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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Stop Denying the Scientific Consensus on Man-Made Climate Change


Inexplicably, some still argue that there's no scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change (ACC) - i.e., man-made climate change. Perhaps it's necessary to first define consensus.  

Merriam-Webster defines consensus as "a general agreement" or "the judgement arrived at by most of those concerned."  Clearly, consensus does not mean unanimity. Nor is it normally understood to denote a simple (50% plus 1) majority. 

So, at what point does an opinion become "consensual"? At 75% of those qualified to speak on a particular matter? At 80%? Well, in regards to ACC, such subjective thresholds have been passed. Indeed, according to a recent PNAS study, “97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC."

The scientific consensus is real and demonstrable, not simply supposed. Whether we’re measuring it in terms of the percentage of refereed journal articles supporting the view (see here), or the percentage of climate scientists endorsing it in survey analysis (see above), the truth is that there’s a very strong consensus in favor of ACC. It's irrefutable.

Although it's certainly true that a majority opinion isn’t necessarily correct, it’s also true that a minority opinion isn’t either. Whereas many logically opt for the former in areas where they lack the specific credentials to engage in their own research, our inaction on climate change implies that the latter has triumphed.