One of the favourite ad hominem terms employed by climate headbangers is “Flat Earther” – someone stuck in the ignorance of the past, tied up in a belief system that has long since been abandoned.
But for climate zealots like Cook ‘n’ Lew, it’s far easier to portray their critics as uneducated rednecks with psychological issues (with a bit of name-calling thrown in) than to engage with their arguments and respond to them.
The reality, as usual, is very different, as the Scottish Climate and Energy Forum discovered (h/t Bishop Hill):
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.
So not only are sceptics a scientifically literate, highly educated and very well informed bunch (far more so than the majority of arts-degree journalists, politicians and inner-city green activists), but also nearly four-fifths of respondents would pass the standard test for “belief” in anthropogenic global warming (myself included, by the way). It’s the ‘C’ that prefaces the ‘AGW’ that sceptics take issue with – the magnitude of the warming and whether it’s a problem, whether there is any point in trying to mitigate, or whether we just do what all of life has done for that past three billion years, and adapt.
Yes, a very small minority of sceptics do not believe that man has caused at least some warming through the burning of fossil fuels. One could possibly argue that this very small minority should perhaps be less offended by the term ‘denier’ than the rest of us. But to label the entire sceptic community as ignorant deniers is 100% wrong – on both counts. But don’t expect the headbangers to take any notice…
We could do a little survey here as well – put your area of expertise and qualifications in the comments – no names required. Let’s see what we come up with.
Jo Nova has more here.
Note: By the way, I have a Masters Degree in Engineering from the University of Cambridge (1990), and am admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. So there.