Washington: More than 99.9 per cent of peer-reviewed scientific papers agree that climate change is mainly caused by human activities, according to a review of over 88,000 studies.
The research, published on Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, updates a similar 2013 paper showing that 97 per cent of studies published between 1991 and 2012 supported the idea that human activities are altering Earth’s climate.
The current survey examines the literature published from 2012 to November 2020 to explore whether the consensus has changed.
“We are virtually certain that the consensus is well over 99 per cent now and that it’s pretty much case closed for any meaningful public conversation about the reality of human-caused climate change,” said Mark Lynas, a visiting fellow at Cornell University, US, and the paper’s first author.
“It’s critical to acknowledge the principal role of greenhouse gas emissions so that we can rapidly mobilise new solutions, since we are already witnessing in real time the devastating impacts of climate related disasters on businesses, people and the economy,” said Benjamin Houlton from Cornell, a co-author of the study.
The researchers noted that in spite of such results, public opinion polls as well as opinions of politicians and public representatives point to false beliefs and claims that a significant debate still exists among scientists over the true cause of climate change.
Initially, the study examined a random sample of 3,000 studies from the dataset of 88,125 English-language climate papers published between 2012 and 2020.
They found only four out of the 3,000 papers were skeptical of human-caused climate change.
“We knew that (climate skeptical papers) were vanishingly small in terms of their occurrence, but we thought there still must be more in the 88,000,” Lynas said.
Study co-author Simon Perry, a volunteer at the Alliance for Science based at Cornell, created an algorithm that searched out keywords from papers the team knew were skeptical, such as “solar,” “cosmic rays” and “natural cycles.
The algorithm was applied to all 88,000-plus papers, and the programme ordered them so the skeptical ones came higher in the order.
They found many of these dissenting papers near the top, as expected, with diminishing returns further down the list. Overall, the search yielded 28 papers that were implicitly or explicitly skeptical, all published in minor journals.
If the 97 per cent result from the 2013 study still left some doubt on scientific consensus on the human influence on climate, the current findings go even further to allay any uncertainty, Lynas said.
“This pretty much should be the last word,” he added.
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