Is There a Scientific Consensus on the Causes of Global Warming?

Do the experts agree that human activities, such as burning fossil fuels like coal and oil, will cause dangerous global warming?

To answer this question it is best to take a look at what the scientists actually say about the greenhouse effect. The scientific portion of the report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that a human-caused global warming 100 years from now might be as high as 3.5 degrees C  – a significant increase – or as low as 1 degree C.  A one degree C warming over a century is comparable to the climate changes commonly encountered in nature. In other words, the IPCC scientists agree that the warming 100 years from now will be somewhere between important and unimportant. This is a consensus of sorts, but of no value for setting public policy on limits to burning coal and oil.

What is more, the whole idea of a “scientific consensus” betrays a misunderstanding of science itself. Scientific truth is not determined by a vote. The history of science shows that widely held opinions among scientists are often overturned by research and observation.  Last month the Nobel Prize was given to Stanley Prusiner for his theory on brain disease that was once greeted with derision by a majority of his colleagues.

Observation is the test of scientific truth. So far, observations of the earth?s temperature has not revealed signs of a human-induced global warming.

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