[Coral-List] Global Warming Theory (Douglas Fenner) (Eugene Shinn)

Simon Donner simon.donner at gmail.com
Tue Mar 3 12:25:04 EST 2009

An important note on the lists of "scientists" who don't believe in
global warming:

The goal of the list-makers is ostensibly to show there are more
"scientists" who doubt the IPCC consensus than who participate in the
IPCC. This misses the point of the IPCC effort entirely. The IPCC was
not created to get the views of ~2000 scientists but to have ~2000
climate scientists summarize the conclusions of the entire scientific

I use the following medical analogy to  describe the process in class
and in public presentations (this is a quote from a story on

Let’s say you are worried about your health. Maybe you’ve noticed an
elevated body temperature, and it is beginning to affect the way you

You go to the doctor. The doctor gives you a diagnosis, based on her
or his expertise. To be safe, you might get a second opinion. Most of
the time, that’s enough.

But this diagnosis is a frightening one. And you want to be thorough.
So you make a call to the United Nations.

The UN assembles a team of a couple thousand of top doctors from
around the world, with a range of specialties. The team of doctors
does a comprehensive review of all the scientific literature on your
condition and charges medical centers around the world to run
sophisticated computer models simulating your health. The information
is assembled into a massive technical report. A draft report is then
made available for any doctor in the world to review. Thousands of
people review aspects of the report and provide criticism that is
factored into the final draft. The team of doctors then meets with
representatives from different countries around the world to produce a
summary of the report in less technical language that reflects the
most important and statistically significant findings. Five years
later, you are given that summary.

That is how the IPCC “Summary for Policymakers” reports are produced.

They are the end-point of an exhaustive review of scientific
literature by a group of top scientists and a long peer review
process. They are not alarmist. The findings contained in the reports
actually tend to be quite conservative, because they arise out of a
wide body of research and adhere to strict statistical conventions.
For example, the projections for sea level rise are lower than in many
climate studies because of reported uncertainty in the understanding
of ice sheet dynamics.

Simon Donner
Asst. Professor
Dept. of Geography
University of British Columbia

More information about the Coral-List mailing list