A Reply to Cook and Oreskes on Climate Science Consensus Messaging

23 Jan 2019

In their replies to our paper (Pearce et al., 2017), both Cook and Oreskes agree with our central point: that deliberating and mobilizing policy responses to climate change requires thinking beyond public belief in a scientific consensus. However, they both continue to defend consensus messaging, either because of ‘the dangers of neglecting to communicate the scientific consensus’ (Cook, 2017, p. 1) or because ‘“no consensus”…remains… a contrarian talking point’ (Oreskes, 2017, p. 1). Both highlight previously conducted market research by fossil fuel companies which suggested that scientific uncertainty provided a political weapon in fighting regulation, concluding that incorrect public perceptions of the scientific consensus weaken support for policy action (Oreskes, 2017, p. 2).