A college professor claimed that "98 percent of the world's scientists" agree that manmade climate change is real — but things soon became awkward when Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked the academic to name the source of his information on-air.
"I am interested in the claims you've made about climate science, that it's settled, and that 98 percent of worldwide scientists believe that. How do you know that? Are you a scientist or have you polled other scientists? Where did you get that figure?" Carlson asked California State University-Sacramento professor Joseph Palermo on Wednesday.
Palermo clearly wasn't prepared to defend his previous assertion.
"Well, see, that's another one of those interesting kind of questions is that, that wasn't what the blog was about," Palermo replied, referencing "right-wing websites" misconstruing science for "catchy headlines" and "clickbait."
But Carlson was determined to get an answer. So he asked the question a second time.
Palermo dodged the question again, saying, "I didn't want to get into — are you a climate change denier, or a skeptic?"
That's when Carlson laid into the academic, reminding him that not taking everything at face value is how science works.
"The essence of science, and of journalism," Carlson said, "is skepticism, because it seeks to get to the truth."
"And I'm asking as you as someone who just said, as a statement of fact, that 98 percent of the world's scientists agree with you, with whatever you believe, I'm wondering how you know that," Carlson added.
Palermo avoided providing evidence to his claim twice more. At one point, he even urged Carlson to send out his "giant research team" to "find out about it," a suggestion that prompted a good laugh from the Fox News host.
"You just made the claim!" Carlson pointed out.
So where did the original claim, often repeated by liberals, come from?
Politifact asked Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) that same question in April after a claim appeared on the congressman's website stating that 97 percent of the world's scientists subscribe to the existence of manmade climate change. Beyer's spokesman, Thomas Scanlon, cited multiple sources.
In an article posted on NASA's website, the space agency states:
Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.
But as Politifact was right to point out, that assertion relies on the opinions of "actively publishing climate scientists." In other words, it doesn't include those scientists who don't write articles for academic journals.
A separate 2013 study by John Cook, an Australian scientist, found that of the nearly 12,000 climate change articles published between 1991 and 2011, only two-thirds of them expressed any opinion at all about whether manmade climate change exists. But of the 4,000 articles that did take a stance, roughly 97 percent "endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming," according to Politifact.
(H/T: Right Scoop)