Scepticism is having a questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts. All scientists are sceptics – not making claims without supporting evidence and systematically seeking evidence before supporting or debunking the claims of others.
Climate science is a very complex field, involving the long-term study of interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, lakes, land, snow, ice, forests, and the effects of the sun, volcanoes, air pollutants and more. To be sceptical of human-caused global warming, you need the expertise of a climate scientist in order to interpret the evidence and find it wanting.
While there are still a few climate scientists who are sceptical that we are causing global warming, their numbers are declining as the sheer weight of evidence becomes so compelling. Currently less than 3% of scientists working in the fields of climate science question that humans are the dominant cause of global warming since the mid 20th century.
Deniers are non-experts who pose as sceptics, refusing to accept the consensus conclusions of climate scientists. They typically employ rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in reality there is none.
Most people are prepared to defer to the judgment of experts and they trust climate scientists on the subject of global warming. However, vested interests have long realized this and engaged in a campaign to misinform the public about the scientific consensus.
A memo leaked in 2002 advised US Republicans, “Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific uncertainty a primary issue in the debate”
Gina Rinehart played a part in this campaign; sponsoring prominent denier Christopher Monkton to travel to Australia, spreading his conspiracy theories that human-caused climate change is a left-wing plot to bring down the West.
The media has assisted in this public misconception, with most climate stories “balanced” with a “sceptical” perspective. However, this makes 3% seem like 50%. In trying to achieve “balance”, the media has actually created a very unbalanced perception of reality.
As a result, people believe scientists are still split about what’s causing global warming, and therefore there is not nearly enough public support or motivation to solve the problem.
There are no national or major scientific institutions anywhere in the world that dispute the theory of human-caused climate change. Not one.
In the field of climate science, the consensus is undeniable: human activities are causing climate change.
Global Warming Denial is Big Tobacco all over again, but this time the stakes are much higher.