It has to be one or the other [or maybe both – my bet is on both – Ed]. Because no matter how many times the 97% figure is shown to be misleading, they keep on plugging away with it, witness the latest example, with the accompanying graphic on the right:
The epidemic of climate science false balance in the media
False balance in media reporting on climate change is a big problem for one overarching reason: there is a huge gap between the 97 percent expert consensus on human-caused global warming, and the public perception that scientists are evenly divided on the subject.
This can undoubtedly be traced in large part to the media giving disproportionate coverage to the opposing fringe climate contrarian views. Research has shown that people who are unaware of the expert consensus are less likely to accept the science and less likely to support taking action to address the problem, so media false balance can be linked directly to our inability to solve the climate problem. (source)
What this translates to is frustration that the media (for once) isn’t being taken in by Un-Sk Ps-Sc‘s statistical gymnastics.
Un-Sk Ps-Sc have refined this kind of nonsense into an art form, in order to maintain their dogmatic narrative in the face of any contrary evidence. For example, many writers on climate from both sides of the debate have acknowledged that there has been some kind of levelling off of temperature in the last decade or so, or a pause, but not Un-Sk Ps-Sc, oh no. Using classic misdirection, Un-Sk Ps-Sc forgets about surface temperatures, on which it previously obsessed, and shifted focus onto the mysterious ‘missing heat’ in the oceans, claiming that warming continues as rapidly as before. See here for more on that.
Likewise with the nonsensical 97% consensus figure, which, each time it is used, subtracts yet another chunk of what little credibility Un-Sk Ps-Sc may have once had [not a lot – Ed]. Notice that “agree on global warming” is vague enough to allow a huge swathe of opinion to be included, therefore supposedly supporting this ludicrous percentage. But maintaining this fictional number is essential to the autocrats at Un-Sk Ps-Sc, because it can then be used to bully media organisations into giving even less time to any contrary arguments than they do already, i.e. to silence critics.
It is likely that a similar percentage of sceptics ‘agree on global warming’ to the extent that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, humans have added CO2 to the atmosphere and that the additional CO2 will have caused some warming of the planet. But if the question were more honestly framed, for example, what percentage of climate scientists ‘agree on global warming’ AND consider that the effects on the climate are likely to be catastrophic AND consider mitigation to be the only option, and I suggest the figure would be considerably lower.
The ‘false balance’ that Un-Sk Ps-Sc harps on about isn’t about whether climate change is happening or whether humans are in part to blame, but more about the magnitude of the problem and how we should respond.
But that doesn’t make for anywhere near as nice a graphic, does it?
They can’t back away from it now, of course, given that there’s a Guardian column, written by Un-Sk Ps-Sc’s Nuccitelli, with 97% in the freaking title…