Social Decision Making and Sustainability

Purdue Study: Climate Change Consensus Extends Beyond Climate Scientists

It’s long been known that the majority of active, publishing climate scientists believe in anthropogenic climate change, but what about scientists outside that realm?

Now, a Purdue University-led survey of nearly 700 U.S. scientists from non-climate disciplines shows that more than 90 percent believe that average global temperatures are higher than pre-1800s levels and that human activity has significantly contributed to the rise.

The study is the first to show that consensus on human-caused climate change extends beyond climate scientists to the broader scientific community, says Linda Prokopy, a professor of natural resource social science and member of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center executive committee.

“Our survey indicates that an overwhelming majority of scientists across disciplines believe in anthropogenic climate change, are highly certain of these beliefs and find climate science to be credible,” Prokopy says. “Our results also suggest that scientists who are climate change skeptics are well in the minority.”

In 2014, Prokopy and fellow researchers conducted a survey of scientists from more than 10 non-climate disciplines at Big Ten universities to determine the relative prevalence of belief in, and skepticism of, climate change in the scientific community.

Of 698 respondents, about 94 percent said they believe average global temperatures have “generally risen” compared with pre-1800 levels, and 92 percent said they believe “human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures.”

The Purdue Climate Change Research Center and the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources provided funding for the research.

- Natalie van Hoose, Purdue News Service

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