This Forbes article from 2013 (archive link here) with the headline "Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis" gets brandied around a lot. It states that

Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.

Also, 14% of the respondents replied that :

“they strongly disagree that climate change poses any significant public risk and see no impact on their personal lives.”

The article is reporting the paper Lefsrud and Meyer (2012) "Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change", Organization Studies, 33(11), pp. 1477–1506.

I want to know if that article has been refuted anywhere, and (if the information is misleading), how can a layperson recognize that, given that its published in such a renowned magazine.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps this is better over at the Skeptics SE? $\endgroup$
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


I want to know if that article has been refuted anywhere

Yes. You can read all about it in the blog post James Taylor misinterprets study by 180 degrees.

In short, the original paper was designed to test the view of "professional geologists", which in this case are members of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta. The vast majority of them work in the fossil fuel industry. Therefore, those are people whose livelihood depends on the extraction of fossils fuels. This is not exactly the most unbiased crowd...

The article by James Taylor is spinning the original study into claiming that it applies to all geoscientists. The original authors of the study actually replied to Taylor's article saying:

First and foremost, our study is not a representative survey. Although our data set is large and diverse enough for our research questions, it cannot be used for generalizations such as “respondents believe …” or “scientists don’t believe …”

(This is taken from a secondary source here)

In short, the article is not from "Forbes" (i.e., presenting the opinion of Forbes magazine). It was published in Forbes, but written by a lying climate denier. He has misinterpreted the original study, as evident by two independent analyses and by the reply of the authors themselves.

So to answer your question:

Does this peer-reviewed study contradict the accepted position that climate change is real?

This peer-reviewed study does not contradict anything. Climate change is overwhelmingly accepted by all scientists. What this peer-reviewed study shows is that those who deny the realities of climate change are those employed by the fossil fuel industry, particularly people in top management positions.

Also, quoting myself from the comments:

The study correctly showed that people employed by the fossil fuel industry tend to disagree that climate change is anthropogenic. The Forbes article generalised this to all scientists. This is wrong. The authors of the study said this is wrong.

I will finish with some anecdotes. I am a geoscientist at a top Australian University. Every single one of the scientists here accept the climate change is a major threat to modern human civilisation as we know it. In a previous university where many people were involved with fossil fuel research, people accepted the realities of climate change. They were involved with the research because they either tried to find better ways of fossil fuels (realising that renewables are not there yet, and nuclear is unfortunately not an option), or because they have to pay their rent and feed their children. None denied that climate change is real, and none denied that the fossil fuel industry is the leading cause of it. We geoscientists all understand that the major driving force of the fossil fuel industry and climate change denialism is political, financial (usually old white rich men who don't care about anything but their own monetary benefit) and not scientific.

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    $\begingroup$ @SSight3 of course. Here, have three different sources! one two three. Thank you for asking. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ @SSight3 why does it matter? The opinion of climate scientists is the one that matters. Just as you wouldn’t trust a climate scientist to design an oil rig, you shouldn’t trust a petroleum engineer who dismisses ACC. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ "In short, the article is not from "Forbes". It was published in Forbes" You don't explain what the difference is, and I don't see in the original question the "from Forbes" wording. "but written by a lying climate denier." You should concentrate on explaining what the author has said that allegedly is incorrect, rather than on personal attacks. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ @SSight3: Your claim (in the first comment) that "the concept of global warming was proposed by Maurice Strong at the UN" is absolutely wrong. The first work on global warming was done by Svante Arrhenius en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius and published around the turn of the 20th century, decades before the UN existed. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Gimelist - Strictly speaking the agreement of climate scientists is not what matters, it's just that this agreement is an indicator of the extensive research they've done establishing anthropogenic climate change, which is what matters. $\endgroup$
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 23:55

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