There’s a recent post on Watts Up With That (WUWT) called the 97% consensus myth busted by a real survey. It discusses a recent paper that reports on Meteorologists’ views about global warming. The survey was of all American Meteorologial Society (AMS) members who had email addresses. What’s got Anthony excited is that – as shown in the table below – of those who responded, only 52% agreed that global warming was primarily caused by humans.
What Anthony doesn’t really highlight is that the survey was commissioned by the AMS’s Committee to Improve Climate Communication and was motivated by the tension among members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) who hold different views on the topic. Anthony suggests that the authors were surprised by the result, but that’s a little odd given that such tensions were known to exist. As far as I can tell, the goal of the paper was not to actually determine what fraction of AMS members accept AGW, it was to try and understand the reasons why members might have different views about AGW. As such, the paper had 4 basic hypotheses
- H1: As compared with professionals with less expertise in climate change, professionals with more expertise will have higher levels of personal certainty that global warming is happening.
- H2: As compared with professionals with a more conservative political orientation, professionals with a more liberal political orientation will have higher levels of personal certainty that global warming is happening.
- H3: As compared with professionals who perceive less scientific consensus about global warming, professionals who perceive more scientific consensus will have higher levels of personal certainty that global warming is happening.
- H4: As compared with professionals who perceive less conflict about global warming within the membership base of their professional society, professionals who perceive more conflict will report lower levels of personal certainty that global warming is happening.
Each hypothesis also included whether they would regard it as likely to be harmful or to be beneficial. The paper concluded that all of these factors indeed influence whether or not someone would regard global warming as being anthropogenic or not and whether or not they would expect it to be beneficial or harmful. They essentially confirmed all 4 of their hypotheses and say
Confirmation of our four hypotheses shows that meteorologists’ views about global warming observed in the last 150 years are associated with, and may be causally influenced by, a range of personal and social factors. In other words, the notion that expertise is the single dominant factor shaping meteorologists’ views of global warming appears to be simplistic to the point of being incorrect.
So, the goal of the paper was to try and understand what might influence meteorologists’ views about AGW so as to inform how best to communicate climate science to members of the AMS. It’s fairly clear that the authors accept the consensus view on AGW and, as the abstract itself says,
[w]e suggest that AMS should: attempt to convey the widespread scientific agreement about climate change; acknowledge and explore the uncomfortable fact that political ideology influences the climate change views of meteorology professionals
As far as I can tell, the survey does indeed show that only around 52% of AMS members accept AGW but this is more because of their particular expertise, their political views, their views with respect to consensus, and whether or not they perceived significant conflict about the topic. It doesn’t imply anything with respect to AGW itself other than the AMS should probably do something about how climate science is communicated to its members. To finish I thought I would highlight this relevant, but possibly controversial, post by David Appell called climate scientists are the opposite of weathermen.