Do 97% of climate scientists believe in climate change?

I’ve just read my dozenth or so column where the author lambasted his poor readers for not “believing in climate change.” My thoughts on the subject have been difficult to put into 140 characters due to the branching nature of the questions and conclusions, so I decided to make a flowchart outlining my thoughts on how most of us may experience the conversation of climate change and what ought to be done about it.

Do 97% of climate scientists believe “yes” to the final portion of this chart? Of course not, but that’s what your neighbor expects you to believe when they say it over a beer while playing pool. It’s an emotional argument and an appeal to authority. It’s designed to end debate like a MOAB.

The 97% could be saying “yes” to the first question on the chart, or the fourth question on the chart, and that would make total sense, but it’s far from the only question. In additon, the scientific method avoids “belief” in things that aren’t consistently reproducible. Climate models and predictions routinely fail over and over again. Is it that the believed consequences of our collective inaction have caused stoics to turn into zealots?

It’s my belief that absent generalized political associations or dogma that each of us would move through some process like this to determine our course of action. At each diamond shaped question, I believe some percentage of people choose “no” and thus become what many will call “climate deniers.” I think the same people that would bandy about a pejorative will inevitably be the same people who get all the way to the very end deciding that any action at any cost is preferable.

I’m fine with people concluding that, by the way. I have quite liberal friends and I can appreciate their sense of dread at what they believe to be our inevitable destruction at our own hands. For myself, I’m more doubtful. If this were a trial, and I had to condemn a man to death with 100% certainty and I had to move through a chart like this I would never be able to pull the lever. There are too many variables and possibilities vs. the ultimate cost of what many would like us to do: give sweeping powers to governments, both domestic and international and impose regulations, taxes, and fines on all areas of life. In my opinion, it’s simply a bridge too far.


Conversely, if you find yourself getting to the end and you take any issue with my layout or construction, please don’t hesitate to comment or drop me a line and let me know. I only worked on this for about 30 minutes and I’m certain it’s far from complete or wholly representative of the views of my cohorts that find themselves on the left side of the political aisle.