Global Warming Consensus

Ronald Bailey points to an interesting survey by the Statistical Assesment Service (STATS) on global warming. It is a survey of the views of climate scientists. Here are some of the findings:

  • Ninety-seven percent of the climate scientists surveyed believe “global average temperatures have increased” during the past century.
  • Eighty-four percent say they personally believe human-induced warming is occurring, and 74% agree that “currently available scientific evidence” substantiates its occurrence. Only 5% believe that that human activity does not contribute to greenhouse warming; the rest are unsure.
  • A slight majority (54%) believe the warming measured over the last 100 years is not “within the range of natural temperature fluctuation.”
  • A slight majority (56%) see at least a 50-50 chance that global temperatures will rise two degrees Celsius or more during the next 50 to 100 years.
  • Based on current trends, 41% of scientists believe global climate change will pose a very great danger to the earth in the next 50 to 100 years, compared to 13% who see relatively little danger. Another 44% rate climate change as moderately dangerous.
  • Seventy percent see climate change as very difficult to manage over the next 50 to 100 years, compared to only 5% who see it as not very difficult to manage. Another 23% see moderate difficulty in managing these changes.

These findings fit with my view of the global warming debate. Yes, there has been warming. Yes, it does appear that the rise is outside the normal range of variability assuming just nature is at work. Yes, that last part means mankind has had an impact. I’m also glad to see the inclusion of some uncertainty at to the degree to how much warming there will be. And what catches my interest is that 70% of the scientists see managing global temps as being a great difficulty.

Case in point, I was at a meeting where there was discussion of GHG mitigation measures in California and the interesting tidbit that caught my attention was that even with a pure market approach to limiting GHGs (e.g. a cap-&-trade program) electricity rates would be expected to rise by 40% and that is the low end scenario–i.e. all other scenarios are higher.

Now California is kind of weird when it comes to electricity. We have some of the highest rates, and residential users are some of the most efficient users as well. So such an increase wouldn’t be that bad since your typical California resident does not use electricity like Al Gore. Still if your average bill is $80 seeing it jump up to $112 in real terms is not a good thing. And think about the impact of the economy as a whole. Electricity is like oil in that it is used pervasively throughout the economy. Every manufacturing, production and commercial enterprise uses electricity. As such an increase in electricity prices would be felt throughout the entire economy.

It is all well and good to go see An Inconvenient Truth and feel good about yourself, but paying an extra $350-$400 a year for electricity, as well as higher prices for all other goods in addition….well it might not seem like such an important issue anymore. And it isn’t just electricity as well. Serious mitigation efforts might call for say an additional $2/gallon tax on gasoline and natural gas as well. Now driving your car, heating your home and all other goods will also be more expensive (and it is a double or triple hit for things like food, which are shipped via truck, rely on natural gas for fertilizers, and electricity is used in packing plant, stores, and refrigerators). I think that 23% who see the problem as only moderately difficult as being seriously out of touch. And that 5%…well they are just crazy.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Environment, Government, Science & Technology, US Politics, , , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. bains says:

    I think there is a grand (and guilt driven) conceit in anthropogenic global warming theology. Just as there was a grand conceit in global cooling thoughts decades ago. Proponents of both lament that humans are destroying their world, all the while denying the possibility that human activity could cause the opposite effect (e.g. AGW proponents massively reject the idea that anthropogenic sources can cause catastrophic global climate cooling).

    That said, human kind does affect its environment, and I have no problem with law/policy that seek to minimize those polluting aspects. My (and many others) disillusion with AGW proponents is that they are much more politically rather than environmentally motivated. Stopping pollution is one thing – killing free markets is quite another.

  2. G.A.Phillips says:

    Just a thought, What can be done about global stupidity, you can blame everything under the sun on human activity, but as a active human I can only blame the heating and cooling of my planet on the sun. But even if you figure out how to put a thermostat on that bad boy how are you gonna get close enough to attach it ?

    He is my problem: if I was a evolutionist like most of the rest of you like I’m not, I would have to ask my self.

    how did the plant go for gazillions of years as a molten peace of hot ass goo then become the beautiful blue/green terrarium/aquarium that it is today with out the go green movement and the great intellect of the one and only ALgore.

    more simply how did this planet ever get anywhere without the modernly evolved mind of a liberal to figure out what it should do?

    Another thought: you could get or force all of us to think the same and do the same as you think (i.e. a liberal consensus), but really what effect do suppose to tell us that would have upon the daily living habits of this planet or the sun?

    Lets use your evolutionist scientists standards of time, lets say 30,000 forest fires and 10,000 volcanic eruptions and you wanna blame the state of things on the stuff we have been improving our lives with for the last 100 years, I can’t imagine what you could be comparing your consensus too.

  3. Michael says:

    as a active human I can only blame the heating and cooling of my planet on the sun.

    You can only blame the heating on the sun, it does nothing to cool our planet.

    more simply how did this planet ever get anywhere without the modernly evolved mind of a liberal to figure out what it should do?

    See, your problem is that you think they’re trying to save the planet. They’re not, the planet will be just fine with a global temperature increase of a few degrees. The planet has survive much greater changes in the past.

    The problem is that not all creature on the planet will be able to survive that change, and humanity has become pretty dependent on our current ecological environment to survive. A change of only a few degrees will have serious implications on our way of life. A herd of beasts can migrate 2 or 3 hundred miles to find better pastures, but you can’t move all of humanity a couple hundred miles one way or the other.

  4. Wayne says:

    Michael
    “You can only blame the heating on the sun, it does nothing to cool our planet.”

    Are you claiming if the sun suddenly decreases its radiation by half that it wouldn’t have a cooling effect on Earth? Granted the sun doesn’t absorb heat but to pretend that a planet cooling off has nothing to do with the sun output is crazy.

  5. Grewgills says:

    A slight majority (56%) see at least a 50-50 chance that global temperatures will rise two degrees Celsius or more during the next 50 to 100 years.

    and most of the rest see it rising 1-2o

    Based on current trends, 41% of scientists believe global climate change will pose a very great danger to the earth in the next 50 to 100 years, compared to 13% who see relatively little danger. Another 44% rate climate change as moderately dangerous.

    I followed the links and read the article and nowhere does it define what those levels of danger represent. For example, is the loss of 50% of the earth’s biodiversity a great danger to the earth or a moderate danger? Is a great danger to low lying cities like Shanghai a great or moderate or small danger to the earth?

    Seventy percent see climate change as very difficult to manage over the next 50 to 100 years, compared to only 5% who see it as not very difficult to manage. Another 23% see moderate difficulty in managing these changes.

    Also very important is what these difficulties are? How difficult would it be if the political hurdles were lower? How would the difficulty change if the US were as proactive as the EU?

    even with a pure market approach to limiting GHGs (e.g. a cap-&-trade program)

    Just a quibble, but is a cap & trade program really a pure market approach?
    and who estimated the 40% increase?

    I think there is a grand (and guilt driven) conceit in anthropogenic global warming theology. Just as there was a grand conceit in global cooling thoughts decades ago.

    The two issues are quite different. The global cooling of the seventies was largely about one popular magazine article and the unpublished (in peer reviewed journals) speculation of a few scientists on which that one article was based. All of the major scientific organizations said that there was not sufficient evidence to make those claims.

    Proponents of both lament that humans are destroying their world, all the while denying the possibility that human activity could cause the opposite effect

    That is simply untrue. There is rather extensive debate about what humans can and should do to counteract the present course. There are a few thing we could do, among them is spreading sulfates in the upper atmosphere to reflect a greater portion of solar radiation back into space. Acidifying the upper atmosphere in order to create a sunscreen could have serious negative side effects, but it is something we could do for a few hundred million a year.

    how did the plant go for gazillions of years as a molten peace of hot ass goo

    Only ~4.5 billion years as a planet and less than 1/2 a billion of that as ‘hot ass goo’

    then become the beautiful blue/green terrarium/aquarium that it is today

    You can thank archaeobacteria for a lot of that.

    but really what effect do suppose to tell us that would have upon the daily living habits of this planet or the sun?

    not much on the sun, but we have mighty effects on the earth and the other creatures we share it with.

  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    You can only blame the heating on the sun, it does nothing to cool our planet.

    The Earth spins around the sun heating and cooling.

    Dude maybe if you lived in Wisconsin for 42 years like me you would understand.

  7. Michael says:

    Are you claiming if the sun suddenly decreases its radiation by half that it wouldn’t have a cooling effect on Earth? Granted the sun doesn’t absorb heat but to pretend that a planet cooling off has nothing to do with the sun output is crazy.

    That’s a bit like saying your oven cools your food when you turn it off. The earth cools itself by radiating heat. The earth is always radiating heat, regardless of whether the sun is shining on it or not. A lack of input from the sun would produce a lack of renewed heating of the earth, but it wouldn’t play a part in the cooling of the earth.

    The Earth spins around the sun heating and cooling.

    You’re not seriously suggesting that if the earth were to stop orbiting the sun, that it would also stop cooling, are you?

  8. Michael says:

    Dude maybe if you lived in Wisconsin for 42 years like me you would understand.

    You don’t think that winter is caused by the distance of the Earth from the Sun, do you?

  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    yo Smokey, I believe that the seasons are part of the curse, and I was making fun of liberals but it’s funny that the only truth I wrote about is what you take issue with, typical.

    You don’t think that winter is caused by the distance of the Earth from the Sun, do you?

    Of course not every one knows it’s caused by global warming.

    A lack of input from the sun would produce a lack of renewed heating of the earth, but it wouldn’t play a part in the cooling of the earth.

    WOW, probably not seeing that space is all warm on its own and such.

    Only ~4.5 billion years as a planet and less than 1/2 a billion of that as ‘hot ass goo’

    And then you got this dude who thinks its a fact that that you can tell how old this planet is and knows for a fact how it came to be by comparing it to what I’ll never know.

    That is simply untrue. There is rather extensive debate about what humans can and should do to counteract the present course. There are a few thing we could do, among them is spreading sulfates in the upper atmosphere to reflect a greater portion of solar radiation back into space. Acidifying the upper atmosphere in order to create a sunscreen could have serious negative side effects, but it is something we could do for a few hundred million a year.

    well at least he is a fan of the Mission Earth series.

  10. Michael says:

    Of course not every one knows it’s caused by global warming.

    Jesus Christ, you do think it’s a distance thing, don’t you?

    WOW, probably not seeing that space is all warm on its own and such.

    Space is a vacuum, it has no temperature, it is neither hot nor cold, it’s not much of anything really.

  11. DL says:

    consensus is not science -it’s politics – ask 100 red sox fans if the Yankees are going to win the world series and you’ll get the same effect -bias -they get paid to think this way or else.

    This is just like “studies prove”

  12. G.A.Phillips says:

    Jesus Christ, you do think it’s a distance thing, don’t you?

    Monkey-spawning Gaea, I thought we were talking about global warming and I was making fun of you but please tell me where does winter come from.

    and while your at it how come the earth spins perfectly around the sun where as in no other orbit around any other sun or even this one we would be able to have this pointless conversation.

    what are the odds?

    And are you saying if we turn off the sun this plant is going go doing what it does in the sun less vacuum of space.

    vacuum i.e. explanation of any liberal theory, no matter many facts are shown to disprove it it just keeps sucking them in and existing for no known reason, aw poop I’m sorry thats a black hole.

  13. Wayne says:

    Semantics’! Yes under normal circumstance shutting the oven off would cause your food to cool down. An objects cools when it give off more heat then it receives and heats up when it receive more heat then it gives off. So shutting off a heat source can and often does results (plays a role) in the cooling of an object.

    FYI
    Even though many refer to “the vacuum of space” it is not a true vacuum. It contains substance. It is just much less dense than substance near a large object like Earth.

  14. Frank Dogood says:

    Global Warming is only a small issue in a sea of massive chemical pollution that dwarfs the issue. Why? Here is why.
    The EPA approves 90% of new compounds w/o restrictions — 82,000 chemicals in use have ever been tested for toxicity out of nearly One Million. CDC Study from 2005 found 148 chemicals in blood of Americans some as high as 400 or more. Study of blood from umbilical cords of newborn babies showed as many as 400 compounds. What if the weapon of mass destruction is right in our cabinet? What if the chemical weapon were in the products we buy every day? What if, unknowingly, the greatest scientific experiment ever conducted was our water, air, soil, and blood stream? What if nobody thought about how all these chemicals or compounds interact with each other in the real world? What about the fact that testing is only limited to the substance its self and possible interactions with a couple of other compounds? Why has the public safety and nation security not been thought about when it pertains to how all the One Million human created compounds interact with each other? Eco-Logical toxic collapse would not be healthy for national security nor would it be healthy for life in general. Would the answer make us bitter? Would the fact that cost and profit dominate the depth and thoroughness of scientific testing mean that greed or ignorance has put us all in jeopardy? I should not have to answer these disturbing questions because industry should not have reached this point. I have seen some limited news coverage, but it has been lacking in the depth of coverage. While there has been coverage the opinions have been from some researchers and industry apologists. While the chemical industry and industry attempt to place doubt on the topic in order to evade responsibility or further monetary expenditures we suffer the cost of life in a chemical world. Dibutyl phthalate DBP, Phthalates, Di(2-Ethylhexyl)DEHP and Mono (2-Ethylhexyl), Bisphenal A or BBP, PVC, Linuron, Butyl Benzene, Penta and Octa Brominated Diphenyl or PBDE, PCB, DDT, all have mutagenic(mutation) or endocrine disruptive properties or interactive chemical behavior characteristics. Some of these compounds are in cosmetics, clothing, plastic, children’s toys, and many other products we buy. Opposition to FDA oversight is rampit by the chemical and cosmetics industry. CTFA a so-called self police force funded by member companies is like having the energy industry police Global Warming or pollution. There are over 10,500 compounds in cosmetics many of which have not been tested for toxic effects. Asbestos, Deca BDE, Dioxins, DBC, Methyl Mercury, Cadmium, Lead, Polybrominated biphenyl or PFA flame retardant are used in many industries and in consumer electronics. The EPA per yr. Reviews approx. 1,700 new compounds. The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act requires only testing for “ill effects” only upon evidence of “potential harm.” If you do not provide any evidence you do not have to test for toxic properties. This wording of the 1976 TSCA has no bite and can be easily avoided. From 1996-2006 Chem. Indus. Spent 35 mill. to Fed Campaign organizations and 2 to 5 million was spent on lobbying —Cent. for Responsible Politics. This threatening blindness to a very real threat is something that requires all of us to realize that true family values begin at the molecular level. Sources: (Exposed the book by mark Schapiro) and (Shanna H. Swan Environ. Health Perspectives vol. 113 no. 8, Aug, 2005) and (Toxicological Sciences, vol.58 Dec.2000 L. Earl Gray // Susan M. Duty Environmental Health Perspectives Dec.2002) and (National Geographic Oct.2006 David Ewing Duncan)

  15. Michael says:

    please tell me where does winter come from.

    It would be easier, and I think more productive in general, to just mock.

    how come the earth spins perfectly

    What exactly is “perfect” about earth’s orbit?

    And are you saying if we turn off the sun this plant is going go doing what it does in the sun less vacuum of space.

    Astronomically, yes. Biologically, not so much.

    So shutting off a heat source can and often does results (plays a role) in the cooling of an object.

    In lay conversation it’s semantics, in scientific conversation it’s an important distinction.

  16. Larry Wagner says:

    Teenage Skeptic Takes on Climate Scientists
    by David Kestenbaum NPR
    Morning Edition, April 15, 2008 • If you’re a scientist trying to convince people they are making the world warmer, Kristen Byrnes is your worst nightmare. She’s articulate, intelligent, she has a Web site, and one day her people will be running the world. Her people, meaning 16-year-olds.
    Kristen’s Web site, “Ponder the Maunder,” has made her a celebrity among climate skeptics. After she posted a critique of Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth, her Web site got so many hits the family’s internet service provider sent them a warning.
    Her story may dismay mainstream scientists, but plenty of people are friendly to her ideas.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89619306&ft=1&f=1025#email

  17. G.A.Phillips says:

    What exactly is “perfect” about earth’s orbit?

    well for one thing there is no other like it and its the reason knuckleheads like you and me get to argue, thanks to God, so I guess you are right thats its not perfect but I do do know that it once was, man imagine what that was like.

    My friend we are surrounded by death and decay, so I’m just trying to point the obvious truth where you guys get an idea and portray it as fact ill take fact and portray it as a better idea seeing that most of you only respect ideas.

    what am I suppose to do give your unproven theory the absolute certainty that most of you do and arguing it with you like its has been tested to be flawless like you cold ever do that, or like I do, use your tactics and make fun of your faith to get you to see how you make me feel to have to try to explain something to you?

    And Micheal you should no by now that because of my liberal upbringing that I always start out with good intentions and end up sounding like a wise ass get the last mock in jackass, so please forgive me if believe in that sort of thing.

  18. Michael says:

    well for one thing there is no other like it

    Um, every planet’s orbit is like ours, because they’re all governed by the same physics as ours. Or are you just using the anthropic principle to suggest an intended design?

    what am I suppose to do give your unproven theory

    You mean my theory about what causes seasons? Are you still questioning that?

  19. Steve Plunk says:

    Getting in late but I’m curious if Steve V. would like to explain in more detail why that 5% who see a global warming scenario as manageable are “just crazy”.

  20. Wayne says:

    Oh yeah. When scientist talk about what causes the Earth to cool in the past and what caused the ice ages, they never talk about the heat sources such as the sun and volcanoes and what roles they have in the cooling process but just about what saps the heat from the Earth. What a bunch of BS. You need to listen to some of the conversation on Astronomy. The talk about a star going dormant resulting in planets freezing not that space cause the planet to freeze and the star going dormant had nothing to do with it. You are trying to use sleight of hand to pretend that the sun’s activity has nothing to do with the cooling of the Earth only it’s heating. As stated below the Earth’s temperature is part of a heat system. Increase and decreasing either the heating source or cooling source will result in a Earth temperature change.

    By your logic, greenhouse gasses can’t possibly cause the Earth temperature to rise because the source of Earth’s heat is the sun not the chemicals in the atmosphere. Most scientists would agree that greenhouse gasses could contribute to the warming or cooling of Earth even though the gasses themselves don’t create heat. The debate is how much of today’s temperatures are due to the greenhouse gasses and how much is due to the suns level of activity.

  21. Michael says:

    By your logic, greenhouse gasses can’t possibly cause the Earth temperature to rise because the source of Earth’s heat is the sun not the chemicals in the atmosphere.

    Greenhouse gases prevent cooling, they don’t cause heating.

    Temperature is a factor of heating and cooling, input and output of heat*. Reducing the input can decrease the temperature, but it does not change the rate of cooling, only the rate of heating.

    Therefore, the Sun does not cause cooling, and greenhouse gases do not cause heating.

    (*) We’re probably arguing past each other here. I use “heating” to mean the transfer of energy (heat) into a system, where you seem to use it to mean the increase in temperature (average energy) of a system.

  22. Wayne says:

    As I already stated Semantics’ which meaning using of different definitions of words or phrases. My first post stated the sun didn’t absorb heat from Earth. Your posts were sounding like you were denying that a sharp decrease of the suns output would result in a cooler earth.

  23. another matt says:

    I’m guessing that G.A.Phillips’ “perfect orbit” is referring to the fact that the Earth is in an orbit around the sun which allows for the existence of water as a gas, liquid, and solid which greatly aids in the ability of our planet to support its current slew of life forms.

    I’m no expert, but I thought I had read that astronomers were starting to find planets in other solar systems that appeared to have orbits that might support 3 phases of water. Maybe there are other perfect orbits out there?

  24. Michael says:

    I’m guessing that G.A.Phillips’ “perfect orbit” is referring to the fact that the Earth is in an orbit around the sun which allows for the existence of water as a gas, liquid, and solid which greatly aids in the ability of our planet to support its current slew of life forms.

    Actually, we’re slightly outside of the liquid water zone. If it weren’t for the fact that we have the amount of greenhouse gases that we do, the earth would be too cold for liquid water.

    I’m no expert, but I thought I had read that astronomers were starting to find planets in other solar systems that appeared to have orbits that might support 3 phases of water.

    Yes, he have been finding many planets with orbits in range of the liquid water zone, depending on the planet’s makeup.

  25. G.A.Phillips says:

    Dang bro, did I not make it obvious that I believe that God created this planet in prefect orbit to be perfect and unique and the curse of our sin brought forth the seasons and ruined the perfectness of our paradise.

    I used to think like you, brainwashed to see things only through the lenses of evolution.

    I got a few questions for you that might help you:

    No.1: why don’t you believe in the catastrophe of a global flood when all the evidence that you evolutionists find for evolution ends up not pointing to evolution but to a global flood?

    No.2: does it not seem queer to you that every time evolution is proving to be totally wrong in its assumptions that the so called scientists that are proving it wrong simply change the rules with out blinking an eye and say we are still right we will prove it?

    No.3: why do you have so much faith in your faith when all the evidence in your faith turns out to be evidence for my faith?

    No.4: to what power are the odds of another plant like this one existing?

  26. Michael says:

    Dang bro, did I not make it obvious that I believe that God created this planet in prefect orbit to be perfect and unique and the curse of our sin brought forth the seasons and ruined the perfectness of our paradise.

    No, what you failed to do was recognize that our orbit is not perfect, that seasons have always existed, and that seasons are not caused by our orbit. I have no problem with you believing in God, but denying facts is not “faith”.

    I’m not going to get into an evolution debate on this thread, because it’s not relevant to the topic, and also because I feel that you will not present nor accept a rational argument in such a discussion. Suffice it to say that your first three questions are based on false assumptions, and you wouldn’t accept an honest answer to the fourth.

  27. G.A.Phillips says:

    No, what you failed to do was recognize that our orbit is not perfect, that seasons have always existed, and that seasons are not caused by our orbit. I have no problem with you believing in God, but denying facts is not “faith”.

    I thought I agreed with you that the the orbit is not perfect anymore, prove that the seasons have always been, the bible says no and is much more credible then anything any of you have ever come up with or ever will, and my hole point is you people use do not use fact, I would call them UN granted wishes.

    I’m not going to get into an evolution debate on this thread, because it’s not relevant to the topic, and also because I feel that you will not present nor accept a rational argument in such a discussion. Suffice it to say that your first three questions are based on false assumptions, and you wouldn’t accept an honest answer to the fourth.

    evolution is relevant to every topic you believe in my friend, it shapes your whole being, and for the love of tadpole spewing semi volcanic primordial tide pool how are these questions based on false assumptions, that really sounds like a state denial, try using your so called open mind to think outside the box or should I say the barrel of monkeys once in a while.As to No.4 I would love to know what you think the answer is.

    Try it this way, please use your super liberal hypersonic imagination and think on this at every stage: once upon a time a slime pops up out of the sea yadayadayada million this billion that humans live in city’s that they built? Now if you think on this with your S.L.H.I. on wide open mode like I have it should not take you more then a few 10’s of minutes to see how crazy the cult of evolution is if you really do know how to use your God given reason.

  28. Michael says:

    I thought I agreed with you that the the orbit is not perfect anymore

    How does “the earth spins perfectly around the sun” and “there is no other like it” in any way convey that you think it is currently imperfect?

    evolution is relevant to every topic you believe in my friend,

    Just because you make it a part of every topic of debate, doesn’t mean that it is relevant. Evolution is relevant only in terms of biological systems. Earth’s orbit has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution.

    As to No.4 I would love to know what you think the answer is.

    Based on observations of Venus, the chances are pretty good that there was another earth-like planet in our own solar system at one time.