A new study confirms that the vast majority of scientists who research the climate accept that the planet is warming and human beings are largely responsible. Yet a large slice of the American public believes that scientists are deeply split about global warming.
The survey considered the work of some 29,000 scientists published in 11,994 academic papers. Of the 4,000-plus papers that took a position on the causes of climate change only 0.7% or 83 of those thousands of academic articles, disputed the scientific consensus that climate change is the result of human activity, with the view of the remaining 2.2% unclear.
The study described the dissent as a “vanishingly small proportion” of published research.
“Our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary,” said John Cook of the University of Queensland, who led the survey.
Eugenie Scott has spent 26 years helping teachers do what’s right for their students in the name of science. And while the need to defend the teaching of evolution and climate change certainly hasn’t disappeared, Scott announced today that she is stepping down later this year as the founding CEO and “the public face” of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).
“I think all nonprofits hope someday to put themselves out of business,” says Scott, now 67. “But I guess I found a sinecure,” she adds with a laugh.
Her leadership skills will be sorely missed, says Kenneth Miller, a biology professor at Brown University. “She’s incomparable, irreplaceable, and indispensable,” says Miller, who was a key figure in one of the center’s most decisive victories, a 2005 court case that blunted an attack on evolution by the Dover, Pennsylvania, school district. Scott was masterful at building the coalition needed to win the case, he adds.
The United States has failed to take action to mitigate climate change thanks in part to the large number of religious Americans who believe the world has a set expiration date.
Research by David C. Barker of the University of Pittsburgh and David H. Bearce of the University of Colorado uncovered that belief in the biblical end-times was a motivating factor behind resistance to curbing climate change.
“[T]he fact that such an overwhelming percentage of Republican citizens profess a belief in the Second Coming (76 percent in 2006, according to our sample) suggests that governmental attempts to curb greenhouse emissions would encounter stiff resistance even if every Democrat in the country wanted to curb them,” Barker and Bearce wrote in their study, which will be published in the June issue of Political Science Quarterly.
The study, based on data from the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, uncovered that belief in the “Second Coming” of Jesus reduced the probability of strongly supporting government action on climate change by 12 percent when controlling for a number of demographic and cultural factors. When the effects of party affiliation, political ideology, and media distrust were removed from the analysis, the belief in the “Second Coming” increased this effect by almost 20 percent.
“[I]t stands to reason that most nonbelievers would support preserving the Earth for future generations, but that end-times believers would rationally perceive such efforts to be ultimately futile, and hence ill-advised,” Barker and Bearce explained.
That very sentiment has been expressed by federal legislators. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) said in 2010 that he opposed action on climate change because “the Earth will end only when God declares it to be over.” He is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.
Republicans have become more concerned about climate change in the past couple of years, according to a new Gallup Poll.
Self-identified Republicans are less likely than Democrats to say global warming concerns them, but while Democrats’ global warming anxiety has remained relatively steady, Republicans’ worry is climbing. In 2011, just 30 percent of Republicans said they worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about climate change. This year, that number reached 40 percent.
High-profile cases like the “Climategate” scandal involving leaked emails between climate scientists may have contributed to Republican skepticism over the past few years, Gallup reported. Now that those news stories have faded, climate-change belief is recovering.
I hope this trend continues. But I am worried the Energy Industry leaders who fund these faux scandals are only regrouping.