I was doing a little research today, and I happened to stumble upon an interesting post on the Skeptical Science website. The post, titled "An Interactive History of Climate Science," directs users to a page it claims gives a visualization of "the number of climate papers published in each year from 1824 to 2011" with this screenshot:
Showing some results. This gives a rather different impression than simply saying there is a "97% consensus." Excluding neutral papers, the "consensus" here would only be 90%. The post does explain:
We consider this visualisation a first step, not a final destination. While we have over 4000 papers in the database, that is just the tip of the iceberg with many more papers yet to be added. As well as build the number of papers, we'd like to experiment with different ways of displaying the papers. In addition to the visualisation, you can also view all the papers grouped by skeptic/neutral/proAGW
So one can imagine the distribution might change. Even so, it is interesting to look at the numbers as the Skeptical Science consensus paper shows the breakdown on its consensus to be:
The list of papers for their visualization (currently) shows 257 papers listed as "Skeptic" for the 1991-2011 period. It shows 2358 papers listed as "Pro-AGW" in the same period. Those numbers are quite different from the ones given in the paper, again resulting in a consensus of 90%.
I don't claim the numbers in this resource are accurate or meaningful, but it is interesting to see Skeptical Science providing them even as it pushes its 97% consensus meme. If there can be 257 "Skeptic" papers yet only 78 papers which "Reject AGW," it is clear how one defines the "consensus" is incredibly important.
The IPCC position (humans causing most global warming) was represented in our categories 1 and 7, which include papers that explicitly endorse or reject/minimize human-caused global warming, and also quantify the human contribution. Among the relatively few abstracts (75 in total) falling in these two categories, 65 (87%) endorsed the consensus view.
Even though they repeatedly tell the public this consensus is actually 97% by lying their faces off.