On Dec. 4, Jeff Jacoby wrote an op-ed column titled “Majority rules on climate science?” The truth is, science rules on climate science.
Jacoby selects a single result to represent findings from a survey of the scientific community making up the American Meteorological Society, saying, “Only a bare majority, 52 percent, said that climate change is largely being driven by human activity.” As a co-author of the survey, and as executive director of the organization, I am concerned that Globe readers may have gotten the wrong impression of what we found.
In reporting this single value, Jacoby left out the other survey response options that allowed respondents to express varying levels of certainty. These other options represented a significant fraction of the responses. Only 4 percent of respondents said that global warming was not happening, and only 5 percent are convinced that global warming over the past 150 years is due mostly to natural causes.
Jacoby also did not mention that the survey showed 93 percent of actively publishing climate scientists indicated that they are convinced that humans have contributed to global warming. This is consistent with prior studies’ findings that the climate science community is in agreement that humans are largely responsible for the climate change we have seen in recent decades.
Jacoby is correct that science is not settled by majority vote. As the scientific evidence mounts, however, it is natural for scientific consensus to emerge. Our study explored issues surrounding that emerging consensus.