The Donald Trump administration has not been publishing reports that support climate change. In fact, the administration actively vets papers to eliminate those with references to climate changes. Still, there is a bigger problem.
The existing thinking has been that 97 percent of scientific papers agree that human activity has impacted global warming, according to a 2013 study in Environmental Research Letters. Yet, what about the other three percent of the studies?
It appeared that they were all flawed in significant ways. A study just published in The Theoretical and Applied Climatology journals tried to repeat those studies.
The study’s lead author and atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University Katharine Hayhoe posted on her Facebook page a response to a common question:
‘Is there such a strong consensus in the scientific community on climate change simply because anyone proposing alternate explanations is black-balled and suppressed? This is one of the most frequent questions I get here on Facebook.’
The climate scientist and her team wrote that claiming suppression is “a lot easier” than collecting “scientific evidence to support their political ideology:
‘It’s a lot easier for someone to claim they’ve been suppressed than to admit that maybe they can’t find the scientific evidence to support their political ideology that requires them to reject climate solutions and, to be consistent, 150 years of solid, peer-reviewed science, too.’
She and the other study authors wrote that 38 studies in the last 10 years claimed the climate was not changing:
‘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.’
Co-author Rasmus Benestad of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, which studies climate change, designed a statistical program, using the language R. He tried to copy the 38 studies to see how they were put together. Benestad found that not one of those studies could be replicated when he used “generally accepted scientific concepts.”
The best way to validate a study has always been to just do them over. All good scientific studies can be validated:
‘So we took those papers and – thanks to the superhuman efforts of my colleague Rasmus Benestad – recalculated all their analyses. From scratch.’
What she and the other study authors found was all of the anti-climate change studies contained “an error:”
‘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.’
The erroneous studies had three basic problems. The authors chose only results that supported their conclusion and ignored any other data. They matched their data to an a theory. Finally, they ignored physics in their examples, according to Hayhoe:
‘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.’
Much research into climate science remains. The field has been wide open for research into rising temperatures to lessening the impact of natural disasters.