There’s currently a scientific consensus that humans are the primary cause of the recent warming trend (over the last century or so).
Although there are climate change skeptics, there’s many climate change supporters.
In this short guide, we’ve summarised some points that a climate change supporter might make in regards to the consensus.
*Note – this is an exploratory impartial guide only.
Summary – Does Supporting The Consensus Make Sense?
Overall, from our analysis, it does seem like there’s a subjective case to be made that the information supporting the consensus might be more thorough than the information outright denying the consensus.
Are there certain aspects about the consensus and climate change science and research that should still be questioned? … yes. After all, there are parts of climate change that researchers and scientists freely admit they are uncertain about, or that involve approximations or inconclusive interpretations. There’s the possibility that some areas of the climate change issue are unclear, or at the very least have very grey/uncertain answers, or are very nuanced.
At the very least though, it seems like the potential risk of not doing anything to mitigate or adapt to recent climate change seems to be significant in some ways.
Skeptical Science goes into great detail breaking down a lot of the myths and misunderstandings put forward by skeptics and those that don’t support the consensus.
*Note – something we have not looked at is where exactly where the funding or approval of all the listed/cited studies, surveys etc. have come from. If they are completely independent or mostly independent – the consensus might carry even more significance.
If it can be proved studies are funded or approved by organisations with ties to one political side or one part of the energy sector for example (where in both cases there might be a specific agenda), the consensus might carry less weight. You can read more about climate change funding, and study/research in this guide.
One other thing to mention, is that, we are assuming the consensus is ‘Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities [as the primary cause]’ (climate.nasa.gov). This consensus may not be specific enough for some people – they want to know a break down of what each phrase in that sentence means e.g. the warming trend is X, it spans from X year to Y year, and it is caused by X and not Y because of X.
How someone expresses climate change completely change the issue being debated because it impacts the solutions or actions we pursue on a global and country based level, as well as for individuals.
Additionally, some people may want 100% clear cut evidence of not just what has caused warming in the last century, but, in all of Earth’s history (for a bigger sample size).
Agreeing With The Current Consensus On Climate Change (Potential Arguments Of A Supporter)
You can read the full Skeptical Science articles by following the web addresses we have provided in the sources section below. The following is simply what we think are the important points made in the articles are regarding supporting the consensus.
- Authors of 7 climate change consensus studies made two clear conclusions:
- 1) Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it’s somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most of our studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists
- 2) The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.
- Skeptical Science goes into deep detail about how much evidence and how many different studies support the consensus
- It’s not as simple as picking one or two key surveys or papers – there’s much more supporting it than that
[Our note on this though is that some skeptics point out that those who are uncertain of what is primarily causing the climate to change instead of having an agree or disagree answer aren’t included in some surveys]
- The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90%–100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper.
- Those results are consistent with the 97% consensus reported by Cook et al (Environ. Res. Lett. 8024024) based on 11,944 abstracts of research papers, of which 4014 took a position on the cause of recent global warming. A survey of authors of those papers (N = 2412 papers) also supported a 97% consensus.
- Tol (2016 Environ. Res. Lett. 11 048001) comes to a different conclusion using results from surveys of non-experts such as economic geologists and a self-selected group of those who reject the consensus.
- … this outcome is not unexpected because the level of consensus correlates with expertise in climate science. At one point, Tol also reduces the apparent consensus by assuming that abstracts that do not explicitly state the cause of global warming (‘no position’) represent non-endorsement, an approach that if applied elsewhere would reject consensus on well-established theories such as plate tectonics.
- … the available studies [are examined] and [it’s concluded] that the finding of 97% consensus in published climate research is robust and consistent with other surveys of climate scientists and peer-reviewed studies.
- Rebutting the Petition Project which generally rejects the idea we need to reduce or eliminate human caused greenhouse gases …
- The 30,000 scientists and science graduates listed on the OISM petition represent a tiny fraction (0.3%) of all science graduates. More importantly, the OISM list only contains 39 scientists who specialise in climate science.
- So, it has limited credibility if this is the case
- [In addition to https://skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus-advanced.htm] there are National Academies of Science from 33 different countries all endorsing the consensus. Dozens of scientific organizations have endorsed the consensus on human-caused global warming. Only one has ever rejected the consensus – the American Association of Petroleum Geologists – and even they shifted to a neutral position when members threatened to not renew their memberships due to its position of climate denial.
- In short, the 97% consensus on human-caused global warming is a robust result, found using several different methods in various studies over the past decade. It really shouldn’t be a surprise at this point
- There have also been various studies quantifying the human contribution to global warming
- … there’s very little controversy here. The scientific literature is quite clear that humans have caused most of the global surface warming over the past half century
- The 97% consensus is made up only by experts
- The fact that so many studies on climate change don’t bother to endorse the consensus position is significant because scientists have largely moved from what’s causing global warming onto discussing [more specific] details of the problem (eg – how fast, how soon, impacts, etc).
- Common tactics used by those who are skeptics to deny climate change – cherry picking, using the fake expert strategy, misrepresentation and logical fallacy, impossible expectations of what research can deliver, proposing conspiracy theories
- A list of answered climate change myths and false statements by climate change skeptics