttal to Criticism section,

      Rebuttal to Roger Pielke Jr. – “Better Recheck That List”

      Pielke’s years old post has no relation to the current version of the list. When the Popular peer-reviewed paper list was first published in 2009 an alarmist notified Roger Pielke Jr. that some of his papers as well as his fathers appeared on it. Contacting him was intentional as Roger Pielke Jr. is an enigma in the climate science debate. He is someone who spends extensive amounts of time arguing against alarmist positions but outright refuses to be labeled a skeptic and will spend just as much time arguing that he is not. He is thus great for alarmists to use for soundbites, in this case against the list. No attempt was ever made to imply a specific personal position to him or any of the authors. All of this was explained to him in the comments to his blog post.

      The irony here is every single alarmist using Roger Pielke Jr.’s comments to attack the list would never use his papers in support of their arguments.

      * Roger Pielke Jr. never contacted Popular directly about the list.

      * Roger Pielke Sr. never asked me to remove any papers. He did directly contact Popular and requested some changes, such as the Disclaimer state that they “…cannot be labeled skeptics” and add based on his concerns, “Various papers are mutually exclusive and should be considered independently”.

      Roger Pielke Jr. falsely assumed why his papers and his father’s were listed, “Assuming that these are Hypothesis 1 type bloggers…”

      Papers can be listed for two reasons,

      (1) They support skeptic arguments against ACC/AGW (His Hypothesis 1)

      (2) They support skeptic arguments against ACC/AGW Alarm defined as, “concern relating to a negative environmental or socio-economic effect of ACC/AGW, usually exaggerated as catastrophic.” (Not defined or mentioned by him)

      All of the Pielke’s papers were listed because they support skeptic arguments against ACC/AGW Alarm not because they support skepticism of ACC/AGW (His Hypothesis 1).

      Various clarifications have been made to the list to make this more clear,

      (1) The title was change to make it more scientifically accurate and clear to the intent of the list by adding the words “ACC/AGW” and “Alarm”,

      Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW Alarm

      (2) A disclaimer was added,

      “Disclaimer: The inclusion of a paper in this list does not imply a specific personal position to any of the authors. While certain authors on the list cannot be labeled skeptics (e.g. Harold Brooks, Roger Pielke Jr., Roger Pielke Sr.) their paper(s) or results from their paper(s) can still support skeptic’s arguments against ACC/AGW alarm.”

      (3) Various notes were moved or added to the beginning of the list,

      “The following papers support skeptic arguments against Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC), Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) or ACC/AGW Alarm.

      ACC/AGW Alarm (defined), concern relating to a negative environmental or socio-economic effect of ACC/AGW, usually exaggerated as catastrophic.”

      5. More lies, not a single paper on the list supports CAGW. Prove me wrong and name the paper on the list that explicitly supports CAGW.

      You have just proven you have no integrity whatsoever.

    5. Poptech

      I posted a detailed rebuttal to these lies and misinformation about my list but it appears held up for moderation.

  13. Ross McLeod

    Universities teach that 1 source of radiation capable of heating an object to minus 18 C (power of 239 W/sqm) can combine with another source of radiation capable of heating an object to minus 18 C (power of 239 W/sqm) to induce a temperature on the surface of the Earth of 30 C.

    This is taught as the fundamental principle of the “Greenhouse Effect”.

    Here is one URL teaching this “science” –

    To test this I used 2 spotlights to represent each source of radiation.

    Spotlight 1 heats the thermometer to 30 C on its own – 478 W/sqm emission by SB equation.

    Spotlight 2 heats the thermometer to 36 C on its own – 517 W/sqm emission by SB equation.

    Both on together heat the thermometer to 46 C – 588 W/sqm.

    Climate science says this should be 478 + 517 = 995 at almost 364 K or 90 + C.

    This is of course ridiculous and does not happen – ever !!!

    I have proven the fundamental “science” is flawed.

    If the claimed effect cannot happen in controlled circumstances it cannot happen in uncontrolled reality.

    Interestingly enough it turned out it is possible to predict the combined heating effect using the SB equation.

    Ambient air temperature was about 18 C – 407 W/sqm.

    Spotlight 1 provided an extra 71 W/sqm while spotlight 2 provided an extra 110 W/sqm.

    Add the 3 up – 407 + 71 + 110 – 588 at 46 C !

    But this is completely different science to what climate “science” teaches.

    If the fundamental model of how the “Greenhouse Effect” works is fatally flawed the rest of the “science” built on it is simply no more than junk science.

    If their basic claim is real let them demonstrate it in a video of an experiment proving what I have proven is wrong !

    I’ve made an offer to the Australian ABC Science show to donate $1000 to charity if any climate scientist can prove the claim taught at Universities.

    If anyone can prove that –

    1 source of radiation capable of heating an object to minus 18 C (power of 239 W/sqm) can combine with another source of radiation capable of heating an object to minus 18 C (power of 239 W/sqm) to induce a temperature in that object of 30 C – I will honour that commitment.

    Surprisingly I have had no response from the ABC Science show personnel in almost 6 months despite repeated approaches.

    To anyone who thinks I am wrong and the effect taught is possible I say prove it – don’t just talk and offer opinion about why I am wrong as literally hundreds already have without any evidence at all – prove it happens !

    It doesn’t happen as they teach and the model of the “Atmospheric Back Radiative Greenhouse Effect” being taught in Universities all around the world is not real science !

    I am amazed the “science” survived this long without someone testing the fundamental claim and being able to demonstrate it.

    As Feynman said :-

    “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”

    The “Atmospheric Back Radiative Greenhouse Effect” being taught in Universities all around the world is not real science !

  14. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

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