Why do so many people still believe there's a scientific debate?A new meta-study by John Cook et al titled "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature" tells us what a lot of us already knew; that there's a scientific consensus on human-caused global warming in peer-reviewing scientific journals. Specifically, among 11,944 papers expressing a position on anthropogenic global warming, 97.2% endorsed the consensus position that it's real and humans are causing it.
So why is this important? Because like in Groundhog Day, we have to relive the same day over and over again, not to become a better person and get the girl, but to break through the public perception (including in the media and among politicians) that somehow there's still a scientific debate.
As John Cook, the lead author says, “this is significant because when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they're more likely to support policies that take action on it. For example, if 97 per cent of doctors told you that you had smoking-induced cancer, you'd take action: quit smoking and start chemotherapy to get rid of the cancer.”
Here's a great chart that shows that perception gap:
John Cook created this video to explain the paper:
To help push out the message and cut through the political and media BS, they've created a website called the Consensus Project.
This isn't just about winning arguments and being right. This matters tremendously because the public's perception affects all kinds of policy and individual decisions that can have a big impact on how well we deal with the problem. There will always be deniers who can't be swayed by a mountain of evidence, but there are many more people who believe in good faith the misleading media and political misinformation. That's who we need to reach.