Skeptics Offered $5,000 to Disprove Scientific Consensus of Climate Change

A campaign on the online platform TruthMarket is offering $5,000 to anyone who can prove that there is no scientific consensus that climate change is occurring primarily as the result of human activity.

Ellen Davis, the TruthMarket user who launched the campaign, was motivated by a Yale University poll from May of last year that showed that only 13 percent of Americans were aware of the scientific consensus on the existence of anthropogenic climate change. Forty percent of respondents thought that there was a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening.

"Only 13 percent of Americans got the correct answer, which is that in fact about 97 percent of American scientists say that climate change is happening," said Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of Yale's Project on Climate Change Communication, at the time of the poll's publication.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has issued a consensus statement to the effect that climate changes are being observed, seem to be increasing, and humans are most likely the cause of all or most of the changes. Science academies from Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and several other countries have issued similar consensus statements.

The Yale poll, which had a plus or minus three percent margin of sampling error, also showed that 48 percent of Americans were either "not very worried" or "not at all worried" about global warming.

Americans' lack of awareness about the scientific consensus on climate change "is a big problem," said Davis. "It means that the average US citizen is confused or ignorant of what the scientific community thinks about climate change."

"This should be of concern to everyone," she added. "It is the scientific community that is most qualified to interpret the data. Either they have been ineffective in communicating and persuading the public or the deniers have bigger budgets to drown out the warnings."

The campaign specifically challenges climate change deniers to prove that over five percent of credible American scientists dispute that climate change is happening or that it is likely caused by human activity. The first person to do so will win the $5,000 bounty.

TruthMarket's mission is to enable its users to "crowd-fund," organize and execute grass roots campaigns to publicly expose false political, commercial and activist claims and reinforce true claims. The platform awarded its first bounty in January of 2011 to a man who disproved the claim that "Fox News is the most trusted news channel in the US." PBS was in fact more trusted than Fox News.

Users can currently claim bounties for proving that genetically modified foods are safe or that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, among other claims.

TruthMarket is a division of Truth Seal Corp., a California-based company that reviews commercial and political claims submitted by organizations wanting to display a TruthSeal emblem as evidence that their claims are factual.

Image credit: Ron Cogswell