‘Flat Earthers’? I rather think not…

No sceptic would be a member…

Flat Earth Society: No sceptic would be a member…

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.


  1. Where is the evidence that CO2 “traps heat”. It strikes me that as an IR responsive gas, it can both absorb AND emit heat via IR (which it has to do spontaneously), whereas O2 & N2 absorb heat via conduction but CANNOT emit it via radiation, and seeing as the ONLY way earth can lose heat is by radiation, IR responsive gases can only be considered as coolants.

    • This is a crucial point that is absent from the general discussion . See my explication of the essential computations of planetary temperature at my CoSy.com . I emphasize the more than 150 year old understanding that absorption and emission are just two directions thru the same filter , if you will . The temperature of the planet is determined by its spectrum as seen from the outside . And CO2 is as good a radiator as it is an absorber .

      It’s main effect is to absorb heat from sunlit ground and transfer it to the more “transparent” other molecules in the air — and at night to largely reverse that process . It helps reduce the variance in our temperature far more than change its mean .

  2. fwiw, MA, UWA (Australian literature), B.Ec. (ANU). OK so I’m a science amateur. But consider if you were charged with murdering your spouse. The jury would be all amateurs, but expected to adjudicate on the merits of the evidence of DNA experts, forensic corpse dissectors, bullet experts, psychiatrists, you name it. Maybe we should allow only PhDs (non-arts) to be empanelled?

    • It is not necessary to have a PhD (in fact, it may be a detriment !) to understand enough about climate science to know that the claims attaching human activity to global warming, climate change, climate disruption, etc., is bogus.

  3. B.Eng (Electrical & Mechatronics) – Climate change is occurring, as it always has; how much of the warming this century it is due to human activity… ? I don’t think it’s nearly as much as “The Consensus” claims

    • Should add that my Grandfather is a mech eng and my Father is an industrial chemist; they both believe it is blown way out of proportion too

  4. Rathnakumar says:

    Master of Science (Physics). I don’t consider myself an expert in anything.

  5. Doubting Thomas says:

    No formal scientific or other relevant tertiary qualifications. Have a life time of weather observation as a farmer and, later, as an air traffic controller with formal meteorological observer training.

    • Redneck Engineer says:

      You probably know more than all of them combined.

      (B.S. in Manufacturing Engineering and B.S. Business Management)

  6. BS Chemistry, MS Chemical Engineering; AGW, yes; CAGW, no.

  7. You always seemed to bright to just be a lawyer.

  8. BS Electrical Engineering / BS Computer Engineering / BS Computer Science

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas but the very notion of a net positive feedback in a stable system is pure bunk.

  9. BS Biology, graduate research Evolutionary Ecology, Juris Doctor, Masters Study Environmental Law. We adapt, while green policies condemn the poor.

  10. MD, PhD (biochemistry), over 30 years of university teaching.

  11. The funny thing is that their models assume a flat earth!

    • gofigure560 says:

      I forgot about THAT modeling assumption ! The other assumption is that water vapor is the real culprit, generating 2 to 3 times the temperature increase as does the corresponding co2 temperature increase. (And, of course, all the models DENY the fact that co2, as it increases, has a diminishing effect on temperature increase. (In fact at 20 ppmv co2 has already consumed 50% of the scarce sun energy bandwidth available to it. At 400 ppmv it’s pretty much out of energy, and that appears consistent with the fact that co2 was much higher during two ice ages and going into in one ice age.

    • Oh you flat earther.

      The models do not assume a flat earth!!!

      They assume a much more realistic sphere with an infinitely thin crust with a perfect emissivity of 1.

      Its much more realistic!

      • If the area of the grid at the surface is the same as the top of the atmosphere, that assumes a flat earth.

  12. Since we already have a consensus of 70% (of qualified opinion), why is the inclusion of qualifications necessary here?

  13. went to uni but never completed science degree, so no formal qualifications I guess… I just see the same kid of “experts” as said there would be no Global Financial Crisis… and there were not many dissenters then, were there!! Yes I am a skeptic and I don’t believe in man made global warming – the earth goes through cycles of heating and cooling…. naturally…

  14. Degree in Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Edinburgh 1960s – Interest in Post Roman climate downturn. which I take to mean there was a warmer period during the Roman Empire. Therefore climatic changes are caused by something but not people. Flat earth beliefs were earlier than the Roman Empire as Ancient Greek philosophers knew the earth was ball shaped..

  15. Electrical and computer maintenance engineer, programmer, mathematician and horticulturist, I’m also a science, astronomy and solar physics enthusiast with aspirations set on future qualifications, basically a great all-rounder. CAGW is utter nonsense. AGW is also is utter nonsense.

  16. M.Sc.(Sydney), D.Phil.(Oxford), Applied Mathematics/Theoretical Chemistry

  17. BS Chemical Engineering I cannot find anything bad about CO2

  18. APL programmer who aced high school physics and ended up hanging out with the math department in grad school .

    I would quibble with one point . the effects of the change in CO2’s spectrum has not been calculated and reconciled with observation .

  19. Paul Sangster MD says:

    It would seem to me, given the confusing results from computer models, and conflicting actual climate measurements, that the known factors may be weighted wrong, or there are other significant factors that have not been appreciated.

  20. BSC Geology… yes, unfortunately in the pocket of big oil. However any good geoscience degree covers the cycle of ice ages, and I have always said to people, if you give me a couple of thousand years to prove myself right, we are destined to freeze our ‘rrses off!

  21. johnmarshall says:

    It is the IPCC that believe in the flat earth. They believe in 24 hour sunshine, as their energy model displays in AR4/5. Complete stupidity not to believe that we only get sunshine for 12 hours a day.

  22. BScEng (Industrial); MBA. Student of climate change for about 20 years, have yet to find a real world engineer (or other practitioner of a scientific discipline) who believes in CAGW. Know plenty of Lawyers, Arts graduates, city folk and doctors wives who are scared shitless; know even more whose career is at risk if they take a skeptical view.

    Bitterly disappointed that intellectual curiosity has gone down the drain and that so many are too lazy to question the crap that is dished up. Doesn’t bode well for the future.

  23. Bsc Geology.
    Might directly cause little warming but the net feedback from added CO2 could well be negative and certainly isn’t going to cause catastrophic warming. CO2 only benefits the biosphere in so many ways unless it is in amounts way beyond our control.

  24. manicbeancounter says:

    In one way I am the least qualified here. Just a BA in Economics. But, along with over 20 years in manufacturing industry, I am far better qualified than any PhD in climate science to comment on policy formulation and effective implementation. Whilst it seems entirely reasonable that increased greenhouse gas levels cause some warming, it is irrelevant to policy. There is no mitigation policy that any country, or group of countries, can foreseeably impose where the benefits exceed the costs, even on Al Gore’s scariest scenarios.

  25. So now I am a climate headbanger? Giggle!

  26. Glenn Steiner says:

    PhD in creation science. Climate change scientists are the same as atheists in evolution/creationism debate: lots of groupthink, ideology and an instant dismissal of rival views. Simon, I understand what you are going through!

  27. Degree in Mathematics, 20 years working as a computer systems engineer. CAGW is a religion, not science.

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