Is there a consensus whether global warming is dangerous?

One of the many things that I found remarkable in the Cook presentation was the slide with the well known tweet of the President of the United States (actually the organization that manages his tweet account):

twitter 20130516 ninety-seven-percent

This tweet was not a surprise as such. I have seen this tweet many times before and I know how it was used. The surprise is that it was presented here.

The tweet contains two errors, a small one and a very big one. First, not 97% of the scientists agree, but 97% of the papers that were assessed by title & abstract. Okay, probably a honest mistake and no big difference. The second error is a serious one: nowhere in the study was queried for the dangerous aspect of global warming/climate change!

Here we have a tweet that obviously misrepresent the study and I would expect that Cook said in no uncertain terms that his research was misrepresented. In stead he seemed to be rather pleased and praised him.

In the Q&A session there was also the question whether was queried about the dangerous aspect of man made global warming. Cook answered that this was not the case. That is something I could well agree to. His study, as well as all the other studies before that, used the broadest and most uncontroversial definition of global warming/climate change: that there is a warming and that man is at least partly responsible for that.

But is that the definition that really separates the believers from the skeptics? Many skeptics have no problem accepting that humans emit CO2, that this has a warming effect and that humans therefor could at least partly be responsible for the temperature increase in the last say 100 – 150 years.

That is not controversial. Most believers as well as skeptics can agree on this. Cook, and the other investigators before him, only queried for what alarmists and skeptics alike agree on, not what separates them!

The real discussion is about how much that human part is exactly, how dangerous the global warming is and whether we have enough data from an intrinsically complex system to clearly assess this. I was glad Cook admitted that this “global warming is dangerous” part was not the subject of his investigation.

But that left me a bit at a loss why he thinks that these kind of surveys should be done so the public would feel inclined to support climate policies. If it is true that his investigation didn’t look if there is a consensus whether global warming is dangerous or not, how then could the conclusion of this paper follow from his own investigation?

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