Talk:Scientific opinion on climate change

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Attempting to design a poll[edit]

First take:

This poll is about the title of the article currently entitled Scientific opinion on climate change. The content of the article focuses on the current scientific consensus that the Earth as a whole is warming, and that humans are largely responsible. The question is whether or not the title is a good fit for the article.

  • Question 1: Should the title use "climate change" or "global warming"?
  • Question 2: Which of the following forms of the title is preferable:
  • A. "Scientific opinion on xxxx"
  • B. "Scientific opinion on the existence and cause of xxxx"
  • C. "Scientific opinion on human-caused xxxx"

where xxxx is whatever you prefer from question 1.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 08:58, 21 June 2015 (UTC)

Good first try. Hopefully helpful remarks
(A) The lead's current bullet points go beyond warming and cause so the sentence starting "The content..." seems incomplete.
(B) I've never had good luck with polls that ask two questions
(C) If the question is "whether or not the title is a good fit for the article." there should be answers that start "Yes", "No", and "Other"
NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 09:14, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
(A) So it does. Ugh. Not sure where to go with that . . . some of the lead seems problematic in and of itself. For example the lead says "The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded" . . . Is that even subject to determination by observation? How would one define whether an ecosystem's resilience has been exceeded or not?
(B and C) I've taken the liberty of editing my original post.
Saying the ecosystems resilience is likely to be exceeded is a very reasonable part of the scientific opinion. Why not? The sort of thing that wouldn't be part of it is whether we should bother saving the environment. Anyway I'm going for just keeping the current title especially as we haven't gone into fixing the lead yet and you're discussing the lead. Dmcq (talk) 10:27, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't think there's any need to update the article's focus: what it talks about is useful, and interesting, and a valid subject. I also don't see any use to be had in fiddling around with the title William M. Connolley (talk) 11:03, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
Suppose we play it out to see if there will be any logical reasoning that will require more than "don't like" rebuttal? If not, then its other people's wasted time so why object? NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 11:07, 21 June 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Second take:

This poll is about the title of the article currently entitled Scientific opinion on climate change. The content of the article focuses on the current scientific consensus that the Earth as a whole is warming, and that humans are largely responsible.

  • Question: Which of the following forms of the title is preferable:
  • A1. "Scientific opinion on climate change"
  • A2. "Scientific opinion on global warming"
  • B. "Scientific opinion on the existence and cause of global warming"
  • C1. "Scientific opinion on human-caused global warming"
  • C2. "Scientific opinion on human-caused climate change"

MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 08:58, 21 June 2015 (UTC)

The courtroom objection is "Assumes facts not in evidence". As I previously stated, the lead bullets go beyond your characterization of the article. Until you fix that, it is a fatal defect to this draft. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 11:14, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
There is disagreement about what the topic is, what is the point of going on about a title if there isn't first some agreement about a statement of the topic in the lead? Dmcq (talk) 12:04, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
Dmcq, I've already said I'm willing to do it that way also, and am waiting for a reply to my comment at 15:09, 20 June 2015 (UTC) in the prior thread. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 13:24, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
I know you did, what is your point? You are perfectly entitled to go on talking about changing the title even though there is a disagreement about the topic. You can even change it even if you haven't any agreement about a decent statement about what the topic is if you get a consensus. I asked "what is the point of going on about a title if there isn't first some agreement about a statement of the topic in the lead?" Is it so you can do something like that? If you don't care to give an answer then don't answert but don't go on as if the question hhas been answered by you waiting for me to make more of the topic on the topic as if you were some arbiter or chairman shutting down unconstructive comment. Dmcq (talk) 13:58, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
Unassisted communication is obviously futile here. If you hope for constructive dialogue with me about maybe improving the lead/topic issues, I'd be glad to join you at the WP:DR venue of your choice. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 14:22, 21 June 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Third take:

This poll is about the title of the article currently entitled Scientific opinion on climate change. The content of the article focuses on the current scientific consensus that the Earth as a whole is warming, that humans are largely responsible, and predicted impacts of warming.

  • Question: Which of the following forms of the title is preferable:
  • A1. "Scientific opinion on climate change"
  • A2. "Scientific opinion on global warming"
  • B. "Scientific opinion on the existence and cause of global warming"
  • C1. "Scientific opinion on human-caused global warming"
  • C2. "Scientific opinion on human-caused climate change" — Preceding unsigned comment added by MissPiggysBoyfriend (talkcontribs) 03:10, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
So far, this is like WMC said...pointless. This poll just asks whether CC and GW are synonyms. We've already discussed that, and I've already pointed to the abundant archives at global warming. MPBF, if you want support rehashing that yet again, in my opinion you need to invest effort at organizing a review of the past debates and with reference to the content in the prior debates tell us us why you think the outcome should be different this time. NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 12:36, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
"Abundant" is right -- given the constraints of RL, I am not going to go through 72 archives -- is there one in particular that is relevant? I would add that I don't think you are being entirely fair to my proposed poll; there is more than just the CC/GW question in there. In particular, a title of "Scientific opinion on the existence and cause of climate change" would not make much sense; therefore, the CC/GW issue kinda HAS to be included to get at the other one, unless I'm missing something.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 13:37, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Type "title" in the little search box thingie NewsAndEventsGuy (talk) 14:04, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
The difference I see is in the article under discussion. While this article does have some non-temperature discussion, it is pretty slim. I assume that if someone were to start a section on (say) storms, which is not a direct temperature issue, it would get reverted. That's not the case for the climate change article. That was my original motivation for suggesting the change to the title of this article, and looking at portions of the archives hasn't changed it.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 13:34, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
I really don't know why you go on about particular conclusions rather than what the article is about. The topic would still be a valid one if the scientific opinion was that the climate was going to get cooler or not change at all. We say 'public opinion on smoking', not 'public opinion of the evils of smoking a noxious weed'. Dmcq (talk) 13:54, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

There are actually *two* differences between GW and CC. GW is clearly about temperature, whereas CC can include non-temperature aspects of climate. Additionally, GW says there is warming, while CC does not prejudge that. It seems like what is happening here is that I want GW to make it clear that the article is about temperature; but that bugs you becuase it is also prejudging the warming. Not sure what to do about that.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 14:32, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Oreskes said climate change in the paper starting this off so basically that is that. Your argument about that climate change deals with more than just the temperature and global warming prejudges the issue just shows how right that choice was. What you could do about it is to stop going on and on about changing a long standing title for no good reason. Dmcq (talk) 22:38, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Lead section[edit]

How about instead of the introductory sentence going immediately to results we actually say what the topic of the article is about. I propose the following. There is a bit of duplication with what follows so some trimming could follow. Dmcq (talk) 09:51, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

The scientific opinion on climate change is the overall judgment amongst scientists about whether whether global warming is happening and if so its causes and probable consequences. Near unanimous agreement has been established by the statements of the major international and national science organisations and by surveys of climate scientists.[1]

The scientific consensus is that the Earth's climate system is unequivocally warming, and that it is extremely likely (at least 95% probability) that humans are ...

  1. ^ Oreskes, Naomi (2007). "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?". In DiMento, Joseph F. C.; Doughman, Pamela M. Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren. MIT Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN 978-0-262-54193-0. 

Is it really the case that near unanimous agreement exists as to probable consequences?MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 11:50, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
As far as those consequences are stated here yes. Dmcq (talk) 11:55, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Based on the article (admittedly without going to the actual statements), I'd regard that assertion as unproven. For example, the lead talks about "costs", but very few of the quoted organizations say anything about it. Far from clear that silence should be interpreted as agreement.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 13:40, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
A number have explicitly agreed with the IPCC and nobody has said they disagree. If you have some evidence of a disagreement please advance some source. Or would you care to say which bits you think are doubtful and we might be able to find something about it? Dmcq (talk) 14:06, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
As I said, by concern is that silence on an issue (such as costs) should not be interpreted as agreement. To wit, you've proposed the phrasing "near unanimous aggreement" for the intro. That seems correct for both whether warming is happening and for causes. It does not seem correct for costs.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 15:29, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
That seems to an argument of the gaps, yes they said they agreed but did they specifically say they agreed with this particular thing. I think they are quite capable of saying about anything they disagree with and a number have explicitly agreed. Have you got any substantive reasons for thinking anything else? If you disagreed with it and were drafting something would you just leave out saying anything about things you disagreed with? Dmcq (talk) 18:19, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
That depends on whether or not I were referencing a specific document. If I were to write up "what I agree and disagree with about the IPCC statement on climate change", then I would likely address whatever was in the IPCC statement, yes. But if I were to write up "my opinion on climate change", I would not necessarily reference everything I agree and disagree with about the IPCC statement.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 07:19, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Well have a look at the section on 'Joint national science academy statements' for instance then. They explicitly refer to the IPCC saying they agree with it. And if you think any of them would say that without caveats about any major areas they disagreed with or had reservations about then you don't know scientists. Dmcq (talk) 09:57, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

OK, I agree.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 16:23, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Actually, looking at the G8 statement, it's not clear whether or not they are fully endorsing the IPCC as to costs.[2] They have a paragraph entitled "climate change is real" with the following sentence: " It is likely that

most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities (IPCC 2001)." The footnote to that sentence says that they endorse the international scientific consensus of the IPCC. That actually seems more like they are endorsing the IPCC as to the existence and cause of warming. If they were endorsing the entire report, they would have said so in the context of discussing the entire report, rather than in the context of just that paragraph. They go on to talk about consequences, mention both costs and benefits, and say that costs are likely to predominate if the change is large and/or sudden. I'll take a look at some of the other statements next.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 16:38, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

I just looked at another statement[3]. They are (again) explicit about existence and cause of warming. For impact, they say this:

• Increases above 4.0ºC will lead to major increases in

vulnerability, exceeding the capacity of many physical

and human systems to adapt.

If we take "exceeding the capacity . . . to adapt" to be as the same as "exceeding the resilience", then they are actually saying something somewhat weaker than the IPCC, which is predicting such an event in the next century, but not making it dependent on any particular temperature increase. So in that particular case, it is actually pretty clear that they are not endorsing the IPCC's statement about resilience. Looking at it overall, it is very clear that the major academies agree with the IPCC on existence and cause. For costs and consequences, they tend to have similar concerns, but, as in the above example, their predictions of consequences are often more conservative than those of the IPCC.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 16:52, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps you better spell out exactly what you are looking at and where you see them as disagreeing. Dmcq (talk) 18:21, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
After looking again, I was wrong about disagreement. I'm back to thinking what I thought initially -- they tend to explicitly endorse the IPCC as to existence and cause, then talk about consequences, without explicitly endorsing the entire IPCC report. See for example footnote 2 here [4], and note in the text above the sentence that they are footnoting.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 06:45, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
This is footnote 2
2 IPCC (2001). Third Assessment Report. We recognise the international scientific consensus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
That bit isn't exactly very informative and doesn't say which bits of the report are scientific as its remit is also political. The interpretation on your part that it backs you up about the science only referring to the existence and causes as they are the scientific bits is rather circular, you're just saying it is so because that's what you say. You are basically saying again that a weather forecast for tomorrow from a meteorologist is not a scientific opinion. I think you're missing the 'opinion' and 'consensus' bits again. Dmcq (talk) 07:59, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
No, look above at the sentence it is footnoting. "It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities (IPCC 2001)." That's what they are endorsing. I didn't write that; they did.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 14:21, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
It is a footnote on the lead paragraph of the whole thing and is not itself qualified in any way. If it was in a subsection we might be able to make some inference like you say but it isn't. They also talk about projected effects. If they had any disagreement with the summary points of the IPCC as far as that was concerned they would have said so. Lets say they failed to do so by some oversight even though scientists tend to very questioning - surely you could find another without such an oversight? Dmcq (talk) 22:52, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
You are arguing that a footnote on a particular sentence is actually footnoting the whole paragraph?kMissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 04:49, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
No it is you who are arguing that it applies only to the sentence as if they were citing something contentious on Wikipedia. Were you really expecting them to stick a superscript 2 at the end of every sentence? I said "That bit isn't exactly very informative and doesn't say which bits of the report are scientific as its remit is also political". It is you who is reading a lot into it. And as I keep on saying this article is about scientific opinion. It has IPCC as a main source on that but it is not about the IPCC. The statement talked about the consequences for the environment. That hardly indicates they exclude the prediction of the consequences from their scientific opinion. Dmcq (talk) 07:48, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
It does seem to me that you are just wasting my and other peoples time with this stuff. Get something substantial or I think I'll just ignore you until such time as you try changing the text of the article. This is not a forum for you just to practice our rhetorical skills. Dmcq (talk) 07:55, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
I agree. prokaryotes (talk) 09:58, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
I've put in the first sentence from the text above but moved text from elsewhere in the lead to form the second sentence about how the consensus is assessed. I've also put in a statement about the policy section. Dmcq (talk) 07:54, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

This sentence is not supported be the reference, probably should be deleted, or edited. "Some scientific bodies have recommended specific policies to governments and science can play a role in informing an effective response to climate change, however, policy decisions may require value judgements and so are not included in the scientific opinion" (talk) 01:14, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

I put in another reference but looking at it again I think you will probably find it not satisfacory if you found the original unsatisfactory. What exactly is it about
"Natural, technical, and social sciences can provide essential information and evidence needed for decisions on what constitutes "dangerous anthropogenic interference" with the climate system. At the same time, such decisions are value judgments determined through socio-political processes, taking into account considerations such as development, equity, and sustainability, as well as uncertainties and risk"
that you think does not say that policy is not part of scientific opinion? They can as it says help people with their decisions by trying to work out the best way of getting what they want and they can point out the consequences, but really at the end of the day they can't say that someone who wants to have a big car and enjoy the freedom of driving around the place is wrong or that someone who constrains their life by living like some Indian villager is right. Should we spend spend spend and depend on some wondrous technology to save the planet? Saying one policy is preferable to another is a political value judgement.Dmcq (talk) 11:26, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

Splitting out opinions of scientific organizations[edit]

Do we want to move some or all of this portion to a sub-article, presumably replacing it with a summary?MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 11:52, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

It is rather unwieldy at the moment and I already chopped it down a while ago. So yes I think a separate article on it is called for and hopefully the section here can be cut to about a third its size. Dmcq (talk) 12:04, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
After looking at this a bit more, I'm thinking the National Academy statements should stay in this article. What makes it absurdly long is the inclusion of all the specific statements for geologists, ecologists, statisticians, etc. etc. etc.MissPiggysBoyfriend (talk) 06:37, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't get the issue. The article as it stands is not that long; 120k bytes and that includes rather long quotations in the references. Second Quantization (talk) 11:32, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

There is still a tag - which has been there for a year, since August 2014, apparently - saying that we are discussing moving the Statements by scientific organizations of national or international standing section out of the article. This does not seem to be the central topic of an active discussion here at the moment. I'm going to remove the tag. If there is something else - specific - to discuss, please start a new discussion section below. --Nigelj (talk) 15:49, 1 August 2015 (UTC)


I removed a subsection of the NIPCC, which was added from on 25 June. The NIPCC is not a scientific body, let alone one of international standing in the scientific community. The introduction of the main section says that "Synthesis reports are assessments of scientific literature that compile the results of a range of stand-alone studies in order to achieve a broad level of understanding, or to describe the state of knowledge of a given subject." The document released by the NIPCC does not meet any of the clauses of that sentence. I do notice that the rest of the section - 'Synthesis reports' - seems to consist of a strange hodge-podge of items, mostly quite old, and omitting any text about AR5. Is this all there is? Is it time for an update? --Nigelj (talk) 17:06, 8 July 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for noticing that edit and removing it. Dmcq (talk) 17:51, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, time for an update. But the IPCC, and the NIPCC are all I see of recent synthesis reports. The currently listed consensus reports are not fully from "scientific bodies". Three of the four sources are governmental organizations, run by politians. In the case of the Arctic council it is run by ambassadors. The NIPCC does take a large amount of peer reviewed literature and compiles it into a broad level of understanding, so should be included. (talk) 00:52, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
It just isn't a scientific body of some standing never mind a national or international one like the others. It was set up by Fred Singer specifically to push climate change denial. It does not even qualify as being scientific as they start with the conclusions they want and argue for that. Dmcq (talk) 09:57, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
I don't feel an alternative view point is substantial grounds to exclude the NIPCC. The others are political organizations not scientific bodies, except for the one participant in the Arctic synthesis.