|Yale University Project on
Climate Change Communication
...39% of people believe most scientists think global warming is happening while 38% believe there's a lot of disagreement between scientists. Nothing could be further from the truth, at least in the field of science where it matters most: climate science. Poll after poll has shown that almost 100% of climate scientists accept the evidence of climate change and believe we're the main cause. This shows a deep failure by the media to show the true nature of the debate.Among other findings of the study:
The two percent of researchers who aren't in agreement deserve to heard. But they do not deserve equal time in the media. Imagine if you owned 98% of a business but your less-knowledgeable partner with only two percent had as much sway as you. It's a ridiculous way to approach business and a ridiculous way to present such an important issue.
- 63% believe climate change is real; 19% think it is not happening and 19% aren't sure
- Half understand that climate change is primarily anthropogenic
- A third think that because the climate changed in the past, humans aren't causing it to change today
- Majorities still confuse "climate" with "weather"
- 35% think most scientists in the 1970s were predicting an ice age ("global cooling")
- 15% think the Earth is cooling today
- 18% think record snowstorms last winter disprove global warming
- 1 in 10 consider themselves "well-informed"
- 75% would like to know more about climate change
- 75% would like climate change taught in schools
- 88% get their information about climate change from TV
Lift their veil and they typically are funded by the fossil-fuel industry, long-retired climate scientists who have not published peer-reviewed papers for many years, or scientists who are experts but not necessarily in climate science.The occasional op-ed is helpful, but the media needs to do a better job on the news pages, not the opinion pages. Science is not an opinion, and, as a country, we have little hope of addressing the many pressing and complicated problems we face if we continue to grant ideology the same epistemic weight as we do evidence.
"If a doctor recommended that you undergo an innovative new surgical procedure, you might seek a second opinion, but you'd probably ask another surgeon," writes [James] Hoggan, a public-relations veteran who is also chairman of the David Suzuki Foundation [as well as co-author of Climate Change Cover-Up and founder of DeSmogBlog.com].
"You wouldn't check with your local carpenter, and you certainly wouldn't ask a representative of the drug company whose product would be rendered irrelevant if you had the operation."
Still, many journalists under deadline and without the time to verify credentials, journalists who do not follow climate science and the news around it, continue to give these so-called experts a soapbox to stand on. Even those with time to spare often offer up the soapbox out of some misplaced attempt at balance, giving the impression that the scientific community is deeply divided.