The overwhelming majority of research points to human activity as the cause of climate change, according to a new study.
The results are in stark contrast to some commonly held public opinions about the science of climate change.
Out of 4000 published scientific papers that state a position on the cause of climate change, over 97 per cent agree that climate change is driven by human activity.
However one poll by the Pew Research Centre in the USA showed that that more than half of Americans either disagree, or are unaware, that scientists overwhelmingly agree that the Earth is warming because of human activity.
This highlights the huge mismatch between the current public perceptions and the overwhelming scientific view that human activity is driving climate change
– Professor Sir Brian Hoskins
Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change
The new study, which evaluates research over the last 21 years, was published in the Institute of Physics Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters.
Commenting on the study, Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change said:
"This highlights the huge mismatch between the current public perceptions and the overwhelming scientific view that human activity is driving climate change.
"It is worrying that the public believe a large proportion of scientists are sceptical of man-made climate change when the number is in reality extremely small.
"Humankind is performing a dangerous experiment with the earth's climate and that is why a greater sense of urgency about tackling climate change is needed."
John Cook from the University of Queensland, and lead author of the study, said:
"Our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary.
"There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and the public perception. It's staggering given the evidence for consensus that less than half of the general public think scientists agree that humans are causing global warming.
"This is significant because when people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they're more likely to support policies that take action on it."
Co-author of the study Mark Richardson, from the University of Reading, said:
"We want our scientists to answer questions for us, and there are lots of exciting questions in climate science. One of them is: are we causing global warming? We found over 4000 studies written by 10 000 scientists that stated a position on this, and 97 per cent said that recent warming is mostly man made."
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