13 April 2016

A University of Queensland social scientist has confirmed 97 per cent of climate scientists agree global warming is caused by people.

UQ Global Change Institute scholar John Cook has brought together the authors of seven previous research studies into scientific agreement on climate change.

He said the research, published today in Environmental Research Letters, found the higher the scientific expertise in climate science, the higher the agreement that global warming is caused by humans.

“Global warming is ultimately responsible for increasing temperatures, more severe storms and drought, as well as everything that goes with that,” Mr Cook said.

“We need to find ways to address it, so future generations can enjoy everything that we enjoy now.

“The progress made at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris late last year indicates that countries are now well and truly behind the scientific consensus too.

“It has been studies like this that have compelled politicians and policy-makers to act on climate change – and the Paris Accord is testament to that action.”

Mr Cook said research showed only 15 per cent of Australians were aware there was such strong scientific agreement in this area. 

In a 2013 research project, he found more than 97 per cent of expert climate scientists agreed global warming was caused by humans.

US President Barack Obama re-tweeted that information by to his 31 million followers.

Research co-author Professor Naomi Oreskes from Harvard University said the previous study had been heavily criticised, with critics claiming the number was much lower than 97 per cent.

“Non-expert opinion and making unsupported assumptions can hugely impact the findings,” she said.

“However, with multiple studies finding consistent high levels of scientific agreement, we are confident the debate can now be put to bed.”

Mr Cook said he hoped this latest finding, which he has termed “consensus on consensus”, will enable scientists to focus on the real work – addressing climate change.

“Global warming is the most serious issue of our age, and now scientists, engineers, and business and political leaders can focus their efforts on addressing it,” he said.


Media: GCI Climate Communication Fellow John Cook, 07 3365 3553; GCI Communications and Engagement Manager Anna Moloney, 07 3443 3148.