Climate change is not just a theory

November 12, 2011

One still hears people saying that climate change is not a fact but a theory. Indeed that is what the U.S. House of Representatives recently declared while cutting off its funding for the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But the claim that climate change is just a theory does not stand up to scrutiny.

Already in 2005 a study was conducted to examine this problem and to reveal the biased presentation of the issue (Climate of scepticism: US newspaper coverage of the science of climate change). Here are some quotes:

 The results of this study indicate that the collective newswire/news service community is not only an essential but a dominant source of climate science news.

[…] articles that framed climate change in terms of debate, controversy, or uncertainty were plentiful. Not only were there many examples of journalistic balance that led to bias, but some of the news outlets repeatedly used climate sceptics—with known fossil fuel industry ties—as primary definers. Worse yet, in some instances, such articles originated from wire or news service providers (including newspapers that provide such services or are affiliated with news service agencies)—which caused the exponential spread of misinformation.

[…] public confusion is exacerbated by reporters who misunderstand the basic scientific principles of climate change.

These press reports perpetuate the myth of a lack of international scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change—and thereby succeed in maintaining public confusion.

It is important to note that these quotes are not the private opinion of some random person, but stem from a carefully conducted study based on evidence extracted from 255 respected newspapers.

So the media isn’t conveying a representative picture of the dominant opinion in the scientific community. What then is the majority opinion? Fortunately enough another study was conducted that answering this question convincingly: ( Expert credibility in climate change

Some Quotes: 

Fig. 1. Distribution of the number of researchers (n = 908) convinced by the evidence (CE) of anthropogenic climate change and unconvinced by the evidence (UE) categories with a given number of total climate publications. Tick marks indicate the center of right-inclusive categories (e.g., 20–50, 51–100, 101–150, etc.).


[…] We use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98%of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field surveyed here support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change […]

In other words, 98% of climate scientists acknowledge that climate change it real and anthropogenic.

And in case one is still not convinced, the following article published by the Wall Street Journal and written by renowned physicist and self-proclaimed climate skeptic Richard A. Muller should do the trick: The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism – There were good reasons for doubt, until now.

Some quotes:

Without good answers to all these complaints, global-warming skepticism seems sensible. But now let me explain why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer. 

When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections.

Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that. 

Richard Muller is one of the leading scientists working for the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BART) project, which openly acknowledges it’s corporate funding from the Koch brothers.

There are two key lessons to be learned from the aforementioned studies: 1) that climate change is real; and 2) that the mainstream media has done a very effective job in covering up this basic truth and repackaging it as scientific controversy. Those who continue to assert that climate change is just a theory need to be told to pay better attention to the sources of their information.  


Climate Science Watch: House votes 244-179 to kill U.S. funding of IPCC
Paper: Climate of scepticism: (university access might be needed)
Paper: Expert credibility in climate change: (university access might be needed)
WSJ Article:  The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism:
BART: Richard A. Muller, Corporate Funding

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2 Responses to Climate change is not just a theory

  1. wk
    August 12, 2012 at 10:56 am

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