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05/24/2013

What scientists say about global warming, and what people think

A vast majority of climate change scientists say global warming is mainly man-made but a widespread public belief that experts are divided is making it harder to gain support for policies to curb climate change, a new international study shows.

The new survey of nearly 12,000 scientific papers on climate change show that 97 per cent of scientists agree that climate change is happening because of human activities. Experts studied 4,000 summaries of peer-reviewed papers in journals giving a view about climate change since the early 1990s and found that the majority said it was mainly caused by humans.

In the U.S., opinion polls have indicated that as many as 60 per cent of people believe there is a significant disagreement among scientists about whether global warming was happening or not.

Similarly, 57 per cent of the Americans either disagreed or were unaware that scientists agree that the Earth is very likely warming due to human activity.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. It was led by John Cook of the University of Queensland in Australia.

“There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception,” Cook said in a statement. “When people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they're more likely to support policies that take action on it.”

The peer-reviewed scientific literature provides a ground level assessment of the degree of consensus among publishing scientists, the authors wrote.

Raveena Aulakh is the Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term, and wildlife. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

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Fortunately, the public's opinion is what counts. Who cares what a bunch of egg head scientists think anyway?

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