Expert credibility in climate change

a Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305; b Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S
3G4; c William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Palo Alto, CA 94025; and d Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305

Contributed by Stephen H. Schneider, April 9, 2010 (sent for review December 22, 2009)

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions.
Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

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