To gin up his lowball number in his recent letter to the editor, Loren Scott focuses on papers expressing no opinions in their abstract. From this, Scott wrongly concludes that every researcher who did not directly state the relationship between human activity and warming reject the correlation! Should we apply Scott’s logic to the links between smoking and lung cancer? If health researchers do not explicitly state that the two are connected in every single publication are we to believe they reject it? I’m sure the Heartland Institute would like us to.

Scott fails to note that Cook et al. pointed out that many abstracts assert no opinion because scientists in consensus situations “generally focus their discussions on questions that are still disputed or unanswered rather than on matters about which everyone agrees.”

Scott also fails to mention in his letter that these researchers contacted authors who did not give an opinion in their abstracts and found that 97 percent of them also recognized the relationship between climate change and human activity even when they didn’t include it in their abstracts. Interestingly, Scott never mentions how many climate researchers rejected the consensus. (Hint: less than 1 percent!)

Finally, in a gratuitous bit of fear mongering, Scott asserts that “the Obama Justice Department and several Democratic attorneys general” propose throwing climate change deniers in jail. It is sad to see Scott struggling to prop up his poorly crafted argument with logical fallacies that appeal to our emotions and that rest solely on his authority as an economics expert.

I suggest Scott consider how economists like himself viewed contrarian claims about climate data in blind tests. Lewandowsky et al. 2016, shows that when confronted with the evidence, economists also overwhelmingly endorse the view that carbon emissions by us are warming our planet.

Steven Babcock


Baton Rouge