Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change and Weather Extremes
The scientific consensus on climate change has been a much-questioned topic in public debate. Why then are the physical impacts of climate change becoming of such great importance for organizations and economies? Even though public opinion continues to be divided, assessments in the peer-reviewed scientific literature of the degree of consensus among publishing scientists on the topic of human-induced climate change point to strong consensus (Oreskes, 2004). In a recent study, Cook et al. (2013) analyzed the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The authors examined a total of 11,944 abstracts of papers on the topics of ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’ in the period from 1991 to 2011. While 66.4 per cent of abstracts expressed no position regarding anthropogenic climate change (that is, did not address or mention the cause of global warming), 97.1 per cent of abstracts that expressed a position endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. Overall, the authors concluded that their analysis indicates the number of papers rejecting the consensus on climate change is a vanishingly small proportion of the published scientific research. While the public often perceives that the scientific consensus on climate change is still debated, the fundamental scientific conclusion that humans are warming the climate is solid. Within the climate science field, some key uncertainties remain about the exact nature of climate impacts. One key uncertainty relates to how local conditions will change in addition to average global temperature rise.
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