97% of scientists believe climate change is caused by humans, study finds

The study involved the analysis of a number of other previous studies on the scientific community's attitude towards man-made climate change

Doug Bolton
Wednesday 13 April 2016 14:38 BST
A 16 foot high sculpture of a polar bear and cub, afloat on a small iceberg on the River Thames, passes in front of Tower Bridge in London
A 16 foot high sculpture of a polar bear and cub, afloat on a small iceberg on the River Thames, passes in front of Tower Bridge in London (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

97 per cent of scientists agree that climate change is caused by humans, an American study has claimed.

Significantly, the researchers behind the study also found that the more knowledge of climate science these scientists have, the more likely they are to believe in human-caused climate change.

The study, published recently in the Environmental Research Letters journal, was conducted by a team from Michigan Technological University.

It was compiled through the analysis of seven previous independent studies of scientists' opinions on climate change, essentially making it a meta-study of a number of different meta-studies.

Dr. Sarah A. Green, a chemistry professor at Michigan Tech who led the study, explained: "What's important is that this is not just one study -- it's the consensus of multiple studies."

Co-author Naomi Oreskes, a professor in the history of science at Harvard University, said: "By compiling and analysing all of this research...we've established a consistent picture with high levels of scientific agreement among climate experts."

According to Green, the main problem with some of the countless climate change surveys is that they can be biased towards respondents with certain opinions, or targeted at people who lack expertise in climate science.

She also believes the wider public have a "very skewed" view of the sheer levels of acceptance of man-made climate change theories in the scientific community.

Research shows that only 12 per cent of the public in the US realises there is such strong agreement among scientists, and the one of the main arguments used by climate change deniers is the supposed lack of scientific consensus on the issue. People who believe scientists are still torn over climate change are also less likely to believe in the need for urgent solutions.

As the study says, part of the problem is down to certain groups "conflating the opinion of non-experts with experts and assuming that lack of affirmation equals dissent."

Green points out that although skepticism and an urge to dig deeper into statistics is a key part of the scientific process, "climate change denial is not about scientific skepticism."

The world's leaders appear to agree with the scientific community. At the UN Climate Change Conference at the end of 2015, 195 countries unanimously agreed to reduce their carbon output and work to keep global warming to "well below" 2 degrees over pre-industrial levels

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