Monthly Archives: December 2015

The “climate risk denial” label

CR_denier_label

The surge in views of a couple days ago came from both sides of the debate. The post was apparently shared by skeptics as well as alarmists, but of course different things were emphasized. The skeptical side linked the post itself. The alarmist side picked just one of the things that Tol said (agreed, it was not smart thing to say), ignoring all the rest.

When following a link from the WordPress Dashboard, I landed on an alarmist blog and found the link to my post in the comments section. There was also a interesting reaction: the question why someone found it necessary to put a link to a “climate risk denial” article? That “climate risk denial” article being my post of course.

I must admit that I am really amazed with the many ridiculous ways “denial” is being labeled. I heard many of those before, like “climate denier” (how can one deny climate!?!?), “science denier” (as far as I know, skeptics don’t deny science), “climate change denier” (strange, skeptics believe in climate change, not in the way that alarmists believe though) or “global warming denier” (most skeptics believe that temperatures have risen). The current “climate risk denier” label was however new to me.

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Definitions and how they change meaning

This blog got quite a boost on Saturday and Sunday when one of previous posts got tweeted by Tom Nelson and Paul Matthews (thanks to both of you). This gave rise to a sudden surge in views of this humble blog. Looking at the explosion of (re)tweets, skeptic and alarmist, something caught my eye that I didn’t noticed before. The title of this post was:

The absurd idea that our grandchildren are in danger from global warming

This was shortened from the title of the online article:

Climate researcher: the idea that our grandchildren are in danger because the earth is warming, is absurd

But suddenly it appeared to me that my short title would be interpreted differently depending the viewpoints of the one that is reading it. Let me explain. To me “Warming of the Earth” is the same as “Global warming”, but that is not the same for everybody. There are different definitions for “Global warming” and therefor the term will be understood differently.

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Playing the man, not the arguments

In previous post I mentioned that it was quite remarkable that not only Tol’s views were published, but also were published without the need for a reply. This was true in the online version of the article, but a day later it was also printed in the paper version of the newspaper and it had a (rather short) reply from the policy coordinator of Bond Beter Leefmilieu.

Reply BBL on Tol (Het Laatste Nieuws December 22, 2015)

Reply BBL on Tol (Het Laatste Nieuws December 22, 2015)

There was however an intriguing common theme in this reply. Let’s look at it one by one (all quotes were translated from Dutch):

Tol is an economist who believes that money is the only thing that matters.

I don’t know Tol personally, but from his writings I don’t share that impression. Of course it might be true, but it has nothing to do with any of the arguments that Tol presented.

He comes to conclusions that differs from common sense

I have to firmly disagree with this one. About seven years ago, I also believed that the climate change issue and its proposed solutions, were common sense. Looking back, this was because I only got to see one side of the story which gave no other explanation. But when we focus on what we effectively know (not assume, suppose, model, predict, expect, speculate,…), then the global warming issue doesn’t make any sense at all.

But that is no reaction on any of Tol’s arguments.

and [differs from] the consensus among climate scientists

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The absurd idea that our grandchildren are in danger from global warming

On Monday we were treated to an article in the online version of Het Laatste Nieuws (translation: The Latest News) with the catching title Climate researcher: “The idea that our grandchildren are in danger because the earth is warming, is absurd” (Dutch).

Reading the article, that “climate researcher” appeared to be Richard Tol, a professor of the economics of climate change. The article is quite different from the usual doom stories in the mainstream media. He explains that climate change is a very complex subject, that climate science is a young science, that lots of things are not known yet, that the climate has almost no influence on our wellbeing/prosperity and that we have the money/knowledge to do something against for example half a meter sea level rise. Also things like that there is no reason to assume that climate change is so terrible (unless you are fundraising for Greenpeace or are a politician who present himself as savior of humanity) or that the boys and girls of the KNMI (the Dutch weather bureau) had to do what they are paid for (forecasting the weather).

Quite a relief to read compared to the messages we normally get from the mainstream media. This sentiment was shared by many of the commenters. At this moment there are 106, most of them positive. Saying for example “That man has it right”, “Hallelujah, at last a skeptical view in the media”, “Nice that this view get published”, “Thank God for someone with common sense” and so on. I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t expect so many positive reactions. It shows that although our mainstream media is only reporting on the other side and restrict skeptical views, there are more people than I would expect who are not influenced by this, have other sources of information and/or have an innate skepticism. That is heartwarming.

I don’t go along with all of Tol’s arguments though. There are two that seems dubious to me. Like the statement that the maximum expected global warming (± 5 °C) would be nothing to worry about because between 6 am and 12 am there is already a difference of 8 °C. In our daily life scale that will indeed be true, but I am not really sure whether one can compare actual temperatures with an average annual temperature difference and expect it to be meaningful in reality. These are different beasts altogether. The same with sea level rise. A rise from the feet to the knees over a century doesn’t seems that much, but it is also an average, not comparable to an actual water level.

But I do agree that such changes are over a very long time and could be countered.

It is remarkable that such an article is being published, even without a reply or downplaying from the other side. This is a very rare occasion indeed. I hope the journalists aren’t getting into trouble for this.

The subject in the title was that we seem to care more about the future of the grandchildren than the current poverty. He sees poverty as a bigger problem than climate change (I agree) and asked the rhetorical question whether one will help the poor by reduce the emission of greenhouse gases or by fighting poverty?

That is what I foremost remember from this article: the disconnect between current real problems (like real pollution and poverty) that kills many millions right now, while policy makers are focusing on an issue that might cause problems many decades from now. That is indeed bonkers.


Translation of the article

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Certainties and risk perception (2)

Continuing with the opening statement of Senator Peters. In previous post I had the impression that his risk perception was seriously influenced by his (unwarranted) certainty of the understanding of the climate system, his specific definition of “global warming” and the very strong simplification of what is in fact a very complex system. This have led him to believe that the science is clear that there are huge risks involved. The rest of the opening statement also builds on this and politics enters the mix.

But first he reflected on the disagreement he was expecting in this panel:

We going to hear today that there is some disagreement, some disagreement, in the scientific community of the magnitude of that risk. As a matter of fact, we going to hear from three scientists and a political commentator and blogger, who disagree with various aspects of the scientific consensus as well as to argue that the science is not settled.

Interesting are the repeated of “some disagreement”, as to underline that there is only a little bit of disagreement. That “some disagreement” seems to be only on the magnitude of the risk. We already know what he thinks the magnitude is of that risk. Just two sentences earlier, he said that “the possible consequences of all these areas range from the bad to the catastrophic”. Which he probably thinks is the consensus position.

That the science is not settled is I think a given. Anyone who claims that a science (studying a complex, coupled, chaotic system with sparse, constantly changing historical data, pointing to one specific parameter amongst thousands) is settled, is not really honest in my opinion.

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Certainties and risk perception

Back to the “Data or Dogma?” hearing of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In two previous posts (here and here) I gave my thoughts on why the only-few-skeptics-versus-the-rest is not a very good argument. This post will focus on the view point of those who rely on the consensus. At the beginning of the hearing, Senator Peters gave an opening statement in which he explained his viewpoint on the science and how this effects policies. To me it was interesting because it showed where the risk perception came from.

data or dogma? Peters

Peters started with explaining that, when thinking about global warming, there are risks and certainties. He first started with the certainties:

By burning fossil fuels, humans are releasing carbon into the atmosphere that would have otherwise remained locked away. This process creates carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, that traps heat that otherwise would have radiated off into spaces. We know that by the law of conservation of energy that additional heat can’t just magically disappear. In stead it causes our planet to get warmer.

What else is certain? We already see the symptoms of a warming planet. Not just in the temperature records, but in the rising sea, shrinking ice levels, in toxic algae blooms that are flourishing in the great lakes that were made worse by increased precipitation, runoff and warmer water temperatures, tainting drinking water for 2.8 million people in recent years. All of that is certain.

The first paragraph is not controversial. Skeptics also agree that burning fossil fuels releases CO2 in the atmosphere, that this is a greenhouse gas, that it therefor has the ability to trap heat and that, all other things being equal, it would be warmer than without that extra CO2. But he stops where it really gets interesting. The theory indeed suggests that humans are the cause of the warming because they are adding CO2 in the atmosphere. However, reality is much more nuanced. In a simple system that would be straight forward, but how does it work in the complex, coupled, chaotic system that is our climate? Anthropogenic CO2 is not the only factor in the equation, there are thousands, maybe millions others and they could all influence each other. How much do we know of this system, knowing that there is only a couple decades or less of reliable historical data? The climate changed in the past without us, so how do we currently differentiate between warming by natural and anthropogenic CO2?

Some other interesting questions would be: how much of that uncertainty is communicated to the policy makers? How politicized is the science? How can we avoid bias? How much can we rely on the mathematical models to project x years into the future? And so on.

The examples he gave in the second paragraph are indeed symptoms of a warming world, but it doesn’t say anything about the cause. That warming could well be natural as anthropogenic or, more likely, a mix of both. It also depends on ones definition of “Global Warming”, some of those effects seems local to me. That aside, So none of these examples accurately helps to advance his case. They don’t suggest that humans are the cause. This would also be true even if that warming was 100% natural (which I don’t think it is).

To me, the stated certainties are not relevant to what he want to do with this knowledge. The first paragraph didn’t take into account the reality of a complex system and therefor over-estimated the certainty. The second paragraph had nothing to do with the anthropogenic aspect of global warming.

Then Peters continued with the risks:

Managing risk is all about looking at a range of possible outcomes and consequences. Looking at the likelihood of each of those consequences and then looking to see if there is anything you can do to reduce the likelihood of those consequences or both.

In can agree with this, but the question arises how that will work out in the complex system that is climate.

From our models and from our understanding of the science we see a range of potential outcomes, a range of possible warming trends, a range of consequences based on those trends. There are implications for our national security, for the economic health of our country, for our food supply and agriculture and for the health and safety of Michiganians, Americans as well as people around the planet.

So here we have it. It is indeed possible to see a range of potential outcomes from mathematical models and the understanding of the science. But how meaningful this potential outcome is, depends on the accuracy of those models or the certainty of the science. A science that is studying a complex, coupled and chaotic system over a long time-frame with only some decades of reliable data. There should be quite some uncertainties there.

As described in the written testimony of Dr. Christy, the models over-estimate the warming at a rate three times that of the real world. This over the past 37 years, in a period with the highest concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, therefor the effect of the additional CO2 should be large. They don’t do a good job in telling us what should have happened until now, why should we expect them to accurately projecting what will happen in the future? As Dr. Christy worded it at the hearing:

Being off by a factor of three does not qualify in my book as settled science

To me it looks like the science is being oversold to the policy makers. How sure can we be if the warming is overstated three times what is observed in reality and huge uncertainties are not communicated to the policy makers? That brings us to Peters’ following remark:

The possible consequences of all these areas range from the bad to the catastrophic.

Well, of course. If policy makers only hear how good the science is and don’t hear how the models diverge from reality, don’t hear that uncertainties are inherent when working with a complex system with few data to begin with, then I could understand where that comes from. This put a different light on what he said next:

Even our best scientific judgment of our risk posture of the consequences that we face as a civilization and the likelihood of those consequences occurring, we must do what we can to mitigate these risks.

In a science with less uncertainties, with mathematical models that more or less match reality and with plenty of reliable historical data, I would not have any problem with such a statement. But that is not exactly the system we live in.

Pledging to decrease emissions (by increasing them)

It was not my intention to look deeper into the COP21 conference, but I couldn’t resist. The thing that got this started was an info graphic I saw in a news paper. It depicted the pledges of the largest emitters and amongst them the pledge of Russia. To me, that pledge stood out like a sore thumb. My initial reaction at that time was:

No way!

25-30% emission reduction, that is incredibly nice of Mr. Putin, but I thought there was something fishy with this message. Russia is not exactly the country that bought into the global warming scare. They have been very skeptical and probably will have more advantages than disadvantages from a warming climate. They also clearly said that they wouldn’t sacrifice their economy in order to cut emissions. So reading that they are actually willing to cut their emissions by 25 to 30% by 2030 sounds unbelievable to me.

As with so many things concerning climate policies reporting, the devil is in the detail. The detail here is “compared to what”. That “what” being the emissions in 1990:

Emissions Pledge Russia

Aha! Now it makes a lot more sense. I know where that comes from, I have seen such construction before. When I looked at the emission reductions of the developing countries, emission data showed that Russia and Ukraine were responsible for 95% of the (relatively small) decrease in emissions of the developing countries. So the increasing share of alternative power sources couldn’t be the cause of that decrease, because that share was/is almost non-existing in both countries.

The reason why the Russia’s emissions of Russia dropped from 1989 was the collapse of the Soviet Union and many energy inefficient factories and heavy industry that closed their doors. Taking the emissions of 1990 as a base would have rather interesting results.

I had still some recent data of emissions on my hard drive, so I went for a very quick back-on-the-envelop look. This is how the emissions trend is for Russia, just look at the quickly dropping numbers starting from 1989 and its slow recovery at the end of last century:

Source: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/

Source of the data: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/

A rough look learns us that a 25% reduction from 1990 would mean that they are already almost at their target, so that reduction by 2030 turns out to be quite meaningless. By the way, 25-30% of 1990 levels was exactly what they also agreed to do by 2020.

It didn’t stop there. There still was that intriguing statement that “Russia’s massive forests absorb around 500m tonnes of CO2 each year”. Was this included in the pledge? When looking for more information I found the Russian INDC submission (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution). This explains that they want the contribution of the Russian forests taken fully into account in their pledge. This indeed seemed to be estimated to 500 Mt CO2 per year (since 2000). So let me add to the graph above what the Russians think their emissions actually are and how that relates to their target:

Source: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/

Source of the data: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/

Also look at the direction of the current emissions:

Source: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/

Source of the data: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/

That trend is upwards and only interrupted by the 2008 financial crisis. They were serious when saying they don’t want to sacrifice their economy.

Just continuing looking at it on a rough scale, they dropped about 500 Mt in the 14 years from 1990 until 2013, being already more or less on their target right now. But because of their creative accounting, they still have a spare 500 Mt (from absorption of CO2 by their forests), which means that they can continue as they do now without even missing their target.

25-30% emission reduction sounds really nice, but the contrary seems to be true. In stead of willing to decrease their emissions by 25%, they actually have even room for a INcrease of 25% to get their “target” by 2030. Even if they continue to increase their emissions at the same rate as it is increasing since 1999, they would probably still reach their target. Clever guys, these Russians.

I was surprised that this was only skin-deep. Just scratching at the surface will show it. If the pledge of Russia looks so very promising from the outside, but worthless when you look deeper, what about the submissions of the other countries? Just look at what India pledged: a decrease of 33-35% reduction in emission, ahem, “intensity”…

This act of creative accounting by the Russians could well be the tip of the iceberg.

Update
Found in the meanwhile some more of those creative accounting techniques (Dutch). Beside the Russian plan, there are also:

  • South Korea and Mexico promised to decrease their emissions against their “expected emissions” for the next 15 years (South Korea plans to emit 35% “less extra”)
  • China and India likewise “decrease” their emissions by using their fossil fuels more efficiently to produce the same (that is the reduction in “emission intensity” seen above)
  • The USA promise to limit their emissions “by 26%” compared to 2005. Meaning already 10 year in progress and that 26% is in fact 15%
  • Europe promises to decrease emissions “by 40%” against base year 1990. Meaning already halfway and that impressive 40% is in fact 20%.

I didn’t check these numbers, just put them here as I found it.
Those countries seem to do their very best to impress/fool each other and the public with their numbers.

Saved at last!

The Paris climate circus has ended and although I didn’t do much effort to follow it during those two weeks, hearing about it was really entertaining. Alway surprising, like an onion slowly peeling off.

Like at the end of the conference when they had a bad time agreeing on a 2 °C target. Then they changed that to a 1.5 °C target and that seemed to solve their problem… 🙂

That is pure magic, no less!

Or Laurent Fabius (French Foreign Minister and president of the COP21) said that “The final accord will be legally binding and seek to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius”. Later that day he concluded the Conference by saying as fast as he could: “I am looking at the room, I see the reaction is positive, the Paris climate accord is accepted!”. Down went that hammer, delegates burst out in cheering and gave themselves a big round of applause.

hammertime

Wow! Is this how “legally binding” agreements are made nowadays? Call me old fashioned, but shouldn’t they actually sign something or so? 🙂 And wasn’t there that problem with the USA that clearly stated that they would not accept a legally binding agreement? So, what did he actually meant by “binding”?

The next day the backpedaling began: according to a Belgian delegate, the best thing about the agreement was that everyone was on the same line, even the developing countries.

Yeah, right.

Then he said that emissions will still go up in the future, actually, emissions of developing countries will go UP until at least 2020.

Yeah, they got the developing countries on the same line, for sure.

According to the same delegate, the transition would spread over several generations anyway…

Huh, before the conference, it couldn’t go quick enough, we could wean of fossil fuels in no time. We had to do it for the children. Now we hear that our children will do the job.

Only sparsely the information dropped in: a reporter explained that in the text “shall” (binding) became “should” (voluntary) to allow the USA to circumvent their Parliament.

So far for a “binding” agreement.

It didn’t stop there. The longer, the more surprising elements kept on popping up. Every country could define its own targets and how to specifically reach them, no sanctions for countries that didn’t do what they said (except social control), the agreement will only signed next year, canceling is possible (but hey, countries will not do that, social control, ya’know),…

Basically, they lowered their expectation so much that everybody could agree with it and then sold that to the public as a success.

The most surprising thing still had to come. On Monday I read two different news papers and found only a couple pages on that incredible, unprecedented, crucial COP21 success. It wasn’t even frontpage news, but buried somewhere in the back.

So, understand my bewilderment: here we were told that this was a historical agreement … an incredible success … a victory for life on earth and our children… herds of bureaucrats migrated to Paris and declared that they have SAVED THE WORLD FROM THIS HORRIBLE GLOBAL WARMING … finally … after so many years of trying … and … hardly any mention of it in the news papers …

In the meanwhile, the wedding of Stromae (a Belgian rapper), right there on the frontpage.

The media, they surely know their priorities.

No conspiracy theories necessary

In the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation the emphasis was on the consensus: there are so many scientists and organizations that agree, so why would these few deni… euh, skeptics be right and the rest of the world wrong? Last post described already two reasons why I think this is a meaningless argument anyway. The third reason is that a consensus can have it wrong and that is not that unusual. There have been many examples before where everyone agreed and in the end everyone was wrong.

There are of course the most known examples like Galileo (against the theological consensus that the Earth was the center of the Universe), Albert Einstein (against the consensus against the theory of relativity), Harlan Bretz (against the consensus geological changes were always gradual and slow), Alfred Wegerer (against the consensus that continents were unmovable), Barry Marshall and Robin Warren (against the consensus that stomach ulcers were caused by for example stress or spicy foods) and probably many others who are less known or didn’t get into the history books. They all struggled against the consensus of their time and their assertions, although correct, were rejected. There is however a consensus that very recently collapsed and even has more similarities with the global warming/climate change story.

Since the 1980s there was a consensus about the link between fat intake and coronary artery disease. Reduce one and the other will also reduce. Guidelines were issued and low-fat diets were seen as a means of combating obesity and heart disease. This gave rise to a whole industry producing low-fat products that were assumed “healthy” in the of face the guideline. This consensus was challenged by a minority group, that gradually became larger.

In the beginning of 2015 a study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in which researchers pooled 72 studies and clinical trials and found that total saturated fatty acid was not linked to coronary disease risk or that a lower intake of fats is beneficial for the heart.

This does of course not mean that a high fat intake would be entirely harmless, but it’s not the major culprit that the experts led us to believe until last year. There are even those who suspect that the directive to eat less fat even had harmful effects. Healthy high-fat products, such as nuts, olive oil and fish oil, were given a bad image and dietitians lost sight of the risks of a higher sugar intake (more sugars were added to low-fat products to compensate for the loss of flavor brought by the fats).

Now that is something very interesting. Here is a consensus that held from the 1980s until now, pinpointing one factor (even lacking evidence) and that the media, the public as well as the professionals bought firmly into it. Yet no conspiracy and no large-scale misinformation campaigns were needed. There was no group of people who wanted to fool anyone, nor was there any intentional deceit. This information was put out in good faith and although it was unjustified by the science, the consensus survived until last year.

There are several similarities with climate science. Both sciences study a complex, coupled system (human body and the climate system). There is however a difference in experience (thousand versus decades).

Both sciences also have their limitation in studying their subject (there are ethical objections to put people in standardized experiments versus there only be one patient and in fact it is not sure whether it is a patient or not, because of scarce reliable historical data).

This means that there is a huge uncertainty regarding the outcome of dietary studies. People are complex organisms and live in a complex interaction with their environment. There are thousands of variables and they all can influence each other. There are things like age, physical health, fitness, genetic predestination, food preferences/availability, personal habits, background and so on. dietary fat is only one of those.
The same in climate science. There are also thousands of variables and they can all influence each other. The sun, clouds, the ocean circulations, water vapor and other greenhouse gases, the biosphere, carbon cycle, and so on. CO2 is only one of those.

In such observational studies, it is not possible to pinpoint one variable as THE cause. There is no way to know whether the real cause(s) were among the tested variables.

The current medical researchers didn’t point to just another factor to replace one cause of coronary disease with another, they just showed that the consensus was not based on good scientific evidence. The dietary guideline was not put in place because the data said there was a link between dietary fats and coronary diseases, but for other considerations.

What are the chances that in 30-40 years we will be told that the current guidelines to limit CO2 emissions lacked any solid evidence and that our focus on this mirage even had harmful effects 😉

To me this example shows again that a consensus can be wrong and that is not unusual. It doesn’t mean we must dismiss every consensus, but we clearly can’t rely on it without verification. We have to keep a healthy dose of skepticism, especially in a science dealing with loads of uncertainty like dietary studies or climate studies. It is this skepticism what I think is missing in climate related issues.

Four against the rest of the world?

Last Tuesday there was a hearing of US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation titled Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate. At first the title scared me off a bit. Suggesting that the current climate science is based on a dogma is not the best way to get a constructive debate. At first I didn’t have the intention to watch it, but after seeing the names of John Christie and Judith Curry, I changed my mind. In the end it were mostly the contributions of those two that I liked most.

What struck me was that on two occasions a long list was given of organizations that support the consensus and, of course, many times the 97% number was used. The undertone being: how could these four dissidents here, “the last redoubt of denial”, be right and all these organizations and scientists be so wrong? That is a very interesting question, one that in the past kept me busy for quite some time. As with so many other things concerning the global warming issue, the answer to this question is not black/white, but is quite nuanced.

First, these four don’t know it “better” than the rest. None of them claimed that their knowledge of the climate system was greater than those of the consensus scientists. They said that there is still considerable uncertainty and disagreement about whether the warming has been mainly caused by human or by natural variability, how much the planet will warm in the next 90 years, whether the warming is dangerous or not, whether the (poor and sparse) historical data allow us to build policy decisions on, whether current observations match the theory or not, whether mathematical models succeed or fail to replicate the observations, about problems with the the scientific process in this specific branch,…

They don’t know it “better”, but they have serious questions whether the conclusions really follow the known data. I could relate to that. If we only have a couple decades of reliable data, how would it be possible to exclude natural variations? For example, if there would be a 400-500 year cycle of warm and cold, then our current warming could be (mostly) natural and we wouldn’t even be able to measure that natural variation until now. Or if the mathematical models can’t even predict/project what has already occurred or what is happening now, then why would we expect that the results of these models will be accurate in the far future? How would they then be good enough to make policy decisions on?

Pointing to inconsistencies, misconceptions, a lack of data, non transparent issues, problems in the scientific process,… is also skepticism.

Second, John Kristie, Judith Curry and William Happer are not the only skeptical scientists in the world. When I was a believer it was also my opinion that there were only a handful of skeptical scientists. Looking deeper in the global warming issue, it surprises me that there are many more than I would expected.

True, only few come into the foreground, but that is not hard to understand. As said by those four witnesses, being skeptical to the consensus science is a bad career move, make it difficult if not impossible to get grants or getting published and has a possible negative effect on social life [social pressure].

So, where does that scarceness of skeptical scientists and publications come from? Is it because they are wrong? Of because they have it difficult in a highly polarized, politicized, emotionally driven environment? Those three are not the only ones, but they are certainly not your average lot. Considering the hostile environment they are in, it surprises me that there are so many that at least keeps on trying.

Last, but not least, there is no guarantee that something is true because a majority believe it is. A consensus can have it wrong and that is not that unusual either. It happened several times in the past and undoubtedly will still happen in the future. There isn’t even a need for conspiracy theories to explain that. But that is for a following post.