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Lack of Scientific Controversy Over Reality of Climate Change

2015-08-11

Here is an important review of the scientific literature regarding climate change that was published in 2013 and has not received enough publicity: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article.

The review looked at the whole of the scientific literature from 1991 to 2011, a total of 11944 papers.  66.4 % of the papers expressed no position on climate change.  32.6% of the papers endorsed the reality of climate change.  0.7% rejected the concept of anthropogenic global warming.  0.3% expressed uncertainty about the cause of global warming.   Of the abstracts that expressed an opinion, 97.1% endorsed the consensus view.

When invited to express an opinion, only 35.5% of the authors of these papers stated that they had no position on the subject.  Among self-rated papers that held an opinion, 97.2% endorsed the consensus that climate change is real and is caused by human activity.

These findings contradict the notion that there is any significant scientific disagreement about anthropogenic global warming (AGW.)  Only a vanishingly small proportion of scientific papers and authors refuse to endorse the consensus view that AGW is real.  Virtually all the research that has been done on the subject confirms this consensus and there is no significant disagreement on this matter among scientists.

It has been suggested that communication of the fact that virtually all scientists who have studied the subject agree that AGW is real would sway the attitudes of unconvinced laymen.  This remains to be seen; there is some indication that this fact is not widely known.

One argument that has been introduced that denies the significance of this consensus is the contention that there was also a consensus on other subjects that was equally complete but erroneous, for example, the idea that the earth is flat, or that it is the center of the universe.  This argument is not persuasive in the current era because there is no institution that enforces the “consensus” view anymore.  The problem with those previous consensuses is that they were promulgated by the Catholic Church, which used its considerable power to prevent audible disagreement with its dictates.  There is no comparable institution in today’s world, and freedom of exchange of controversial ideas has progressed to the point at which consensus is now difficult to reach on any subject.

The fact that there is such an overwhelming consensus among scientists who are free to think and write as they like is a powerful argument in favor of the reality of the concepts and facts behind that consensus: human-caused global warming is real and is a significant threat both to our survival as a species and to the health of our planet.

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