The Overwhelming Scientific Consensus on Climate Change – and Why People Need to Know About It

blog-climate consensus-4.19.16The statistic that 97 percent of climate experts agree climate change is occurring and caused by humans has been widely cited. That statistic has just been reinforced by a new study, which finds once again that 97 percent of publishing climate scientists agree that humans are responsible for climate change.
In short, as this Guardian article points out, there really is no climate debate. There have, however, been many attempts at misinformation, which may be why only 12 percent of Americans realize the scientific consensus is higher than nine out of ten climate experts.
It’s important for mainstream Americans to understand the truth, because as research by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found last year, awareness of the consensus is a “gateway belief” to climate acceptance. Merely being exposed to a consensus message caused an increase in belief that climate change is real, caused by human activity, and worthy of concern.

It’s Settled: 90–100% of Climate Experts Agree on Human-Caused Global Warming

By Dana Nuccitelli, contributor to the Guardian
All-star team with authors of seven previous climate consensus studies collaborate to debunk the ‘no consensus’ myth once and for all
There is an overwhelming expert scientific consensus on human-caused global warming.
Authors of seven previous climate consensus studies — including Naomi Oreskes, Peter Doran, William Anderegg, Bart Verheggen, Ed Maibach, J. Stuart Carlton, John Cook, myself, and six of our colleagues — have co-authored a new paper that should settle this question once and for all. The two key conclusions from the paper are:
1) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it’s somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists.
2) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.
Expert consensus is a powerful thing. People know we don’t have the time or capacity to learn about everything, and so we frequently defer to the conclusions of experts. It’s why we visit doctors when we’re ill. The same is true of climate change: most people defer to the expert consensus of climate scientists. Crucially, as we note in our paper:

Public perception of the scientific consensus has been found to be a gateway belief, affecting other climate beliefs and attitudes including policy support.

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Image credit: moodboard/Corbis

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