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Consensus on consensus: A synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number048002
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Mar 2016
DatePublished (current) - 13 Apr 2016

Abstract

The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90%–100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper. Those results are consistent with the 97% consensus reported by Cook et al (Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024024) based on 11 944 abstracts of research papers, of which 4014 took a position on the cause of recent global warming. A survey of authors of those papers (N = 2412 papers) also supported a 97% consensus. Tol (2016 Environ. Res. Lett. 11 048001) comes to a different conclusion using results from surveys of non-experts such as economic geologists and a self-selected group of those who reject the consensus. We demonstrate that this outcome is not unexpected because the level of consensus correlates with expertise in climate science. At one point, Tol also reduces the apparent consensus by assuming that abstracts that do not explicitly state the cause of global warming ('no position') represent non-endorsement, an approach that if applied elsewhere would reject consensus on well-established theories such as plate tectonics. We examine the available studies and conclude that the finding of 97% consensus in published climate research is robust and consistent with other surveys of climate scientists and peer-reviewed studies.

    Structured keywords

  • Memory

    Research areas

  • anthropogenic global warming, climate change, scientific consensus

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  • erl_11_4_048002

    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via IOP Publishing at http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048002.

    Final published version, 557 KB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY

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