THEGREENGROK    Statistically Speaking

Statistically Speaking: What Do Scientists Think About Climate Change?

by Bill Chameides | January 23rd, 2009
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | 4 comments


An overwhelming number of climate scientists say the globe is warming.

Ah, delving into the mind of a scientist. There’s a heady task. The media talk of both consensus and scientific debate when it comes to climate change. So what do actual scientists really think? A new survey of 3,146 scientists attempts to answer this question and more.

The American Geophysical Union’s publication Eos has just published a poll that should put to rest any notion that there is less than a consensus on global warming. (See press release from University of Illinois, Chicago.)

Top Findings Show Strong Consensus

Percentage of scientists surveyed agreeing that global temperatures have risen compared to pre-industrial levels: 90
Percentage of scientists agreeing that humans have played a significant role in this change: 82

Areas of Expertise Impacts Scientists’ Understanding of Climate Change

Percentage of climate scientists agreeing: 97.4
Percentage of meteorologists agreeing: 64
Percentage of economic geologists agreeing: 47

Percentage of general public believing that people are responsible for global warming: 58*

Which group of scientists does the public have the most exposure to?

*SOURCE: 2008 Gallup poll –

filed under: climate change, faculty, global warming, science, Statistically Speaking


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  1. Al G.
    Mar 16, 2009

    A “Consensus” among scientists does not establish a scientific “fact”. What seems missing is the scientific method. It appears that the bulk of the argument for human induced warming rests on computer models. Models that have yet to accurately reflect the past let alone the future. The available facts may indicate a warming trend but hardly support pinning the blame on mankind. The consensus for blaming us is based on models, not data, based on computer models, built with facts in somecases, but in large part around “guesses” on the effects of different inputs. Before we destroy whats left of our economy, give me the “Method”, not the “Consensus”.

    • Bill Chameides
      Mar 20, 2009

      Al G.: Have to disagree: the arguments are not based on computer models. They are based on decades of detailed observations that have documented that the globe is warming (e.g., satellite measurements of increasing sea surface temperatures), that increases in carbon dioxide are due to fossil fuel burning (e.g., isotopic signature of carbon in atmosphere), and the warming is in large part due to greenhouse gases (e.g., satellite data showing solar output has not increased and is therefore not responsible for much of the warming over the past 2-3 decades).

  2. Daniel Wedgewood
    Jan 25, 2009

    Dr. Chameides, What about psychologists? Not about the climate, but what is their analysis of the climate scientists? Do those scientists have behaviors which might make them biased (one way or the other)? Dan

  3. Gergely "Nemo" Nemeth
    Jan 24, 2009

    It is interesting to note that many people would believe that meteorologists would know the climate so well; this might not be the case, as they make short term predicitions and often only understand micro-variables. What they think could be misleading, but they are on TV multiple times a day. The people who are supposed to understand “the big picture” of climate changes the most (climate-scientist) agree almost unanimously about the global-warming crisis. These are the guys and gals Uncle Joe should pay attention to, but with the limited exposure they get, this is challenging. Nemo

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