We hear often that 97% of scientists agree that Climate Change is real and that it is largely caused by human activity. I quote this “fact” quite often, but I must admit I am counting on the authority of people or articles I have read or heard and don’t check them out further. At the same time I see conservatives who totally disagree (and I think, obviously they don’t know what they’re talking about). With all of this, it appears that in spite of overwhelming scientific agreement, “only about 50% the general public think that scientists have reached a consensus on human-caused climate change”. What’s the answer? Is it true and what does it actually mean when we quote this very one sided Scientific Consensus (97%) on Climate Change?
For authority on this area of science the article linked below from www.wunderground.com looks to three scientific organizations as authority: The American Geophysical Union (GSU), The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An expanded definition regarding”overwhelming level of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change” needs several points of clarification:
- Not all scientists, but “over 95% of actively publishing climate scientists agree that the earth is warming and that human activity is the cause”,
- When ‘scientific consensus‘ is referred to in relation to climate change, it’s referring to the following points
– The earth is getting warmer
– The warming is mostly due to human activity
– If greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue, the warming will accelerate”
- “Surveys done by reputable organizations find that around 97% of climate scientists agree with the statements above” (see article below for more details),
- Expert credibility was determined via a study that “compiled a list of 1,372 climate scientists, and then looked at those who are ‘actively publishing’ in the science of climate. They categorized the scientists as either ‘convinced’ or ‘unconvinced’ by the evidence. The results were that 97% agreed”,
- “In May 2011, seventeen Nobel laureates gathered in Stockholm and published a memorandum supporting the science of anthropogenic climate change, and calling for ‘fundamental transformation and innovation in all spheres and at all scales in order to stop and reverse'”,
- There are groups who disagree but their credibility as “climate scientists” or experts is questionable to say the least. For instance “since 1999, the “Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine” has been circulating a petition opposing the consensus on climate change and the efforts to mitigate it. The petition’s purpose is to argue that there is no consensus on climate change. The petition website currently lists 31,000 signatures, although the credentials of those signing it are unknown, and the authenticity is disputed.” Naturally the fossil fuel industry has also aggressively attacked the science and consensus but primarily thru PR efforts rather than scientific study. Campaigns of “Manufactured Doubt” abound,
- Media coverage continues to effectively confused the issue. “According to a poll done by WorldPublicOpinion.org (WPO) after the 2010 election, 45% of voting Americans think that most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring. WPO goes on further to estimate that this percentage has actually increased over the past ten years.”
Sadly the public, at large, does not usually read scientific papers, but instead relies primarily on facts, or statements perceived to be facts, provided by the media. It is no wonder we continue to be either grossly ignorant or frustrated and confused about Climate Change and the opinion of science. After all our primary sources continually feed us giant helpings of a two course meal made up of “an unbalanced portrayal of the situation” while enthusiastically spreading the “Manufactured Doubt Industry”. The recipe undoubtedly provided and funded by “big fossil”.