It’s not often that I’ll go the “I told you so route”, but this time it seems appropriate towards Richard Tol. Though maybe also a thank you might be in order with how decisive scientists rebutted Tol’s nonsensus. But before I go into that, a bit of context is needed.
To quote John Reisman, “Science is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship. It is evidence that does the dictating.” It’s this evidence based ‘dictatorship’ that is the basis for a scientific consensus. Based on this ‘dictatorship’ of evidence we know that global warming is real, we’re causing it, and that it’s a problem if we don’t act. This presents a real problem for those denying that there is a problem or want to minimize the consequences.
The biggest threat to the denial of any scientific fact is evidence showing that there is a scientific consensus. Scientists are sceptical and questioning by their very nature. They love to poke and prod everything to see if it withstands scrutiny.
When scientists agree this is a sign that some serious prodding has ensued and that the evidence withstood it. That’s why studies like Oreskes 2004, Doran 2009, Anderegg 2010, and Cook 2013 showing that scientists agree the planet is warming and that we’re causing it are such a threat to science denial. Which then make them a prime target for attacks, I have more than enough articles on this website chronicling the attacks on just the Cook 2013 paper.
Guest article written by Scott Mandia.
Back in January, my wife engaged a climate science doubter on Facebook. Should you consider a similar engagement, consider this: nobody doubts scientists when it comes to gravity or that the Earth revolves around the sun. These theories/laws do not pose a threat so they are widely accepted. Climate change, on the other hand, is perceived as a threat to some because they fear the solutions might result in loss of individual rights or hurt the economy. It is because of these perceived threats that they subconsciously resist the settled science.
During the AGU Fall Meeting I had the honor of working with Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week and John Cook of Skeptical Science, interviewing an amazing line-up of scientists and science communicators. I’m floored by who we interviewed and could have a chat with. Everyone brought their A game which gave us some incredible footage (you can find all the videos in the AGU 2014 video archive, they’ll be added as they’re released).
A lot of this footage you’ll also see in the upcoming Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) from The University of Queensland. The Denial101x MOOC will launch in April 2015 on the EdX platform. Registration has opened so you can register for free.
Very few Americans are aware of the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming (Maibach 2013). There’s a huge gap between the agreement the public thinks there is between scientists and the actual agreement among scientists. It’s because of this lack of awareness that several studies investigated what the agreement is among scientists.
When researchers surveyed climate scientists on the cause of global warming 97% of the actively publishing climatologists said that “human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures” (Doran 2009) Researchers found the same patterns when they analysed public statements of climate experts (Anderegg 2010). When researchers looked into how the scientific consensus on global warming evolved from 1996 to 2009 they found a steady increase in the agreement among scientists (Bray 2010). The latest survey on the scientific literature found that 97% “endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming” (Cook 2013).