Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature

John Cook, Dana Nuccitelli, Sarah A. Green, Mark Richardson, Barbel Winkler, Rob Painting, Robert Way, Peter Jacobs, Andrew Skuce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

571 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991-2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors' self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number024024
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • anthropogenic global warming
  • global climate change
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • peer-review
  • scientific consensus

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