Global Warming Survey Draws Skepticism, Ho-Hum Response

Published January 20, 2009

 A survey from the University of Illinois at Chicago purporting to show that a wide range of Earth scientists say humans contribute significantly to global warming was greeted with skepticism and suspicion Wednesday.


“The results in this survey say nothing,” said James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.


Dan Miller, Heartland executive vice president and head of media relations, added, “The response rate to the survey by UI/C students and an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences is the first clue to its weak credibility.


“The team emailed more than 10,200 scientists listed in a directory of the American Geological Institute. But a mere 31 percent replied, indicating that seven out of 10 recipients didn’t think the question was important enough for an email response.”


The survey posed two questions: Have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.


“About 90 percent of the scientists agreed with the first question and 82 percent the second,” said the poll’s sponsors.


Taylor said the questions are not cutting-edge issues in the climate-change debate.


“The rise in global temperatures since the end of the Little Ice Age is not in dispute,” Taylor said. “It is a good thing the Little Ice Age is over.


“I also agree that humans are likely impacting global temperatures. The best science I have seen indicates temperatures are roughly 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than would be the case without human influence. I would even go so far as to say this is ‘significant,’ though not alarming.”


Concluded Taylor, “The UI/C survey is mildly interesting, but it is not at all indicative of whether scientists believe humans are causing any kind of global warming ‘crisis’.”