The climate change debate in brief

May 28, 2013

A new survey, published in the peer-reviewed Environmental Research Letters, a publication of the Institute of Physics (IOP), has definitively confirmed the scientific consensus in climate science literature: 97 percent of peer-reviewed papers agree that global warming is happening and human activities are responsible.  The survey, Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature, examined some 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers and found a 97% consensus that humans are causing global warming. The work expanded upon an earlier survey of the literature by Naomi Oreskes, published in 2004, as well as an informal review conducted by James Powell, published on DeSmogBlog in 2012. Lead author of the survey, John Cook, summarizes the findings of the new survey in this brief video.

These findings on the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists conflict sharply, not only with public opinion regarding climate change, but also with public opinion regarding the scientific consensus on climate change. For example, a 2012 poll from US Pew Research Center found less than half of Americans thought that scientists agreed that humans were causing global warming. This asymmetry is reflected in the following graph.


The main cause of this misperception is clearly the “balanced” approach to climate change that has been taken by many mainstream media organizations. But a “balancing” act that effectively depicts 3% as something like 50% is really just a disinformation campaign. This new survey will hopefully help to end the debate on climate change once and for all and mobilize public support for the urgent and radical changes that are needed.


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