It’s official: 97% of Scientists say the Earth is Round!

18 05 2013

Another guest post by Mark Cochrane……..

The science is settled…..  if only we could inform the public.

For anyone who might have any doubt about the level of consensus about anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse warming (AGW), please read this paper by Cook et al (2013) which is open access so anyone can read it.

The authors looked at over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers published bewteen 1991-2011 and quantified the number of papers that took a stand on AGW and whether or not they explicitly accepted or rejected that human beings are causing the ongoing climate change. A similar study was conducted in 2004 by Naomi Oreskes but she ‘only’ looked at 928 papers and found none that rejected AGW.

Cook et al. (2013), not only had agreed upon definitions for classification of the 12,000+ papers going into the study:

We decided from the start to take a conservative approach in our ratings. For example, a study which takes it for granted that global warming will continue for the foreseeable future could easily be put into the implicit endorsement category; there is no reason to expect global warming to continue indefinitely unless humans are causing it. However, unless an abstract included language about the cause of the warming, we categorized it as ‘no opinion’. (link)

The point being that their conclusions are likely to be about as poor of a case as you can make for scientiifc consensus on AGW. Their conclusion, even after using this approach, is that 97.1% of all of the papers taking a position on AGW support that climate change is happening and that we are the major cause. Just to check on ther work they actually emailed the authors and asked them to categorize their own papers positions – the author’s-based result was that 97.2% supported that we are causing the climate to change. Take a look back at that graph above and note that the majority of the ‘doubt’ within the science community that existed about AGW occurred in the literature 20 years ago.

However, the reality of the science position of climate change is being eroded by vested interests who are intentionally misleading the public by trying create the appearance of doubt where little exists.

While a number of studies have independently established overwhelming agreement among climate scientists, two decades of sustained attack on the consensus has been effective. There is a gaping chasm between the public perception and the actual 97% consensus. When a US representative sample was asked how many climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming, the average answer was around 50%.

Why is climate denial synonymous with consensus denial? Social scientists are just starting to figure out what climate deniers have understood for decades. A 2011 study found that when people correctly understand that climate scientists agree, they are more likely to support policy to mitigate climate change. This is why a political operative hired by fossil fuel interests to undermine climate policy focused on attacking the consensus, arguing “If we win the science argument, it’s game, set, and match.” (link)

The active disinformation agents think that they are playing a game. Their game risks all of our lives, especially the lives of future generations. If you encounter any ‘doubters’, please ask them just how much more ‘proof’ they are going to need? If they can’t or won’t answer then you’ll know that they are in denial, or worse.