Climate at a Glance: Consensus

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Bullet Point Summary:

  • Facts and scientific evidence always trump a show of hands.
  • A majority of scientists (including skeptics) believe the Earth is warming and humans are playing a role, but a strong majority of scientists are not very worried about it.
  • The key debate between alarmists and skeptics is the issue of impacts, not whether we are causing some warming. The only consensus that matters is whether scientists are very worried about climate change, and most scientists are not very worried.

Short Summary: Science is the evaluation of evidence, not a vote or show of hands. Nevertheless, to the extent people claim a scientific consensus exists, there has been only a single science organization whose full membership has been polled on climate-change issues – the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Surveys of AMS members show two-thirds believe humans are causing a majority of recent warming. More importantly, however, only 30% are very worried about it. Almost as many – 28% – are “not at all worried” or “not very worried”.  A plurality of 42% are merely “somewhat worried,” which indicates monitoring the scientific evidence and perhaps implementing some modest, cost-effective programs.

Fully 40% of AMS members believe climate change impacts have been primarily beneficial or equally mixed between beneficial and harmful. Only 50% expect the impacts to be entirely or primarily harmful over the next 50 years. That is nowhere near a consensus.

So, to summarize, most scientists believe humans are causing some warming, but only a minority are very concerned about it.

Science Organizations: Alarmist position statements produced by science organizations are merely the opinions of the groups’ politicized bureaucracies rather than the member scientists. The AMS bureaucracy, for example, has issued statements asserting humans are creating a climate crisis, yet surveys of their full membership – as discussed above – show only a minority of AMS members are very worried about climate change.

Individual Scientists: Scientists with NASA, NOAA, MIT, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and Penn, along with scientists who have served as official state climatologist for their states, are climate realists making the case against an impending climate crisis. These include many of the science giants of the past half-century, including Freeman Dyson, S. Fred Singer, and Will Happer.

Additional Information:

For more information about the alleged scientific consensus, see “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” pp. 7-30.

Climate At A Glance is a Project of The Heartland Institute
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