climate change

31,478 scientists agree climate change is a hoax

Here’s a popular little internet rumour that’s gone another round this week after being mentioned in the US House of Representatives a few days ago. Needless to say, the blogs have been all over it, posting and re-posting the story.

The 31,478 figure refers to the Petition Project, an online petition site which has been slowly gathering names for a decade or so. It is regularly quoted as a reason for dismissing the climate change debate, and so I invite you to consider it in a little more detail.

The wording of the petition states that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” It goes on to suggest, as you can see below, that more CO2 may actually be a good thing.

Where would you find 31,478 people prepared to sign such a statement? Not among climate scientists, that’s for sure.

The Petition Project lists the qualifications of signatories, apparently without embarrassment. You don’t need to be a working scientist, just have a bachelors degree, and any related field will do. Consequently, out of those 31,478 ‘experts’, you will find the following:

  • 9,833 engineers
  • 3,046 doctors
  • 4,818 chemists
  • 581 mathematicians
  • 149 zoologists
  • 59 astronomers
  • 39 climate scientists

That’s right, climate scientists make up one tenth of one percent of the signatories of this petition. It really isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, and yet it is endlessly repeated, and even gets quoted in Congress. Such are the wonders of the internet. People are so quick to repeat what they hear without questioning it or even reading it properly that I half expect this post to be linked to by some quick-posting bloggers.

If you come across this petition, or see it mentioned as evidence against climate change, please bear this in mind. Also consider the fact that if you just asked the climate scientists, the people most likely to know, you’d find 98% were in agreement.


  1. I encourage criticism especially in the realm of science however to say that the only people qualified to talk about AGW are climatologists is a somewhat foolish statement.

    the traditional peer review process allows anyone with a reasonable knowledge of the field to comment on it. and to be completely honest mathemeticians are very good with statistics, chemists deal with IR spectroscopy and chemical properties and engineers, well they are their own breed of data analysis.

    in fact if you were to offer the same exact petition opposed to global warming you would be apt to see an even smaller percentage of climatologists and hard scientists and many more soft scientists.

    regardless of this any evidence in direct confliction with AGW or any other scientific theory normally renders it null and if they can come up with one piece of evidence their claim is valid.

    considering the strongest supporters of AGW happen to be politicians i think that i would take even one engineer over their infinite wisdom

    1. Thanks for your comment. I too believe in peer reviewing, which is why I believe that climate change is happening, and is man made. Almost every national academy of sciences in the world has endorsed the findings of the IPCC, everyone from the UK’s Royal Society to the Indonesian Academy of Sciences. I’d rather take their word for it rather than a random group of engineers and zoologists.

      But, I suspect that you’ve already made up your mind. You suggest that there is no evidence for global warming, which is so obviously and completely false that pointing you towards any seems like a fruitless exercise. Still, start with the IPCC reports and their temperature records – you really must look into these things properly.

      1. Jeremy, May I suggest you read “The Delinquent Teenager” by Donna Laframboise?
        Her “Citizen Audit” of the 2007 IPCC Climate Bible found that :

        “of all 18,531 references cited in the 2007 IPCC report…
        …….. 5,587 ARE NOT PEER-REVIEWED.”


        ” 21 out of 44 chapters contain so few peer-reviewed references, they get
        an F (59% and below).”


        “only 18% of the 44 chapters receive an A grade.”

        In the words of Rajendra Pachauri, “The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) is our main customer..”

        Since the UNFCCC is an international emissions treaty, what are the chances that the IPCC, working to support an emissions treaty, will produce unbiased reports?

        Those who fail to question what they are told, are doomed to believe whatever they are told.

        1. Jamie, that means over two thirds of the cited references are peer reviewed, and the IPCC report itself is peer reviewed. The IPCC acknowledges that much of the science is uncertain – the important thing is that we recognise the bits that we do know for sure, and anthropomorphic global warming is, they reckon, 95% likely.

    2. Correct, just because only 39 climate change experts signed the petition does not mean we discount the scientific opinions of thousands of scientists, who, examining the evidence, questions conclusions about the data within scientific methods. Engineers and doctors are certainly qualified to question methodologies and conclusions the climate change alarmists foist on the public.

      Also, how many climate change specialists are there in the US? I assume it’s a relatively new field so the number is small. How many climate “experts” would you need to sign the petition to believe them? From this blog 39 is not enough, even when mixed with thousands of other scientists or folks disciplined in data collection and interpretation qualified to offer informed opinions about the subject. AND a former president of the National Academy of Sciences heartily endorses the petition.

      The Petition Project seems legitimate. I like what it had to say at its FAQ page about phony signatures and sources of funding. If you chose to reject its FAQ then what you are saying is that PP is lying. OK, prove it. I would be the first to denounce them if it turns out the PP is a sham.

      Keep in mind too that PP is NOT saying climate change is a hoax just THAT THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE IS INCONCLUSIVE AND FLAWED. I will guarantee you that if it is proven scientifically that warming due to greenhouse emissions is true, that every one of these scientists would sign on because of the integrity of the scientific method and I assume their integrity as real scientists who must accept scientific results as truth.

      For those highly skeptical of the climate change crusade, notice how the socialist left (the core population behind this crusade) has moved away from “global warming” to “climate change”. This is because the prevalence of freezing temperatures around the country does not sync with their biases. (I live in the pacific northwest and we are experiencing one of the coldest summers on record. On June 23, 2011 the high here was FIFTY SEVEN). They had to expand the term of art in order to keep their crusade going. But as more than one talking head has rightfully pointed out, the climate change crusade is less about concern for the environment and more about socialist, gov’t control of yet another dimension of our lives. The top-down, controlling left cannot wait to dictate all sorts of rules to ameliorate the climate change “crisis”. The leftist technocrats in their $150,000 a year sinecures in Washington know better than us on how we should live our lives. Leftist impulses and habits of mind like this are really a mental illness. They need to see someone.

      1. Sure, all scientists are entitled to an opinion, but I value that of climate scientists more on the climate, and doctor’s opinions on medicine. I don’t think they’re lying, I think the premise of the project is wrong. It would have been ten times more compelling if they’d found just 100 names that were all climatologists.

        On your latter point, the global warming/climate change thing is nonsense. The UN formally adopted climate change back in the 80s because it was less alarming to the public, and more honest about the sorts of changes that could happen – not just warmer temperatures, but extreme weather and so on. It’s why the IPCC was named that, in 1988, rather than the International Panel on Global Warming.

        But since you equate leftist politics with mental illness, I imagine any rational reply to your comments is a waste of time.

  2. “You suggest that there is no evidence for global warming, which is so obviously and completely false that pointing you towards any seems like a fruitless exercise. Still, start with the IPCC reports and their temperature records – you really must look into these things properly.”

    Surely it is YOU who have made up your mind.
    Computer predictions are not EVIDENCE.

    But the credibility of computer models is becoming suspect – with global temps peaking in 1998, with a couple of cold winters behind us, with the Antarctic being colder etc.

    But even with evidence (small) of actual cooling, it would be foolish to assert the “inevitability” of Global Cooling (as it appeared in the early 1970’s)

    Given the uncertainty, perhaps it may be fruitful to consider the consequences if Warming were to occur.
    Would it be a disaster?
    To many people it would be a boon. More crops, less heating.
    Surely using less fuel to heat the elderly and vulnerable through cold winters should be attractive to eco-warriors?

    However, with teh bizarre strapline “make wealth history” one can only wonder what your motives are.

  3. You’re right – I have made up my mind, on the basis of the evidence I’ve seen. I’ll change it again if the evidence later suggests I’m wrong.

    You’re right – computer predictions are not evidence. I have yet to meet a single person who says they are. The computer models are used to predict what might happen if current trends continue. The current trends are the evidence, and they suggest a gradual warming over the past half century.

    You’re right – climate change will be great for some people. England, for example, could become like Spain. Which will be great for Spain, because they’ll have somewhere to move to once their own homeland is an unliveable desert.

    One final thought: If I’m wrong, that would be a little embarassing in twenty years time, but we’ll have a cleaner, healthier economy out of it. If you’re wrong, we’re in a fight for survival.

    1. I don’t know if some one will still read this but:

      If you’re wrong next time, some other a real issue (or some actual real problem), should be ignored (someone will say: do you remeber the climate change hoax? …).

      Finally: i don’t see any relation with healt anc CO2 production. If you are concerned about your healt may be there are other more impact battle to fight about…

      (sorry for my english, hope you will hunderstand)

    2. I have heard this same argument put for before. But not by a scientific crowd. It was made by religion in an attempt to convert the unrighteous.

      Goes pretty much the same way:
      “If there is no god, then I have wasted my lifetime. If there is a God, you have wasted eternity.”
      The implication is, it is better to believe in the unprovable than run the risk you might be wrong.

      That is not science.

      1. No, it’s not science, but it’s one of the ways we apply science to everyday life. Say you were a smoker in the 1950s when nobody knew the links to cancer. When you first read about it, the jury would still be out and you’d have to decide whether or not you’d give up cigarettes or take a chance on it.

        The same logic applies – we have to look at the science and make a decision. It’s not science, it’s what science is for – to help us understand the world and choose wisely how we live in it.

  4. I’m sorry but the theory of AGW doesn’t sit well with me, I find it hard to stomach how people who are proponents of this theory, some how assume they are 100% correct.

    Consensus’s mean nothing to me, there was a general consensus that whites were more intelligent then coloured people and that was very wrong. There was a general consensus that the earth was the centre of our solar system and that the sun revolved around the earth, that was also wrong.

    These proponents of AGW are also the ones who predicted in 1970 there would be an ice age in the coming decades (how wrong they were), this then morphed in to global warming and now its being lumped in to a general term “climate change” which is a very shrewd and sly manoeuvre.

    Climate changes happen there is no denying that. They have happened through out earth’s very very long history and you can not stop them they are a force of nature. Even the “sceptics” don’t deny climate change, what they are in disagreement with is the way it is being portrayed to the people of the world. How humans are soley responsible, that no other forces in the universe can have as much of an effect on the environment as we can. How cap and trade schemes are being portrayed as miraculous cure to the worlds problems and will help stop climate change. It won’t it’s a false commodity to invest in and is being used to prop up the worlds faltering economic system.

    To blatantly disregard some very valid research conducted by some very reputable scientists who disagree with AGW is criminal. We can not claim to understand what causes “climate change” as AGW is an unproven theory and climate change is a very very complex subject. So any research which furthers our understanding should be welcomed whether it contradicts AGW or supports it. Remember climate change doesn’t just involve us pumping gas in to the atmosphere it involves a wide range of factors which in turn requires a wide range of scientific disciplines to investigate.

    However this is not the case and it appears unless you follow the “consensus” you are a “denier”. Science is about discovery and investigation to disprove and prove hypotheses but as soon as “climate change” became politic all sense seems to have gone out of the window.

    I know that in 30 years time whether or not we reduce emissions I will still be here, the earth will decide to change things up again and we will some how be blaming ourselves for that.

    1. Hi Jason,

      thanks for an interesting comment – there are a couple of things I’d pick up on though.

      The first is that switching from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’ wasn’t the scientists’ idea. It was brought in my the UN because it was a more fair and honest term. It’s a broader term. As climate science has developed, scientists realised that we aren’t just warming the climate, we destabilising it. That means storms, droughts, floods, and in some cases perhaps even cooling (If the UK was to lose the Gulf Stream, for example, we’d end up as cold as Moscow) I’d argue that ‘climate change’ is a much more moderate, less alarmist term than ‘global warming’, and sceptics should embrace it rather than seeing a plot behind it.

      Also, you suggest that AGW proponents say that human activity is the only cause of warming. That’s not true in my experience. Any good climate scientist knows that there are weather patterns in play too, solar activity, and very long term climactic trends. The problem is that our CO2 emissions have destabilised something that nature maintains on a very fine balance. The science is quite subtle and sophisticated here, but it tends to get reduced to black and white by the more vocal campaigning scientists, and the media.

      The same goes for the ‘consensus’. Yes, there are legitimate scientists who disagree, and they should not be ignored. And yes, we don’t know 100% – no science is ever 100%, which is why it moves forward through theory and then peer review. And I agree with you completely on cap and trade by the way!

      In the end, I don’t think it comes down to the science. I think it’s about risk. If AGW is wrong, then we’re a little embarrassed, but if we’ve acted wisely then no harm is done. We’ll have slowed down a consumer economy that was unsustainable anyway. We’ll have greener energy and cleaner air. If AGW is right, then all those sceptics just stood there while the world went to pieces.

      I’m not a scientist and I keep an open mind on these things, but when it comes to the risk of climate change I know which way I’d choose.

  5. My signature in on this petition and I consider myself well qualified. I have an advanced degree in engineering and am an expert in heat transfer.

    1. Great – but the climate is not a machine. I’m sure you’re more qualified than me, but I’m still going to take my science from climate scientists wherever possible.

  6. john kortenhoeven, have you consulted with people (and articles of people) of other disciplines–including climate change scientists–and reviewed their data and research? I think it was unfair for Jeremy to assume that you haven’t. If you have, I would be very happy if you would provide references. I don’t for a moment believe that a scientist of any particular discipline lives in a bubble. Also, just as physicians must study a number of disciplines (chemistry, biology, . . . ), engineers who SPECIALIZE in heat transfer must have studied other branches of science.

  7. An unsubstantiated argument made by the man-caused climate change disciples is that CO2 emissions contributing to global warming. According to Dr. David Evans, a former consultant for the Department of Climate Change and a renowned modeler and lead programmer for the carbon accounting model used by the Australian Government to calculate carbon accounts for the Kyoto protocol, “Human emissions of CO2 were virtually non-existent before 1850, and were insignificant compared to current levels until after 1945”. It was in 1944 when a thirty year cooling period began, which was prior to the massive output of human caused CO2 emission. The warming and cooling trends in the earth have remained essentially the same since. One variable cannot cause two deferent reactions within a single control group. CO2 emissions cannot be both responsible for global warming and global cooling. This contradiction is so often overlooked or nonsensically packaged as “one variable (man) being responsible for two separate occurrences (both warming and cooling) within one control group (the earth).

  8. Nice try–After researching petition project we discovered 3,805 scientists (with degrees in Earth Science and Enviromental Science) had signed petition. Not the 408 you claim.
    Also most scientists with Petition Project have Phd’s in their respective fields including 5,812 (Physics) 2,965 (Biology). A diverse group that combines cause effect analysis. (NOT just effect–that would be the hypothesis of using only environmental science).
    It takes all sciences combined including astrophysics that studies solar radiation on the earth. The sun affects the earth’s temperture 99.9999% more then any environmental change

    Compare that with the UN Climate Counsel with the organization Union of Concerned Scientists. Most of them are lawyers and not scientists. Their chief scientist has a degree in Zoology

  9. Gary, have the integrity to read the post and respond to what’s actually in it – show me where I claim there are only 408 environmental scientists, for instance. Also, there’s no such thing as the UN Climate Counsel, which doesn’t say much for your ‘research’.

  10. Are you implying that engineers can’t comprehend climate data? I would say that climate scientists are far less academic than engineers.

      1. Climate Scientists base their predictions on .000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of the Worlds Weather History. They ignore periods like 800-1400 in which the World was far warmer than it is today. I wouldn’t trust them to predict next months weather much less the World burning up in 2016. Or has Al Gore backed off on his prediction that the World will burn up next year?

  11. Actually it would take a combination of all the professions listed to make a climate model that reflects the effect of climate on our World. Engineers would be involved in the production of climate monitoring tools. To build the tool you must have a working knowledge of the overall project. Zoologists would provide expertise on the extinction of animals due to climate change. Physicians are needed to track trends in climate on the health of civilization. You can’t create a climate model without mathematicians and chemists, they are needed to do computations, data manipulation, and trends. Together they make up the Climate Monitoring Team.

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