The great debate on climate change rages on and both sides sometimes make fools of themselves.  Often my homies on the far left exaggerate scientists’ predictions to make Climate Change sound scarier than it really is.  Alternately, the folks on the far right like to publish articles about scientists who don’t believe in human-caused global warming.  Of course a lot of these discussions take place on the internet.  One person will share a link to an article claiming the world will end, the other will provide a link to a scientist who claims it’s a hoax and so on.  If you make a google search for what you believe you will find a seemingly legitimate article to validate your opinion.  But where do scientists really stand on the issue?  I intend to look at as many sources as I can find to really quantify the scientific discussion on climate change then we’ll talk about what it all means.

Academies – since 2001, 34 national scientific academies have made statements confirming manmade climate change and urging governments and people to reduce carbon emissions.  Five scientific academies have made no official statement on the subject.  The American Association of Petroleum Geologists dissented from this position until 2007 when they updated their official stance to qualified agreement.

Climate Journals – In 2004 Naomi Oreskes looked at 928 peer reviewed journals on climate change.  She found that 75% implicitly or explicitly endorsed anthropogenic climate change and 25% took no position.

American Meteorologists and Geophysicists – in 2007, 489 randomly selected members of relevant science institutions were surveyed.  97% believe the earth is warming, 84% believe that humans cause it.

Global Climate Scientists – In 2008, 2058 climatologists were asked their opinion on anthropogenic climate change occurring.  67.1% agreed very much, 26.7% agreed to some large extent, 6.2% agreed to some small extend, 0% disagreed.

Climatologists vs. earth scientists – In a survey from the University of Illinois of 3146 scientists, 90% agreed that the earth was warming and 82% agreed that humans greatly influenced global climate.  Of the 79 climatologists surveyed, 76 (96%) agreed that humans cause climate change.

National Academy of Sciences – A 2010 survey found that 97% of scientists believe in anthropomorphic climate change and that the 3% had far less expertise on the subject than the majority.

Journals About Climate Change – 13950 peer reviewed scientific journals with 33690 authors all with the keyword climate change were surveyed.  24 papers rejected man-made climate change (1 in 581) and those papers had 34 authors (1 in 1000)

Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta – 36% believe in human-cause global warming, 24% believe climate change is natural, 17% believe it may be man-made but poses no risk, 10% believe it may be man-made but stopping it is not economically feasible, and 6% believe it may be man-made and poses some risk to people.

While all this data is far from a consensus, a few interesting trends emerge.  Not all scientists are equally qualified to judge climate data.  In fact, public, peer reviewed research is the only data that matters.  There is however a clear divide between the opinion of scientists generally and climatologists.  So how does the opinion change as expertise increases?

About 53% of Americans think climate change is a threat to them.

I guess that 80-90% of scientists generally believe in man-made climate change.

Over 95% of climatologists believe in man-made climate change.

Finally 99.83% of peer reviewed articles on the subject of climate change accept it.

So what does it mean that the more you know about global climates the more likely you are to believe in man-made climate change?  Well it could be a huge conspiracy that all the scientists are in on.  It could be that all climatologists own shares in solar-panel manufacturing companies and the whole thing is a money-making plot.  Or, it could be that it’s true and the people who spend their lives researching it know more than the people who don’t.  Frankly I don’t care what engineers or biologists or doctors think about climatology.  I don’t care that over 30 000 American scientists signed a petition dissenting from the majority opinion since apparently only 34 of them have had anything published on the subject since 1991 and there are over 12 million American Scientists.But how could the public be so misinformed on the subject?

Well in the USA nearly 120 million dollars was given to 102 think tanks mostly by conservative business leaders.  The think tanks work to undermine the consensus but not by funding research or publishing papers, they do it by funding documentary films, TV commercials, and websites.  That’s why the public opinion is divided and the expert opinion is not.

Every available data set shows the same thing: the more qualified you are to speak about climatology, the more likely you are to believe in man-made climate change.  The news would have you think that it’s a matter of opinion and that scientists are divided.  They are not.  And the scientists who don’t agree are as qualified to speak on the subject as an astronomer is to do brain surgery.  The proof is in the pudding.  For every peer reviewed article you can show me to prove that climate change is not real I can produce 581 that say it is.  Not exactly a Mexican stand-off if you catch my drift.

It is up to the deniers to explain why the experts are so united on one side of the debate, and why the literature is so one-sided.  And if they think I’ve chosen only statistics that serve my end, i’d like to see a survey of climatologists that shows otherwise.

My question to you: do you think the media fairly represents the scientific view on climate change?

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