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Scientific Consensus: Global Warming IS Man-made, Study Says 97% of Climate Scientists Agree [VIDEO]

May 16, 2013 11:46 AM EDT
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An analysis of nearly 12,000 scientific research papers done by climate scientists concludes that there is an overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are to blame for climate change, with a dissenting view held by less than two percent of scientists.

University of Queensland's John Cook, lead author of the new study, said there is "strong scientific agreement" in scientific papers published between 1991 and 2011 that humans are the cause of global warming and that the number of papers rejecting anthropogenic global warming is "a vanishingly small proportion of the published research."

Global average surface temperatures have risen by 1.4F (0.8C) since the Industrial Revolution.

The research by Cook and his colleagues builds off of a previous analysis of scientific papers written about climate change. A similar study conducted in 2004 analyzed 928 scientific reports. Cook's study expanded the search field tremendously, analyzing 11,944 papers.

Out of the 12,000 papers, about 4,000 were identified stating a position on global warming. More than 97 percent of the papers stating a position on global warming agreed with the consensus that humans are responsible for the rise in Earth's temperatures.

That two thirds of the 12,000 papers by climate scientist did not state a position on climate change in their abstracts was not surprising, Cook said on his blog SkepticalScience, because "frankly, every scientist doing climate research knows humans are causing global warming. There's no longer a need to state something so obvious. For example, would you expect every geological paper to note in its abstract that the Earth is a spherical body that orbits the sun?"

In the second phase of the study, Cook and his team reached out to the authors of the studies taking a position on global warming and asked them to rate their own papers.

The self-rating phase allowed Cook and his team to further assess nearly 2,000 papers given a self-rating by their authors. Among the self-rated papers, 97.2 percent of the scientists endorsed the consensus that global warming is a man-made phenomenon. But Cook said there is still a "significant gap" between the scientific consensus and the public's perception of the scientific position on global warming.

Cook said that Americans think scientists are divided on climate change.

"When people correctly understand that scientists agree, they are more likely to support policy that mitigates climate change," he said. "This consensus gap is directly linked to the lack of public support for climate action, this underscores the importance of clearly communicating the consensus and closing the consensus gap," he said.

According to the Telegraph, a survey in the United Stated last October found that 43 percent of Americans thought scientists were divided on man-made global warming, while 45 percent thought there was a consensus.

"When people think scientists agree, they are more likely to support a carbon tax or general climate action," Cook said, to The Age.

"But if they think scientists are still arguing about it, they don't want to do anything about it."

The complete study can be read in Environmental Research Letters.

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