Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature

John Cook, Global Change Institute
Dana Nuccitelli, Skeptical Science
Sarah A. Green, Michigan Technological University
Mark Richardson, University of Reading
Bärbel Winkler, Skeptical Science
Rob Painting, Skeptical Science
Peter Jacobs, George Mason University
Andrew G. Skuce, Salt Spring Consulting Ltd.

© 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd. Publisher's version of record: https://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024

Abstract

We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors' self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.