I'm John Cook, and I'm here as part of my 97 Hours of Consensus project to make more people aware of the overwhelming scientific agreement on climate change. Every hour for 97 straight hours, I'm sending out a playful caricature of a climate scientist, along with a statement from them about climate change. You can watch the progress at our interactive 97 hours site,, on Twitter @skepticscience (where you'll also see my proof tweet) and the Skeptical Science Facebook page.

Our quotes/caricatures will also be posters in the Science Stands climate march, featuring scientists who are taking part in the largest climate march in history!

To give you plenty of ammo for questions, here is some more background:

I'm the climate communication research fellow with the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland. In 2007, I created Skeptical Science, a website debunking climate misinformation with peer-reviewed science. The website won the 2011 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge.

I was lead-author of the paper Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature, published in 2013 in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The paper was tweeted by President Obama, is the most downloaded paper in the 80 journals published by the Institute of Physics and was awarded the best paper in Environmental Research Letters in 2013.

I co-authored the online booklet The Debunking Handbook, a popular booklet translated into 7 languages that offers a practical guide to effectively refuting misinformation. I also co-authored the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand and the college textbook Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis.

I'm currently in England finishing my PhD in cognitive psychology, researching the psychology of climate change and how to neutralise the influence of misinformation. While in England, I’m also giving a talk at the University of Bristol about my consensus research on Friday 19 September.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. I ended up spending over 3 hours answering questions (I was thinking 1 or 2 max) and I think I've hit my limit. If you want to hear more and happen to be in the neighbourhood, I'll be talking at the University of Bristol on 19 September. And be sure to keep track of the 97 Hours of Consensus which is not even halfway through yet so plenty more quote and caricatures to come. Follow them via Twitter @skepticscience.

Comments: 2801 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

moderatemormon198 karma

Who is the person or group that has single-handedly done the most damage to the public's understanding of climate change?

What event would you classify as the single most important in the climate change debate?

Given the influence of developing nations on the environment, what is a realistic evaluation of our ability to reverse the harmful climate changes we're experiencing? (assuming little or no ability to influence those same developing nations)

SkepticalScience233 karma

The group that has done the most damage, in my opinion, is political ideologues. Whether they're financed directly by vested interests or whether they act for personal motives, it is climate denial motivated by political ideology that has driven the public controversy about climate change, when there is controversy about human-caused global warming amongst the climate science community.

Most important event in the climate debate? I'd say #97Hours but it might be too early to say. Ask me again in 66 hours :-)

I think we do possess the ability to reverse harmful climate change impacts. But mustering the political will to do so is very difficult. That's why it's crucially important that all of us talk to our friends, families, elected officials about the realities of climate change and why this issue is important to us.

mrkmpa117 karma

Quick question about the amount of time that we have been accurately measuring the data. It seems like we only have had the ability to measure temperature from space in the last 40-50 years.

Is it possible that the sample amount is too small to make any conclusive statements about something as grand as the weather patterns on earth?

It seems like the scientists were asked to gauge the state of a country long interstate highway and decided to look at 100ft of it in downtown Brooklyn.

Im not challenging the data itself, just the amount of it we collect to get a clearer picture of how the earth's climate changes.

SkepticalScience155 karma

We use proxies for temperature from ice cores, stalagmites, tree-rings, lake sediments, etc to build a picture of climate change over millions of years. So we have an enormous amount of data spanning much of the history of the Earth.

Nevertheless, even the data collected over the past 40-50 years (i.e., the satellite record) paints a strikingly consistent picture of a human intervention on our climate. We've observed many human fingerprints through the climate. I mention a few in another comment but a more comprehensive list is available at http://sks.to/agw

evilled99 karma

Hello, how do you respond to criticisms of your paper? Notably the points about sample size and methodology raised over on the wattsupwiththat website by Anthony Watts? http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/13/more-pear-shaped-trouble-for-john-cooks-97-consensus/ http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/08/29/a-psychologists-scathing-review-of-john-cooks-97-consensus-nonsensus-paper/

SkepticalScience148 karma

As I said elsewhere (several times), attacks on our consensus paper studiously avoid the fact that our 97.1% consensus was independently confirmed by the 97.2% consensus from the authors of the climate papers. This applies to both links you provide.

evilled24 karma

Thank you for the list of reading material. I am working my way through it now. I try to look at both sides of issues and was a bit skeptical of a 97% consensus on something that has so many variables in play. Having read arguments and counterarguments for physics papers it can sometimes be hard to get people to agree on a simple thing like lunch, let alone a complex scientific subject. BTW, I don't deny climate change occurs. I do find it somewhat hard to accept that mankind has a major impact on it compared the numerous other natural sources of greenhouse gasses and the effects of solar output. Thus I try to read the papers from all sides.

SkepticalScience56 karma

In several other comments in this thread, I talk about the many lines of evidence for human-caused global warming. Similarly, a number of independent studies using different methods have found an overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming. A 2009 survey of Earth scientists by Peter Doran found 97% consensus among actively publishing climate scientists. A 2010 analysis of public statements on climate change found 97% consensus among climate scientists who had published peer-reviewed climate papers. Our paper found 97% consensus in two independent ways. An overlooked paper in 2010 by Uri Shwed used citation analysis to find consensus formed on climate change in the early 1990s (our paper found the same thing). So the consensus on climate change is robust and confirmed by a number of independent studies.

intrepid_wanders35 karma

Hi John.

José Duarte has done a considerable amount of research into your paper and has found at least "three acts of fraud". Would you like to clear those issues up?

Thank you kindly.

SkepticalScience81 karma

The common thread in all criticisms of our consensus paper is that the 97.1% consensus that we measured from abstracts is biased or inaccurate in some way. Every one of these criticisms fails to address the fact that the authors of those climate papers independently provided 97.2% consensus.

This is clear evidence that attacks on our paper are not made in good faith.

icyrock121 karma


SkepticalScience50 karma

A student at the University of Western Australia recently told me that the Debunking Handbook that I co-authored with Stephan Lewandowsky was a feature of their first year curriculum. He asked how I felt about that. I replied that I felt pretty bloody good about it.

I don't particularly like it when people misunderstand my work, although in many cases, they seem to be willfully misunderstanding it.

two_off16 karma

Why does the media get away with giving as much or more air time to people saying that there is no climate change?

Do you have any caricatures that you didn't publish because they were a bit (or way) over-the-top that you could share here?

Do you have any caricatures/quotes of the non-scientists that get more press and airtime for their opposing views?

SkepticalScience43 karma

The mainstream media give climate deniers a disproportionate amount of media time for several reasons. Firstly, controversy and conflict make for good drama. Secondly, journalists feel obligated to give both sides of a debate equal say in order to appear balanced. This works fine in cases of opinion but not so much in cases of fact. For example, giving equal weight between an astronaut and a flat earther doesn't make sense. Similarly, giving equal weight between a climate scientist and an unqualified science denier does not give an accurate picture of the state of the science. Ironically, in attempting to appear balanced, journalists inadvertently paint a distort picture of the science.

I don't have any caricatures of non-scientists - for #97Hours, the ground rule was everyone had to be a scientist who have research climate change or the impacts of climate change.

thingsbreak13 karma

  • Who was your favorite scientist to draw for the 97 hours campaign?

  • Why is it important that the public understands the overwhelming consensus that humans are causing global warming?

  • What is your favorite conspiracy theory about your own work, or in general about climate science?

SkepticalScience19 karma

Favorite scientist to draw was definitely Raymond Pierrehumbert. Before I drew him, I knew his name and his work but had never seen a picture of him. When I searched for him on Google Images and his photo came, a big smile broke out on my face.

It's important that the public is aware of the 97% consensus because when people are aware that climate scientists agree on human-caused global warming, then they're more likely to support climate action. Perceived consensus is one of the biggest predictors of support for policies to mitigate climate change. Unfortunately, the public currently think the scientific consensus is around 60%. This is a big problem because this "consensus gap" is a roadblock delaying climate action. Closing the consensus gap is the goal of #97Hours.

My favourite conspiracy theory about my work is a conspiracy that myself and Stephan Lewandowsky are the head of a global climate activist operation centred at the University of Western Australia (UWA). What I love about it was how the conspiracy got more convoluted - it was revealed by a blog commenter that it was actually a UWA Maths Professor, Kevin Judd, who was the overlord and puppetmaster of this global conspiracy. It was so out-of-left-field, it continues to make me laugh.

flexstinesz11 karma

Why did you change your profession from cartoonist?

SkepticalScience27 karma

I have a medical condition called shiny ball syndrome. When I see a shiny ball, I start following it. Working on Skeptical Science began as a spare time hobby. As I learnt more about the science, I realised climate change is a social justice issue. It's not just about polar bears, it's about people. So I spent more and more time on the issue, and less and less time on cartooning. Eventually it got to the point where I had to make a hard decision. I decided to concentrate my time working to preserve the world I was handing over to my daughter.

TheMisterAce11 karma

What are some other of your hobbies/things you like to do?

SkepticalScience71 karma

You had to ask, didn't you? (all the USA Skeptical Science team members have just groaned and facepalmed)

I am an extreme cricket tragic. On the Skeptical Science forum, I often talk cricket with other forum members from cricketing nations. The North Americans go crazy when we start talking about googlies and silly mid off. Earlier this year, I traveled to England for research purposes and while there, had the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream and play a game of English club cricket. I got to take 3 English wickets and open the batting with a fellow Skeptical Science team member - the perfect day of cricket :-)

SkepticalScience18 karma

Nice to see the cricket comment get lots of up-votes :-)

smouy10 karma

Our climate changes all the time. How can you be sure that it is human caused?

SkepticalScience60 karma

We know humans are causing global warming because we observe many human fingerprints all over our climate. Satellites measure less heat escaping to space at the exact wavelengths that CO2 absorbs heat. Surface measurements observe more heat returning back to the Earth, another human fingerprint. The upper atmosphere is cooling at the same time that the lower atmosphere is warming, which is a pattern consistent with greenhouse warming.

The kicker is that when you put all these fingerprints together, not only do they confirm greenhouse warming, they also rule out other possible natural drivers such as the sun or internal variability.

orcabait7 karma

Has any of the critics of your 97% paper come up with an alternative number they think is more accurate? It is one thing to critique your methods but a true scientific response would be to replicate and get what they think are more accurate results.

SkepticalScience13 karma

Unfortunately noone has tried to replicate our analysis. We actually encouraged people to replicate our analysis on the day our consensus paper was published, by released an online interactive webpage that allowed users to view the climate paper's abstracts and rate the level of endorsement. When we read through the thousands of climate papers, we were struck by the depth and diversity of the research into climate change. We wanted others to go through the same experience.

The URL for this interacting rating page is http://skepticalscience.com/tcp.php?t=rate_papers

mutatron7 karma

Climate deniers claim the 97% data was doctored, or "Cooked" as they say, and there are blog posts which claim to dissect and debunk it. What was the methodology of determining the 97% agreement?

edit: I see there are a lot of other similar questions. If you pass on this one, I'll read the others. Mainly I want to know how to debunk the "debunking" of the debunking in one or two sentences.

SkepticalScience30 karma

We found 97% consensus in two ways. Firstly, we rated 21 years of climate abstracts, identified all the abstracts that stated one way or the other whether humans were causing global warming. Among those abstracts, we found 97.1% endorsed the consensus.

Secondly, we asked the scientists who wrote the papers to rate their own papers. Among the papers self-rated as stating a position on human-caused global warming, 97.2% endorsed the consensus.

Critics of our paper, who claim the data was doctored, avoid the independent self-ratings like the plague.

theradioschizo28 karma

The claim that the 97% number is doctored is because while the number is true, it's also not the complete picture.

When they assessed their findings, it was out of 11,944 papers that mention climate change or global warming. Of that total, there were 4,014 papers that expressed a position on the cause of climate change. 97% of the 4,014 papers endorsed the idea of man-made climate change.

So 7,930 papers were not included in the percentage because those papers did not express any position on whether or not climate change is man made. Of the total papers examined, 34% endorsed the idea of man made climate change.

It's not technically doctored, but that's probably where the complaints are stemming from.

SkepticalScience50 karma

This is a great question. In 2007, Naomi Oreskes predicted that as the consensus strengthens, you should expect to see more papers not even bother to mention the consensus. After all, you don't see many astronomy papers mention that the Earth revolves around the sun.

Our paper confirmed Oreskes' prediction. We found that over the 21 year period from 1991 to 2011, the consensus strengthened among papers stating a position on human-caused global warming. At the same time, the proportion of papers not expressing a position on human-caused global warming increased. So as the consensus strengthened, more papers didn't bother to mention the consensus.

CollinMaessen6 karma

On the subject of the 97% consensus paper:

  • What do you think is the least understood part from it?
  • What do you consider the least highlighted interesting finding?
  • What was the silliest attack on the paper?

SkepticalScience19 karma

The least understood part is the fact that we invited the scientists who wrote the climate papers to rate their own papers. This was a way to independently check our results. Rating the abstracts of each paper ourselves, we found 97.1% consensus among relevant abstracts. When scientists rated their own papers, they produced 97.2% consensus among relevant papers.

The least highlighted part is the same - critics of our paper avoid the self-rating confirmation of our own ratings at all costs.

The silliest attack is the same thing - accusing our 97.1% of being biased or due to fatigue (huh?) when the scientists themselves confirm our ratings.

motersk3136 karma

What are the consequences when the predicted vulcano in the norths will erupt(forgot the country). How do you think the media will react and what kind of theories the people come up with, in constrast to the scientists?

Edit: my English sucks, yesh..

SkepticalScience22 karma

In terms of CO2, it's trivial compared to the amount of CO2 emitted by humans. Generally, humans emit at least 100 times more CO2 than all the volcanoes on the planet.

So the last huge eruption from Iceland (from that volcano with the unpronounceable name) grounded so many flights, that the CO2 saved by the grounded flights was more than the CO2 emitted by the volcano. It was possibly the first ever carbon neutral eruption in Earth's history.

_ralph_6 karma

Did you recieve any/much ad hominem?

SkepticalScience20 karma

Yes, I get personally attacked frequently. It's much easier to attack the person than to address their science. However, as a scientist who researches attacks on science, I don't view them as personal attacks. I view them as data. I've never met a scientist who complains about having too much data. So for me to complain about being attacked seems a little ungrateful :-)

The_Phantom_Farter5 karma

How do you feel about these accusations?

Global warming alarmist John Cook, founder of the misleadingly named blog site Skeptical Science, published a paper with several other global warming alarmists claiming they reviewed nearly 12,000 abstracts of studies published in the peer-reviewed climate literature. Cook reported that he and his colleagues found that 97 percent of the papers that expressed a position on human-caused global warming “endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”

As is the case with other ‘surveys’ alleging an overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming, the question surveyed had absolutely nothing to do with the issues of contention between global warming alarmists and global warming skeptics. The question Cook and his alarmist colleagues surveyed was simply whether humans have caused some global warming. The question is meaningless regarding the global warming debate because most skeptics as well as most alarmists believe humans have caused some global warming. The issue of contention dividing alarmists and skeptics is whether humans are causing global warming of such negative severity as to constitute a crisis demanding concerted action.

Either through idiocy, ignorance, or both, global warming alarmists and the liberal media have been reporting that the Cook study shows a 97 percent consensus that humans are causing a global warming crisis. However, that was clearly not the question surveyed.

SkepticalScience13 karma

My comment on those accusations is that they misrepresent our paper. We weren't surveying whether "humans have caused some global warming." By that definition, many of the papers that we classified as rejections would actually be endorsements of the consensus. Instead, we rated any papers that minimised the human role (while still acknowledging that humans caused 'some' global warming) as rejecting AGW.

In other words, the accusation is attacking a strawman - they're criticising a version of our paper that doesn't exist.

Bigsaucypoopoo4 karma

The consensus paper was based on two questions and I'm paraphrasing:

Is co2 a greenhouse gas?


Have human activities caused warming?

Wouldn't you say that many skeptics can agree to both of those questions? What makes you think that you are getting a genuine response about believing in man-made climate change?

SkepticalScience4 karma

We defined "rejection of human-caused global warming" as minimising the role of human activity. Many of the climate deniers who claim to be part of the 97% have also minimised the role of humanity in global warming. So no, skeptics who claim to agree "human activities cause warming" are being disingenuous.

p_e_t_r_o_z4 karma

What can we do as individuals to fight the misinformation and convert denialisits to the side of science?

SkepticalScience2 karma

There are two things we need to do to fight misinformation. Communicate compelling, sticky science and explain how the misinformation distorts the science (i.e., explain the fallacies in each myth). You need to do both - you need to replace sticky myths with sticky facts but people also need to understand the techniques used by myths to distort the science.

But when debunking myths, you need to understand your audience. You're not trying to change the minds of denialists, whose ideological bias makes it nearly impossible to change. You are looking to inoculate the rest of the public against the misinformation promoted by denialists.

pnewell4 karma

What inspired you to get into climate change stuff in the first place?

SkepticalScience16 karma

It was actually arguments with my father-in-law. He threw all these climate myths at me at a family lunch and after the meal, gave me a print out of a speech by Senator Inhofe. I went and researched the arguments in Inhofe's speech and was surprised by the lack of science in support of his reasoning. In preparation for the inevitable onslaught at the next family get-together, I started building a personal database of different climate myths, and peer-reviewed papers relevant to each myth. I wasn't leaving anything to chance. Over time, I continued building this resource and one day, I had the idea that others might find it as useful as I did. I published the database as the Skeptical Science website.

thewhaleshark4 karma

The Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University has a number of publications regarding the nature of public assimilation of scientific information. It has specifically looked at "controversial" topics like climate change, vaccines, and evolution. I don't know if you're familiar with the project or not, but it paints a pretty grim picture in trying to get the public to objectively evaluate scientific information.

1) What strategies do you think we need to employ in order to get clear, easily-interpreted, valid information out there?

2) Any tips for educating the lay person and debunking bad science?

Thank you for your hard work and excellent science!

SkepticalScience5 karma

The Cultural Cognition Project has made many important discoveries. It's very clear that people's worldviews play a role in their reasoning about certain scientific issues, such as climate change. Consequently, it is important to align the messenger with the audience - one of Kahan's papers found that a messenger who shared the same values as the audience was more effective in reaching that audience. So tailoring messengers to audiences is one important strategy.

Another strategy is investing a lot of time and thought in making our science sticky. What I mean by this is crafting our communication so that it shares some of the following attributes: it's simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional or tells a story. All sticky messages share several of these attributes. It's not easy - science is complicated - but with effort, creativity and a great deal of thought, it is possible to communicate complicated concepts in a sticky manner.

For question 2, I just answered it - to make science compelling to the lay person, we need to make it sticky. I find metaphors are a great tool for making concepts concrete and relateable to people.

As for debunking bad science, the golden rule of debunking is you fight sticky myths with stickier facts. So we come back to the same principle - make your science sticky.

M_Halcombe4 karma

What is the most convincing argument for climate change that you give in answer to climate change sceptics? Particularly to those people who are semi well informed (i.e. who know that it used to be hotter than modern times in the past)

Also, do you get to use your cartoon skills to draw diagrams in scientific papers?

SkepticalScience3 karma

First, let me say what is the most convincing argument to me. The reason I'm convinced humans are causing global warming is because there is a consilience of evidence - multiple independent lines of evidence all pointing to the same result. We see human fingerprints all over our climate.

I've never used my cartoon skills in scientific papers - I'm not confident they would survive the peer-review process :-) However, coming from a graphic design background, I do love to bling up climate graphs at every opportunity.

ShiftyJ3 karma

Hi John! As we speak, I'm finishing up my Masters thesis on climate-smart urban agriculture in South Africa. I got two questions:

  • People in third world countries are hit hard by climate change, often because of the sensitive climates there (arid, semi-tropical, tropical). Could you comment on the (often corrupt) third world governments and their lack of translating the adverse effects of climate change to its poor people?
  • What do you think of climate-smart agriculture, and do you think it has potential in third world cities as a way for poor people to adapt to climate change, or even mitigate its effects?


SkepticalScience4 karma

Corrupt developing governments is a serious problem with no easy solution. Developing countries shouldn't seek to follow the same path as developed countries, down the fossil fuel path. Instead, they have the opportunity to leapfrog past fossil fuel based economies and go straight to decentralised renewable based economies.

GhostTurdz3 karma

If you had to pick one person, who would you describe as the voice of correcting climate change? Who has made the largest positive impact?

SkepticalScience5 karma

I'd say Mike Mann. He's been tireless in communicating the realities of climate change, refuting misinformation, he understands the political situation and is aware of the societal context of climate change. He has also been attacked possibly more than any other scientist alive.

TongueDartTheFartB0x2 karma

What is the difference between Global Warming and Climate change?

SkepticalScience-1 karma

Global warming refers just to the increase in global temperature. Climate change is a more general term - it encompasses not just temperature but other changes in our climate such as precipitation and extreme weather.

Interestingly, it was a Republican strategist who argued that Republicans should use the term 'climate change' rather than 'global warming' because the latter term was scarier. There's a detailed answer to your question available at http://sks.to/name

jraitchi2 karma

How do you handle "skeptics" with no scientific background, who tell you you don't know what you're talking about, who also cannot produce any semblance of scientific analysis showing that recent warming is not anthropogenic?

I'm not a climate scientist and they make me want to go on a Duke Nukem rampage.

SkepticalScience3 karma

People who obstinately deny the science can be quite frustrating. Especially on such an important issue such as climate change. But it's precisely because it's such an important issue that it's imperative that we maintain our cool and control our emotions when we talk to people who deny the scientific consensus. You have to remember that it's not just what we say, but how we say it, that is important to all those undecided people who are observing our climate conversations. And those people are the ones who are open to information about climate change, and hence are our target audience.

Jkdempsey2 karma

I am trying to 'connect the dots' with the CO2 and ocean acidification with people, with the public and also with speaking to different professors and researchers to find out if my concern is real. I find that the scientific community have a very narrow focus and any venturing out they simply go silent and won't speculate even in another' field of expertise. The public tends to be overwhelmed.

My concern is this: With the effects we are seeing on the foodweb in the oceans (i.e. plankton dying off, Pacific NW oysters seeds are unable to develop with human intervention) and knowing that this is a result of carbonic acid produced 30 to 50 years ago, when the atmosphere was 300PPB CO2 - Have we stored in the oceans carbonic acid that going to continue to keep rising even if we stop all emissions enough to cook our proverbial goose?

SkepticalScience4 karma

This is a good question - it's true that there's a lag so that even if we stop CO2 emissions, the ocean will continue to absorb CO2 and become more acidified. We have a page that goes into this issue at http://sks.to/acid

try_that_again2 karma

Hi John. I studied climate science as part of my Geography degree and loved it. The question I have is how are we sure that the earth will not self regulate it's temperature with time? From my understanding cloud cover and its effects isn't fully understood and doesn't feed into many of the models we have available. Therefore, how can we predict climate when we don't understand such a crucial, potentially conclusion altering, variable?

SkepticalScience10 karma

The way we know how climate will behave in the future is by looking at climate change in the past. The Earth's history tells us that our climate is highly sensitive to changes in heat. Even slow, subtle changes in the Earth's orbit are enough to drag our climate in and out of ice ages. Wally Broecker, a scientist who studies the Earth's past, sums it up like this (I paraphrase from memory): "The paleoclimate record shouts to us that, far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth's climate system is an ornery beast which overreacts even to small nudges."

ColinScatt2 karma

Hey John, thanks for doing the AMA! I'm someone who believes in climate change, and it kills me that we don't do more about it as a society. When I encounter someone who doesn't believe or care, what do you think is one easy to understand, yet impactful fact, reference, etc. that I could give them to help them understand? Ideally it'd be something I could explain without having to have the understanding of a scientists myself!

SkepticalScience7 karma

It varies from person to person but generally speaking, there is a lot of evidence that consensus messaging is an effective way to increase acceptance of climate change. Among the general public, if you ask them how many climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming, the average answer is around 60%. The real answer is 97%. So informing people that 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming is both a very simple message to communicate and a powerful one.

howardcord2 karma

I first want to thank you for what you are doing and let you know it's not all for nothing. A few years ago your website convinced me that I was wrong about climate change. I use to be a "climate skeptic" and back then I would have assumed you were a paid shill and wouldn't trust anything anyone would say about climate change, except the deniers like Mr. Watts.

I can't remember exactly what changed my mind but I know it was because the methods you use on your website seemed less biased and the commenters were more friendly and willing to discuss the evidence with out personal attacks, especially in comparison to "Watts up with that?" Since then I've completed my degree in Environmental Engineering and work in air quality.

On to the question. How do you remain sane when dealing with and responding to the numerous deniers blogs out there? Isn't frustrating daily having to combat the same misinformation over and over again? How do you take the personal attacks? When do you just ignore them?

Thanks again, and keep up the good fight!

SkepticalScience5 karma

Thanks very much for your comment, Howard. It's very encouraging to hear that our efforts are having an impact.

How do I cope with the seemingly Sisyphean task of debunking misinformation? In one sense, I just keep calm and carry on.

However, as a social scientist researching the attacks of science deniers on science, I see the attacks on science (and on myself) as opportunities to better understand the technique and cognitive processes behind science denial. We have a responsibility to future generations and this includes understanding those people not willing to protect those generations.

ElfMan937648892 karma

What's the worst thing that could realistically happen as a result of Climate Change?

SkepticalScience4 karma

There is no worst. There is a tendency to speak about climate change as a binary problem. E.g., can we avoid climate change. It's not a case of yes or no with climate impacts. It's a question of degree. If we don't act to change our ways, climate impacts will just keep getting worse and worse. One of the problems with how people think about climate change is we typically don't think of what's going to happen past 2100. But if we continue business-as-usual, climate impacts will continue to worsen past 2100, at an accelerating rate. Some of the babies born today will still be alive past 2100.

ta1e92 karma

Do you realize how worthless your work is? Science isn't a popularity contest and scientific issues can't be decided by a poll.

SkepticalScience2 karma

Funny you should ask that - we addressed that very question in our FAQ in May 2013 when our paper web published. Here is our answer:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/tcp.php?t=faq#evidence Isn’t science decided by evidence?

Absolutely! There is a quote by John Reisman that aptly sums up this sentiment:

“Science isn’t a democracy. It’s a dictatorship. Evidence does the dictating.”

That humans are causing global warming has already been established by many lines of evidence. A number of independent measurements all find a human fingerprint in climate change. Our study establishes that the scientists agree that humans are causing global warming and that their agreement is expressed in the most robust venue for scientific debate – in the peer-reviewed literature.

Consensus doesn’t prove human-caused global warming. Instead, the body of evidence supporting human-caused global warming has led to a scientific consensus.

RiverBooduh2 karma

I tried reading your study a couple of times. Each time I was met with a paywall to get to it.

  1. Is there a place I can read your study without paying for the privilege?

  2. How do you feel about having paywalls on publicly funded research?

SkepticalScience6 karma

Our study is free access - check it out at http://sks.to/tcppaper

Making the paper freely available was of utmost importance to us for the same reason you asked those questions. We wanted the science to be freely available. So we selected a journal that made all their papers freely available (Environmental Research Letters) but charged US$1,600 to make the paper open-access. We put a call out to Skeptical Science readers to help make our paper freely available and within 9 hours, they had raised the required funds. Citizen science in action! Here's the blog post where it happened: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Be-part-of-landmark-citizen-science-paper-on-consensus.html

karmanother1 karma

Hi almost Dr Cook. I am a current student at UQ. What can student groups do to help spread the message? Are you coming back anytime soon? If so would you be interested in holding a public lecture and or lecture for the student union?

SkepticalScience3 karma

To spread the message, talk to your friends and family (studies show that friends and family are one of the most trusted source of information). Use social media to share important climate information (like the #97hours campaign at http://sks.to/97). Organising public events. Become involved with groups like the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, which is a great way to connect with like-minded young folk who are passionate about the climate issue.

I'm still at UQ and would be happy to give a public talk on campus for the student union.

0lo1 karma

What single change would you advise Average Joe to make in order to combat his part in human-caused global warming?

SkepticalScience3 karma

I'm going to suggest two changes:

Walk the walk: reduce your personal emissions. For example, solar panels, buy an electric car, use public transport, generally, think about your energy consumption.

Talk the talk: bring up the issue with your friends, family and most importantly your elected officials. Let politicians know what you care about and how it affects your vote.

CollinMaessen0 karma

Since the founding of Skeptical Science what do you consider the greatest and/or the most funny achievements you got thanks to this website?

SkepticalScience6 karma

The greatest achievement in terms of impact would be The Consensus Project. Not only has it made a big splash in mainstream media (covered in newspapers all over the world) and in social media (tweeted by Obama), it also has made a scholarly impact. The paper has been cited over 100 times according to Google Scholar in just over a year since it was published. It's the most downloaded paper in all 80 journals published by the Institute of Physics. And it was voted best paper in 2013 published by Enviromental Research Letters.

As for the most funny achievement, the obvious answer might be the #97Hours campaign but I think the funniest thing that Skeptical Science has done was kitten sneezes: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/dec/17/climate-change-agu2013-pictures