Surveys of scientists' views on climate change

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Several surveys have been conducted of the opinions of scientists on anthropogenic climate change. They have generally concluded that the majority of scientists are convinced that human activity is very likely causing most global warming.

1990s[edit]

  • Global Environmental Change Report, 1990: GECR climate survey shows strong agreement on action, less so on warming. Global Environmental Change Report 2, No. 9, pp. 1–3
  • In 1991, the Center for Science, Technology, and Media conducted a survey of 118 scientists regarding views on the climate change.[1] Analysis by the authors of the respondents projections of warming and agreement with statements about warming resulted in them categorizing response in 3 "clusters": 13 (15%) expressing skepticism of the 1990 IPCC estimate, 39 (44%) expressing uncertainty with the IPCC estimate, and 37 (42%) agreeing with the IPCC estimate.
  • Stewart, T. R.,[2] Mumpower, J. L., and Reagan-Cirincione, P. (1992). Scientists' opinions about global climate change: Summary of the results of a survey. NAEP (National Association of Environmental Professionals) Newsletter, 17(2), 6-7.
  • A Gallup poll of 400 members of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society along with an analysis of reporting on global warming by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, a report on which was issued in 1992. Accounts of the results of that survey differ in their interpretation and even in the basic statistical percentages:
    • Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting states that the report said that 67% of the scientists said that human-induced global warming was occurring, with 11% disagreeing and the rest undecided.[3]
    • George Will reported "53 percent do not believe warming has occurred, and another 30 percent are uncertain." (Washington Post, September 3, 1992). In a correction Gallup stated: "Most scientists involved in research in this area believe that human-induced global warming is occurring now."[4]
  • In 1996, Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch undertook a survey of climate scientists on attitudes towards global warming and related matters. The results were subsequently published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.[5] The paper addressed the views of climate scientists, with a response rate of 40% from a mail survey questionnaire to 1000 scientists in Germany, the USA and Canada. Most of the scientists believed that global warming was occurring and appropriate policy action should be taken, but there was wide disagreement about the likely effects on society and almost all agreed that the predictive ability of currently existing models was limited. On a scale of 1 (highest confidence) to 7 (lowest confidence) regarding belief in the ability to make "reasonable predictions" the mean was 4.8 and 5.2 for 10- and 100-year predictions, respectively. On the question of whether global warming is occurring or will occur, the mean response was 3.3, and for future prospects of warming the mean was 2.6.
  • In 1997, the conservative think tank Citizens for a Sound Economy surveyed America's 48 state climatologists on questions related to climate change.[6] Of the 36 respondents, 44% considered global warming to be a largely natural phenomenon, compared to 17% who considered warming to be largely man-made. 89% agreed that "current science is unable to isolate and measure variations in global temperatures caused ONLY by man-made factors," and 61% said that historical data do not indicate "that fluctuations in global temperatures are attributable to human influences such as burning fossil fuels", though the time scale for the next glacial period was not specified.

Early 2000s[edit]

In 2003, Bray and von Storch conducted a survey of the perspectives of climate scientists on global climate change.[citation needed] The survey received 530 responses from 27 different countries. The 2003 survey has been strongly criticized on the grounds that it was performed on the web with no means to verify that the respondents were climate scientists or to prevent multiple submissions. The survey required entry of a username and password, but the username and password were circulated to a climate skeptics mailing list and elsewhere on the internet.[citation needed] Bray and von Storch defended their results and accused climate change skeptics of interpreting the results with bias. Bray's submission to Science on December 22, 2004 was rejected.[citation needed]

One of the questions asked in the survey was "To what extent do you agree or disagree that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes?", with a value of 1 indicating strongly agree and a value of 7 indicating strongly disagree.[7] The results showed a mean of 3.62, with 50 responses (9.4%) indicating "strongly agree" and 54 responses (9.7%) indicating "strongly disagree". The same survey indicates a 72% to 20% endorsement of the IPCC reports as accurate, and a 15% to 80% rejection of the thesis that "there is enough uncertainty about the phenomenon of global warming that there is no need for immediate policy decisions."[citation needed]

Oreskes, 2004[edit]

A 2004 article by geologist and historian of science Naomi Oreskes summarized a study of the scientific literature on climate change.[8] The essay concluded that there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. The author analyzed 928 abstracts of papers from refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, listed with the keywords "global climate change". Oreskes divided the abstracts into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. 75% of the abstracts were placed in the first three categories, thus either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, thus taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change; none of the abstracts disagreed with the consensus position, which the author found to be "remarkable". According to the report, "authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point."

STATS, 2007[edit]

In 2007, Harris Interactive surveyed 489 randomly selected members of either the American Meteorological Society or the American Geophysical Union for the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) at George Mason University. The survey found 97% agreed that global temperatures have increased during the past 100 years; 84% say they personally believe human-induced warming is occurring, and 74% agree that "currently available scientific evidence" substantiates its occurrence. Only 5% believe that that human activity does not contribute to greenhouse warming; and 84% believe global climate change poses a moderate to very great danger.[9] [10]

Bray and von Storch, 2008[edit]

Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch conducted a survey in August 2008 of 2058 climate scientists from 34 different countries.[11] A web link with a unique identifier was given to each respondent to eliminate multiple responses. A total of 373 responses were received giving an overall response rate of 18.2%. No paper on climate change consensus based on this survey has been published yet (February 2010), but one on another subject has been published based on the survey.[12]

The survey was composed of 76 questions split into a number of sections. There were sections on the demographics of the respondents, their assessment of the state of climate science, how good the science is, climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation, their opinion of the IPCC, and how well climate science was being communicated to the public. Most of the answers were on a scale from 1 to 7 from 'not at all' to 'very much'.

In the section on climate change impacts, questions 20, 21 were relevant to scientific opinion on climate change. Question 20 "How convinced are you that climate change, whether natural or anthropogenic, is occurring now?" got 67.1% very much convinced, 26.7% to some large extent (5–6), 6.2% said to some small extent (2–4), none said not at all. Question 21 "How convinced are you that most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic causes?" received 34.6% very much convinced, 48.9% being convinced to a large extent (5–6), 15.1% to a small extent (2–4), and 1.35% not convinced at all.

Doran and Kendall Zimmerman, 2009[edit]

A poll performed by Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman at Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago received replies from 3,146 of the 10,257 polled Earth scientists. Results were analyzed globally and by specialization. 76 out of 79 climatologists who "listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change" believe that mean global temperatures have risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and 75 out of 77 believe that human activity is a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures. Among all respondents, 90% agreed that temperatures have risen compared to pre-1800 levels, and 82% agreed that humans significantly influence the global temperature. Economic geologists and meteorologists were among the biggest doubters, with only 47 percent and 64 percent, respectively, believing in significant human involvement. A summary from the survey states that:

It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.[13]

Anderegg, Prall, Harold, and Schneider, 2010[edit]

97–98% of the most published climate researchers say humans are very likely causing most global warming.[14] In another study 97.4% of publishing specialists in climate change say that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures.[13]

A 2010 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) reviewed publication and citation data for 1,372 climate researchers and drew the following two conclusions:

(i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC (Anthropogenic Climate Change) outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.[14]

The methodology of the Anderegg et al. study was challenged in PNAS by Lawrence Bodenstein for "treat[ing] publication metrics as a surrogate for expertise". He would expect the much larger side of the climate change controversy to excel in certain publication metrics as they "continue to cite each other's work in an upward spiral of self-affirmation".[15] Anderegg et al. replied that Bodenstein "raises many speculative points without offering data" and that his comment "misunderstands our study's framing and stands in direct contrast to two prominent conclusions in the paper.[16]

Farnsworth and Lichter, 2011[edit]

In an October 2011 paper published in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, researchers from George Mason University analyzed the results of a survey of 489 scientists working in academia, government, and industry. The scientists polled were members of the American Geophysical Union or the American Meteorological Society and listed in the 23rd edition of American Men and Women of Science, a biographical reference work on leading American scientists. Of those surveyed, 97% agreed that global temperatures have risen over the past century. Moreover, 84% agreed that "human-induced greenhouse warming" is now occurring. Only 5% disagreed with the idea that human activity is a significant cause of global warming.[17][18]

Lefsrud and Meyer, 2012[edit]

Lefsrud and Meyer surveyed members of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA), a professional association for the petroleum industry in Alberta. The aims of the study included examining the respondents' "legitimation of themselves as experts on 'the truth', and their attitudes towards regulatory measures."[19] Writing later, the authors added, "we surveyed engineers and geologists because their professions dominate the oil industry and their views on climate change influence the positions taken by governments, think tanks and environmental groups."[20]

The authors found that 99.4% agreed that the global climate is changing but that "the debate of the causes of climate change is particularly virulent among them." Analysing their responses, the authors labelled 36% of respondents 'comply with Kyoto', as "they express the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause."[19] 'Regulation activists' (10%) "diagnose climate change as being both human- and naturally caused, posing a moderate public risk, with only slight impact on their personal life." Skeptical of anthropogenic warming (sum 51%) they labelled 'nature is overwhelming' (24%), 'economic responsibility' (10%), and 'fatalists' (17%). Respondents giving these responses disagreed in various ways with mainstream scientific opinion on climate change, expressing views such as that climate change is 'natural', that its causes are unknown, that it is harmless, or that regulation such as that represented by Kyoto Protocol is in itself harmful.[19]

They found that respondents that support regulation (46%) ('comply with Kyoto' and 'regulation activists') were "significantly more likely to be lower in the organizational hierarchy, younger, female, and working in government", while those that oppose regulation ('nature is overwhelming' and 'economic responsibility') were "significantly more likely to be more senior in their organizations, male, older, geoscientists, and work in the oil and gas industry".[19] Discussing the study in 2013, the authors ask if such political divisions distract decision-makers from confronting the risk that climate change presents to businesses and the economy.[20]

John Cook et al., 2013[edit]

Cook et al. examined 11,944 abstracts from the peer-reviewed scientific literature from 1991–2011 that matched the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. They found that, while 66.4% of them expressed no position on anthropogenic global warming (AGW), of those that did, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are contributing to global warming. They also invited authors to rate their own papers and found that, while only 35.5% rated their paper as expressing no position on AGW, 97.2% of the rest endorsed the consensus. In both cases the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position was marginally increasing over time. They concluded that the number of papers actually rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.[21] Also, a reply to the criticism of the study was published, saying: "[critic] believes that every paper discussing the impacts of climate change should be placed in the 'no opinion' category".[22]

In their discussion of the results in 2007, the authors said that the large proportion of abstracts that state no position on AGW is as expected in a consensus situation,[23] adding that "the fundamental science of AGW is no longer controversial among the publishing science community and the remaining debate in the field has moved on to other topics."[21]

In Science & Education in August 2013 David R. Legates (a professor of geography at the University of Delaware and former director of its Center for Climatic Research) and three coauthors reviewed the corpus used by Mr. Cook. In their assessment, "inspection of a claim by Cook et al. (Environ Res Lett 8:024024, 2013) of 97.1 % consensus, heavily relied upon by Bedford and Cook, shows just 0.3 % endorsement of the standard definition of consensus: that most warming since 1950 is anthropogenic."

However, as the paper took issue in the definition of consensus, the definition of consensus was split into several levels: In the end, of all the abstracts that took a position on the subject, 22.97 % and 72.50 % were found to take an explicit but unquantified endorsement position or an implicit endorsement position, respectively. The 0.3 % figure represents abstracts taking a position of "Actually endorsing the standard definition" of all the abstracts (1.02 % of all position-taking abstracts), where the "standard definition" was juxtaposed with an "unquantified definition" drawn from the 2013 Cook et al. paper as follows:

  • The unquantified definition: ‘‘The consensus position that humans are causing global warming’’
  • The standard definition: As stated in their introduction, that ‘‘human activity is very likely causing most of the current warming (anthropogenic global warming, or AGW)’’

Criticism was also subjected to the "arbitrary" disclusion of non-position-taking abstracts as well as other issues of definitions. [24]

Craig Idso, Nicola Scafetta, Nir J. Shaviv and Nils-Axel Mörner, whose research questions the alleged consensus, also are cited as Climate scientists who assert that Cook misrepresented their work.[25]

Powell, 2013[edit]

James L. Powell, a former member of the National Science Board and current executive director of the National Physical Science Consortium, analyzed published research on global warming and climate change between 1991 and 2012 and found that of the 13,950 articles in peer-reviewed journals, only 24 rejected anthropogenic global warming.[26] This was a follow-up to an analysis looking at 2,258 peer-reviewed articles published between November 2012 and December 2013 revealed that only one of the 9,136 authors rejected anthropogenic global warming.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ T. R. Stewart, J. L. Mumpower, P. Reagan-Cirincione, "Scientists' Agreement and Disagreement about Global Climate Change: Evidence from Surveys", 15.
  2. ^ Albandy.edu
  3. ^ R. Nixon, "Limbaughesque Science", citing a press release by Gallup in the San Francisco Chronicle, 9/27/92.
  4. ^ Steve Rendall, "The Hypocrisy of George Will", FAIR report, citing the San Francisco Chronicle, 9/27/92.
  5. ^ Bray, Dennis; Hans von Storch (1999). "Climate Science: An Empirical Example of Postnormal Science" (PDF). Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 80 (3): 439–455. Bibcode:1999BAMS...80..439B. doi:10.1175/1520-0477(1999)080<0439:CSAEEO>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 1520-0477. Retrieved 2007-09-04. 
  6. ^ Citizens For a Sound Economy Foundation
  7. ^ Climate scientists’ views on climate change: a survey
  8. ^ Naomi Oreskes (January 21, 2005) [December 3, 2004]. "Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change" (PDF). Science 306 (5702): 1686. doi:10.1126/science.1103618. PMID 15576594.  (see also for an exchange of letters to Science)
  9. ^ Lavelle, Marianne (2008-04-23). "Survey Tracks Scientists' Growing Climate Concern". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  10. ^ Lichter, S. Robert (2008-04-24). "Climate Scientists Agree on Warming, Disagree on Dangers, and Don't Trust the Media's Coverage of Climate Change". Statistical Assessment Service, George Mason University. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  11. ^ Bray, Dennis; von Storch, Hans (2009). "A Survey of the Perspectives of Climate Scientists Concerning Climate Science and Climate Change". 
  12. ^ Bray, D.; von Storch H. (2009). "Prediction' or 'Projection; The nomenclature of climate science". Science Communication 30 (4): 534–543. doi:10.1177/1075547009333698. 
  13. ^ a b Doran, Peter T.; Maggie Kendall Zimmerman (January 20, 2009). "Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change". EOS 90 (3): 22–23. Bibcode:2009EOSTr..90...22D. doi:10.1029/2009EO030002. 
  14. ^ a b William R. L. Anderegg, James W. Prall, Jacob Harold, and Stephen H. Schneider (April 9, 2010). "Expert credibility in climate change". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Retrieved June 23, 2010. 
  15. ^ Bodenstein, Lawrence (December 28, 2010). "Regarding Anderegg et al. and climate change credibility". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107 (52): E188. Bibcode:2010PNAS..107E.188B. doi:10.1073/pnas.1013268108. 
  16. ^ Anderegg, William R. L.; coauthors (December 28, 2010). "Reply to Bodenstein: Contextual data about the relative scale of opposing scientific communities". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107 (52): E189. Bibcode:2010PNAS..107E.189A. doi:10.1073/pnas.1015419108. 
  17. ^ ""Structure of Scientific Opinion on Climate Change" at Journalist's Resource.org". 
  18. ^ Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter (October 27, 2011). "The Structure of Scientific Opinion on Climate Change". International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  19. ^ a b c d Lefsrud, L. M.; Meyer, R. E. (2012). "Science or Science Fiction? Professionals' Discursive Construction of Climate Change". Organization Studies 33 (11): 1477. doi:10.1177/0170840612463317.  edit
  20. ^ a b "Risk Management Approach Could Motivate Climate Change Action", Lianne Lefsrud and Renate Meyer, Social Science Space, March 19, 2013
  21. ^ a b Cook, John; Dana Nuccitelli, Sarah A Green, Mark Richardson, Bärbel Winkler, Rob Painting, Robert Way, Peter Jacobs and Andrew Skuce (May 2013). "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature". Environmental Research Letters (IOP Publishing) 8 (2). Bibcode:2013ERL.....8b4024C. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024. 
  22. ^ http://www.skepticalscience.com/97-percent-consensus-discredited.htm
  23. ^ Oreskes, Naomi (2007). "The scientific consensus on climate change: how do we know we're not wrong?". Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. p. 72. Retrieved 9 August 2013. "[Scientists] generally focus their discussions on questions that are still disputed or unanswered rather than on matters about which everyone agrees" 
  24. ^ http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9#page-1
  25. ^ http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303480304579578462813553136
  26. ^ Plait, P. (11 December 2012). "Why Climate Change Denial Is Just Hot Air". Slate. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  27. ^ Plait, P. (14 January 2014). "The Very, Very Thin Wedge of Denial". Slate. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 

See also[edit]