An analysis of 4,000 abstracts of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of global warming and climate change has revealed an overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that recent warming is human-caused.
Was there any doubt?
The 4,000 abstacts were from papers published in the past 21 years that stated a position on the cause of recent global warming – 97 percent of these endorsed the consensus that we are seeing man-made, or anthropogenic, global warming (AGW). You won't find more than 3% of evolutionary biologists denying evolution either, but the paper in Environmental Research Letters also asked the authors of the papers to rate their entire paper using the same criteria. Over 2,000 papers were self-rated and among those that discussed the cause of recent global warming, 97 percent endorsed the consensus that it is caused by humans.
Nuclear physicists are also for nuclear power yet an alarming number of environmentalists are skeptical or even in outright denial - and the general public also has beliefs in stark contrast to physicists about nuclear power, just like the public does not agree about genetic modification to the same degree biologists do.
John Cook at the University of Queensland, who led the analysis, said in their statement, "Our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary. There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception. It's staggering given the evidence for consensus that less than half of the general public think scientists agree that humans are causing global warming.
"This is significant because when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they're more likely to support policies that take action on it."
This is only a surprise to climate scientists. Biologists in America, with 45% of the public not accepting evolution, would love to have climate science levels of acceptance among the general populace. And nuclear physicists have it even worse. Cook is concerned about a chasm between the science consensus and public perception, but there is also an even wider political chasm between academics and the public and no scientists mind; academics are far out of the mainstream. It can't be factored out the impact that has on the acceptance of data when it comes to political hot-button topics.
In March of 2012, the scholars used the ISI Web of Science database to search for peer-reviewed academic articles published between 1991 and 2011 using two topic searches: "global warming" and "global climate change".
After limiting the selection to peer-reviewed climate science, the study considered 11,994 papers written by 29,083 authors in 1,980 different scientific journals. The abstracts from these papers were randomly distributed between a team of 24 volunteers recruited through the website skepticalscience.com - an advocacy group devoted to debunking climate change skepticism. The volunteers determined the level to which the abstracts endorsed that humans are the primary cause of global warming. Each abstract was analyzed by two independent, anonymous raters.
Of the 11,994 papers, 32.6 percent endorsed AGW, 66.4 percent stated no position on AGW, 0.7 percent rejected AGW and in 0.3 percent of papers, the authors said the cause of global warming was uncertain.
Co-author of the study Mark Richardson, from the University of Reading, said, "We want our scientists to answer questions for us, and there are lots of exciting questions in climate science. One of them is: are we causing global warming? We found over 4,000 studies written by 10,000 scientists that stated a position on this, and 97 percent said that recent warming is mostly man made."
Visitors to the skepticalscience.com website were also solicited for money to publish the results as open access.
Environmental Research Letters charged them $1,600 but their editor-in-chief, Daniel Kammen, still tried to pretend they were taking some moral high ground for science in their statement: "This paper demonstrates the power of the Environmental Research Letters open access model of operation in that authors working to advance our knowledge of climate science and to engage in a public discourse can guarantee all interested parties have the opportunity to review the same data and findings."
They did it for science. And $1,600. In advance.