Meteorologists and economic geologists join other earth scientists in believing humans cause most climate change

Among scientists, there is now near-universal agreement on the link between human activity and climate change. But politicians still point to false beliefs that there is significant debate on this point among scientists.

More than 99.9% of peer-reviewed scientific papers now agree that climate change is mainly caused by humans, according to a new survey of 88,125 climate-related studies, and the earth scientists who have been the most skeptical, meteorologists and economic geologists, are now firmly on board.

Research at Cornell University updates a 2013 paper which found 97% of studies published between 1991 and 2012 supported the idea that human activities are altering Earth’s climate. “It’s pretty much case closed for any meaningful public conversation about the reality of human-caused climate change,” said Mark Lynas, a visiting fellow at Cornell’s Alliance for Science and first author of the study, which published Oct. 19 in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Another paper in the journal reveals that very few meteorologists and economic geologists remain skeptical that humans have caused most climate change. The 2019 survey showed that geologists had the lowest level of consensus, with 84.1% agreeing, but that was way up from 47% in 2009. Likewise, meteorologists’ agreement rose from 64% to 91% in the 2019 study.

“Scientific support for the link between human activity and climate change has strengthened to the extent that there is now near-universal agreement,” says the Institute of Physics. “In 1996, reports hedged statements with phrases such as ‘the balance of evidence suggests’. This evolved to ‘It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century’ and the more recent observation that ‘Human influence on the climate system is now an established fact’,” as stated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Of the 10,929 earth scientists invited to take the survey, 2,780 responded, and 91 said the Earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity. In 2009, those saying so were 80%. “All of the most actively publishing climate experts — those who had published 20 or more climate papers each between 2015 and 2019 — accept that global warming is human-caused,” the Institute of Physics said.

In spite of such results, public opinion polls, as well as opinions of politicians and public representatives, point to false beliefs and claims that a significant debate still exists among scientists over the true cause of climate change. In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that only 27% of U.S. adults believe ‘almost all’ scientists agreed climate change is due to human activity, according to the paper. A 2021 Gallup poll pointed to a deepening partisan divide in American politics on whether Earth’s rising observed temperatures since the Industrial Revolution were primarily caused by humans.

Meteorologists and economic geologists join other earth scientists in believing humans cause most climate change

The Rural Blog

The Rural Blog is a publication of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues based at the University of Kentucky.