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Pew: US Public Has Incorrect Perception of Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

12 December 2009

An overwhelming number of scientists (84%) say the earth is warming because of human activity, while just 4% of scientists say there is no solid evidence the earth is warming. Yet only 56% of Americans say that scientists agree that global warming is real and man-made, according to Pew Research survey data.

Although only 11% of the American public see no evidence the earth is warming, only 49% attribute the warming they see to human activity; the other 36% ascribe it to natural causes, according to Pew Research data. The public’s perception of where the scientific community stands on climate change is tied to their own opinions on the issue, according to Pew.

In a July Pew Research survey, about half the public (49%) said human activity is creating global warming. (An October Pew Research survey found far fewer Americans seeing solid evidence that humans are causing global warming.) Among this group, three-quarters (76%) said that scientists have reached a consensus on climate change and its cause. Among the 36% of Americans who said global warming is real but due to natural causes just 41% said there was a scientific consensus on the issue. And among those who said there is no evidence of climate change (11% of the public) a strong majority (68%) said there is no agreement among scientists on global warming.

About one-in-five global warming skeptics (22%) say there is scientific agreement that human activity is causing climate change.

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"An overwhelming number of scientists (84%) say the earth is warming because of human activity, while just 4% of scientists say there is no solid evidence the earth is warming." is about as much consensus as one can get.

Here is the problem with this story. We know the data set from the study about the public is done by Pew Reasearch. So where does that 84% of the scientists number come from? Don't forget scientists need funding. The money is in the GW pit. The only way to get it is go in.

Another thing. Who wrote this? Look at the title. That’s what really set me off. This data has been out there for awhile so it’s dragged out and given the title. "Pew: US Public Has Incorrect Perception of Scientific Consensus on Global Warming". Did Pew say we were incorrect? I doubt it. If they did, who made them the Judge. If they didn’t then why is a journalist slanting a story with that title? Who made him the Judge?

I think the day of this kind of fact reporting and slanting going unquestioned are over. If you turned this into a teacher in high school you’d get an F for not having links to all the references.

Most people have for a long time suspected that most of these so called scientists are realy just addicts looking for thier next grant fix.

We also have seen these so called scientists and in many cases we deem them ... less then trustworthy. No thats not quite it.. They creep us out.

What i find most frustrating -and- amusing is that it sounds like the questions are really asking "how much 'global warming-related' media do you read and which 'global warming-related media do you read?" They're asking for opinions about other peoples theories and research - worse than third-person useless.
They should be asking 'regular people' questions that relate to their specific expertise - that is, everyday life. Say: if there was a 1m sea rise and 2C increase in your area, would you consider that to be a 'serious' problem? --or-- If 100,000 people in another area of the world were being displaced by rising seas, would you want your tax dollars spent on providing aid/technology/other assistance? --or-- If there was 'some' scientific evidence that there would be minor water shortages in your area due to weather-related circumstances, would you be willing to have your tax dollars spent on remediation/prevention/amelioration measures?

Now these questions --off the top of my head-- are all yes/no questions that deal in short-term, easy-to-react-to situations. But they can actually be used to influence policy, register 'practical' opinion, and get a sense of people's values as it relates to things that people are actually experts on - themselves. Its time for polls with real value, not blood-stirring factoids and eye-distracting charts.

@ Dale:

Hehe - the people that read and believe polls like this have any 'actual' value are those types of people who are very opinionated on things for which they likely have very little real scientific background -- which is fine. Are people entitled to an opinion - of course - but does that mean they should spout off at everything that 'affects' them? The funny thing about free speech is that it is a great thing to have in theory until you learn that 99% of it is chaff and filler anyway. Don't stop it - just learn to be selective and thoughtful. Like junk mail, overly simplified 'reporting' and sensationalism will never go away. But -- ask (almost) any editor, rag or journal, it's the number of eyeballs (and thus revenue) that counts, not the precise scientific accuracy (and the assumptions involved) nor professional, supportable standards -- just minimize liability, entertain, and count the revenue (or fan interest).

Most people do not have the time or interest to read scientific papers or journals (a shame), or even well-respected intellectual journals (a character defect), but are quite content with the barely-supported edu-tainment that goes for journalism of today. Let the 'dumbing-down' (and hence polarization of issues) continue.

No mention of how many were polled and note that this was done before Climategate.

Climategate has awakened the sleeping giant majority of human beings. Now, as they lumber forward toward the clarity of truth, they think, "Hey, that guy Jones in England got $22.5M in grants to find some global warming. Hmmm. And the U.S. has spent $78B (that's Billion) on global warming research to date??? No wonder the eggheads studying 'climate science' agree. It's a friggin free lunch gold mine! A money train. A scientific dole!"

Here's what every attendee of COP15 should have a ticket to see:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eScDfYzMEEw

Thanks Sulleny - Carlin brings up some great points...but massive amazon rainforest deforestation, one new coal fired power plant per day from China and India & thousands of new cars on the road every week in China & India can't be entirely harmless either in my mind, though I don't like the AGW "science". I think massive tax breaks for renewable energy companies & non-polluting projects is the best way to attack the problem instead of more taxes, bureaucracies & regulations.

...massive tax breaks for renewable energy companies...ARE the best way to attack the problem...

However, before congress passes any new legislation, the US constitution should be amended with a BALANCED-BUDGET AMENDMENT and a LINE-ITEM VETO AMENDMENT.

I am so sick of people trying to make out scientific research as if it is some kind of gravy train. Some research may be well funded but it doesn't go into the scientist's pockets. Surely well-funded research is a good thing as it improves the quality of the work. There aren't many scientists driiving around in Ferraris.

The so-called climategate is ridiculously blown out of proportion but there will always be people that want to argue that black is white. I don't care unless they become President or Prime Minister. Climate change denial is a head in the sand sideshow. It's time to move on.

It's a good thing that 80%+ scientists believe that humans are influencing the climate. It really doesn't matter what the rest think.
=
The pope thought Galileo's telescope was an instrument of the devil. Galileo was the scientist.
=
It usually takes a few centuries for the rest to catch up. Nothing unusual with climate science.
_

Sulleny,
can't figure you out. Sometimes you say smart things. Sometimes crazy things.

I watched the carlin video and it's funny, and true. So where does that take you to the idea that 78B has been mis-spent on climate research? Isn't that number a little inflated?
=
Carlin is saying we are self destructing. I happen to care about that. Don't you?

The "skeptics" need to start your education by reading the popular news:  Science not faked, but not pretty (as if you would expect it to be pretty after nearly two decades of attack from a propaganda machine).

I think the monies being spent are entirely reasonable given the fact that understanding the potential threat of The Issue and re-designing a lot of society's infrastructure requires a huge amount of R&D. And even if Climate Change does not have the future impacts suggested, just about everything being developed leads to a better society anyway at not much more money than if the Market was left to its own devices (which i don't think should happen anyway for important issues).

Without scientists we would still be living an almost agrarian existence. They are the unheralded heroes that push out the frontier of ignorance and create the theories which underlie all technology, industry, and factual knowledge. I only wish they made the type of money that dysfunctional celebrities, business people, and sports stars(?) make.

@ Engineer-Poet:

There's no point in trying to logically win over Skeptics. You might as well try to convince people to give up religion.

I think the underlying issue with these individuals is that Climate Change simply does not work into their lifestyle plans - that they live in a type of bubble of denial. Its like arguing that you don't need to eat right or exercise because, hey, there was some guy who lived to 90 somewhere who didn't (for example) - common sense doesn't fit into their 'world view'. They value their individuality over all else - i could only guess. Luckily, we live in a type of democracy where the vast majority often have more influence on issues.

My concern is that the technological and policy changes being made (though slowly) to society will be so gradual that when very little climate change effect happens in 50 - 100 years (because the increase in storms, water shortages, and other disruptions will have become part of the status quo), there will be nobody who will be able to point to a time where there was a heroic effort -- they will continue to say that climate change isn't happening because hey where are the 'disasters'??

It would be interesting to see a personality profile of many of these people under such categories as education, civic activities, voting preference, etc. You may find that they all dwell within a certain 'type' of personality. A lot of British polls i've see include a lot of this demographic data - though, i haven't seen a climate change -to- demography one in particular.

It would be a glum grey world without the local colour
Which works like a voltage offset for bilateral vision.
It would work even better if the offset was on a positive excursion.

That is where countries like China or monotheist or ethnically exclusive states miss out - from the loss of colour.

It seems right to celebrate our 'special' peoples

Just try to keep them away from office.

- It is xmas after all.

George is a satirist who points to the absurdity of people trying to "save the planet." Such notions are filled with hubris. The self-inflated idea that puny man can actually do something that would counter the massive natural forces underlying the climate system.

If the climate orthodoxy and its defendants weren't so militant in their claim to righteousness - the $78B could have been spread across other deserving disciplines. And as humanists argue - toward world health, poverty and hunger initiatives.

Climate is the indulgence of the of wealthy, industrialized nations twisted now by angry socialists determined to extract penance from the west. It has failed because its premise is based on flawed, corrupted science.

The need to slow population looms large. Expanded wealth in India and China will accomplish some of this. Electrification and transition to sustainable fuels will clean up emissions. The clear signal from UHI suggests less dense cities and more green pockets might really mitigate temperature.

But carbon trading schemes and hollywood disaster scenarios are so old school fake as to make proponents look infantile and corrupt. How about a two trillion dollar fund that is voluntarily donated by developed nations with a sovereign right to oversee and revoke each contribution - should it go wrong? Such a fund would not fight "climate change" - but empower women, establish clean water, sustainable farming, energy and transport systems.

Call it a human evolution fund. These are the real goals of the good climatistas anyway. So why cloak it in a failed front? Address these problems head on: energy, population, food, health, resources. Enlist the efforts of good people the world over to address individual problems - not a single global illusion hiding those problems.

Small, international teams of proactive experts and volunteers can do a better job of attacking each issue - than a huge global bureaucracy. These teams would compete for funds based on program success. In an networked world programs can be monitored by anyone wanting to participate.

If the "climate" problem is replaced by real individual problems with real social and technical solutions - the politics can be negotiated in better faith. And that's in large part what's missing.


Here we are sitting on the sidelines watching this armmageddon parade and munching our popcorn.

Why did we chose you? To save us? Hardly! We chose you because at least the parade will be fun.

@ sulleny:

I concede that the drama surrounding Climate Change is likely far overblown and fraught with other agendas like those who would like to see mankind retreat into cities and leave nature alone -or- change us into a non-technology hippie commune -or- disable globalization. And - in addition, i think that the costs of mitigating many of the issues - rises in sea level and temperature changes in built-up areas are merely engineering problems to be overcome on budgets far less than what is spent in military adventure...

But, to think that the likely (huge, current, and ongoing) affect on agriculture, forestry, water-supply from glacier run-off and other such natural processes for which many of our cities depend (talking to you Australia, the American southwest, and China) is not comparable in crisis-level to world hunger, war, and poverty is shear lunacy. Billions have been pumped into all sorts of third-world countries with often negligible effects - aid does not fit into the mentality of these cultures. In many cases, the birth rate goes up in times of high aid and reduced drought -- even though it is a near lost cause - we should continue to persevere. The wonderful thing about concentrating talent on addressing climate change is that it alleviates other issues like energy, weather uncertainty, and raw material usage...

look not the gift horse in the mouth... sometimes you need to 'startle' people with tragedy just to get them to do things they wouldn't have done anyway... adversity is the mother of innovation/invention

The issue is not just whether or not global warming exists and whether or not it’s man made. There are other important issues that the Pew survey did not determine.

First, Carbon dioxide is Not a pollutant. But there is a Political Agenda to make it a pollutant, so that all industries can be controlled and regulated. So we have this political agenda distorting science, in order to create a universal control mechanism. The Administration pressured the EPA to include CO2 in their recent list of the real GHG pollutants: methane, sulfur hexaflouride, tetrafluoroethane, carbon monoxide, butane and nitrous oxide. And you should add to that one of the most important ones: Black Carbon Soot.

CO2 is embodied in the real pollutants, and if you control them, you will bring CO2 levels back into balance. It is naturally absorbed by plants, crops, forests, and algae and seaweed growing in vast bodies of water. The oceans are absorbing CO2 and releasing CO2 in a natural cycle. And in the process, algae and seaweed are mitigating massive quantities of CO2 that enter bodies of water. The algae that absorb CO2 either become part of the food chain, or they fall to the bottom, taking carbon to the bottom as well.

Second, Cap and Trade will “shock and damage” the economy with higher energy costs, which will make everything more expensive across the board. This will increase the cost of living and make it difficult to compete with other countries that don’t implement, such as India and China. We already have 10% unemployment, and millions of families and children are losing their homes. American Manufacturers estimate that 2 million more jobs will be lost if Cap and trade is implemented. Cap and Trade is Not in the best interests of the American People. It’s the wrong thing at the wrong time. This is a bigger issue for Americans, than whether or not global warming exists.

Copenhagen is a misery loves company dog and pony show. Since the EU implemented carbon trading, they damaged their competitive edge in world markets. Now they want all other countries to join them, in order to level the playing field. Hence the begging and pleading and the “Holier than Thou” attitude by the European Activists toward the U.S.. The U.S. should Not be pressured into something that doesn’t fit, by political agendas, foreign interests, or the fraudulent schemes of the global elite. They want a new form of wealth to play with – Carbon Certificates - that they can create out of nothing, trade offshore without oversight, and obfuscate over and over in the electronic realm.

Superficially regulating CO2 and flipping carbon certificates is a profit scheme - for those who are positioning themselves to get a “leg up” on the system. Cap and Trade is simply allowing polluters to keep polluting, at a higher cost, while Green companies make easy money on them. Then we all wind-up paying for it in higher energy and production costs and lost jobs.

Third, There are too many wild claims and too much data being twisted and manipulated to be believable. In 2008, temperatures in North American did not increase. They decreased. Over half of glaciers are Not receding. They’re growing. Ocean acidity varies dramatically from one location to another. The effects of global warming are not uniform, and therefore, we now have the term climate change. So how can CO2, which is more or less distributed evenly throughout the atmosphere be the main cause, if global warming is not uniform? The effect of GHG and especially Black Carbon Soot is much more of a factor around Urban Centers than it is in rural areas. There are other zones of concentration, such as shipping lanes, railroads, power plants, industrial zones, and interstate highways.

Wild Claims are also a factor. Earlier this year, the Administration issued a wild statement - warning of disasterous weather effects that would be caused by global warming. The fact is, we have had disasterous weather for ages, long before global warming was conceived. There is a credibility issue with wild claims, false assumptions, conflicting data, and manipulated information. Especially after Climate Gate.

Global Warmng vs Climate Change equals confusion. Which is it?

@ Aureon Kwolek:

There should never be an Economy vs. Environment debate - that way leads to polarization and simple answers to complex questions. This is like asking which of your own children you would sacrifice - an unwinnable, unacceptable, and impossible situation - for no good reason.
The answer lies upon a sophisticated path of compromises, new methods of 'dealing' with emissions, and goals that embrace the entire world's industries. There is no perfect solution, for the issues are complex and the scope massive. It is a shame that technologies are not being shared more worldwide in such a noble cause, which some may choose to refer to as pollution reduction or energy efficiency, if 'climate change' doesn't 'feel' right.

Whiny arguments like there are so and so number of americans out of work and such and such number of families losing their homes are products of other issues and a ridiculous american value system about finances and bankruptcy.

Americans should be grateful that they have held the mantle of world influence for so long. When we enter then next generation where many asian countries will have vast reserves of educated labour, outstanding work ethic (if somewhat unhealthy, with questionable living conditions) the US might find itself not controlling the flow of non-miltary technology, r&d, higher education, and a dynamic services industry. They have already lost industrial and raw material influence. Soon they will be subject to the values of a huge asian all-sectors powerhouse. At that point, the US will reminisce about its days of having US currency being a worldwide standard and having foreigners begging for aid, technology, and education. At that point they will be happy if they represent the third-rate, first-world rank of such as Japan.

Though I am not entirely convinced that terming CO2 a pollutant is ideal for addressing industry - a very heavy-handed approach. However, the idea of including it is a pollutant under the idea that it harms 'society as a whole' will certainly open up much needed influence against an overwhelmingly fat and lazy energy and manufacturing industry - i thought americans were supposed to be proud at having nimble companies and forward-thinking industry - hah! Though, the economy is fragile and a tight balancing act, the recent crises has done the country good at optimizing and slimming down outdated thinking. If americans are smart, they will embrace the challenge that is technological and research know-how in optimizing energy, manufacturing, transportation, and extraction industries rather than bi*ch and complain about how harmful and painful it will be. My, how the strong and unshakable have fallen. Perhaps we need to revise the star-spangled banner to encompass a more 'don't make me work hard or challenge me too much' type of mentality.

Let's check back here in ten years. I predict that 1/6 of today's deniers will be dead, 1/2 will have repented, and 1/3 will still be wearing tinfoil hats.

Sulleny,
i'll grant you a few valid pts. But i fail to see this global bureaucracy you claim. Unfortunately, that is what's required to fix the problem. All you gotta do is cross the border to Tijuana to what your world would look like with out building codes, engineering standards, air quality regs. It ain't pretty.
The first world (wealthy) has to set the standards, or there won't be any.
I agree that individuals and small teams will develop the technology to get us out of this hole but they will not create the regulations that are needed. That requires the dreaded "bureaucracy". Sorry.

Sulleny,
While "toward world health, poverty and hunger initiatives" is a noble cause, there has been little obstacle beyond committment to this end.
It does not require emergency measures to impliment.
Much aid money has been terribly misdirected by other agenda policies of donor govt's.
Unfortunately more by incompetency and design than any lack of hindsight.

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