Climate Change: Still Don't Believe it is Happening? Well 97% of Climate Scientists Disagree With You


Don't believe that climate change is happening and is caused by humans? Well, 97% of people whose job it is to study the climate disagree with you. A recently released survey of almost 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers written by 29,000 scientists over the past 20 years found that of the 4,000 or so that took a position on the evidence for climate change, 97.1% agreed that climate change is happening and is caused by human activity.

In a video (seen below), lead researcher John Cook, a climate communications researcher from the University of Queensland in Australia, said that they found that the consensus formed in the early 1990s and "has been getting stronger ever since." The near-unanimity of the views on climate change deals a further-devastating blow to the perception that there is still no consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) amongst scientists.

In their report, titled "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature," the researchers concluded that "the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research." Of the articles surveyed, only 0.7%, or 83, disputed the consensus that climate change is caused by human activity. The positions of the remaining 2.2% was apparently unclear. And in case people don't find these statistics and the evidence for climate compelling enough, here is a handy flowchart that you can use to debate them:

Image credit: James West/Climate Desk

All in all these statistics are pretty compelling and add further weight to a similar study published in 2004 by Naomi Oreskes, an historian at the University of California, San Diego which also found that 97% of climate scientists agreed on the causes of climate change. The latest survey adds another decade to the analysis, increasing the number of papers surveyed from 3,000 to almost 12,000. 

In their report, the researchers argue that the existing 'consensus gap' is due to "campaigns designed to confuse the public about the level of agreement among climate scientists" and that the "situation is exacerbated by media treatment of the climate issue, where the normative practice of providing opposing sides with equal attention has allowed a vocal minority to have their views amplified." Cook argues that "people who say there must be some conspiracy to keep climate deniers out of the peer reviewed literature, that is one hell of a conspiracy," which would make the moon landing look "like an amateur conspiracy compared to the scale involved here." 

And in case you need another multimedia angle on the issue, here is the "I'm A Climate Scientist" rap video (admittedly a couple of years old now but still good):

Yet while the scientific consensus on climate change is increasingly clear, but the problem still remains one of communication: how to translate this into changing public perception and meaningful political action.