A couple of days ago Joseph Romm wrote an excellent article in Salon on The Cold Truth About Climate Change. In it he tackles the various arguments that climate change deniers use, including the argument that it's the sun -- and not us -- that is causing all this global warming (easily debunked, by the way).
The one he address up front, though, is the argument that there is no "consensus" in the scientific community about climate change. Romm's counter-argument? Er, there's no need for consensus when you have the data, stupid:
What matters is scientific findings -- data, not opinions. The [U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)] relies on the peer-reviewed scientific literature for its conclusions, which must meet the rigorous requirements of the scientific method and which are inevitably scrutinized by others seeking to disprove that work. That is why I cite and link to as much research as is possible, hundreds of studies in the case of this article. Opinions are irrelevant.
A little later, he continues:
How many studies? Well, the IPCC's definitive treatment of the subject, "Understanding and Attributing Climate Change," has 11 full pages of references, some 500 peer-reviewed studies. This is not a consensus of opinion. It is what scientific research and actual observations reveal.
Oh, and you know what? The IPCC report actually underestimates the potential future impacts of climate change because the models used in all those studies are actually simpler than what goes on in the real world (because they "omit key amplifying feedback in the carbon cycle"). Observations over the last eight years have helped clarify that since all the observed changes have been on the high side of model projections.
Ah, yes...we're in for a wild ride.