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    Things Scientists Are Less Sure of Than Climate Change

    Written by

    Brian Merchant

    Senior Editor

    If you are one of the few humans who has not yet been persuaded by the overwhelming scientific evidence that our activities are heating up the planet, or are under the impression that scientists are still uncertain as to whether dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is causing global temperatures to rise, then consider this brief guide for your benefit.

    Seth Borenstein, the Associated Press's science correspondent, has given us a fine barometer by which to measure the scientific certainty that humans are heating the planet. He reports that the world's climatologists are now gearing up to officially proclaim that they are 95 percent certain that humans are to blame for global warming.

    That 5 percent gap may seem large. It is not. In science, nothing is 100 percent sure—not even the law of gravity.

    According to Borenstein, here are a few things that scientists are just as or less certain of than climate change:

    • that cigarettes kill
    • the age of the universe
    • that vitamins make you healthy
    • that dioxin in Superfund sites is dangerous

    Here are a couple I'll add myself. Scientists are more certain that humans are causing climate change than:

    And there's a lot more. Science is an arduous, time-intensive process about which certainties of the magnitude found in the field of climatology are few and far between. The fact that a stunning 97 percent of scientists in a given field agree on a dominant theory is all but unheard of—and that's how many agree that human activity is driving the rise in global temperatures.

    Scientists are just as confident in the fact that smoking gives you cancer and the age of the universe as they are that carbon pollution causes climate change. They are more certain that climate change is human-caused than they are that eating vitamins is healthy. And almost all would all agree that it would be foolish to bet on the 5 percent chance that they're wrong.