You’ve probably heard that 97% of scientists believe humans are causing catastrophic global warming requiring immediate governmental action to reduce carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.
While there certainly are a sizable number of scientists who agree that humans are contributing to the global warming trend, the science is by no means “settled.”
The 97% claim comes from a research paper that surveyed climate-related scientific studies. However, the survey’s results are wildly oversimplified. It did indicate that 97% of papers reviewed state or imply that human activity is a cause of global warming — but not the sole cause. In reality, only a small portion of studies surveyed explicitly stated that manmade greenhouse gases contribute to 50% or more of climate change.
Quite a few of the scientists whose papers were cited in this study have questioned its conclusions, suggesting that their papers were incorrectly interpreted or even accusing the author of cherry-picking studies to fit his agenda.
The study’s accuracy notwithstanding, believing that a gradually warming planet is partially the result of human activity is a far cry from believing mankind is singlehandedly destroying the planet. Even taking this misleading statistic at face value doesn’t justify the radical policy ideas it’s usually used to defend: Do 97% of scientists support a carbon tax? Do they support extensive wind and solar subsidies? Plans to phase out coal, natural gas, and oil in the next 30 years? The Green New Deal? Of course not. These scientists have — and are entitled to — their own individual, nuanced opinions on the best path forward.
This widely misunderstood claim overstates the urgency of warming and would not be able to stand as a talking point for big renewable power if people hadn’t been subjected to decades of climate alarmism. We’ve seen prediction after prediction proven false — a senior United Nations official speculated decades ago that much of the world would be underwater by 2000 — yet these misleading figures and statistics are still peddled to shut down debate. It’s an anti-scientific political tactic.
97% believe humankind produces some climate change — which makes sense. Carbon dioxide, although not a pollutant, is a greenhouse gas, meaning it helps to keep the planet warm. Most human activity slightly increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment.
The question remains whether a slight temperature increase, which even totally eliminating fossil fuels would barely affect, is worth strangling our economy and quality of life.
For more on carbon dioxide and climate change:
- Policies to Reduce CO2 Emissions are Ineffective
- New National Geographic Documentary Highlights How Ill-Informed Climate Debate Has Become
- Energy and products derived from fossil fuels significantly contribute to human flourishing