The Earth revolves around the sun. Also, it’s overheating because we’re burning fossil fuels.
Can you guess which of those two long-established facts just received an additional jolt of publicized near unanimity among scientists?
It was, of course, the latter. (The oil industry has no economic interest in attempting to debunk the former, and you can no longer be persecuted for claiming it.)
An international team of scientists analyzed the abstracts of 11,944 peer-reviewed papers published between 1991 and 2011 dealing with climate change and global warming. That’s right — we’re talking about 20 years of papers, many published long before Superstorm Sandy, last year’s epic Greenland melt, or Australia’s “angry summer.”
About two-thirds of the authors of those studies refrained from stating in their abstracts whether human activity was responsible for climate change. But in those papers where a position on the claim was staked out, 97.1 percent endorsed the consensus position that humans are, indeed, cooking the planet.
The scientists involved with the new study also asked the authors of the peer-reviewed papers for their personal reflections on the causes of global warming. A little more than one-third expressed no opinion. Of those who did share a view, 97.2 percent endorsed the consensus that humans are to blame. Out of the 1,189 authors who responded to the survey, just 39 rejected the idea that humans are causing global warming.
Those 39 scientists might be outliers, but, hey, at least they’re the ones who are going to get the phone calls for interviews on Fox News and with the Wall Street Journal. For “balance,” of course.
The results of the study were published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
The authors of the study noted that consensus among scientists regarding humanity’s role in global warming is higher than is the case for the rest of the population. The study authors dubbed this a “consensus gap.” Many Americans continue to express doubts about whether we are responsible for a warming trend, although those confused ranks have been declining during the past couple years faster than the soil moisture content on a Texas farm.
Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on [anthropogenic global warming] is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research. …
Contributing to this ‘consensus gap’ are campaigns designed to confuse the public about the level of agreement among climate scientists. … A key strategy involved constructing the impression of active scientific debate using dissenting scientists as spokesmen.
So next time some loud relative tells you we don’t know for sure that humans are causing the weather to change, you can tell them that 97 percent of climate scientists beg to differ. Of course, that still might not get you anywhere.