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MP Graham Stringer and CNN Crossfire get the 97% consensus on human-caused global warming wrong

Graham Stringer

MP Graham Stringer doesn’t understand the 97 percent expert consensus on human-caused global warming. Photograph: Christopher Thomond


Powered by article titled “MP Graham Stringer and CNN Crossfire get the 97% consensus on human-caused global warming wrong” was written by Dana Nuccitelli, for on Friday 14th February 2014 14.00 UTC

In May 2013, my Skeptical Science colleagues and I published a paper showing that of peer-reviewed climate publications over the past 20 years that take a position on the cause of global warming, 97 percent agree that humans are responsible.  Since that paper was published, it’s been met with extensive denialism.

The reaction of denial is not surprising, because an expert consensus is a powerful thing. People can’t be expert in every subject, so we defer to the consensus of experts on many subjects.  For this reason, climate scientists are the most trusted sources of climate science information.  As we documented in our paper, research has also shown that when people are aware of the expert consensus on human-caused global warming, they’re more likely to accept the science and support climate policy to address the problem.

Hence, those who support the status quo and oppose efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have long engaged in a disinformation campaign to misinform the public about the expert consensus. Their efforts have been successful, as evidenced by the ‘consensus gap’ whereby the public believe scientists are split on the cause of global warming; a stark contrast to the reality of the 97 percent consensus.

Climate Change Consensus Gap

The consensus gap.

One of the most common contrarian reactions to the results of our paper has been to claim that ‘skeptics’ are included in the 97 percent as well.  For example, in a recent hearing reviewing the UK 4th carbon budget, Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) Graham Stringer said of the expert consensus on human-caused global warming,

“somebody like me, who is probably more sceptical than you are about this issue, would be included as a supporter of the consensus, whereas I am not? Many major scientists have complained that, in the review of their papers, they have been included in that consensus.”

On CNN Crossfire, the conservative think tank Heritage Institute’s David Kreutzer said,

“what they agree on is so innocuous that all of what you call deniers agree with it, as well. That the world is getting warmer, all right? And that some of that warming is due to man, maybe a significant amount.”

Similarly, contrarian climate scientist Roy Spencer claimed in Congressional testimony last year that he’s included in the 97 percent.

“There’s a recent paper by John Cook and co-authors who looked at thousands of research papers which have been published in the scientific literature to see what fraction support the scientific consensus on global warming. Well, it turns out that the 97% consensus that they found, I am indeed part of and Senator Sessions mentioned he would agree with it too. And my associate John Christy, he agrees with it. In fact, all skeptics that I know of that work in that business. All are part of that 97% because that 97% includes those who think humans have some influence on climate. Well, that’s a fairly innocuous statement.”


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