Scientific American readers’ survey rejects Warmism

I cannot recall ever before seeing such a huge mismatch between the views of the establishment — the politicians, the media, the chattering classes — and real people, on any issue.  The leaders have hitched their wagons to climate hysteria, but the people have seen that this Emperor has no clothes.  The gap is perfectly illustrated in the case of the prestigious publication “Scientific American”.

A new survey of reader opinions comes to some remarkable conclusions.  Although the journal itself cleaves to the old orthodoxy on Warmism, it’s clear that its readers take a different view, and by a very wide margin.  More than 6000 have responded, with nearly 20% claiming PhD status.  More than three quarters (77%) believe that current climate change is caused by natural processes.  More than two thirds (68%) think we should do nothing about climate change, and are powerless to stop it.   No fewer than 90% think that climate scientists should debate their findings in public (they are notoriously reluctant to do so), while 83% believe that the UN-IPCC is corrupt, prone to group-think, and has a political agenda.

Of course no one is suggesting that all readers of Scientific American are climate scientists, and we have to recognise that the respondents to the survey are a self-selecting group, and that sceptics may be more motivated than true believers.  Nevertheless, almost by definition the readership of the journal is scientifically literate and interested in science.  That such an audience should condemn Warmism, and the IPCC, so overwhelmingly, is surely remarkable.

Yet we see similar moves elsewhere, for example in learned societies.  The management of the American Physical Society, like the Scientific American, is committed to the old orthodoxy, but there is trouble in the ranks.  The membership is demanding a more balanced view, and one prominent climate scientist, Prof Hal Lewis of the University of California, has very publicly resigned over the issue.  My own experience over many years is that while organisations, businesses, political parties and trade unions cling to Warmism, individuals in those organisations will happily say informally, over a beer, that of course they think it’s nonsense — but naturally they have to toe the party line.  Belief in Warmism is almost literally being hollowed out from the inside.

Opinion surveys from Britain and America show that a majority of the people no longer believe in Warmism.  The surveys also show that the public is heartily sick of being blamed by the politicians and the media for what they see as a non-problem — and less and less willing to pay the exorbitant price for pointless climate mitigation efforts.

We now have a new, Republican House of Representatives in the USA, which absolutely will not pass Cap’n’Trade, and will not ratify any agreement from the UN’s “COP 16” climate conference in Cancun in December that imposes tight limits on emissions.  There is even a good chance that Congress will force the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) to abandon its ruinous attempt to classify carbon dioxide (a harmless trace gas which is essential to life on earth) as “A Pollutant”.

So Warmism is in a sort of Zombie state.  Still moving, still a great threat to humankind, yet in a real sense, dead already.  Real people don’t believe it any more.  I am scheduled to go to Cancun in early December for the UN Conference, and I look forward to celebrating the funeral rites.

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17 Responses to Scientific American readers’ survey rejects Warmism

  1. Ian Hannah says:

    “Free at Last! Free at last!” The truth about ‘Global Warming’ is free at last!

  2. Tom Harris says:

    Eventually, the establishment — the politicians, the media, the chattering classes — will have to move over to climate realism as the fraction of “real people” who do not believe in climate alarmism rises to very high levels.

    Then, apolitical tools such as The Climate Scientists’ Register will be crucial, otherwise the establishment will fight even harder and take even longer, to move over.

    Here is the Climate Scientists’ Register, now endorsed by 139 experts in the field:


    Tom Harris, B. Eng., M. Eng. (Mech.)
    Executive Director
    International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)
    P.O. Box 23013
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K2A 4E2


  3. Tom Harris says:

    Correction in the link to the Climate Scientists’ Register – it is here:

  4. David Walker says:

    Don’t count the chickens before they hatch. The Chicago Climate Exchange was recently sold for $600 million dollars in an effort to salvage the profit still there, as carbon credits are becoming a universally dirty word. But don’t count the believers, the pushers, the fascists out yet. As their effort becomes centralized and focused, there will still be massive amounts of money spent to screw you out of yours for the sake of the notorious fraud of global warming.

    It’s sad to say that environmentalism, itself, has seemingly become corrupt beyond repair. Behind the curtains, shell games and smokescreens there always lies an empty, ugly truth: Environmentalism makes the word “is” an entirely subjective term.

  5. RCSaumarez says:

    Dear Mr Helmer,

    Many of us who are scientifically trained have not believed the catastrophic AGW hypothesis for years, simply because the data was insufficiently compelling. A 20-year, very well funded PR campaign conducted by the Green movement and some rather questionable scientists that has tried to convince the world that catastrophe was inevitable has now crashed spectacularly. As Richard Lindzen points out, climate change alarmism seems to affect supposedly well educated liberal elites in a way that defies common sense. Unfortunately our political establishment appears to be particularly susceptable, in particular, the EU.

    This brings me to a question that I am asking politicians and, if you can spare the time, I would be interested in your views. It appears to me that once an EU policy has been adopted, it becomes impossible to change that policy. The CFP, CAP, Biofuels, “renewable energy” (perpetual motion machines?) are policies that are being increasingly recognised as having serious economic and environmental consequences, but nobody seems to know how to change them. Individual governments, individual commissioners, let alone individual citizens, have realised that many EU policies are failures but there is no mechanism by which they can be reformed.

    I am affected by EU regulations in one area, medical instruments, which have recently been revised, made more complex, time consuming and more difficult and expensive to conform to. The only real problem with the new regulations is that they do not increase patient safety and they appear to be regulation for regulation’s sake. The Commission itself has estimated that the cost of negotiating the maze of regulation is about 6 times greater than the benefits of the single market. In a rational world, one might think that the declining economic performance of the EU would be a stimulus to streamline regulation, yet every initiative in this area has failed to slow the growth of regulation.

    The whole history of the UK and the EU strikes me as being a series of rearguard actions to attempt to limit the trajectory of the EU commission and they have failed serially.

    Yet, the real threat of withdrawal of the UK might be the best thing that could happen to the EU, as it would be seismic and be the one thing that would fracture a system of government that doesn’t work properly. Regrettably, this won’t happen.

    • Thanks for this comment, and I think I agree with you on both climate and Europe! In theory, of course, EU law can be changed by exactly the same processes by which it is made. The Commission could propose repeal, the parliament would review and amend the legislation, and the Commission and Council could agree the outcome. In practice, though, as you point out, it seems to be impossible. The inertia, combined with the loss of face, are all against it. You mention a very good example: biofuels. There is now a strong consensus that biofuels do more harm than good; they don’t reduce emissions; they threaten food prices and supplies; and they are driving species extinction with new pressure for agricultural land. But the Commission is digging in. The same could be said of the Emissions Trading Scheme. Most economists and businesses are coming round to the view that if you really want to reduce CO2 emissions, a straight carbon tax is the most economically efficient way to do it. But the Commission is wedded to ETS, and shows no sign of repentance.

    • Jonathan Ward says:

      I’m also scientifically trained, with 7 years of experience in physics. In addition I have studied international relations, urbanisation and human geography, and quaternary geology.

      What shocks me is that, in general, the most vociferous proponents and opponents of an anthropogenic forcing upon the current climatic system lack any scientific qualifications and sufficient understanding of the mechanisms and the problems. The proposition in this comment (RCSaumarez) suggests that ‘global warming’ is somehow largely a construction of a green PR machine in the past 20 years (and elsewhere I have noticed this strange assertion that the CO2 link appeared around this time). The role of CO2 as a warming agent was hypothesised and established by the successive works of Fourier, Tyndall and Arrhenius over a 100 years ago. The Greenhouse Effect as it is popularly known seems to be contested, curiously, by some conservative bloggers despite it being essential in providing the right radiation retention to ensure this planet his habitable.

      Furthermore, the fossil-fuels industry, taking lessons from the Tobacco industry earlier in the 20th Century, have had a better funded campaign for a number of years now with the explicit aim of generating a public perception of intolerable ‘uncertainty’ in the climate change debate. It would appear from reading comments on here and elsewhere on the Telegraph that they have been successful. Some links ( ; ).

      If, as many on this blog assert, that the facts speak for themselves, then why such concerted campaigns? Of course I cannot lump all fossil-fuel or right-wing meida outfits into this, that is gross generalisation, just as using the label ‘Greens’ to encompass millions of people
      with different views, backgrounds and intentions. It’s a gross and lazy simplification in the manner which pervades contemporary politics and journalism with endless rhetoric about one ‘community’ or the other.

      As far as I can see (and in science it is always about the sum of the evidence before you, and the probabilities and likelihoods attached) that humans in their activities are very likely to be exhibiting a significant impact factor upon the climatic system of this planet. I would like further debate, outside of the ideological handbags and regretable polarisation, that answers some of the many genuine uncertainties which are crucial for us to understand. Uncertainties are different from probabilistic scenarios, particular as the future in this case depends on a number of different emissions levels that in turn depend on our response to climate change concerns and resource usage in a finite world.

      I’d be more than happy to continue this debate and discuss why it has been so politicised.



      • Wrong on several counts, I’m afraid, Jonathan. Yes, CO2 is a greenhouse gas — but a weaker one than water vapour. If, as the EPA says, CO2 is a pollutant, then so is water. Moreover the climate forcing effect of CO2 is a law of dinimishing returns, and we’re already so far up the curve that further increases will be trivial. So they have to postulate “positive feedbacks”. But they can’t prove or demonstrate these, and many other scientists believe there are negative feedbacks.

        You can forget the old chestnut about the fossil fuel lobby. It’s estmated that sceptical organisation received a few million dollars last year, while the global warming industry received several Billion.

      • markx says:

        Geez John, you just regurgitated the whole lot there didn’t you?

        Sure, the CO2 greenhouse effect was studied and debated nearly a century ago. The major issue would seem to be whether water vapor will somehow provide an additive forcing as the models manage to predict (completely without backing data).

  6. David Walker says:

    About that survey. It does seem that the magazine’s readers have formed a consensus that the “global warming” context is bunk.

    Seeing how the UN, the World Bank, the Pew Trust and others constantly harp on consensus, it may be time to use this word to the common good’s advantage.

  7. MSanchez says:

    Thank goodness for common sense Americans. Global warming is nothing more than a scam and the person who is getting the most out of it and wealth as well is Al Gore – the Nobel Prize winner. Makes you not have much respect for that prize!

  8. RCSaumarez says:

    Thanks for your reply. It confirms my opinion that the commission is a machine that has a number of control levers on it. The levers aren’t connected to the machine! Europe will simply decline into an over-regulated, economically deprived backwater. I fear the political consequences.

  9. The very idea of controlling our planet’s climate has always seemed bsurd to me. It reminds me a little of King Canute’s infamous command that the tide should obey him! On a more serious note, I see the final revelation of the truth – i.e. that our plant’s climate has always been (and always will be) subject to inevitable periods of change. Sadly, the “warmists” and their ridiculous theories have been allowed by the media and some politicians (amongst others) to distract us from genuine concerns – such as our need for energy conservation and protecting the natural environment from problems not even linked with climate.

    • Jonathan Ward says:

      Dear Julian,

      I would echo concern over our ability to control aspects of this planet’s climate, and would like the debate over geo-engineering to be more transparent. We do exert control already over certain aspects however, and cannot dismiss entirely the basis of geo-engineering without first an ethical, technical and political debate, as much as I am uneasy about such an approach.

      Yet our CFC emissions did affect parts of the atmosphere, which in turn affected the level of UV radiation received in the lower atmosphere (an effect upon the climate, albeit in a small way). Our redress to the situation also has worked. By the same token, attempts to mitigate unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions should also reduce the level of gas in the atmosphere which can add radiative forcing to the climate. This is far preferable to any geo-engineering which launches us well and truly into the unknown.

      Scientists, at least those whom I have met, worked with, and read articles from, have never denied any aspect of the Earth’s climatic history. It is the very foundation of subjects such as Quaternary Geology, and is essential to our understanding of climatic models.

      As for the latter part of your comment, this ties in with the mitigation argment, and if you look for instance at local government work, it has a large focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions through energy efficiency and alternative energy sources. Many are working towards resilience in their area, which also invokes adaptation through the prism of business continuity (i.e. making sure your operations are not unduly affected by different weather events as we currently experience).

      Therefore in my experience, climate change, anthropogenic or otherwise, is not obscuring or diverting work on energy cosnevration, reilience and similar issues. I cannot comment on the work on ohter aspects of the natural environment, it may be that some environmental charities have altered their focus, albeit in the belief that this threat (climate) affects the majority of the aspects of their work.

      What it does obscure is the elevation of local, regional and national resilience concepts which integrate agricultural, consumerist, production, and energy transitions which reduce waste and dependency on depleting resources.

      • The great distortion of climate policy is coal. I can agree on conservation and economical use of resources. I can agree on energy security. I can agree on nuclear. I can’t agree on expensive and unreliable renewables like wind. And whatever we in Europe do, the future of global energy supply (especially in the growing economies of Asia) is coal and nuclear.

  10. Jeff Walther says:

    The radicals in environmentalism who have driven the climate change movement, are the same folks who have lied about nuclear power for the last thirty to forty years.

    If they are so concerned about carbon, how can they, in good conscience continue to flout their lies about nuclear power and invent new ones (“peak uranium in 30 years”, “cooling water shortage”).

    If the USA had built ten nuclear power plants per year since 1980, we would now emit zero carbon (except, perhaps for some load balancing plants) in generating electricity. This would put our carbon emissions at ~28% less than they are today. When you add in the integrated carbon emissions reductions over the total time period, it’s an immense reduction in carbon emitted into the atmosphere.

    And we’d be well positioned to transition our transportation infrastructure to electrical sources.

    And it would be at rates comparable to the national average electricity cost (~$.11/KWH) rather than the poverty inducing two or three times that wind and solar cost.

    But we didn’t do that.

    Because of the activist environmental movement.

    Greens caused Global Warming.

  11. Walter Horsting says:

    I dropped Scientific American after 50+ years of subscribing due to its non scientific balance on AGW. It is very clear in my reading that sunspot cycles drive global climate. Cycles 24 & 25 point to a colder 30-60 cycle ahead. For power generation Thorium LFTR seems lie a great way to go. Thankfully the US has fraked it way to energy freedom.

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