Most Americans are unaware that the National Academy of Sciences, known for its cautious and even-handed reviews of the state of science, is firmly on board with climate change. It has been for years. Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy, paraphrased its most recent report on the subject. "The consensus statement is that climate changes are being observed, are certainly real, they seem to be increasing, and that humans are mostly likely the cause of all or most of these changes," he said...
...But the public is largely unaware of the consensus because that's not what they're hearing on cable TV or reading in blogs. "They mostly get exposed to a much more conflicted view, and that's of course not by accident," he said...
..."So far the evidence shows that the more people understand that there is this consensus, the more they tend to believe that climate change is happening, the more they understand that humans are a major contributor, and the more worried they are about it," Leiserowitz said.
He says if you drill down a bit, the American public actually is not split when you ask them if they'd like to see a gradual transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. "We find overwhelming bipartisan agreement about that," he said.
As it happens, that transition is a step toward slowing the pace of global climate change.
UPDATED: 07/19/12 - New York Times' Mark Bittman makes a similar "iceberg" analogy - and calls out the supporters of the status quo - in his Opinionator piece, "The Endless Summer" (07/18/12). Good read.
UPDATED: 07/21/12 - Another must-read from the New York Times, "The Climate Change Tipping Point," by Fred Guterl of Scientific American. The piece explores ways scientists are attempting to determine patterns that may hint at larger problems ahead.
UPDATED: 03/15/15 - A new documentary was just released, "Merchants of Doubt," that captures the 'smoke-and-mirrors' sentiment of this post. It's a must see. Here is the trailer:
"According to Kenner, change will come, but not from those shouting at the edges of the argument. Rather, it will grow out of the confused middle, where films such as “Food, Inc.” and “Merchants of Doubt” shine light on hidden, and uncomfortable, truths."