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Beyond counting climate consensus

Pearce, Warren; Grundmann, Reiner; Hulme, Mike; Raman, Sujatha; Hadley Kershaw, Eleanor; Tsouvalis, Judith


Warren Pearce

Professor of Science & Technology Studies

Mike Hulme

Sujatha Raman

Eleanor Hadley Kershaw

Judith Tsouvalis


Several studies have been using quantified consensus within climate science as an argument to foster climate policy. Recent efforts to communicate such scientific consensus attained a high public profile but it is doubtful if they can be regarded successful. We argue that repeated efforts to shore up the scientific consensus on minimalist claims such as ‘humans cause global warming’ are distractions from more urgent matters of knowledge, values, policy framing and public engagement.  Such efforts to force policy progress through communicating scientific consensus misunderstand the relationship between scientific knowledge, publics and policymakers. More important is to focus on genuinely controversial issues within climate policy debates where expertise might play a facilitating role. Mobilising expertise in policy debates calls for judgment, context and attention to diversity, rather than deferring to formal quantifications of narrowly scientific claims.


Pearce, W., Grundmann, R., Hulme, M., Raman, S., Hadley Kershaw, E., & Tsouvalis, J. (2017). Beyond counting climate consensus. Environmental Communication, 11(6), 723-730.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 30, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 23, 2017
Publication Date Nov 2, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 12, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 12, 2017
Journal Environmental Communication
Print ISSN 1752-4032
Electronic ISSN 1752-4040
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 6
Pages 723-730
Keywords Climate change, climate policy, climate change communication
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Environmental Communication on 23 July 2017, available online:


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