Master thesis open: quantifying the position of scientists with regard to the debate on climate change

Published on
January 28, 2013

The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) is looking for a motivated master student with affinity for statistical analysis, methods of research, and the civil debate on climate change.

In order to obtain a better understanding of how climate scientists perceive the public debate (e.g., regarding their level of so-called “skepticism”) on the scientific aspects of climate change, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (commissioned by the Ministry of I & M), in co-operation with the Dutch Weather Institute (KNMI) and the University of Queensland (Australia), carried out an extensive survey in March and April 2012 under 1,868 international climate scientists. The data give opportunities to a multitude of relevant questions to answer. One of the questions concerns the identification of the most ‘skeptical’ issues, e.g., on the basis of a positioning at two axes: the number of scientists who support a certain skeptical theory/opinion versus the extent to which this view differs from the 'mainstream'-insights such as these expressed in the fourth assessment report of the IPCC (AR4). The aim is to gain insight into the question what issues are considered by the scientific community as the most/least relevant. The PBL would also like to gain insight into the quantification of the degree of scepticism, for instance by performing a factor analysis or latent class analysis. The analysis is to be recorded in a research report (the thesis) and, if possible, in a scientific publication.

The thesis student should have knowledge of climate science, affinity with the climate debate, and demonstrable experience with conducting data analyses (e.g., in SPSS). Guidance in the field of methodology and statistics is given by a supervisor of the Research Methodology.