Why accept climate science?

Why should we accept that the climate is changing and that the changes are caused by mankind's activities?

(Climate change caused by humanity is called anthropogenic climate change: I'll shorten that to ACC.)

First, and by far most importantly, there's the science:

  • About 99% of papers published in peer-reviewed climate science journals accept the fact of ACC;
  • The world's leading scientific climate and weather authorities all publish reports accepting and explaining ACC;
  • The vast majority of climate scientists accept the reality of ACC;
  • I doubt there is any scientific organisation that has any interest in climate, anywhere in the world, which does not accept ACC; please inform me if I am wrong;
  • All mainstream popular science journals accept the reality of ACC;
  • All quality general science books that mention climate change are accepting of ACC.
In addition:
  • Almost every national government (98% of them) in the world accepts the reality of ACC;
  • I doubt there is any respectable university anywhere in the world that teaches that ACC is not true; please inform me if I am wrong;
  • The world's reinsurance industry is factoring-in increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters due to ACC into the cost of insurance coverage;
  • The world's mainstream religions are pushing for serious action to slow climate change;
  • The world's public health leaders have called for an end to coal burning because of ACC and its more immediate health impacts (2015/02/16);
  • It is simple common sense that if we add billions of tonnes of greenhouse gasses to our atmosphere every year we are going to change the climate. This has been recognised since at least 1912.
Finally, how believable is the contrary argument: that ACC is a massive conspiracy? That the great majority of climate scientists have agreed to join together in supporting a fallacy? Getting scientists to agree on anything has been likened to herding cats; they only agree when there is irrefutable evidence that forces them to agree.

Then there is a far less serious argument.

Written 2015/01/04, last edited 2022/06/28
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©
If a reader believes that any statements on this page are wrong I would appreciate an email providing evidence for that belief.

This material was originally in another page on this site. I thought it worthy of a page of its own.

I considered writing a refutation of all the climate science denialist's arguments, but it seems to have already been done very competently: Skeptical Science and Grist.

48 prominent skeptics (real ones) have got together and called on the media to not call climate change deniers skeptics. To ignore overwhelming evidence is not skepticism.

Who accepts and who denies?; Grist.org

I have written much more on Climate Change elsewhere on this site; in the world context and in the Australian context.

Climate change is real and is being caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels.
But we have answers...
Wind farm and battery
The above photo, taken 2018/01/14, is of a small part of the Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia. It also shows the Hornsdale Power Reserve, the biggest battery in the world at the time.

It happens that my state, South Australia is a world leader in changing from polluting fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy storage. By 2020 more than half of the state's electricity was being generated by renewables and it was not uncommon for the state's renewable energy generation to exceed its entire consumption with the excess being exported to other states.

The state's last coal-fired power station was shut down in May 2016.

When was global warming/climate change first recognised as a possibility?

Newspaper article

The newspaper article pictured above shows that it was recognised at least as early as 1912 that the unrestricted burning of fossil fuels, especially coal, was likely to cause the world's climate to warm.

For more information on this see Snopes.




Update, January 2018

It was looking like 2018 would be the forth hottest year on record but at the time of writing this had not been officially decided. Up to 2017 the ten hottest years, in order of increasing temperatures were: 2007, 1998, 2009, 2013, 2005, 2010, 2014, 2017, 2015, 2016.
I started writing this page in 2015, the previous year, 2014 was, globally, the hottest year ever. This was reported in January 2015 by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), NASA and NOAA. NASA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) are both USA based. 2015 was even warmer globally than 2014, see National Climate Data Centre, USA.

JMA, NASA and NOAA are three of the world's four main agencies that report on global weather, the forth is the Hadley Centre (UK). It is expected that the Hadley Centre will release a similar finding within the next few weeks (written 2015/01/17).

Nine of the ten hottest years have occurred since 2000, the remaining one was 1998.

The number of days on which Australian mean temperatures were in the hottest 1% since records began up to and including 2013.
Top percentile temperatures
Graph credit: Bureau of Meteorology, State of the Climate 2014


Rising cost of insurance

The reinsurance industry (those who insure the insurance companies) have recognised that damages due to natural disasters (fires, floods, storms) has become more common and expensive due to ACC.
  • A quote from Canstar:
    "While the existence of climate change is even now being debated by some members of the public, the general insurance industry has been attempting to quantify the issue for well over a decade."
  • A document produced by Insurance Australia Group is revealing. It shows a steadily increasing number of natural disasters (Figure 6) and steeply increasing costs of natural disasters (Figure 8).

  • Euopa Re and Climate Change:
    "Climate change is expected to further increase the frequency and severity of hydro-meteorological natural disasters ..."
  • Society of Actuaries:
    "For property and casualty insurers, climate change represents an important challenge because the rising seas, the increased risk of drought, fire and floods, and the stronger storms that may occur will have a huge impact on the claims of the people insured."
  • A quote from the Australian Consumer's Association magazine, Choice, Feb. 2015:
    "North Queensland home insurance premiums through the roof
    The Australian Government Actuary has found insurers paid out $1.40 in claims for every $1 of premium collected in North Queensland. This was despite premiums in the region skyrocketing by about 80%, compared to 12% for Sydney and Melbourne over the eight years to July 2013."
    This would have been in response to greatly increased damage from severe storms in the region.

What do the main polluters say?

Emissions from power generation
From The Dirty Dozen, GetUp!
If climate change was a myth the world's big emitters of greenhouse gasses would have a strong incentive to point that out. In fact, while they are lobbying to be allowed to continue their emissions, they do recognise the reality of what the climate scientists are telling us.

AGL, Australia's biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses recognises the reality of climate change and its responsibility to reduce emissions.

Richard McIndoe, Managing Director of Energy Australia, the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses in Australia's energy sector, has said:

"As one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the Australian energy sector, TRUenergy faces a more difficult challenge than most to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. In planning for a low carbon future, our Climate Change Strategy provides a blueprint for action."

The third biggest greenhouse gas emitter in Australia's power sector also recognises the reality of climate change: GDF SUEZ reaffirms its commitment to combatting climate change at the Climate Summit in New-York.

Religions and climate change

Statements from representatives of religions and denominations on the need for action on climate change...

A bit more evidence for anthropic climate change

Date of cherry-blossom peak-bloom in Kyoto, Japan, 800AD - 2016
Date of cherry blossoming
Image source, Economist and ultimately Yasujuki Aono, Osaka Prefecture University.

Dates of natural events

The dates of many natural events around the world are changing due to the warming climate.

Japan's cherry blossoming

The graph on the right shows that the date of the famous cherry-blossoming in Japan has become steadily earlier since about 1825. This is by far the strongest and most consistent trend showing on the record kept since 800AD.

Wine grapes

It has also been noticed that the date of wine grape ripening has been getting earlier as climates warm.

Annual cycles of birds

Cynthia Carey had a paper published in the US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, in 2009. An extract for the Abstract makes the point needed for this section:
"The timing of egg laying is determined, usually by both endogenous clocks and local factors, so that food availability is near optimal for raising young. Climate change is causing mismatches in food supplies, snow cover and other factors that could severely impact successful migration and reproduction of avian populations unless they are able to adjust to new conditions. Resident (non-migratory) birds also face challenges if precipitation and/or temperature patterns vary in ways that result in mismatches of food and breeding. Predictions that many existing climates will disappear and novel climates will appear in the future suggest that communities will be dramatically restructured by extinctions and changes in range distributions."

Mismatch between bird breading and availability of food

Brook Hays wrote a piece for UPI Science News 2018/04/23 titled "Hungry birds are missing out on their favorite insects as a result of climate change: Chicks are hatching too late to benefit from the nutritious glut of caterpillars."
"Researchers at the universities of Edinburgh and Exeter studied the nesting and feeding patters of three bird species, blue tits, great tits and pied flycatchers. All three time their mating and nesting patterns so their offspring are hungriest when caterpillars are most abundant.

But as the new research showed, warmer, earlier springs are pushing the abundance of oak leaves and the caterpillars that feed on them earlier in the year. As a result, chicks are hatching too late to benefit from the nutritious glut of caterpillars."

Drying of south western Western Australia

Annual average rainfalls have declined in the SW of WA and are continuing to decline. Run off into the Perth water storages has decreased by 80%. The WA government has consequently recently (June 2022) decided to build its third seawater desalination plant. The first was built in 2006; it had a capacity of 45 gigalitres per year. Another was built some years later, this one with a capacity of 100 GL/y. The third is also to have a 100 GL/y capacity.

Run off into the Peel estuary, near where I live, has also decreased leading to increased salinities and the death of thousands of Melaleuca (paper-bark) trees. I've written more about this on another page.

It is not difficult to find research on a range of natural events showing similar results with a Net search.

The Abbott (tongue in cheek) climate change argument

Can the opinion of one of the most ill-informed, ignorant and unpopular prime ministers in Australian history be of any value at all? I believe it can be, but perhaps not for any obvious reason.

I am Australian. The Prime Minister of Australia (in June 2015), Tony Abbott, was single-mindedly opposed to renewable energy and in favour of any non-renewable energy form, particularly coal, but also oil, gas and nuclear. He has notoriously said "Coal is good for humanity" and has done his best to destroy the Australian wind power industry, successfully reducing investment in wind power by around 85%. (More on PM Abbott's personal dislike of wind power can be read on another page on this site.)

So, here is a man who has every reason to deny the reality of climate change (he did once, before becoming PM, say "climate change is crap", but has accepted climate change science since becoming PM). It would very much suit his love of coal and disliking of renewable energy to deny that the earth's climate is heating up and that the burning of coal and other fossil fuels is among the main causes of that heating up, but no, officially at least, he accepts the reality of what the great majority of climate scientists are telling us.

PM Tony Abbott has a very strong incentive to deny the reality of climate change, yet he does not.

So, is an argument based on the standing and statements of a Prime Minister who has every reason to deny the reality of climate change but does not, a strong argument in favour of that reality? Or is an argument based on the statements and opinions of a man who is apparently stupid or corrupt of very little value at all?


Related pages

External pages...

Also see related pages on this site

Many links are scattered through the text above. Many others can be found by searching for 'climate science denial' or similar phrases.

Australian Department of the Environment and Energy: Finding reliable information about climate science

The world's leading scientific climate and weather authorities

United Nations

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)


Australian Academy of Science: The science of climate change;

Bureau of Meteorology (BoM): State of the Climate 2018;

Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO): Climate Science Centre

Australian Religious Response to Climate Change


Met Office: Climate science;

The Royal Society: Energy, environment and climate;


National Aironautics and Space Administration (NASA): Global climate change, Vital signs of the planet, Scientific consesus: Earth's climate is warming;

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Climate change

Other links relating to climate change

The Conversation: articles on climate change denial;

Skiptics Dictionary: climate change deniers;

Wikipedia: climate change denial

Engineers Australia Climate Change Policy: "Engineers Australia accepts the comprehensive scientific basis regarding climate change, the influence of anthropogenic global warming, and that climate change can have very serious community consequences."

The psychology of climate change denial: "Whilst the vast majority of people claim to be concerned about the climate, it is also the case that large numbers of people also avoid, minimise, switch off, or distance themselves from effectively engaging with the problems. A small but noisy minority actively deny that there even is a problem. How do we understand this, and how do we solve the “It’s Not My Problem” problem?"

Related pages on this site

Climate change in a global context
Climate change in an Australian context

The end of coal

One university that did tolerate a climate science denying vice chancellor; of course there are outliers. I know of no evidence that Western Australia's Notre Dame University teaches denial of climate science.

A short review on the book Little Green Lies

The Pros and Cons of Various Methods of Generating Electricity