What if - and this is a big "if" - the 3% of scientific literature that disagrees with human-made climate change happened to be right?
On the flip side, what if it was wrong, and wrong scientifically?
Well, hold onto your ankles!
A new paper published in the journal of Theoretical and Applied Climatology examined the methodology of some highly cited studies that get spammed in a good many comment section.
The paper's title?
Learning From Mistakes In Climate Research.
If you need boning up on your knowledge of the scientific method: all factual scientific research should be replicable.
It's a sure-fire way of not just evaluating the outcome, but testing the methodology of the experiment itself.
Think of it this way, if a justice system is habitually putting minorities in prison based on the colour of their skin *cough cough* and not evidence, that system would be considered broken. The outcome is unjust, or inaccurate, and the methodology would need serious revisions.
And that's what happened with some select works of climate denial gold.
Plus, they'll do you one better. The study attempted to find any links as to how they found contrarian outcomes to 97% of the climate science foundation of knowledge.
Is there a link between contrarian thinking?
Is their methodology biased?
Or just a coincidence?
The study on "studies" was authored by a select team of meteorologists, climate scientists, and all-round sciency people.
They used a tool called the R programming language to "replicate the results and methods used in a number of frequently-referenced research papers that reject the expert consensus on human-caused global warming,"
But did they find flawed similarities in the 3% in favour of anti-anthropogenic climate change?
Yes. Big yes.
The most common flaw in the methodology was a cardinal sin in the science world: cherry-picking.
Cherry-picking is defined as "suppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position while ignoring a significant portion of related and similar cases or data that may contradict that position."
So, it's falsifying the big picture. And it goes against the foundations of science and seeking the truth, no matter the hypothesis.
Because of cherry-picking, a very ugly and damnable outcome casts a shadow over the "data", the experiment, and the authors involved. Confirmation bias is the tendency to favour or give weight to information that confirms existing beliefs or hypotheses.
Or, as the 38 paper study said: "A common denominator seems to be missing contextual information or ignoring information that does not fit the conclusions, be it other relevant work or related geophysical data. In many cases, shortcomings are due to insufficient model evaluation, leading to results that are not universally valid but rather are an artifact of a particular experimental setup,"
And: "... many contrarian research papers omitted important contextual information or ignored key data that did not fit the research conclusions," said co-author Dana Nuccitelli.
Combine cherry-picking with confirmation bias and you get...
In the case of a 2011 paper by Humlum et al. where the authors profess concluded that prehistoric ice cores showed a "lag" between CO2 levels and atmospheric temperatures. Meaning, the two are not "cause and effect".
The study crucially omitted over 2,000 years worth of data from a 4,000-year sample. That's omitting 50% of the data - which didn't fit the hypothesis.
The authors even ventured to say that their model could be used to forecast future climate change. Even though it selectively overlooked 2,000 years of it.
When the omitted data was reintroduced, there was a clear relationship between the rise of CO2 and atmospheric temperature.
Another common science bending "technique" (for lack of a better word) that Humlum et al. employed was 'curve fitting'.
While it sounds like the latest trend in activewear, curve fitting is taking several variables that follow a routine cycle and stretching the duration so it fits a predetermined curve.
An example would be changing the days in a year so your birthday is tomorrow.
That, but the authors augmented temperature data to downplay the irreversible negative impact we're having on our planet.
Similarly, Nicola Scafetta (a research scientist at the University of Napoli Federico II) and Craig Loehle (principal scientist at the NCASI) have published papers that attribute climate change to the orbits of planets, namely Jupiter and Saturn. Despite a little thing called physics.
Elective reasoning, without the use of physics, was another common occurrence in the anti-manmade climate change cache.
Or as it was written in the recreated "Learning From Mistakes In Climate Research paper", the 38 studies: "display a clear lack of plausible physics,"
If it's natural, or the planets affecting our climate, this statistical graphic wouldn't exist.
The arguments of Ferenc Miskolczi in 2007 and 2010, respectively, found that greenhouse gases had reached a level of "saturation". Miskolczi found that each unit of CO2 you put into the atmosphere has less of a warming impact.
While it's true that CO2 absorbs nearly all the infrared radiation (heat) that's leaving the Earth's surface, they missed a very key point. It is also losing heat, that goes back into the atmosphere.
Think of it this way, if CO2 absorbed heat in a never-ending cycle, why isn't the Earth ash?
Because CO2 absorbs- and loses - heat. Besides, the "saturation" theory was dispelled as bad science in the early 20th century.
For a palate cleanser, this is what the public thinks the scientific debate around human made climate change looks like, compared to the general consensus.
This means the stance that climate change is not man made is mostly done by a very loud minority that are not an authority in the field.
If you had a sandwich and it was 97% dirt, would you still be willing to eat it?
That's how convincing the debate is. In fact. it's not a debate at all. It's a landslide in favour of scientific fact.
The final nail in the anti-climate change literature is that none of the 38 studies has provided a logical alternative to human-influenced climate change.
In fact, most provide a fleeting mention of why the Earth's atmosphere is warming.
And what's more?
These subpar attempts at conclusion contradict other conclusions in the 38 papers...
Why is that important?
You see, with the 97% of current empirical evidence that attests that climate change is real, all of it is supported by a single, evidence-based theory.
It follows physics, the scientific method, hell, even basic common sense.
And none of the science has been augmented or cherry-picked to prove a predetermined result.
There is scientific evidence in the 97% that may contradict another finding, sure. But without fail, the replication of the experiment or study always brings us closer to the only predetermined outcome: the truth.
While there isn't enough time (or energy) to go through all 38 cases, these flaws in methodology were the most egregious and, sadly, the most common. You can read the full study on the 38 papers here
It's one thing for the methods used to not be replicable.
What happened when the flaws in methodology were accounted for?
"Every single one of those analyses had an error – in their assumptions, methodology, or analysis – that, when corrected, brought their results into line with the scientific consensus." said co-author and atmospheric scientist, Katharine Hayhoe.
"It's a lot easier for someone to claim they've (climate change data) been suppressed than to admit that maybe they can't find the scientific evidence to support their political ideology. But over the last 10 years, at least 38 papers were published in peer-reviewed journals, each claiming various reasons why climate wasn't changing, or if it was, it wasn't humans, or it wasn't bad. They weren't suppressed. They're out there, where anyone can find them."