“Reporting on a poll that says 1 in 4 Americans is skeptical of climate change is like reporting that 1 in 4 Americans are wrong about something.”
On Last Week Tonight — comedian and former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver’s new show — science is going viral. On the latest episode, Oliver points out that climate change is no longer a debate, and is happening right now (citing a new report out of the White House). Despite the weight of evidence behind man-made climate change, however, the public seems to think there is room for doubt. Oliver believes this is the media’s fault, showing that the “debates” we see on the news are usually just Bill Nye the Science Guy and “some dude.”
“That makes it seem like it’s 50/50,” says Oliver. It isn’t.
There is only one way to have a statistically representative climate change debate, and Oliver demonstrates it brilliantly. Take a look:
The data that Oliver cites to make his point come from a survey of climate science papers showing that over 97% of relevant papers assert that humans are the principal cause of the rapidly changing climate. That number builds on another survey which found that only 0.2% of relevant papers reject climate change entirely.
You are more likely to have a stroke than pull a negative study from a pile of these papers.
Climate change is happening, and it’s happening now. If Oliver’s viral video shows anything (over a million hits as of this article’s publication), it’s that a concerned public is clamoring for rational answers to a global danger. His statistically accurate debate is a clever way to imagine the unequal discourse happening in the media, and something to keep in mind when most discussions on the news are basically like asking if owls exist.
IMAGE: Screenshot/HBO DeSmogBlog
HT: Mother Jones