Scientific consensus

I’ve written a number of posts about climate change and feel more and more that it may be the most important issue that we will face in the next few decades. It is, however, a contentious issue and there are a number of people who believe that even if the climate is indeed changing, that it is not anthropogenic (i.e., not man-made). It is often claimed that the science is not yet proven and that there is no clear scientific consensus. I have often felt that this was wrong; that the scientific consensus was anthropogenic. I even went and looked at some recent papers on climate change and this appeared to be the case, but it wasn’t a particularly large sample.

Today, however, a colleague gave me a link to a website called Why climate deniers have no scientific credibility. It shows results from a study that looked at 13950 peer-reviewed papers published between 1991 and 2012 and tried to find those that rejected anthropogenic global warming(AGW). The results were that only 24 of the 13950 claimed that climate change was not anthropogenic. The rest (13926) either supported AGW or did not provide results that suggested it wasn’t anthropogenic. This is shown in the pie chart below.
Powell-Science-Pie-Chart
I think this is pretty convincing. Unless the analysis is wrong, a huge fraction (almost all) support the idea that climate change is anthropogenic, with only a tiny fraction rejecting this. It is clear that the scientific consensus is that global warming is man-made. It’s also clear that it is possible to publish a peer-reviewed paper that rejects this view. This doesn’t mean that AGW is definitely correct. It just means that scientific consensus overwhelmingly supports this view and it would be remarkable if this turned out not to be the case.

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One thought on “Scientific consensus

  1. Pingback: Scientific consensus « Philip's Blog

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