Global Warming: The Experts Speak
By Bryan Caplan
Yes, I’m an elitist: When laymen and experts disagree, my presumption is that the laymen are wrong and the experts are right. Whether the subject is economics, toxicology, or global warming, that’s my starting point (though not always my ending point). With global warming much in the news, I’ve been curious about the experts consensus – and I’ve gotten a lot of value out of Bray and Storch, The Perspectives of Climate Scientists on Global Climate Change.
My overall impression: Given skeptics’ weak interest in taking reasonable bets, I’m surprised by the moderation of scientific opinion. The experts almost always lean in the way Al Gore says they would, but they rarely lean strongly. Even on “We can say for certain that global warming is a process already underway,” the median answer on a 1-7 scale (1=”strongly agree”; 7=”strongly disagree”) is only 3.
How reliable is this survey? Well, on the one hand, climate change skeptics like it. But on the other hand, the authors aren’t happy with how skeptics are using their survey. Personally, I wish the survey measured the political views of the respondents, allowing us to test for ideological bias – but it doesn’t look like it did. Alas – this is definitely an issue where I’d like a nonpartisan perspective.