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Andrew Montford & The 97%

September 2, 2013

By Paul Homewood


The GWPF has published a briefing note by Andrew Montford on John Cook’s 97% paper.





Recent reports that 97% of published scientific papers support the so-called consensus on man-made global warming are based on a paper by John Cook et al.

Precisely what consensus is allegedly being supported in these papers cannot be discerned from the text of the paper.

An analysis of the methodology used by Cook et al. shows that the consensus referred to is trivial:

• that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas

•that human activities have warmed the planet to some unspecified extent.

Almost everybody involved in the climate debate, including the majority of sceptics, accepts these propositions, so little can be learned from the Cook et al. paper.

The extent to which the warming in the last two decades of the twentieth century was man-made and the likely extent of any future warming remain highly contentious scientific issues.


Cook et al. set out to demonstrate the existence of an overwhelming consensus on global warming. While their approach appears to owe more to public relations than the scientific method, there is little doubt that there is a scientific consensus, albeit not the one that the authors of the paper have led people to believe exists.

The consensus as described by Cook et al. 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.

The last word on the paper goes to Professor Mike Hulme, founder of the Tyndall Centre, the UK’s national climate research institute:

The [Cook et al.] 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 [an earlier study]: 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?

The full briefing note can be seen here. Please bookmark.

  1. mitigatedsceptic permalink
    September 2, 2013 11:54 am

    While I agree that the Cook paper reflects PR more than ‘science’ I do not think that AM has made enough of the fallacy that ‘scientific consensus’ matters.

    Scientific consensus is an oxymoron – a contradiction in terms. Science is a dialectical process not a ‘journey of discovery that ends in consensus’; scientific opinion is always provisional – to admit otherwise is to admit every superstitious whim imaginable as ‘scientific’ if it commands a ‘consensus’ among any group of people uttering their opinion under the ‘scientific’ rubric.

    Science is not a ‘democratic process, nor is it ever reliable. Those who pretend otherwise are ignorant or charlatans – they are certainly not scientists.

  2. Dan Pangburn permalink
    September 2, 2013 12:27 pm

    GW ended before 2001.

    AGW never was.

  3. Brian H permalink
    September 3, 2013 2:40 am

    It’s a travesty that a nonentity like Cook has to be rebutted.

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