Who Counts as a Climate Scientist?

A recent study published in Environmental Research Letters, “The climate change consensus extends beyond climate scientists,” offers encouraging data, while at the same time perpetuating many of the errors that plague the public understanding of climate science.

First, the good news. The paper reports the results of university science faculty polling:

Most respondents (93.6%) believe that mean temperatures have risen and most (91.9%) believe in an anthropogenic contribution to rising temperatures. Respondents strongly believe that climate science is credible (mean credibility score 6.67/7). Those who disagree about climate change disagree over basic facts (e.g., the effects of CO2 on climate) and have different cultural and political values. These results suggest that scientists who are climate change skeptics are outliers and that the majority of scientists surveyed believe in anthropogenic climate change and that climate science is credible and mature.

That’s all good to hear, though hardly the first time an overwhelming consensus about the reality of climate change has been demonstrated.

So why am I grumpy about this? Let tackle the problems one by one:

 

1. “Belief”

This paper repeatedly describes scientists’ views on climate science as beliefs. Here’s how the paper put it:

Short Bio

Steve Newton is a former Programs and Policy Director at NCSE.

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