Watch for the spin on climate polling

The latest print edition of National Review features a letter responding to Oren Cass’ rebuttal to claims about a scientific consensus surrounding climate change.

New York University researchers Derek Sylvan and Peter Howard take issue with Cass’ description of their survey findings, noting at one point that “89 percent [of surveyed economists] thought that climate impacts will have a net negative effect on the global economy by 2050.”

Cass’ response: “S&H’s claim of consensus requires them to combine disparate answers. For instance, they describe an 89 percent ‘consensus’ from adding together the responses that the negative economic effect of climate change has already begun (41 percent), will begin by 2025 (22 percent), or will begin by 2050 (26 percent). This is like asking people whether they prefer apples, bananas, oranges, or pears and then reporting a 90 percent ‘consensus’ for ‘apples, bananas, or oranges.’

“Presumably, they designed their survey specifically to distinguish between economists who believe a negative economic effect has begun, will begin soon, or will not begin for decades because they recognized that those are meaningfully distinct answers representing different views. They cannot trumpet the subsequent diversity of responses as consensus by recombining the categories into ‘now or soon or later.'”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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