‘It’s All Wrong’: UN IPCC Lead Author Dr. Richard Tol slams media for false claims about alleged 97% consensus


By: - Climate DepotSeptember 3, 2015 11:37 AM with 3 comments

Climate Depot Exclusive

Convening UN IPCC Lead Author Dr. Richard Tol, a Professor at the University of Sussex, has been in a back and forth battle with the global warming promoting website Politifact. Tol is demanding corrections to their articles claiming that GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s debunking of the alleged 97% consensus was “false.”

Tol’s full email exchanges with the Politifact website are published in full with permission from Tol further down below.

Climate Depot publisher Marc Morano sent the below email to Politifact explaining the error of their ways on hte 97% consensus.

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Morano’s full email to Politifact: 

From: Marc Morano
Date: Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 3:54 PM
Subject: You need to correct your Santorum ‘false’ claim on 97% consensus!
To: [email protected]

Hi Linda,

I run the Climate Depot and will have a new theatrical climate documentary coming out this fall (Climate Hustle www.ClimateHustle.com)

I watched Santorum on Bill Maher’s HBO show and then I read your ‘false’ review of his claims.

1) First off, Santorum accurately claimed that one of the studies claiming 97% did in fact rely on only 75 scientists!

See: The 97% “Consensus” is only 75 Self-Selected Climatologists  – http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/08/97-consensus-is-only-76-self-selected.html

&

http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf – The 97% consensus is 75 out of 77.

In other words, according to this study, the 97% consensus was not even 97 scientists!

Do your homework! Santorum correctly cited this study.

2) Second, Santorum accurately referred to UN IPCC Lead Author Dr. Richard Tol. Santorum said: “The 97 percent figure that’s thrown around, the head of the IPCC  said that number was pulled out of thin air.”

That is exactly what Dr. Tol told the U.S. Congress in testimony in 2014. See: UN IPCC Lead Author Dr. Richard Tol Rips 97% consensus claim: ‘The 97% is essentially pulled from thin air, it is not based on any credible research whatsoever’

Tol’s research http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024 found  that only 64 papers (out of about 12,000) supported the alleged “consensus.” Somehow the author John Cook makes 64 papers into a 97% ‘consensus’ out  of 12,000.

So Santorum was correct again, accurately cited Tol’s comment. (Yes, You can ding Santorum for mixing up Dr. Tol’s position as “the head of IPCC”. But Tol is a UN IPCC Lead Author.)

3) Thirdly, You take Santorum to task for citing the survey of 1800 international scientists. But Santorum accurately cited the study that many analysts agree counters the claimed 97% consensus. Yes, it is a controversial analysis. But controversy and only presenting one side of the debate — as you did in your Politifact analysis, does not make Santorum’s claim ‘false’ as you state.

Santorum said: “The most recent survey of climate scientists said about 57 percent don’t agree with the idea that 95 percent of the change in the climate is caused by CO2.”

Ok, Santorum had a brain typo by flipping the 95% number to mean 95% of warming is caused CO2, when in reality he should have said that only 43% of scientists surveyed had a 95% certainty that more than half of warming is caused by CO2. That is easy and mistake to make in live debate and you can correctly ding him for that. But that does not make his overall claim “false.”

But Santorum also said: “There was a survey done of 1,800 scientists, and 57 percent said they don’t buy off on the idea that CO2 is the knob that’s turning the climate. There’s hundreds of reasons the climate’s changed.”

That statement is an accurate reflection of the analysis of the study by several prominent analysts, using the IPCC’s own standards.

See: Survey of 1800 scientists: The ‘97% consensus’ is now 43% – ‘Less than half of climate scientists agree with UN IPCC ‘95%’ certainty’

To claim that Santorum was “false” is a gross misrepresentation.

Even MSNBC got it correct on Santorum claims — while Politifact failed.

Via MSNBC: “Maher appeared to point toward the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, stating with 95% certainty that humans were the main cause of the current global warming. Santorum, meanwhile, cited a survey of 1,800 scientists that found 57% believed other factors were more important than man-made CO2.”

Many prominent scientists agree with Santorum that there are hundreds of factors that influence temperature, not just CO2.

See: UK Professor Emeritus of Biogeography Philip Stott of the University of London: “As I have said, over and over again, the fundamental point has always been this: climate change is governed by hundreds of factors, or variables, and the very idea that we can manage climate change predictably by understanding and manipulating at the margins one politically-selected factor (CO2), is as misguided as it gets,” Stott wrote.

Even the climate activists at RealClimate.org let this point slip out in a September 20, 2008 article. “The actual temperature rise is an emergent property resulting from interactions among hundreds of factors,”RealClimate.org conceded.

You owe your readers a better representation of the climate debate.

Thanks

Marc Morano

Publisher

Climate Depot

#

End Morano’s email

#

Dr. Richard Tol’s full email exchanges with the Politifact website are published below. Read from bottom of article to top for best clarity.

—–Original Message—–
From: Richard Tol
To: ‘Linda Qiu’ <[email protected]>; Aaron Sharockman <[email protected]>
Cc: truthometer <[email protected]>
Sent: Thu, Sep 3, 2015 11:01 am
Subject: RE: Media request from US newspaper on 97 percent climate change figure
Dear Ms Qiu,

>”Parted ways with the IPCC” refers to you withdrawing from the team writing the summary. 

It’s incorrect. As you can see in the published version of the Fifth Assessment Report, I did not part ways. As you can see from the media reports, I attended the final meeting, leaving some 10 hours after it was supposed to end but 26 hours before it actually ended. Do you define “parting ways” as “catching a plane to be back home in time to teach”?

Given the topic of the article, I think your affiliation with that particular organization is relevant. 

I am not affiliated with the GWPF. Given the topic of the article, it is just as relevant that I am an adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency etc etc etc.

The 91 percent endorsement rate is a direct quote from your paper. “The headline endorsement rate would be 91% in that case.” (Cook cites it multiple times in his reply to your paper.) 

Do check the grammar: “would […] in that case” does in no way indicate my agreement with the number. In fact, I make it very clear that any number based on Cook’s data is unreliable.

Sincerely

Richard Tol

On Thu, Sep 3, 2015 at 8:32 AM, Aaron Sharockman <[email protected]> wrote:

Richard,

Feel free to submit any evidence of an error.

You saying there’s a mistake is not evidence there is one.
On Thursday, September 3, 2015, Richard Tol wrote:

Dear Ms Qiu,

I see you have yet to correct your articles. Please explain why this takes you so long.

From: Richard Tol
Sent: 02 September 2015 10:29 PM
To: Linda Qiu
Cc: [email protected]; [email protected]
Subject: RE: Media request from US newspaper on 97 percent climate change figure

Hi Linda,
I see your second post is now up. It is all wrong.
I was not a lead author. I was a convening lead author.
I did not part ways with the IPCC.
I serve as an adviser to many organizations. Why single out one? [Climate Depot Note: Tol is referring to the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation]
Cook did not study 1,300 papers, but close to 12,000; not that Cook has been unable to give the exact number. (http://richardtol.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/ppps-cooks-missing-papers.html)
Cook’s 97% is the consensus rate, rather than the percentage. The percentage is 0.6%.
I never claimed that the consensus rate is 91%.
I see that you have yet to correct yesterday’s post on the same topic.
Please correct these errors post haste.
Dr. Richard S.J. Tol MEA
Professor; PhD Convenor; Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange
Department of Economics, Room 281, Jubilee Building
University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SL, UKProfessor of the Economics of Climate Change
Institute for Environmental Studies & Department of Spatial Economics
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsResearch Fellow
Tinbergen Institute, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsResearch Network Fellow
CESifo, Munich, GermanyCo-editor
Energy Economicshttp://www.ae-info.org/ae/User/Tol_Richard
I think Verheggen would argue that because of the way the questions were phrased, respondents who didn’t answer the question directly didn’t want to commit to a level of specificity. From his blog post on the topic:
“Calculating the level of agreement in the way we suggest, i.e. excluding undetermined responses, provides a more robust measure as it’s relatively independent of the perceived difficulty of having to choose between specific answer options. And, as is omitted by the various critics, it is consistent with the responses to the qualitative attribution question, which also provides a clear indication of a strong consensus.”
Also, my editor forwarded me your note to our comments email about the piece we’re discussing. I’m confused because I asked you about a different Santorum claim a day ago? (I’m still writing that article.) What were you referring to when you said Santorum’s claim was correct?
On Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 2:03 PM, Richard Tol wrote:

Dear Linda,
Correct. Cook’s analysis is a load of old bollocks. That does not take away the fact that the vast majority of experts argue that humans have affected climate in the recent past.
On yesterday’s piece, I think you were unfair on Santorum. He mixes up his numbers here:
“The most recent survey of climate scientists said about 57 percent don’t agree with the idea that 95 percent of the change in the climate is caused by CO2.”
In fact, the statement is that 57% disagree that there is 95% confidence that 50% was caused by greenhouse gases.
In other words, Santorum had the spirit right but the letter wrong.
Verheggen’s comment on Kummer is silly: His survey only included recognized experts, so he cannot throw away the “don’t knows”.
Doran’s remarks are silly too. The broad geosciences community is much more wary of anthropogenic climate change than the narrow climate community.
Best
Richard
 Thanks for replying so quickly Professor Tol.
I read your re-analysis Cook’s survey. Based on that and your congressional testimony, I have a line in my piece that says you don’t refute the idea that there is consensus on man-made climate change, you just did Cook’s methodology flawed. Is that accurate?
Also if you have some time to spare, I’d love to hear your thoughts on a piece I wrote yesterday on a similar topic, specifically responding this analysis of another consensus study. This topic overall seems to be very contentious and I want to make sure I’m being fair.
Really appreciate it!
Sent from my iPhone
On Sep 1, 2015, at 4:50 PM, Richard Tol  wrote:

Hi Linda,

No, that number is not from me. There are a number of consensus studies.
I am mostly involved with Cook’s
Cook found 64 papers (out of some 12,000) that support the consensus. It is a long story why Cook thinks that 64 is 97% of 12,000.
Santorum refers to Doran’s study
The 97% consensus is 75 out of 77.
Best
Richard
Dr. Richard S.J. Tol MEA
Professor; PhD Convenor; Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange
Department of Economics, Room 281, Jubilee Building
University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SL, UK

Hi Professor Tol,

I’m a reporter with PolitiFact, the fact-checking website of the Tampa Bay Times. I’m sorry to bother you but I’m working on a story about the 97 percent climate change consensus figure and hoping you can help me out. 

Specifically, presidential candidate Rick Santorum said in an interview a few days ago that “The 97 percent figure that’s thrown around, the head of the IPCC  said that number was pulled out of thin air. It was based on a survey of 77 scientists.”
I haven’t heard back from his campaign but I think he’s referring to you, since you are perhaps the most prominent critic of the figure who collaborated on the IPCC reports (please correct me if you don’t think this is the case). So I’m curious about your take on his claim. Does he accurately describe what you believe/said?
My deadline is 10 am UTC -5:00 tomorrow (I think about 3 pm in Sussex) but do let me know if that doesn’t work for you. Any help you can give would be much appreciated. Thanks so much.

From: Richard Tol
Sent: 02 September 2015 7:03 PM
To: Linda Qiu
Subject: RE: Media request from US newspaper on 97 percent climate change figure
Dear Linda,
Correct. Cook’s analysis is a load of old bollocks. That does not take away the fact that the vast majority of experts argue that humans have affected climate in the recent past.
On yesterday’s piece, I think you were unfair on Santorum. He mixes up his numbers here:
“The most recent survey of climate scientists said about 57 percent don’t agree with the idea that 95 percent of the change in the climate is caused by CO2.”
In fact, the statement is that 57% disagree that there is 95% confidence that 50% was caused by greenhouse gases.
In other words, Santorum had the spirit right but the letter wrong.
Verheggen’s comment on Kummer is silly: His survey only included recognized experts, so he cannot throw away the “don’t knows”.
Doran’s remarks are silly too. The broad geosciences community is much more wary of anthropogenic climate change than the narrow climate community.
Best
Richard
From: Linda Qiu
Sent: 02 September 2015 6:50 PM
To: Richard Tol
Subject: Re: Media request from US newspaper on 97 percent climate change figure
Thanks for replying so quickly Professor Tol.
I read your re-analysis Cook’s survey. Based on that and your congressional testimony, I have a line in my piece that says you don’t refute the idea that there is consensus on man-made climate change, you just did Cook’s methodology flawed. Is that accurate?
Also if you have some time to spare, I’d love to hear your thoughts on a piece I wrote yesterday on a similar topic, specifically responding this analysis of another consensus study. This topic overall seems to be very contentious and I want to make sure I’m being fair.
Really appreciate it!
Sent from my iPhone
On Sep 1, 2015, at 4:50 PM, Richard Tol  wrote:

Hi Linda,

No, that number is not from me. There are a number of consensus studies.
I am mostly involved with Cook’s
Cook found 64 papers (out of some 12,000) that support the consensus. It is a long story why Cook thinks that 64 is 97% of 12,000.
Santorum refers to Doran’s study
The 97% consensus is 75 out of 77.
Best
Richard
Dr. Richard S.J. Tol MEA
Professor; PhD Convenor; Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange
Department of Economics, Room 281, Jubilee Building
University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SL, UKProfessor of the Economics of Climate Change
Institute for Environmental Studies & Department of Spatial Economics
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsResearch Fellow
Tinbergen Institute, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsResearch Network Fellow
CESifo, Munich, GermanyCo-editor
Energy Economicshttp://www.ae-info.org/ae/User/Tol_Richard
From: Linda Qiu
Sent: 01 September 2015 9:30 PM
To: Richard Tol
Subject: Media request from US newspaper on 97 percent climate change figure
Hi Professor Tol,

I’m a reporter with PolitiFact, the fact-checking website of the Tampa Bay Times. I’m sorry to bother you but I’m working on a story about the 97 percent climate change consensus figure and hoping you can help me out. 

Specifically, presidential candidate Rick Santorum said in an interview a few days ago that “The 97 percent figure that’s thrown around, the head of the IPCC  said that number was pulled out of thin air. It was based on a survey of 77 scientists.”
I haven’t heard back from his campaign but I think he’s referring to you, since you are perhaps the most prominent critic of the figure who collaborated on the IPCC reports (please correct me if you don’t think this is the case). So I’m curious about your take on his claim. Does he accurately describe what you believe/said?
My deadline is 10 am UTC -5:00 tomorrow (I think about 3 pm in Sussex) but do let me know if that doesn’t work for you. Any help you can give would be much appreciated. Thanks so much.

Sincerely,

Linda Qiu
#
Related Links: 
CONSENSUS BUSTED: Fmr. UN IPCC Lead Author Dr. Richard Tol takes on Cook’s ’97% consensus’ claim – showing the claim is ‘unfounded’ – ‘A veritable statistical train wreck rife with bias, classification errors, poor data quality, and inconsistency’ – ‘A new paper by Dr. Richard Tol published today in ScienceDirect, journal of Energy Policy, shows that the Cook et al. paper claiming that there is a 97% consensus among scientists is not just impossible to reproduce (since Cook is withholding data) but a veritable statistical train wreck rife with bias, classification errors, poor data quality, and inconsistency in the ratings process.’

CONSENSUS? WHAT 97% CONSENSUS? — ‘The consensus revealed by the paper by Cook et al. is so broad that it incorporates the views of most prominent climate skeptics’ -‘The consensus as described by the survey is virtually meaningless and tells us nothing about the current state of scientific opinion beyond the trivial observation that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that human activities have warmed the planet to some unspecified extent,’ Andrew Montford says. ‘The survey methodology therefore fails to address the key points that are in dispute in the global warming debate,’ Montford adds.

Monckton on Cook’s study: ‘0.3% CONSENSUS,  NOT 97.1%’ – ‘Quantifying the consensus on global warming in the literature’ – Monckton: ‘The latest paper apparently showing 97% endorsement of a consensus that more than half of recent global warming was anthropogenic really shows only 0.3% endorsement of that now-dwindling consensus.’ — ‘Only 41 papers – 0.3% of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0% of the 4014 expressing an opinion, and not 97.1% – had been found to endorse the quantitative hypothesis, stated in the introduction to Cook et al. and akin to similar definitions in the literature, that ‘human activity is very likely causing most of the current GW (anthropogenic global warming, or AGW).’


  • My email to Politifact on this erroneous post. Their competence is obviously very questionable.

    Ms Carroll and Ms. Qiu,

    As usual, you’ve picked a small error, disproven it and then
    try and use that to prove something larger and unrelated. Your writing is
    a classic example of the straw man fallacy. Santorum’s errors while
    attempting to disprove the 97% consensus does not prove that the 97% consensus
    is correct. The peer-reviewed articles you refer to do not prove that
    there is a 97% consensus of scientists who say man-made greenhouse gases have
    caused most of the recent warming. The articles actually don’t prove much
    of anything beyond the obvious.

    Please note that none of the authors is actually a climate
    scientist.

    Here are two articles by an actual climate scientist,
    Professor Judith Curry (Professor and former Chair of the School of Earth and
    Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology). She is widely
    cited and has testified before the House and Senate on climate change as well
    as the House of Lords in the UK.

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/26/the-97-consensus/

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/27/the-97-consensus-part-ii/

    You should look at these. Santorum was wrong in the
    details he provided. He was correct that the so-called 97% consensus that
    man caused most of recent warming does not exist. Don’t conflate the two,
    it is illogical and fallacious.

    Further, consensus is a political thing, it has nothing to
    do with science. Some quotes from Prof. Curry:

    “So, what the
    heck does the ‘climate change consensus’ even mean any more? The
    definition of climate change consensus is now so fuzzy that leading climate
    change skeptics are categorizing themselves within the 97%.”

    I’m very
    skeptical that man has caused any significant warming (some yes, but very
    little), but I’m in the 97% consensus in most of those surveys as an example.

    “Ben Pile is spot on. The “97% consensus” article is
    poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It obscures the
    complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor
    level of public and policy debate in this country that the energy minister
    should cite it. It offers a similar depiction of the world into categories of ‘right’
    and ‘wrong’ to that adopted in Anderegg et al.’s 2010 equally poor study in
    PNAS: dividing publishing climate scientists into ‘believers’ and
    ‘non-believers’. It seems to me that these people are still living (or wishing
    to live) in the pre-2009 world of climate change discourse. Haven’t they
    noticed that public understanding of the climate issue has moved on?”

    You, the media, try to make this
    complex scientific issue into a yes or no question and in the process you
    obscure and conceal critical facts that you should be attempting to explain to
    the public. Thus, we come to the second part of your logical fallacy, the
    false dichotomy. I can restate your arguments thus: “You cannot
    prove that reading my magazine won’t make you a billionaire. Therefore it
    will.”

    Andy May

  • ScienceABC123

    Translation: “The 97% number fits with our agenda, so why would we correct it?” – the Fact Checkers

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