by Judith Curry
The American Meteorological Society has issued a draft report on the results from a survey of the views of their membership on climate change.
Their report on the initial findings is found [here]. Excerpts from the Summary:
This report provides initial findings from the national survey of American Meteorological Society (AMS) member views on climate change conducted by George Mason University and AMS, with National Science Foundation funding.
Our survey was administered via email between January 6 and January 31, 2016. After making an initial request to participate, we sent up to five additional requests/reminders to participate to those people who had not yet completed a survey. A total of 4,092 AMS members participated, with participants coming from the United States and internationally. The participation rate in the survey was 53.3%.
Funding for this research was provided by NSF Award # DRL-1422431.
Views on climate change:
- Nearly all AMS members (96%) think climate change – as defined by AMS – is happening, with almost 9 out of 10 (89%) stating that they are either ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ sure it is happening. Only 1% think climate change is not happening, and 3% say they don’t know.
- A large majority of AMS members indicated that human activity is causing at least a portion of the changes in the climate over the past 50 years. Specifically: 29% think the change is largely or entirely due to human activity (i.e., 81 to 100%); 38% think most of the change is caused by human activity (i.e., 61 to 80%); 14% think the change is caused more or less equally by human activity and natural events; and 7% think the change is caused mostly by natural events. Conversely, 5% think the change is caused largely or entirely by natural events, 6% say they don’t know, and 1% think climate change isn’t happening.
- AMS members have diverse views on the extent to which additional climate change can be averted over the next 50 years, if mitigation measures are taken worldwide. Only 18% think a large amount or almost all additional climate change can be averted, while many more think a moderate (42%) or a small (25%) amount of additional climate change can be averted. Only 9% think almost no additional climate change can be averted, and 6% say they don’t know.
- AMS members also hold diverse views about the extent to which harm – to people’s health, agriculture, fresh water supplies, transportation systems, and homes and other buildings – can be prevented over the next 50 years. About one quarter to one third (22% to 37%) think a large amount or almost all of the harm to these things can be prevented, while approximately another one third (30% to 43%) think a moderate amount of harm can be prevented, and about one quarter (17% to 28%) think only a small amount or none of the harm can be prevented. About one in ten (7 to 10%) don’t know, and about one in twenty (3 to 5%) don’t think there will be any harm from climate change in the next 50 years.
- Nearly one in five AMS members (17%) say their opinion about climate change has changed in the past five years. Of those, the large majority (87%) say they now feel more convinced that climate change is happening, most commonly because of one or more of the following reasons: new peer-reviewed climate science (66%); the scientific community becoming more certain (48%); having personally seen evidence of climate change (46%); or one or more climate scientists who influenced them (30%).
Views on local impacts of climate change:
- Nearly three out of every four AMS members (74%) think the local climate in their area has changed in the past 50 years as a result of climate change, while one in ten (11%) think it hasn’t, and a nearly one in six say they don’t know (15%).
- Seven out of ten AMS members who think their local climate has changed say the impacts have been primarily harmful (36%) or approximately equally mixed between harmful and beneficial (36%). One out of five (21%) AMS members say they don’t know.
- Almost eight in ten AMS members (78%) think the local climate in their area will change over the next 50 years. About half (47%) of these respondents say the impacts will be primarily harmful, while 29% say the impacts will be equally mixed between beneficial and harmful. One in five are not sure how climate change will impact their local area.A diverse group of AMS members participated in the survey:
- Approximately eight in ten respondents are men (81%) and one in five are women (18%). Respondents range in age from 18 to 29 (6%) to 70+ (11%), with a modal age category of 50 to 59 (25%).
- Most respondents hold a BS (32%), MS (30%) or Ph.D (33%) in meteorology/atmospheric science. Other commonly reported degrees are BS (17%), MS (10%), or Ph.D (12%) degrees in another STEM field.
- More than one in three (37%) AMS members who participated in this survey consider themselves ‘expert’ in climate science.
The key issue is what % of AMS members agree with the IPCC conclusion on attribution (extremely likely that more than half . . .). According to these numbers, 67% think that humans are causing at least 61% of the warming. For comparison, the previous AMS survey found 52% thought the warming was ‘mostly’ attributed to humans. It is not clear from the survey how strong these convictions are, in terms of ‘extremely likely’, etc. We’ll see if their final report includes further insights.
While this is not one of the better constructed surveys on this issue, I regard the AMS membership as an extremely important one to survey on this issue. While Ph.D.s comprised only about a third of the respondents, I regard B.S. and M.S. meteorologists as more qualified to judge on the issue of attribution than are many ‘climate’ scientists included in such surveys that have Ph.D.s in ecology, economics, health impacts, etc.
One final comment. I did not respond to the survey, because I did not receive the email soliciting my response (some snafu over renewing my membership b/c of an expired credit card). Peter Webster did receive the survey and showed it to me. I have to say my first reaction to the survey would have been not to respond; the lead author on this is Edward Maibach, of the RICO 20 – second signatory after Shukla (I wonder if other AMS members reacted in this way). My concerns with the George Mason group being in charge of this is that they are on record as advocates on this issue. From my perspective, the selection of questions was not as meaningful as it could have been (e.g. better questions were asked in the Netherlands survey).