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Protestors at a "Stand up for Science" rally. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

In recent interviews, President Trump falsely claimed that scientists disagree about the causes of global warming. In fact, at least 97% of climate scientists agree that human activities are the dominant cause of global warming since the mid-20th century.

The big picture: President Trump is not the only one who thinks that the main causes of global warming are still being debated. According to polling from George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication, even those Americans who say they are concerned about climate change tend to significantly underestimate the strength of the scientific consensus.

The details: In an interview with the AP on Oct. 15, President Trump commented on a recent climate science report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report, released Oct. 8, warned of potentially catastrophic consequences, such as the loss of the entire Greenland Ice Sheet, if warming surpasses 1.5°C, or 2.7°F, above preindustrial levels.

Trump dismissed the findings, saying scientists disagree about the basic conclusion of what is driving global warming:

"I mean, you have scientists on both sides of it. My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture."

Reality check: Studies show that the period from 1901 to 2016 "is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization," and human emissions of greenhouse gases are to blame.

"For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence."
U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report, 2017

Yes, but: Like the president, the American public seems to have a poor understanding of just how wide and deep the scientific consensus is on what is causing climate change.

The bottom line: There is evidence showing that when people gain a better understanding of the consensus, they are more likely to support policies to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. George Mason's Ed Maibach, who leads the Center for Climate Change Communication, told Axios that this is known as the "Gateway Belief Model."

"We’ve conducted more than a half dozen research studies — involving more than 10,000 Americans — to answer the question: Does it matter if people know the extent of the consensus among climate scientists about human-caused global warming?  The answer is yes, it matters a lot."
— Ed Maibach, George Mason University

Maibach added that, as Trump and others question the existence of a consensus among climate experts, they are sowing doubt in the minds of many Americans. "Regrettably, as they spread this misinformation, some members of the public accept this misinformation as true," he told Axios.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 5 mins ago - Economy & Business

How central banks can save the world

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The trillion-dollar gap between actual GDP and potential GDP is a gap made up of misery, unemployment, and unfulfilled promise. It's also a gap that can be eradicated — if central banks embrace unconventional monetary policy.

  • That's the message from Eric Lonergan and Megan Greene, two economists who reject the idea that central banks have hit a "lower bound" on interest rates. In fact, they reject the idea that "interest rates" are a singular thing at all, and they fullthroatedly reject the idea — most recently put forward by New York Fed president Bill Dudley — that the Fed is "out of firepower."

Why it matters: If Lonergan and Greene are right, then central banks have effectively unlimited ammunition in their fight to increase inflation and employment. They are limited only by political will.

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases — Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Leon Black says he "made a terrible mistake" doing business with Jeffrey Epstein

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Rick Friedman/Corbis/Getty Images

Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black on Thursday said during an earnings call that he made a "terrible mistake" by employing Jeffrey Epstein to work on personal financial and philanthropic services.

Why it matters: Apollo is one of the world's largest private equity firms, and already has lost at least one major client over Black's involvement with Epstein.

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