Big Scientific Debate Exists

The idea that a big scientific disagreement exists regarding global warming is one of the most persistent and erroneous claims used to delay taking action. For more than a decade, the overwhelming majority of scientists have agreed on the key elements of the problem:

328 Part Vl: The Part of Tens i The planet is and has been warming, and it will continue to warm for the foreseeable future.

i The warming isn't happening because of natural factors alone; it's largely due to human activity — burning oil, coal, and gas, and destroying forests.

i The impacts of the climate changes that are happening because of rising temperature are serious and represent a significant threat, requiring global action.

The media spotlights many scientists who claim that doubt exists within the scientific community regarding global warming. Very few scientists foster that appearance of debate, and those who do are by and large not active in the field of climate research. Cigarette companies used similar tactics, finding doctors to dispute that smoking caused lung cancer. Al Gore even uses an old cigarette ad that shows doctors recommending a particular brand of cigarette in the documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most credible source of climate-related information; their reports reflect consensus among the scientific community. If anything, the IPCC underestimates the severity of the risk of the coming climate crisis.

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