Over the past few days, fact-checkers have been kept busy debunking this statement from Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), on why he doesn’t believe that humans are heating the planet: “I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”
It’s not a tricky argument to dismiss. In 2010, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a survey of 1,372 climate researchers, finding that 97 to 98 percent of those publishing in the field said they believe humans are causing global warming. That’s the same majority that existed in a similar 2009 survey. Dissenters do exist, the PNAS study found, but “the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced … are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.” Either way, the ranks of dissenters don’t appear to be swelling. (When contacted by the Washington Post, the Perry campaign responded with links to news stories that, reporter Glenn Kessler concluded, were “anecdotal in nature.”)
Still, it’s worth adding one overlooked point to all this fact-checking. It’s not just that Perry’s wrong. In many ways, the field of climate science is moving in precisely the opposite direction that he’s suggesting.
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