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More and more scientists (97%) agree climate change due to global warming is severely endangering people, animals, plants, and life as we know it. However the popularity of opposing beliefs is causing them to question the accuracy of their own research.
Global warming has been one of the most polarizing subjects in the past century or so. Some fiercely believed it’s the root of all that’s destroying the planet, while others thought there’s simply not enough proof to blame greenhouse gases and global warming for every hurricane and endangered species on the planet.
Now, a recent study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Bristol (UK), Harvard University and three institutions in Australia, has shown that public disbelief in the gravity of the situation has determined some scientist to over-empathize the margins of error in their own studies, making their finding and statistics sound much more uncertain than they actually are.
Led by Stephan Lewandowsky, a professor from Bristol’s School of Experimental Psychology, the study revealed that the language used by people who oppose scientific consensus affects how scientists talk about the subject, and even what they think about it.
Expressions such as “global warming hiatus” or “global warming has stopped” have made their way into the vocabulary of scientists, despite there being no proof whatsoever of such an event.
Lewandowsky said “It seems reasonable to conclude that the pressure of climate contrarians has contributed, at least to some degree, to scientists re-examining their own theory, data and models, even though all of them permit — indeed, expect — changes in the rate of warming over any arbitrarily chosen period”.
The study informs that ‘stereotype threat’ (the emotional responses scientists have when being labeled ‘alarmists’ by opposing groups), ‘pluralistic ignorance’ (wide-spread beliefs that scientist exaggerate threats) and the ‘third-person effect’ (how persuasive messages from opponents affect scientists and the faith that they have in their research) are the main psychological mechanism causing the damaging trend.
The situation is made even worse when “officials in Florida and Wisconsin are censoring state workers’ ability to talk about, much less work on, climate change […] Florida Gov. Rick Scott became the leader of this potential trend last month when news emerged that he had ordered environmental staffers not to use the terms ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ in communications or reports. Wisconsin established a similar policy this month, voting to ban staffers who manage thousands of acres of forest from working on or talking about global warming” as a recent article from April 1st informs.
Such actions are not new and they inhibit scientist even further, preventing them from delivering accurate information on the threats we may facing and from suggesting appropriate methods of dealing with said threats.
Even celebrities have spoken in defense of climate scientists, with famous director Joss Whedon going on Tweeter to criticize state officials who don’t respect their findings. He wrote that denying the impact climate change continues to have on the planet is the same as denying “basic scientific truth”
Image Source: wikimedia.org