Smoke stacks

Tuesday, the Portland Public School board unanimously passed a resolution that would remove all materials from the curriculum that contradict anthropogenic (man-made) climate change theory.

Portland Tribune quotes Bill Bigelow, a former PPS teacher, current curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools, and one of the proponents of the resolution:

“A lot of the text materials are kind of thick with the language of doubt, and obviously the science says otherwise. We don’t want kids in Portland learning material courtesy of the fossil fuel industry.”

Resolution 5272 states in part:

“There is overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that the climate crisis is created by human beings releasing greenhouse gasses...[and] PPS curriculum will make students aware of training opportunities and living-wage jobs in the just transition away from fossil fuels...”

Despite what Bigelow says, many scientists dispute the idea that there's an “overwhelming consensus” regarding climate change, specifically the idea that 97% of scientists agree that climate change is anthropogenic.

The study frequently referenced when speaking of an “overwhelming consensus” is one conducted by John Cook. Since its publication, however, the study has been scrutinized and found to be severely lacking.

Dr. David Legates, a geology professor at the University of Delaware, led a study on Cook's paper, and found his methodology to be deeply flawed.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“David R. Legates...and three coauthors reviewed the same papers as did Mr. Cook and found 'only 41 papers—0.3 percent of all 11,944 abstracts or 1.0 percent of the 4,014 expressing an opinion, and not 97.1 percent—had been found to endorse' the claim that human activity is causing most of the current warming.”

Legates said:

“It is astonishing that any journal could have published a paper claiming a 97% climate consensus when on the authors’ own analysis, the true consensus was well below 1%.”

Mike Hulme, Ph.D. Professor of Climate Change, University of East Anglia, said of the study:

“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 [UK] that the energy minister should cite it.”

Several scientists even came forward to say that Cook completely misrepresented their conclusions when he surveyed their work.

Conversely, George Mason University recently conducted a survey of more than 4000 members of the American Meteorological Society (of whom approximately 37% claimed to be climate “experts”), and found:

  • 29% believe climate change is “largely or entirely” man-made.
  • 38% believe “most of the change” is man-made.
  • 14% believe any changes are “more or less equally” man-made and natural.
  • 7% believe it's mostly due to natural causes.
  • 6% believe it's largely or entirely natural.

That's far from a 97% consensus.

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