Science topics in culture, be they vaccines, GMOs or global warming, may seem to be about science but they are more about politics, including identity politics, and sometimes about economics.
Nonetheless, only one of those topics is hot in academia - ironically, the reason for that is also political. An impartial analysis of Congressional testimonies shows that, politics or not, most of the experts that the Republican majority requests to speak during hearings support the consensus on climate change - which means resistance to taking action is not because they are against science, it is just economics.
The paper analyzed 1,350 testimonies from 253 relevant congressional hearings from 1969 to 2007. Among expert witnesses who expressed a view, 86 percent say that global warming and climate change is happening and 78 percent say it is caused by human activity. 95 percent of scientists giving testimonies support action to combat it. If Republican-controlled Congresses were denying science they would not have so many pro-science testimonials. Instead, the experts they summon still indicate that global warming and climate change are real and caused by human activity.
So it's not the science in climate change that is being denied, any more than it is in GMOs, fracking or vaccines, it is just that voters on each side are polarized on those issues like they are taxes. Given that, the researchers therefore challenge the view that simply providing more information is key to evidence-based policy making.
"Different perceptions and claims among lawmakers are a major hurdle to agreeing on action to address global warming and these were thought to simply reflect scientific uncertainty," says Xinsheng Liu of Texas A&M University, lead author of the new paper in Climatic Change. "However, our findings show that congressional testimonies are in fact consistent with agreement in the climate science community and that the sources of controversies must lie elsewhere."
CitationL Liu, X., Vedlitz, A., Stoutenborough, J.W., and Robinson, S. (2015). Scientists' Views and Positions on Global Warming and Climate Change: A Content Analysis of Congressional Testimonies. Climatic Change; DOI 10.1007/s10584-015-1390-6