Scientific Fact?: Climate Discourse Part 1

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 11:53 AM

A grievance that arises due to lack of functional empirical understanding of data is the dichotomous assumption that knowledge is held by the public. Dialogically, most scientist, utilized vastly different reference frames from which they speak that give rise to an incongruence in discussing climate issues. A significant number of Americans (57% to be precise) disagree or outright are unaware of the general scientific consensus that CC (Climate Change) is an anthropologically driven phenomenon (Cook et al. 2013). Since scientific research experiences a high level of rigor and scrutiny (i.e peer review, conferences, refusal processes, and falsifiable fundamentalism) it is not difficult for scientific researchers to state the climate discourse as a fact given its level of agreement. However, public discourse is widely unaware of this fact. Further, the public is accustomed to the condensed and mostly simplified versions of information. In these spaces, most scientists are faced with a different set of expectations and realities that deviate from the larger public expectation that influences public policy. In an article published in Nature the author postulates the idea of constructed validity through his advice to the scientific community, he cautions scientist by saying that, “ [they] must not be so naïve as to assume that the data speak for themselves” (Climate Fear, 2010). This like the “cold” example, as it demonstrates that public opinion while filled with simply a differently held value to contextual understanding which is not naturally necessary with objective and quantitative information. With these core assumptions, we can begin to detangle the intricacies of climate change dialogue and the tensions which address our climate policy.

What do you see in the following graph?

Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S. A., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., ... & Skuce, A. (2013). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters8(2), 024024.
Climate of fear: the integrity of climate research has taken a very public battering in recent months. Scientists must now emphasize the science, while acknowledging that they are in a street fight. (2010). Nature, 463(7286), 141. Retrieved from

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