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I've heard from a lot of people that the scientific consensus for global warming is that the Earth is, indeed, getting warmer and it will have catastrophic effects.

However, as it stands right now, I'm only taking the word of someone who most like is taking the word of someone else. Sort of like a game of telephone. We all hear about scientific consensus, but I'm wondering, how do I find out for myself what the consensus is?

Obviously I don't have enough training to dive deeply into any given topic, so I rely on those that do. But I'm just not sure how to verify this for myself rather than taking it on faith from those in the skeptical community.

  • In my experience, the skeptical community is generally pretty committed to and consistent with backing up any assertions with references: to validate an assertion, you. need only chase those references. For "scientific consensus", you're looking for tertiary sources, where an assertion is so well established it's been identified as ready for public consumption, and has been canonized up in things like textbooks and encyclopedias. In turn, those tertiary sources should point to secondary sources, ideally broad meta-studies or scientific surveys published in peer-reviewed literature. – Dan Bron Feb 4 '15 at 9:45
  • Do read the IPCC reports, they are actually pretty moderate in their tone and avoid hyperbole such as "catastrophic effects". The effects don't need to be "catastrophic" before action is warranted. If you want to know the scientific position on climate change, read the IPCC reports, that is exactly what they were intended to provide. The later reports are quite hard going, but the 1990 report is actually quite readable, the basic picture has not changed that much ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/… – Dikran Marsupial Feb 25 '15 at 11:43

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