Scientific evidence confirms human causes of global warming
Guest column

Scientific evidence confirms human causes of global warming


A new study shows that many teachers aren't aware of the strong consensus on human-caused climate change and instead overstate material from a thoroughly discredited minority. They don’t realize that 97 percent of climate scientists – those who qualify as experts capable of testifying in court on the issue – conclude from their many studies that humans are causing the earth to warm.

Knowledgeable teachers will clarify that 809 scientists who helped review 9,200 scientific publications for the fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report confirmed human-caused global warming! The National Academies of Science from 80 countries along with 18 American scientific organizations (including the American Meteorological Society and American Geophysical Union) have made formal policy statements recognizing humans cause global warming.

Teachers are urged to explain that scientists could not reproduce findings in 38 publications which those denying human caused climate change quote most often. Professor Katherine Heyhoe (wife of an evangelical pastor) wrote about the review: “Every single one of the 38 studies we examined had at least one error; an error that, if it was fixed, would bring the results of the study straight into line with the thousands of other studies that … find that climate is changing and humans are responsible.”

So, failure to teach accurately about the clear consensus view may be one reason the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, which surveyed 13,000 persons older than 25 from 2008-2014, indicated 60 percent of Montanans think global warming is happening. However, only 46 percent of those Montanans indicated they thought “global warming is caused mostly by human activities.” Gallup’s March 2015 poll found 55 percent of U.S. citizens thought increases in the earth’s temperature over the last century were due to human causes. Only 41 percent believed natural causes brought about increased warming.

Percentages acknowledging human causation likely would be higher than 55 percent if the electorate correctly perceived the overwhelming scientific consensus behind the human-caused global warming conclusion. However, in the Yale study, only 37 percent of Montanans answered that “most scientists believe that global warming is happening.” That perception simply does not reflect the facts.

The Yale Project also found 57 percent percent of Montanans thought 20 percent of their electricity should come from renewable resources like the wind and the sun; 25 percent is already being achieved in Iowa and South Dakota. More than 20 percent of the 80,000 megawatts of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas capacity now comes from wind. Texas wind turbines don’t always produce 20 percent of the needed electricity. However, they accounted for more than 45 percent of ERCOT’s overall load on Feb. 18. And Texas is adding 5,000 megawatts of wind power.

The proposed Initiative 180 ballot initiative (which we support) would give Montanans (57 percent) what they want. It requires NorthWestern Energy and Montana Dakota Utilities (investor-owned utilities, or “IOUs”) to produce by 2019, 22 percent of their electricity from renewable resources that have been installed after 2005.

By reaching 50 percent renewables in 2030, I-180 also will facilitate IOU compliance with America’s Clean Power Plan. And by requiring 80 percent renewables by 2050, I-180 will be well on the way to accomplishing what we must do to prevent overheating our earth. So, please help. Say you’ll sign to put I-180 on Montana’s November ballot by emailing your contact information to so a signature gatherer can contact you. 

Dr. Steven W. Running is a regents professor of global ecology at the University of Montana. He was a chapter author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 “for their efforts to disseminate greater knowledge about human-made climate change.” Sister Marya Grathwohl of Billings is with Sisters of Saint Francis and is the founding director of Earth Hope. Running and Grathwohl write as private citizens speaking only for themselves.  

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