Monday, September 05, 2005

The Consensus on Climate Change

Just came across the blog "A Concerned Scientist" today, and one recent post I thought deserved mention provides an overview of recent literature on the scientific consensus regarding climate change. The short version: the consensus is there, and it's pretty thorough. Blogger Daniel Rhoads points to a recent essay from Science (in PDF) that offers some compelling numbers:
That hypothesis [that a survey of the scientific literature might highlight "legitimate dissenting opinions"] was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords “climate change” (9).

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.
Furthermore, none of the papers made the argument that current climate change is a completely natural occurance. Daniel offers up several other articles on the topic, and briefly addresses the very topical argument on the role climate change plays in increasing the frequency and intensity of severe weather. A good read, with lots of ammunition for the next time you're at a family gathering with that Fox-News-watching brother-in-law (we've all got one of those, don't we...?).

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