Top Story: April 22, 2010

Agreeing on Climate Change

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Scientists disagree all the time.  Take the article in Science magazine last week about the latest South African fossil find:  some scientists believe it belongs to an australopithecine (think Lucy), while others believe it belongs to a belongs to a species even more closely related to modern humans.  A detail?  Perhaps, but for scientists, disagreements are a way of life.

“It’s important that scientists disagree. We’re trained to be skeptical, to be critical, “ according to the Academy’s own Peter Roopnarine, PhD, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology. “It’s actually when they agree that it’s significant. And there’s overwhelming agreement in the scientific community about global warming.”

In fact, according to this New York Times article, “nearly 90 percent of some 3,000 climatologists who responded agreed that there was evidence of human-driven climate change, 80 percent of all earth scientists and 64 percent of meteorologists agreed with the statement.” (What’s up with meteorologists? Find out here.)

Climate deniers may argue that scientists don’t agree on the science behind global warming, but overall, they do.  As seen in so-called “Climategate,” the arguments within the emails weren’t about the science, but about how to proceed with the findings and how to communicate the details. As published earlier this week, the science discussed in the emails was reviewed by other scientists and found to be sound, to be true.

Let the scientists disagree about the South African hominid skull. As Dr. Roopnarine points out, it wouldn’t be such a big deal if we were talking about an ancient clam.

But Earth? And humanity’s future on it? That is a big deal. And when it comes to climate change, scientists find plenty to agree on.

comments

  • Molly

    A great blog post today by the Bad Astronomer (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/). A quick quote: “Many of you claim to be skeptics. Well then, be skeptical, but be real skeptics. I am, and always have been — I’ve examined the claims, the science, and the techniques, and have come to the conclusion that global warming is real, and that humans are overwhelmingly the most likely cause of its recent acceleration.”

  • alcapone9

    or maybe it belongs to a new race of hobbit humans

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