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Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy

The Bush School of Government and Public Service

Texas A&M University
1112 Allen Building
4350 TAMU College Station, Texas 77843-4350

ISTPP Researchers Analyze Congressional Testimonies on Global Warming and Climate Change

ISTPP Associate Research Scientist Xinsheng Liu and Director Arnold Vedlitz, along with Institute Senior Fellows James Stoutenborough and Scott Robinson, have published their article, “Scientists’ Views and Positions on Global Warming and Climate Change: A Content Analysis of Congressional Testimonies,” in Climatic Change.

This study examines whether scientists’ views and positions were substantially divided in their congressional testimonies regarding the reality and human cause of global warming and climate change (GWCC). The researchers performed content analysis of 1,350 testimonies from relevant congressional hearings held from 1969 to 2007. They find that the supermajority of experts called as witnesses indicate that GWCC is real, at least caused partially by human activity, and policies to combat it should be adopted. This finding is consistent across various types of scientist groups and under different party controls of Congress. The researchers conclude that the largely unified GWCC consensus in the scientific community has been presented to the US Congress and therefore refute the possibility of a divided science as a source of the GWCC contentions among lawmakers. They further challenge the traditional view suggested by the knowledge deficit theory that simply providing additional scientific information is key to evidence-based policy making. Rather, future research needs to shift in new directions to gain a better understanding of how business interests, partisan predispositions, and political ideology shape the views of policymakers.

Xinsheng Liu, Arnold Vedlitz, James W. Stoutenborough, and Scott Robinson. 2015. “Scientists’ Views and Positions on Global Warming and Climate Change: A Content Analysis of Congressional Testimonies.” Climatic Change. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1390-6.

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