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Reviewing the “Powell Consensus”: James Powell’s “climate consensus” is unsubstantiated

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posted on 2021-08-12, 12:11 authored by Adedamola AdedokunAdedamola Adedokun, Andreas Glassl, Philipp Lengsfeld

Public call to unite behind science is on the rise fueled also by the notion of a scientific “consensus” on the question of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). This paper reexamines this notion by reviewing the works of James Powell (2015, 2016, 2019) which reports an above 99.99 % (100 % in latest publication) consensus on AGW. The so called consensus was achieved primarily by title and abstract analysis similar to Cook et al (2013) (i.e. separating abstracts supporting, rejecting, or expressing a neutral or no position on AGW), but with a different turn. By carefully evaluating the three published Powell works, we highlight the deep flaws in the study conduct and methodology employed by Powell. In our assessment, Powell barely skimmed through publication titles and abstracts to determine which articles question the AGW hypothesis. We find this questionable, strongly opinion based and unfit according to scientific standards. In addition, the Powell methodology approach assumes that all articles without an explicit rejection are AGW endorsing (including those with “no position”). This assumption is flawed and unfit to be deemed evidence for a “scientific consensus”. The above 99.99 % consensus figure is therefore unsubstantiated.