Monday, May 20, 2013

When a Mandate Is Or Isn't

Trey Smith

In the 2004 presidential election, incumbent George W. Bush defeated challenger John Kerry in the the popular vote 50.7% to 48.3% for a winning margin of 2.4%. Despite the fact that Bush barely received a clear majority of the votes cast and less than a majority of eligible votes (a lot of people didn't vote at all), both he and his supporters claimed that the vote represented a mandate for his agenda. This historical fact is interesting when juxtaposed against the so-called controversy about human-caused global warming.

As I am sure readers are well aware, many of the same conservatives who supported George W. Bush claim that the science around climate change is far from settled. If you listen to what they say or read what they write, it sounds like little more than a 50/50 proposition. According to recent research, this supposition doesn't match up well with the facts!
A survey of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals has found 97.1% agreed that climate change is caused by human activity.

Authors of the survey, published on Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, said the finding of near unanimity provided a powerful rebuttal to climate contrarians who insist the science of climate change remains unsettled.

The survey considered the work of some 29,000 scientists published in 11,994 academic papers. Of the 4,000-plus papers that took a position on the causes of climate change only 0.7% or 83 of those thousands of academic articles, disputed the scientific consensus that climate change is the result of human activity, with the view of the remaining 2.2% unclear.

The study described the dissent as a "vanishingly small proportion" of published research.
So, let's recap. George W. Bush received 50.7% of the vote in 2004 and we are told that this represents a clear mandate or consensus. In 2013, 97.1% of scientists agree that climate change is human-caused and yet we are told that this does not represent any sort of mandate or consensus.

Hmm. The definition of a mandate seems a tad bit inconsistent, doesn't it?

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