Correcting the Donald: Scientists are Not Split on Climate

October 22, 2018

Vast majority of Americans are under the impression that there is some kind of debate about climate change among scientists.

Actually, no.
97 percent is the right number.


When queried about the most recent IPCC report, Republican lawmakers delivered a consistent, false message – that climate scientists are still debating whether humans are responsible. The previous IPCC report was quite clear on this, attributing 100% of the global warming since 1950 to human activities. As Nasa atmospheric scientist Kate Marvel recently put it, “We are more sure that greenhouse gas is causing climate change than we are that smoking causes cancer.”

Donald Trump articulated the incorrect Republican position in an interview on 60 Minutes:

We have scientists that disagree with [human-caused global warming] … You’d have to show me the [mainstream] scientists because they have a very big political agenda

Americans badly underestimate the expert climate consensus

Numerous papers have shown that over 90% of climate science experts agree that humans are the main cause of global warming since 1950, and when considering peer-reviewed papers, the consensus exceeds 97%.

And yet as surveys by Yale and George Mason universities have found, only about 15% of Americans are aware that the expert climate consensus exceeds 90%.

Some have argued that efforts to communicate the consensus won’t work – that Americans’ opinions on climate change simply break down by political ideology (realism on the left, denial on the right) and in our age of ‘alternative facts,’ new information doesn’t change peoples’ beliefs.

However, numerous social science papers have found that the perceived consensus acts as a “gateway belief,” meaning that when people are aware of the high level of expert agreement on human-caused global warming, they’re more likely to accept that reality and support policies to address the problem.

That tells us the 97% consensus figure just hasn’t been effectively communicated to the public, and therefore consensus communication will make a difference.

10 Responses to “Correcting the Donald: Scientists are Not Split on Climate”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Ineffective communication is only part of the problem. A bigger problem is that too many people have S**T for brains, and it simply appears to be unflushable, as recent political events have shown.

  2. rabiddoomsayer Says:

    97% seems too low. It is the same few denialist names you see repeatedly.

    • Keith McClary Says:

      Rather than talking about 97%, I would like to see a summary of the main objections to AGW in the scientific literature (not blogs, “white papers” or opinion pieces) by their leading proponents. Would this be hard to write? I’m sure the WUWT crowd would be eager to help out by pointing out any omissions.

      Any suggestions of what could go into such an article? I can’t think of any.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        There’s no scientific debate left on the central facts of climate catastrophe. It’s happening, human caused, and threatens civilization and millions of species. Most subtopics are pretty well agreed on, too. There’s always disagreement over minute details, but none of them constitute any reasonable—or even remotely sane—disagreement with the main facts of climate cataclysm. That of course doesn’t keep denying delayalists from pretending.

        Obviously over the past 5 years they’ve retreated from no-longer-viable outright denial and splintered, denying the last part confirmed by nearly-as-certain science and logic, the solutions—efficiency, wiser lives, clean safe renewable energy, reforesting the world, transforming chemical industrial agriculture into small-scale, low-meat, organic permaculture, and industry into benign, ecological forms.

        The main debate on the recent 1.5 report is the correct observation that the IPCC continues to be wildly overoptimistic. It’s basing its unrealism on assumptions: use of BECCS; overshoot of goals followed by negative emissions; and omissions: odds that if examined honestly would be found unacceptable. There are a number of other factors most of which I’ve listed here: www[DOT]disqus[DOT]com/home/discussion/grist/climate_sciences_official_text_is_outdated_heres_what_its_missing/#comment-3825972993

        Some irrationally argue for low sensitivity. The evidence is against them.

        Most people on the right posing as scientists aren’t. The few crackpot scientists still arguing against reality are paid directly or indirectly by fossil fuel corporations (mostly through right wing economics PR firms masquerading as think tanks) and rely on bad science rejected by the 97+%. They can often be seen in Congressional hearings, propped up by the right wing Congressmen and Senators who invited them, and debunked by Michael Mann, Richard Alley’s bald spot, and others. The pseudo-science and bad math the denying delayalist scientists use is discredited garbage. (But without the useful composting potential.)

        Some trolls cite science that doesn’t say what they claim it does, or actually proves them wrong.
        potholer54 is great at debunking them and shows in many youtube videos how to do it. It’s usually easy; most trolls don’t know squat about science. But they’re also incapable of absorbing reality or admitting their failure so they keep coming back with the same coal sludge. Some of it can be mistaken for challenges to climate science even though it’s not even close.

        Some post crackpot theories about physics etc. (The 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics are favorites among the nutcases. Always used in moronic ways that betray their ignorance of physics and their arrogance at rejecting the consensus.)

        Arguments still being tried by the right, especially the Koch-Exxon-ALEC-et al campaign of deceit:

        The right wing minimizes the inevitable costs of climate damage and wildly overestimates the costs of mitigation. They ignore the fact that climate action will help the economy and not acting will destroy it. The oligarchs prefer to make money on fossil fuels, industrial ag and climate adaptation (aka Fortress America) while they project onto, scapegoat, and externalize others and the rest of nature.
        They’re using the possibility of a carbon price to bait a trap for climate activists, offering them the lowest common denominator of pseudo-solutions to keep them from accomplishing any real solutions. The right has absolutely no intention of ever letting a strong or effective carbon price pass.

        Some of the remaining arguments are also false solutions:
        The OCD-bipartisan Potemkin House Climate Solutions Caucus is a greenwashing haven for Republicans and conservative Democrats who mostly have terrible environmental records and absolutely no interest in solving the climate crisis (as shown by repeated votes).

        Population is often presented as the cause of climate change by people ignoring facts and numbers. They’re even less rational about the fact that it’s not any kind of solution, and often it turns out it’s an excuse for or result of despair, although often that doesn’t come out right away.

        Nuclear power is proposed as a solution though it will do little except cause more problems and slow down deployment of the real solutions if anyone tries to increase its use significantly.

        Whether part of the fossil fuel, nuke, or bigmanlymachine bias faction, anti-renewable fanatics are rampant, spreading lies about all energy sources. The only reliable way to defeat them is to simply know more than they do.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Jeffy lost it (again!) in his last three paragraphs. He should only write replies for Crock immediately AFTER taking his meds, NOT just as they wear off.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        Rather than talking about 97%, I would like to see a summary of the main objections to AGW in the scientific literature (not blogs, “white papers” or opinion pieces) by their leading proponents.

        That’s the funny bit: That sliver of pie that represents the 3% is split into a whole bunch of contradictory hypotheses. Meanwhile, the models that the deniers whine about have consistently underpredicted the amount of ocean warming and melting of sea ice and land-based ice.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        I know you’re joking, but just in case some self-centered fool like Jeffy takes you seriously (But wait! He did!), this needs to be said. Why waste time reading the lying BS from the whores for fossil fuels? Going anywhere near WUWT will lower one’s IQ.

        Instead go to sites that pay attention to REAL science like Skeptical Science, Real Climate, Desmogblog, etc. Here’s a good “summary” that looks at AGW through the proper end of the telescope:

  3. J4Zonian Says:

    The new window shade-like thing at the top of the page here is a pain, one more step on the way to web pages being completely covered with ads except for one line of text you have to click to uncover every 3 seconds. And it eats up energy, which just caused the answer I was working on to crash and disappear.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Did you forget to take your meds again , Jeffy? Is that why you are so easily bothered? As the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”.

      Don’t quite understand “And it eats up energy, which just caused the answer I was working on to crash and disappear”, but you might want to consider first composing your replies in Word, saving them there, and copying them over to here—-that gives you a backup..

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