Climate Change Is Real
What is the fundamental situation with climate change? Is it actually hap-
pening? Are human beings causing it? How much of climate science is
truly reliable enough for us to accept?
This appendix is designed to help readers work through initial ques-
tions about climate science. It will rely in part on the background research
and in part on common sense. I will organize it in reply to various objec-
tions in the hope that it will respond to the kinds of misgivings readers
may have, or questions they have heard, about the basics of our situation.
The first objection is this: It isn't real. A fully “skeptical” response
would suggest, right from the start, that global warming is not happening
and that in consequence there is no need for us to worry about the effects
of climate change; we can put the entire subject aside and get on with the
rest of our lives.
Right on the face of it, this position is wildly implausible. “Skeptics”
like to suggest that the science on climate change is unsetled, that there
are many grounds for doubt, that the current consensus among research-
ers is full of holes. But in fact, there is virtually no serious dissent from
this consensus among qualified specialists in the relevant fields, special-
ists who are doing good research recognized as such by their peers.
Because of the controversy about climate change, several scholars
have surveyed publications in the field to see how many scientists are
raising doubts about the basic consensus, and they repeatedly find that
the number of qualified dissidents is extremely small. One recent study
examined research by scholars who have published at least twenty articles
on the topic and ranked them by the number of articles they have pub-
lished. They concluded that only one of the top fifty relevant scientists,
only three of the top one hundred, and only five of the top two hundred