Here’s a popular little internet rumour that’s gone another round this week after being mentioned in the US House of Representatives a few days ago. Needless to say, the blogs have been all over it, posting and re-posting the story.
The 31,478 figure refers to the Petition Project, an online petition site which has been slowly gathering names for a decade or so. It is regularly quoted as a reason for dismissing the climate change debate, and so I invite you to consider it in a little more detail.
The wording of the petition states that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” It goes on to suggest, as you can see below, that more CO2 may actually be a good thing.
Where would you find 31,478 people prepared to sign such a statement? Not among climate scientists, that’s for sure.
The Petition Project lists the qualifications of signatories, apparently without embarrassment. You don’t need to be a working scientist, just have a bachelors degree, and any related field will do. Consequently, out of those 31,478 ‘experts’, you will find the following:
- 9,833 engineers
- 3,046 doctors
- 4,818 chemists
- 581 mathematicians
- 149 zoologists
- 59 astronomers
- 39 climate scientists
That’s right, climate scientists make up one tenth of one percent of the signatories of this petition. It really isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, and yet it is endlessly repeated, and even gets quoted in Congress. Such are the wonders of the internet. People are so quick to repeat what they hear without questioning it or even reading it properly that I half expect this post to be linked to by some quick-posting bloggers.
If you come across this petition, or see it mentioned as evidence against climate change, please bear this in mind. Also consider the fact that if you just asked the climate scientists, the people most likely to know, you’d find 98% were in agreement.