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  • Are Scientists Split on Climate Change?

Are Scientists Split on Climate Change?

Nov 13 2018 Read 873 Times

According to the fifth report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2013, there is a 95% certainty that human activity is the principal factor driving the unprecedented climate change that has occurred since the 1950s. Moreover, multiple reports conclude that over 90% of scientists specialising in the area agree on that fact.

Despite these overwhelming statistics, the current US government seems intent on fudging the issue. When discussing the sixth IPCC report, released last month, President Trump and several other prominent Republicans repeatedly claimed that scientists are “split” when it comes to identifying humans as the main cause of global warming. Such a statement is, quite simply, not true.

Widespread consensus

According to the scientific community, there remains little doubt that humans are behind the rise in global temperatures that have taken place since the Industrial Revolution. Talking specifically over the last 70 years, 90% of climate change experts agree that manmade activity is the main cause. When that pool of talent is limited only to peer-reviewed studies, the consensus jumps even higher to 97%. 

While those figures are incredibly high (and some spectators claim they are even higher), the American public appears to be unaware of the situation. Indeed, a recent set of surveys from the universities of Yale and George Mason found that less than 15% of Americans believed that over 90% of scientists concurred on the causes of global warming as being largely anthropogenic.

Ignorance is bliss?

In stark contrast to the UK and Europe, where strong attendance at events like the International Exhibition and Conference on Continuous Emissions Monitoring (CEM) and the Air Quality and Emissions Event (AQE) demonstrate a high level of public consciousness surrounding climate change and pollution issues, the USA is deeply divided on the subject.

According to the Yale and George Mason studies, there are six kinds of Americans when it comes to climate change beliefs. There are the Alarmed and the Concerned (who are aware of the problem and taking steps to counter it), the Cautious, the Disengaged and the Doubtful (who are yet to be convinced of the severity or cause of the problem) and the Dismissive (who are persuaded the problem does not exist and actively work against its solutions).

Most concerning of all, even the most well-informed Americans did not know that the consensus level was so high among the scientific community. The Alarmed believe that just 84% of scientists agree on human activity as a principal cause, while the Concerned only think that percentage stands at 73%. Clearly, the American public are gravely misinformed.

A campaign of deceit

The reasons behind this are largely to do with the White House’s continuing war on science and climate change knowledge. By constantly propagating the idea that the scientific community is split on the topic, Trump and his party can sow the seeds of doubt and muddy the waters of global warming in the mind of the public.

This has allowed Trump to undo much of the environmental work overseen by his predecessor Barack Obama and permits him to continue to support polluting practices such as fracking, coal extraction and the watering down of industry regulation. Scientists are most certainly not split on climate change - but the American public is, and the Republican Party intend to keep it that way. 

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