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OPINION

New Poll of Scientists Dispels Myth of Climate Change Consensus

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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PETER DEJONG

According to a new poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University and sponsored by The Heartland Institute, the percentage of earth scientists who believe that anthropogenic climate change will “significantly harm” standard of living in our lifetimes is far lower than previously reported. The poll found that only 59 percent of earth scientists hold this view, a far cry from the fallacious 97 percent figure frequently cited in the mainstream media and academia, and other estimates that range up to 100 percent.

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Even among the 59 percent of scientists who expect significant harm at some point in our lifetimes, the term “significant harm” is a far cry from the term “crisis” that is often employed by climate activists and the media.

The results show 30 percent of those polled said climate change will produce only “slight harm” to our living standards, while 8 percent stated they believe our standard of living will improve or remain unchanged due to climate change.

The poll of 400 meteorologists, climatologists, geologists, and other scientists uncovered new ground by asking what percentage of climate change is attributable to human activity, as well as its impact on standard of living and recent changes in severe weather events. Its findings destroy the assertion that scientists uniformly believe government intervention is needed to prevent a climate change catastrophe.

The poll also found that the scientists who do believe in significant anthropogenic climate change harm are much more likely to hold demonstrably false beliefs about the frequency and severity of severe weather events during recent years.

For instance, 41 percent said the “frequency” of severe weather events (such as hurricanesextreme drought, and wildfires) have increased “significantly” in recent years while 58 percent believe such events have increased “slightly” or (correctly) not at all. 

In reality, objective data show hurricanes have become less frequent in recent years, wildfires have become less frequent in recent years, droughts have become less frequent in recent years, and tornadoes have become less frequent in recent years.

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The poll also revealed significant discrepancies in climate change beliefs based on age and other factors. Among respondents with the most experience observing weather events and climate – those aged over 50 years old – only 44 percent believe that climate change would significantly harm standard of living in our lifetimes. Respondents over 50 years old also were the least likely to falsely believe that severe weather events have significantly increased, at 38 percent. These age-dependent results bring into question how much young scientists are being taught climate science via speculative climate models versus verifiable climate observations.

Prior to this new Fairleigh Dickinson/Heartland Institute poll, climate activists have asserted there is a “97-percent consensus” of scientists who agree humans are causing dangerous climate change or a climate crisis. In reality, the asserted 97-percent consensus refers to just a few surveys, which have their own methodological flaws, that merely ask whether the planet has warmed and if humans have played a role. Neither warmer nor cooler temperatures constitute a severe problem or a crisis if they present net benefits or merely slight harm. This new poll obliterates the notion that 97 percent of scientists believe we are facing a severe climate crisis.

With the mid-term elections just days away, it interesting to note that the vast majority of Americans do not think climate change is a pressing issue. Despite the non-stop drum beat of climate change alarmism, most Americans agree that the problem is likely overhyped and they would prefer that elected officials focus on solving actual problems that very much impact their standard of living.

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The Biden administration's anti-energy policies are especially egregious in light of these findings. It is little wonder that voters increasingly are turning against Biden, thanks in large part to his energy policies, which are estimated to be costing the American public $100 billion every year, equaling nearly $1,000 in costs per American household. In the absence of a true scientific consensus, as this new poll demonstrates, government policies based on an anthropogenic climate change catastrophe must be rejected out of hand.

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute

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