Only a few days ago, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. Next to the threat of nuclear warfare, the threat climate change poses to mankind is their main reason for setting the clock closer to midnight. The scientific consensus is that the Earth’s climate is unequivocally warming. It is also extremely likely (95% or higher) that this is predominantly caused by humans.

Scientific consensus is a powerful thing, it means that the collective opinion and judgement of the community of scientists in a particular field of study is alike. Unfortunately, one lifetime and a single brain is not enough time and capacity to learn about everything. Therefore, we visit doctors when we are ill and the same applies to climate change; we defer to the expert consensus of climate scientists. The reason why there is so much scepticism about climate change is due to the consensus gap.

The consensus gap is a perception problem. As stated above, there is a 97% or higher consensus that the warming of the Earth is caused predominantly by humans. The public’s perception however, is that the scientific consensus is much lower. According to a poll, the public think that there is a consensus of only 55% among climate scientists. This is very harmful since people are less likely to support climate action if they do not realize there is a scientific consensus. Just to clarify; the 97% consensus applies to the question if climate change is caused by mankind. There is full scientific consensus concerning the existence of climate change; it is real.

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