The number I’ve seen bandied about for the past several years is 97%. But whenever I look a little closer, the 97% actually refers to the percentage of papers supporting that viewpoint. So, to bring that statistic to its absurd conclusion, 100 papers could have been written, 97 of them by one AGW-believing scientist, and the other three by 3 scientists denying the existence of AGW.
Now obviously, that’s not the case, and I personally believe that AGW is a fact. The link I posted says 90-100% of climate scientists believe in AGW, but the page was published two years ago. Is there a more concrete measurement of the number or percentage of climate scientists who do/do not believe AGW is happening?
When a scientist performs research, they publish the results of their research in a scientific journal. The article does not describe what position they “support.” It describes what research was conducted, what experiments were performed, and what results were obtained.
Scientists don’t write papers about what they “support,” and they don’t make decisions democratically. If a scientist “believes” climate change is anthropogenic but does not perform research nor publish his findings, then his “belief” or “support” means jack shit.
Well, this is actually an older article (2016), but it goes over some of the stats, including surveys of the scientific community. https://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus-intermediate.htm I won’t cut and paste from it, but one of the independent surveys had it as 98% of the climate science community agree it’s that human activity is a primary cause of AGW while 2% said it’s a secondary cause…0% denied climate change or denied that humans had no effect.
I’d guess that the reality is that actual climate scientists are pretty much in overwhelming consensus about AGW (my WAG is close to 100% of qualified scientists at this point), while the wider community of scientists are probably above 95%…again, just my WAG based on what I’ve read. The only ones who’s opinions on this who matter, of course, are the climate scientists, since they are the one’s most engaged with the question.
The thing is, at a certain point the scientific community just stops bothering to debunk something like AGW denial and just moves on. It’s pretty much why you don’t see scientists involved in biology or genetics feel the need to constantly debunk stuff against evolution, or geologists have to debunk theories about the Earth being only 4000 years old or equally nutty stuff like that. I think climate science has moved into that phase. The only controversy is not really in the scientific community and is happening for reasons other than science.
Also, before a scientific journal publishes a paper, it is sent to several experienced scientists iin that field, who review the details of the experiments & the calculations involved. They aren’t looking so much at the conclusion, but at how the tests were done, and if all relevant factors were considered. It is quite common for reviewers to ask for revisions or more explanations on parts of a paper, before it is ever published.
So a single scientific paper is peer reviewed by several scientists before it is ever published in a journal. Also, most scientific journals turn down 2 or 3 times as many papers as they publish. They choose only the ones they consider most important or relevant to publish in their limited pages. So there are a whole lot of scientific papers about experiments out there, not published in any journal.
Okay, a couple of things you need to consider carefully.
#1 You said “scientists”. Do you mean people who people who have a college degree in a STEM field? Do you mean people who are employed in the STEM field? Do you mean people who are doing scientific research? Or do you mean people who are doing scientific research specifically relating to Earth’s climate?
This is important because Art Robinson cobbled together his infamous list of 30,000 “scientist”, and his definition of “scientist” was merely someone who has a degree in a STEM field.
#2 You said “support”. Do you mean ideas that merely don’t contradict AGW? Or do you mean ideas that consistent only if AGW is true? Or do you mean people who hold these ideas? Or do you mean people who don’t have any doubts about the ideas?
This is important because you could lay out five sentences that summarize the idea of AGW and show these five sentences to a room full of scientists and ask them “Are you convinced these things are true?” or you could ask them “Are there any things on this list that you aren’t 100% sure about?” and you might get completely different answers. That’s how Art Robinson got 30,000 people to say they have “doubts”.
So, even if you could put 100 scientists into a room and ask them questions, the results would vary greatly depending on what criteria you used to decide who gets into the room, and how the questions were worded.
I tend to agree with JB99 that it would be much more illuminating to look at what the peer-reviewed evidence-based scientific literature actually says rather than the results of an opinion poll.
It would be more interesting to you or others who would understand them and be able to evaluate them, but then I’d guess that anyone who can really understand the papers AND be able to evaluate them is already not going to be someone who categorically denies climate change, or that it’s human caused. But to people who aren’t going to read the peer reviewed papers or who if they did wouldn’t understand it, then such a poll is more meaningful. Though as you say, it can be skewed. Which brings me to…
Your point about doubt and how scientists actually think which I think and how that very mindset can be exploited or skewed to spin the narrative, often to something completely opposite to what the folks involved actually think. It’s what allows stuff like the 30k ‘scientists’ having doubts that you mentioned, and it’s definitely how people can create controversy in the scientific community when there isn’t any (such as the methods used in the past about evolution). I think the narrative often gets lost in the technical weeds in these kinds of discussions and it leaves the majority of non-scientists puzzled and frustrated by all the technical aspects they don’t grasp.
Even if the OP’s claim about the paper linked in the OP were true, based on the amount of time that it takes to get a paper published in a well-respected journal*, the odds of one person writing 97 articles while everyone else only published 3 between them is small. Some researchers will publish more than others, true. They’ll also publish in changing groups. But the papers will give a fairly good representation on concurrence.
The linked paper, however, did not just count up published papers. It also assessed 14 previous surveys and analysed the likelihood of concurring with the level of expertise of the group surveyed. The higher the level of expertise, the more likely the surveyed groups was to hold the opinion that AGW has been proven.
*In addition to asking for revisions and explanations, reviewers can asks for additional analysis and/or additional research. They can also say, you didn’t control for X, this data can’t be used. Start over.
The Robinson petition with its 30,000+ signers that sbunny8 mentioned is a good example of a tactic used by advocates of pseudoscience, in an attempt to convince the public that serious doubt/opposition exists among professionals.
You can similarly find petitions with impressive-seeming numbers of signatures denouncing water fluoridation, claiming vaccines are useless/dangerous and so on.
Few of these petition signers have doctorates in and work in relevant fields, and an even tinier percentage perform and publish research dealing with their claims.
The vast majority of climate scientists (and correspondingly the vast majority of published research by these people) support a major human role in climate change, because that’s what the evidence heavily shows.
I think we’re a long way from that point. There’s widespread recognition of continuing dogged denial, and of the need to keep reinforcing accurate public perceptions (even it it means wasting time and money to churn out repetitive research). How many studies have we seen debunking the theory that vaccination causes autism?
FTR, it was worse than that. There were various iterations of Art Robinson’s “Oregon Petition” which was a putative document signed by 30,000 of these “scientists” supposedly discrediting the science of climate change and urging abandonment of the Kyoto climate accord, but the document was basically a complete fraud and so was Robinson. It was produced in collaboration with Fred Seitz, an unscrupulous fraudster who formerly shilled for the tobacco industry, and who forged one of his propaganda pieces to look like it came from the National Academy of Sciences, and with Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, notorious climate deniers whose fraudulent papers have sometimes infested low-quality journals.
The Oregon Petition was credited to the “Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine” which Art Robinson founded, and which in actual reality is a former chicken farm in the backwoods of Cave Junction, Oregon, with no permanent staff, and which specialized, besides climate change denial, in promoting home schooling and building a bomb shelter against the coming nuclear apocalypse. The signatories to this ridiculous “petition” included not only completely unqualified individuals, but also apparently random names with no affiliation or description given. Also, until the names were removed, it included scientific luminaries like “Dr.” Geri Halliwell (one of the Spice Girls), Dr. Frank Burns and Dr. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (from the TV show “MAS*H”), and a number of Star Trek characters.
Art Robinson may be one of the more colorful loons involved in climate change denial, but that more or less sums up the state of the art.
To answer the OP about what scientists “believe” requires an appropriately phrased question. The question that is most pertinent to policy is whether the human influence on global warming and climate change is sufficiently strong and sufficiently well established that it is actionable and justifies major efforts at mitigation. The answer has been a resounding “yes” for a long time, as demonstrated by the latest global climate accord signed in Paris in 2015 setting emissions targets, and by the statements of the national science bodies of every major country in the world (cite) urging remedial action on climate change.
AFAICR I think it was Oreskes that made the comment that we have here not only a super majority of the opinion of the climate scientists, but there is also a super majority of the evidence pointing to the direction that the earth is warming, and that humans are involved on that.
In the reports i have read none of them address C02 specifically and what effect it alone is having on global temps. I can see where it shows the increase in CO2. Is it because there is just no accurate way to identify exactly which gasses are doing what?
Not quite, since often those who are in a position to do something about it are people from other disciplines. Engineers who are motivated to search for more-efficient methods and processes, for example. One of the biggest economic fallacies is the idea that a more efficient process will always be more expensive; a more efficient process has lower costs than the one it’s replaced, so even if it does need some initial investment (which isn’t always the case) it “pays for itself”.
The effects of different GHGs and other factors have indeed been individually identified, and are expressed as “climate forcings”, measured in watts per m2 which defines their contribution to the change in the earth’s total energy balance. CO2 is by far the greatest contributor at +1.66 W/m2. CO2 also persists in the atmosphere much longer than other significant GHGs like methane, enhancing its importance.
The exact relationship to temperature is complicated because of the existence of feedbacks, such as increase in atmospheric water vapor and reduction of polar ice cover, but there’s little doubt that despite the existence of other anthropogenic and natural contributors to climate change, CO2 is currently the biggest single factor driving global temperature change.