“Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature” by John Cook et al: 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. [Fact Checking & General Commentary]

January 13, 2014 7:27 pm11 commentsViews: 1198

POSTED FOR COMMENTARY BY SCIENTISTS

Source: TheConsensus Project.com

Source: TheConsensusProject.com

In the video abstract of his published survey, John Cook states that “among climate scientists actively publishing [peer-reviewed] climate research, 97% agree that humans humans are causing global warming. ” He states that the 97% finding was based on over 12,000 papers from 1991-2011 mentioning “global climate change’ or ‘global warming.’ Here’s an excerpt:

Out of the 12,000 papers, we identified just over 4,000 stating a position on human-caused global warming. Among these 4,000 papers, 97.1%  endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In the second phase of our study, we asked the scientists who authored the studies to rate their own papers. 1,200 scientists responded to our invitation, so that just over 2,000 papers in total received a self-rating. Among the papers that were self-rated as stating a position on human caused warming, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. These results were strikingly consistent with previous surveys.

(1.45-2:24 in video).

Source: “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature,” John Cook et al 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024024 (published May 15, 2013).  http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article.

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THE SCIENTISTS' COMMENT THREAD

  • To be perfectly honest, this study and statement are fairly meaningless to me. Many questions could be raised about the study’s purpose and methods, and it has little bearing on the various kinds of difficult and nuanced questions being addressed or needing to be addressed, on the climate change issue. I’m actually quite tired of hearing this claim trumpeted over and over.

  • Dr. Bouldin,

    What is obvious to you isn’t obvious to many in the public space. What questions or nuanced issues could be raised by this study? What needs to be addressed? Why are you tired of this claim? Speak.

    The CCNF science columnists are setting the stage for the policy debate in Phase II, so speak your mind. The CCNF is not making any assumptions. It is up to you and the other scientists to set the foundation.

    Very Respectfully,

    Michael Quirke

    • Michael,
      There are a number of issues involved here, so that would require an extended essay or submitted response that I don’t have time for. I believe that if we just stick instead to the science issues themselves, we will be more effective in helping people evaluate the issues involved, which should be our goal. I never favor an objective that says “just trust us”.

    • I’m with Jim on this one.

      I’ve been planning to write an entry explaining just how complicated and nuanced a simple statement such as “global warming is happening” really is. It is both obviously true and obviously false, depending on how you approach it.

      I address the issue of claims of percentages of climate scientists believing this or that in my Climate Abyss blog entry “What Do Scientists Believe”. It’s from three years ago, but nothing’s come along to change things.

  • The purpose of communicating scientific consensus is straightforward. It removes a roadblock.

    Studies in 2011 and 2013 found that public perception of scientific consensus about human-caused global warming is associated with support for mitigation policies. If the public think scientists disagree about whether humans are causing global warming, then they don’t support climate action.

    And the public *do* think scientists disagree. A 2012 Pew survey found that 57% of the American public either disagreed or were unaware that scientists agree the earth is warming due to human activity. When I asked a representative sample of Americans how many climate scientists agreed that humans were causing global warming, the average answer was 55%. The public think there is a 50:50 debate in the climate science community.

    These studies didn’t ask complex, nuanced questions about catastrophic global warming or the degree of impact. They simply asked whether humans were causing global warming. Before you even get to the more nuanced questions, the public are confused about the most established, fundamental aspects of climate science.

    The suggestion that science communicators “just stick instead to the science issues” doesn’t take into account the fact the laypeople use different heuristics on complex scientific issues, compared to climate scientists. They rely on convenient heuristics such as the opinion of trusted, expert sources of information.

    I’ve quantitatively observed this in my own PhD research, investigating the psychology of belief updating in response to different types of climate information. I found that a consensus message significantly outperformed an “evidence message” that communicated the independent lines of evidence for human-caused warming.

    That doesn’t mean the consensus message should be simply “trust us”. On the contrary, it should be communicated that the consensus of scientists is built on a consilience of evidence. Ed Maibach recently conducted a test of many different consensus messages and found the most effective variant began with “Based on the evidence, there is 97% agreement…”

    It’s worthwhile considering why there’s such a large and persistent consensus gap? The opponents of climate action have not tired of incessantly trumpeting their message of “no consensus”. They’ve been casting doubt on consensus for over two decades and show no sign of slowing down. In 1991, a fossil fuel group spent $510,000 on a campaign to reposition global warming as theory, not fact. From 2007 to 2010, the most common climate myth promoted by syndicated conservative columnists was “there is no consensus”. Since our consensus paper was published in May last year, over 200 articles have been published attacking our research.

    Advocates for status quo are desperate to maintain the ‘consensus gap’, the discrepancy between public perception and the 97% reality. Achieving this has been all too effective in delaying the debate we should be having, which is debating the best solutions.

    Oh and one last correction for the OP. I am still a few months from completing my doctorate :-)

  • John C -
    The recent AMS survey (Stenhouse, Maibach et al. 2014) is interesting in this context.
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00091.1
    There, among climate scientists, the nuances were dealt with. A time frame was specified (150 years) and the degree of causation was quantified. For the sake of this discussion, let’s call “climate scientists” the ones who self-identify as specialists in climate science and actively publish to some extent in the climate science arena.

    Is global warming happening? Absolutely! 98%-99%
    Are we an important cause? Yes! 85%-93%
    Are we “the” cause, as in is it mostly human? Yes. 75%

    It was impossible for your abstract survey to distinguish between the second and third item above.
    What’s the correct answer to your question as to what percentage of climate scientists think humans are causing global warming? 75%? ~90%? 97%?
    Here’s the question you asked: “How many climate experts agree that the global warming we are witnessing is a direct consequence of the burning of fossil fuels by humans?”
    “Direct consequence” is very strong phrasing. To me, it means that the global warming has to be entirely caused by the burning of fossil fuels by humans. The IPCC doesn’t even believe that! Their best guess for the anthropogenic contribution is 100% plus or minus about 40%. See my entry “Your Logic Escapes Me”: http://climatechangenationalforum.org/your-logic-escapes-me-by-john-nielsen-gammon/
    In their own terminology, the IPCC wouldn’t even be able to say that the global warming we are witnessing is MORE LIKELY THAN NOT a direct consequence of the burning of fossil fuels by humans.
    The public’s perception of 55% may be an overestimate.
    One paragraph of yours in particular caught my eye:
    “That doesn’t mean the consensus message should be simply “trust us”. On the contrary, it should be communicated that the consensus of scientists is built on a consilience of evidence. Ed Maibach recently conducted a test of many different consensus messages and found the most effective variant began with “Based on the evidence, there is 97% agreement…”
    Not only does the public put a lot of weight on the consensus of scientists, so do scientists. The same AMS survey found that perception of scientific consensus was a strong predictor of whether an AMS member thought global warming was mostly human-caused. In fact, it was a stronger predictor than climate science expertise!
    While Maibach’s formulation may be the most compelling one, it would be fraudulent to use it without evidence that all 97% of climate scientists based their opinions on their own independent evaluation of the evidence, rather than on the opinions of other climate scientists whom they trusted.

  • The Cook et al study aimed to show the extent of (qualitative and quantitative) agreement with human causation of warming. In light of the general public’s perception that scientists strongly disagree about this point, this seems to be a very useful undertaking – at least from the perspective of science communication (of course it doesn’t tell us very much about the nuances of the earth’s climate, nor was that the study’s intention).

    There are several ways to go about characterizing the level of scientific agreement: Cook et al surveyed a large sample of the scientific literature, which arguably is the best proxy for where the scientific evidence points to. It has a downside as well, which is a comparative lack of detail in terms of attributing global warming to human activity.

    That’s where a second method comes in, which John N-G mentions as well: A survey of scientists’ opinions. This has the advantage of filling in more detail about their actual opinions, but it is arguably less good of a proxy for where the evidence is pointing to, at least compared with analyzing the primary literature.

    So I’d argue that both methods have their pros and cons, and as such are complementary.

    In terms of basing their opinion on trust or on their own independent evaluation of the evidence, I don’t think there’s a clearcut distinction there. Scientists are all “standing on the shoulders of giants” and even in an original research paper there is loads of knowledge that is assumed to be true without it having been independently evaluated within the framework of the same study. However, this knowledge is accepted because the evidence supporting it is strong enough for those in the know to accept it as (tentatively) true.

    Would the vast majority of biologists, who accept the scientific theory of evolution, all have independently evaluated the evidence? I don’t think so. Does that make it “fraudulent” to claim that based on evidence there is a consensus amongst evolution? I don’t think so. A theory should be based on very robust evidence for other members of the scientific community to accept it. Scientists are not so easily taken for a ride.

    The further one’s expertise is removed from the theory in question, the more this meta-assessment of the evidence is replaced by heuristics such as who to trust. That’s why the further one’s expertise is removed from climate science, the less strong the level of agreement becomes (see e.g. Anderegg et al. and Doran and Kendal-Zimmermann).

  • Like it or not, this is not a “climate science” issue, it’s a social science and science communication issue. Neither I nor John Nielsen-Gammon nor Bart Verheggen nor Jim Bouldin are bona-fide experts in this field, any more than we can claim legitimate expertise in the Phase 2 Policy part of this website.

    That said, my personal opinion is that there’s a pernicious misperception of conflict about the basic science of climate change among the general public. By this I don’t mean that people (correctly) realize that climate is interesting and nuanced and that scientists like to argue. What I mean is that a lot of people think that scientists spend a lot of time arguing about the most basic tenets of cause and effect in Earth science, which is not the case.

    I’m not a social scientist, but having read John Cook’s study it seems like a clever design to systematically mine the published literature for this information. Unlike many such efforts he’s able to achieve statistical power (large N) so as to obtain what looks to me like a robust result that can be properly evaluated by real peer review in the social science literature. even as a non-expert in that field I can recognize the difference between real scholarly work and simply asking a bunch of like-minded folks to sign a petition!

    On the science communication side, my own preference is to explain to people WHY I expect the world to warm a lot if CO2 increases a lot. This seems to work too: when I explain this to public audiences, even at a hostile venue like Heartland or the staff of a coal-state Congressman, people seem to respond well to this approach. To this natural scientist, it seems that people respond better when I explain my reasoning than when I tell them to believe me because I’m an expert.

  • John N-G, thanks for your response. You mention:

    “Is global warming happening? Absolutely! 98%-99%
    Are we an important cause? Yes! 85%-93%
    Are we “the” cause, as in is it mostly human? Yes. 75%

    It was impossible for your abstract survey to distinguish between the second and third item above.”

    I wonder, have you read our paper? We categorised papers by whether they endorsed human-caused global warming without quantification (the second item above) and whether they quantified the human contribution to global warming as more than half (the third item above). So we did exactly what you say was impossible for our abstract survey – distinguished between the second and third item above.

    We took that approach because different abstracts expressed endorsement of human-caused global warming in different ways. So we categorised the abstracts according to different expressions of consensus. But we found that regardless of the definition of consensus that you used, there was overwhelming agreement.

    Similarly, a number of different surveys of the general public have used different wordings for the expression of consensus. All find a low perception of consensus.

    The gap between public perception and scientific agreement is robust, regardless of how you tweak the various definitions of consensus or survey questions. While the climate science community can and should be exploring nuanced questions about the climate change issue, that is not the purpose of our study.

    Our focus is on the public misperception that scientists are still disagreeing over fundamental elements of climate science. This misperception has significant societal consequences as it inhibits public support for mitigation policies.

  • John C -

    To be clear and to correct my previous statement, you categorized papers by whether they quantified the human contribution in your research methodology, but chose to lump both groups together when you presented your results. Thus your survey distinguished between those two possibilities but your paper did not.

  • Note to reader: until we get our infrastructure solidified, CCNF will have to put up with some squirrelly aspects of the web site, including the odd tendency for public comments to appear in random order. To make sense of such comments, pay attention to the posting date.

    To Peter Miesler (public comment thread below) –

    It’s as though I’ve carried on quite a conversation with you without actually participating in it!

    I want you to realize the trap you are setting for yourself. You seem to be arguing that the urgency with which you perceive action to be necessary precludes or reduces the need for accuracy, and any fact that argues against the need for urgent action should be suppressed lest it distract people from the overall balance of evidence.

    I believe that many have fallen into this same trap. It’s a trap because it requires the public to trust the judgment of the many, while at the same time allowing those opposed to directly undermine that trust by pointing out that the many are hiding evidence or not telling the whole story.

    Those who think we should simply emphasize the need for urgent action should by now have noticed that it’s not working.

    I’m contributing to CCNF because it’s a public forum that allows the evidence to be presented and contested at a proper, scientific level. I’m not going to hide anything, and if I don’t think a complete version of the reliable evidence is being presented, I’ll try to fix that. I may even ask devil’s advocate questions, and if the evidence is robust it will survive such questioning.

    Also, note that my time is limited, and I’d like to write about much more than I am actually able to write about. Given that limitation, I try to focus my posts on things nobody else is saying.

    On a separate note, you said:

    “Continuing to look beyond the individual you, I suggest it boils down to two different perceptions of our planet and Earth sciences.

    “At the heart of one is an appreciation that our Earth is a living organism, one that has taken four and a half billion years, evolving one day at a time, to arrive at the beautiful cornucopia that awaited a restless inquisitive human species.

    “The other mindset sees our planet through the lens of ancient texts and tribal dogmas. To this group of humanity our life sustaining planet isn’t anymore “real” than the Hollywood movie on the other side of the screen.

    “Therein lies the tragedy of our time.”

    It’s my belief that the opposite is true, that the argument for action is much stronger if you view the planet through the lens of ancient text and tribal dogmas than if you view it as an evolving, quasi-living organism. But that will be a discussion for a separate post, probably after CCNF adds policy to its scope.

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PUBLIC COMMENT THREAD

  • http://ecologicallyoriented.wordpress.com/ Jim Bouldin

    To be perfectly honest, this study and statement are fairly meaningless to me. Many questions could be raised about the study’s purpose and methods, and it has little bearing on the various kinds of difficult and nuanced questions being addressed or needing to be addressed, on the climate change issue. I’m actually quite tired of hearing this claim trumpeted over and over.

  • http://ClimateChangeNationalForum.org Michael Quirke

    Dr. Bouldin,

    What is obvious to you isn’t obvious to many in the public space. What questions or nuanced issues could be raised by this study? What needs to be addressed? Why are you tired of this claim? Speak.

    The CCNF science columnists are setting the stage for the policy debate in Phase II, so speak your mind. The CCNF is not making any assumptions. It is up to you and the other scientists to set the foundation.

    Very Respectfully,

    Michael Quirke

    • http://ecologicallyoriented.wordpress.com/ Jim Bouldin

      Michael,
      There are a number of issues involved here, so that would require an extended essay or submitted response that I don’t have time for. I believe that if we just stick instead to the science issues themselves, we will be more effective in helping people evaluate the issues involved, which should be our goal. I never favor an objective that says “just trust us”.

    • http://atmo.tamu.edu/profile/JNielsen-Gammon John Nielsen-Gammon

      I’m with Jim on this one.

      I’ve been planning to write an entry explaining just how complicated and nuanced a simple statement such as “global warming is happening” really is. It is both obviously true and obviously false, depending on how you approach it.

      I address the issue of claims of percentages of climate scientists believing this or that in my Climate Abyss blog entry “What Do Scientists Believe”. It’s from three years ago, but nothing’s come along to change things.

  • http://skepticalscience.com/ John Cook

    The purpose of communicating scientific consensus is straightforward. It removes a roadblock.

    Studies in 2011 and 2013 found that public perception of scientific consensus about human-caused global warming is associated with support for mitigation policies. If the public think scientists disagree about whether humans are causing global warming, then they don’t support climate action.

    And the public *do* think scientists disagree. A 2012 Pew survey found that 57% of the American public either disagreed or were unaware that scientists agree the earth is warming due to human activity. When I asked a representative sample of Americans how many climate scientists agreed that humans were causing global warming, the average answer was 55%. The public think there is a 50:50 debate in the climate science community.

    These studies didn’t ask complex, nuanced questions about catastrophic global warming or the degree of impact. They simply asked whether humans were causing global warming. Before you even get to the more nuanced questions, the public are confused about the most established, fundamental aspects of climate science.

    The suggestion that science communicators “just stick instead to the science issues” doesn’t take into account the fact the laypeople use different heuristics on complex scientific issues, compared to climate scientists. They rely on convenient heuristics such as the opinion of trusted, expert sources of information.

    I’ve quantitatively observed this in my own PhD research, investigating the psychology of belief updating in response to different types of climate information. I found that a consensus message significantly outperformed an “evidence message” that communicated the independent lines of evidence for human-caused warming.

    That doesn’t mean the consensus message should be simply “trust us”. On the contrary, it should be communicated that the consensus of scientists is built on a consilience of evidence. Ed Maibach recently conducted a test of many different consensus messages and found the most effective variant began with “Based on the evidence, there is 97% agreement…”

    It’s worthwhile considering why there’s such a large and persistent consensus gap? The opponents of climate action have not tired of incessantly trumpeting their message of “no consensus”. They’ve been casting doubt on consensus for over two decades and show no sign of slowing down. In 1991, a fossil fuel group spent $510,000 on a campaign to reposition global warming as theory, not fact. From 2007 to 2010, the most common climate myth promoted by syndicated conservative columnists was “there is no consensus”. Since our consensus paper was published in May last year, over 200 articles have been published attacking our research.

    Advocates for status quo are desperate to maintain the ‘consensus gap’, the discrepancy between public perception and the 97% reality. Achieving this has been all too effective in delaying the debate we should be having, which is debating the best solutions.

    Oh and one last correction for the OP. I am still a few months from completing my doctorate :-)

  • http://atmo.tamu.edu/profile/JNielsen-Gammon John Nielsen-Gammon

    John C -
    The recent AMS survey (Stenhouse, Maibach et al. 2014) is interesting in this context.
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00091.1
    There, among climate scientists, the nuances were dealt with. A time frame was specified (150 years) and the degree of causation was quantified. For the sake of this discussion, let’s call “climate scientists” the ones who self-identify as specialists in climate science and actively publish to some extent in the climate science arena.

    Is global warming happening? Absolutely! 98%-99%
    Are we an important cause? Yes! 85%-93%
    Are we “the” cause, as in is it mostly human? Yes. 75%

    It was impossible for your abstract survey to distinguish between the second and third item above.
    What’s the correct answer to your question as to what percentage of climate scientists think humans are causing global warming? 75%? ~90%? 97%?
    Here’s the question you asked: “How many climate experts agree that the global warming we are witnessing is a direct consequence of the burning of fossil fuels by humans?”
    “Direct consequence” is very strong phrasing. To me, it means that the global warming has to be entirely caused by the burning of fossil fuels by humans. The IPCC doesn’t even believe that! Their best guess for the anthropogenic contribution is 100% plus or minus about 40%. See my entry “Your Logic Escapes Me”: http://climatechangenationalforum.org/your-logic-escapes-me-by-john-nielsen-gammon/
    In their own terminology, the IPCC wouldn’t even be able to say that the global warming we are witnessing is MORE LIKELY THAN NOT a direct consequence of the burning of fossil fuels by humans.
    The public’s perception of 55% may be an overestimate.
    One paragraph of yours in particular caught my eye:
    “That doesn’t mean the consensus message should be simply “trust us”. On the contrary, it should be communicated that the consensus of scientists is built on a consilience of evidence. Ed Maibach recently conducted a test of many different consensus messages and found the most effective variant began with “Based on the evidence, there is 97% agreement…”
    Not only does the public put a lot of weight on the consensus of scientists, so do scientists. The same AMS survey found that perception of scientific consensus was a strong predictor of whether an AMS member thought global warming was mostly human-caused. In fact, it was a stronger predictor than climate science expertise!
    While Maibach’s formulation may be the most compelling one, it would be fraudulent to use it without evidence that all 97% of climate scientists based their opinions on their own independent evaluation of the evidence, rather than on the opinions of other climate scientists whom they trusted.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/ Bart Verheggen

    The Cook et al study aimed to show the extent of (qualitative and quantitative) agreement with human causation of warming. In light of the general public’s perception that scientists strongly disagree about this point, this seems to be a very useful undertaking – at least from the perspective of science communication (of course it doesn’t tell us very much about the nuances of the earth’s climate, nor was that the study’s intention).

    There are several ways to go about characterizing the level of scientific agreement: Cook et al surveyed a large sample of the scientific literature, which arguably is the best proxy for where the scientific evidence points to. It has a downside as well, which is a comparative lack of detail in terms of attributing global warming to human activity.

    That’s where a second method comes in, which John N-G mentions as well: A survey of scientists’ opinions. This has the advantage of filling in more detail about their actual opinions, but it is arguably less good of a proxy for where the evidence is pointing to, at least compared with analyzing the primary literature.

    So I’d argue that both methods have their pros and cons, and as such are complementary.

    In terms of basing their opinion on trust or on their own independent evaluation of the evidence, I don’t think there’s a clearcut distinction there. Scientists are all “standing on the shoulders of giants” and even in an original research paper there is loads of knowledge that is assumed to be true without it having been independently evaluated within the framework of the same study. However, this knowledge is accepted because the evidence supporting it is strong enough for those in the know to accept it as (tentatively) true.

    Would the vast majority of biologists, who accept the scientific theory of evolution, all have independently evaluated the evidence? I don’t think so. Does that make it “fraudulent” to claim that based on evidence there is a consensus amongst evolution? I don’t think so. A theory should be based on very robust evidence for other members of the scientific community to accept it. Scientists are not so easily taken for a ride.

    The further one’s expertise is removed from the theory in question, the more this meta-assessment of the evidence is replaced by heuristics such as who to trust. That’s why the further one’s expertise is removed from climate science, the less strong the level of agreement becomes (see e.g. Anderegg et al. and Doran and Kendal-Zimmermann).

  • http://biocycle.atmos.colostate.edu/ Scott Denning

    Like it or not, this is not a “climate science” issue, it’s a social science and science communication issue. Neither I nor John Nielsen-Gammon nor Bart Verheggen nor Jim Bouldin are bona-fide experts in this field, any more than we can claim legitimate expertise in the Phase 2 Policy part of this website.

    That said, my personal opinion is that there’s a pernicious misperception of conflict about the basic science of climate change among the general public. By this I don’t mean that people (correctly) realize that climate is interesting and nuanced and that scientists like to argue. What I mean is that a lot of people think that scientists spend a lot of time arguing about the most basic tenets of cause and effect in Earth science, which is not the case.

    I’m not a social scientist, but having read John Cook’s study it seems like a clever design to systematically mine the published literature for this information. Unlike many such efforts he’s able to achieve statistical power (large N) so as to obtain what looks to me like a robust result that can be properly evaluated by real peer review in the social science literature. even as a non-expert in that field I can recognize the difference between real scholarly work and simply asking a bunch of like-minded folks to sign a petition!

    On the science communication side, my own preference is to explain to people WHY I expect the world to warm a lot if CO2 increases a lot. This seems to work too: when I explain this to public audiences, even at a hostile venue like Heartland or the staff of a coal-state Congressman, people seem to respond well to this approach. To this natural scientist, it seems that people respond better when I explain my reasoning than when I tell them to believe me because I’m an expert.

  • http://skepticalscience.com/ John Cook

    John N-G, thanks for your response. You mention:

    “Is global warming happening? Absolutely! 98%-99%
    Are we an important cause? Yes! 85%-93%
    Are we “the” cause, as in is it mostly human? Yes. 75%

    It was impossible for your abstract survey to distinguish between the second and third item above.”

    I wonder, have you read our paper? We categorised papers by whether they endorsed human-caused global warming without quantification (the second item above) and whether they quantified the human contribution to global warming as more than half (the third item above). So we did exactly what you say was impossible for our abstract survey – distinguished between the second and third item above.

    We took that approach because different abstracts expressed endorsement of human-caused global warming in different ways. So we categorised the abstracts according to different expressions of consensus. But we found that regardless of the definition of consensus that you used, there was overwhelming agreement.

    Similarly, a number of different surveys of the general public have used different wordings for the expression of consensus. All find a low perception of consensus.

    The gap between public perception and scientific agreement is robust, regardless of how you tweak the various definitions of consensus or survey questions. While the climate science community can and should be exploring nuanced questions about the climate change issue, that is not the purpose of our study.

    Our focus is on the public misperception that scientists are still disagreeing over fundamental elements of climate science. This misperception has significant societal consequences as it inhibits public support for mitigation policies.

  • http://atmo.tamu.edu/profile/JNielsen-Gammon John Nielsen-Gammon

    John C -

    To be clear and to correct my previous statement, you categorized papers by whether they quantified the human contribution in your research methodology, but chose to lump both groups together when you presented your results. Thus your survey distinguished between those two possibilities but your paper did not.

  • http://atmo.tamu.edu/profile/JNielsen-Gammon John Nielsen-Gammon

    Note to reader: until we get our infrastructure solidified, CCNF will have to put up with some squirrelly aspects of the web site, including the odd tendency for public comments to appear in random order. To make sense of such comments, pay attention to the posting date.

    To Peter Miesler (public comment thread below) –

    It’s as though I’ve carried on quite a conversation with you without actually participating in it!

    I want you to realize the trap you are setting for yourself. You seem to be arguing that the urgency with which you perceive action to be necessary precludes or reduces the need for accuracy, and any fact that argues against the need for urgent action should be suppressed lest it distract people from the overall balance of evidence.

    I believe that many have fallen into this same trap. It’s a trap because it requires the public to trust the judgment of the many, while at the same time allowing those opposed to directly undermine that trust by pointing out that the many are hiding evidence or not telling the whole story.

    Those who think we should simply emphasize the need for urgent action should by now have noticed that it’s not working.

    I’m contributing to CCNF because it’s a public forum that allows the evidence to be presented and contested at a proper, scientific level. I’m not going to hide anything, and if I don’t think a complete version of the reliable evidence is being presented, I’ll try to fix that. I may even ask devil’s advocate questions, and if the evidence is robust it will survive such questioning.

    Also, note that my time is limited, and I’d like to write about much more than I am actually able to write about. Given that limitation, I try to focus my posts on things nobody else is saying.

    On a separate note, you said:

    “Continuing to look beyond the individual you, I suggest it boils down to two different perceptions of our planet and Earth sciences.

    “At the heart of one is an appreciation that our Earth is a living organism, one that has taken four and a half billion years, evolving one day at a time, to arrive at the beautiful cornucopia that awaited a restless inquisitive human species.

    “The other mindset sees our planet through the lens of ancient texts and tribal dogmas. To this group of humanity our life sustaining planet isn’t anymore “real” than the Hollywood movie on the other side of the screen.

    “Therein lies the tragedy of our time.”

    It’s my belief that the opposite is true, that the argument for action is much stronger if you view the planet through the lens of ancient text and tribal dogmas than if you view it as an evolving, quasi-living organism. But that will be a discussion for a separate post, probably after CCNF adds policy to its scope.