Enlarge / The glaciers are in on the conspiracy! (credit: NOAA)
The vast majority of scientists—by most measures, well over 90 percent—accept the evidence that humans are driving our current climate change.

Among the public, however, that figure is much lower. One possible explanation for this is that the public doesn’t understand just how strong the scientific consensus is.
If people think scientists are divided on this issue, then they could be more likely to feel that their own opinion is justified, even if it goes against the conclusions of the people with the most relevant expertise.
Researchers have now looked at how people in the US respond to being told about the scientific community’s near unanimity on the topic.

They find that the results vary geographically, with a stronger response in states that are more politically conservative.

This roughly balances the lower acceptance in the states initially, meaning that all states more or less end up looking about the same.
Consensus messaging
The issue here is typically called “consensus messaging.” The idea is that many members of the public don’t fully realize just how unified scientific opinion—the consensus—currently is.
If they did, members of the public might be more likely to accept scientists’ conclusions and perhaps demand policies that address climate change.

And there’s room for a lot of improvement here, as only about 10 percent of the US public correctly recognize that the scientific consensus on climate change is over 90 percent.
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