Updated: Sep 8, 2022
Over the past several weeks I’ve had good friends forward the same social media post that has, as we say today, “gone viral.” It is a post claiming that 1100 scientists and professionals are debunking the scientific consensus that climate change real, it’s driven by human behavior, and it poses significant danger to life on this planet as we know it. The post claims the current climate science is politically motivated and not actually grounded in hard science and empirical evidence. Dubbed the “World Climate Declaration,” it asserts that computer models showing the dangerous trajectory the earth is on are human-made and there is “no climate emergency.”
The Declaration’s top signatory, is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist named Ivar Giaever, giving the appearance of high credibility. However, Giaever Nobel won his Nobel with another scientist in 1973 for their discovery of electron tunneling in superconductors, not for anything remotely related to the study of global warming. “Looking at the list of signatories, there are a lot of engineers, medical doctors, and petroleum geologists and almost no actual climate scientists,” said Zeke Hausfather, a longtime research scientist at a non-partisan nonprofit that specializes in analyzing climate data. The 1100 scientists and professionals who signed the Declaration include many engineers, medical doctors, petroleum geologists and at least eight employees or former employees of oil giant Shell. It appears the signers have almost no climate science background. In fact, many are connected with the Climate Intelligence Foundation, or CLINTEL, a group that has well-documented ties to oil money and fossil fuel interest groups.
Is there really widespread skepticism about the fact that the planet is warming and that this is caused by human behaviors? The short answer is No. There are actually millions of scientists in the world, so finding 1100 people to challenge scientific consensus is statistically insignificant. Added to this is the fact that many of the 1100 are not scientists at all, much less climate scientists. There is a scientific consensus among climate scientists and national scientific academies in almost every country in the world. This consensus runs about 97 percent or better.
I have been writing for a healthcare company recently and have to use only “peer-reviewed” research to do my work. I can’t just write about my personal opinion or experience. The substance of my work comes from scientific research that has multiple authors, frequently from different academic communities. Their research is then duplicated by other researchers to poke holes in it and discover any weaknesses or anomalies. Skepticism is built into the system. The peer reviewed research around climate science is one of the most rigorously scrutinized enterprises in the world. Some would say it is THE most scrutinized. Research reveals that the scientific models that have been used to predict the weather since the 1970s are very close to real time temperatures. A 2013 study found that some 97 percent of peer-reviewed research on climate change was in agreement: rapid climate change is happening beyond what would be considered resulting from natural causes, and humans are largely responsible. And in 2021, another study, this one published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, analyzed 88,125 peer-reviewed studies on climate change and found that a jaw-dropping 99.9 percent of them came to the same conclusion as the 2013 study.
We should all know by now to use a critical eye when reading scientific materials on social media platforms. There are big money corporations that are heavily invested in shaping public opinion to support their industries. They often use think tanks and non-profits to do their bidding. These think tanks and non-profits are populated by humans who are eager to promote their causes. So when you read reports by “climate change deniers,” be diligent. Follow the money. See who is funding the writer or group. And seek the most credible sources of information, so you can be fully and properly informed. When it comes to climate news, I encourage you to do your own fact checking through great website called skepticalscience.com. If you would like to ask me questions, I will consult with the scientists connected to C3 and get back to you with information you can trust. We are living in days of disinformation, so be careful as you do your own research.