The "consensus" myth – exposed again, this time by a real survey .
Meteorologists and other atmospheric science experts are playing important roles in helping society respond to climate change. However, members of this professional community are not unanimous in their views of climate change, and there has been tension among members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) who hold different views on the topic. In response, AMS created the Committee to Improve Climate Change Communication to explore and, to the extent possible, resolve these tensions. To support this committee, in January 2012 we surveyed all AMS members with known email addresses, achieving a 26.3% response rate ( n=1,854 ).
Research conducted to date with meteorologists and other atmospheric scientists has shown that they are not unanimous in their views of climate change. In a survey of earth scientists, Doran and Zimmerman (2009) found that while a majority of meteorologists surveyed are convinced humans have contributed to global warming (64%), this was a substantially smaller majority than that found among all earth scientists (82%). Another survey, by Farnsworth and Lichter (2009), found that 83% of meteorologists surveyed were convinced human-induced climate change is occurring, again a smaller majority than among experts in related areas such as ocean sciences (91%) and geophysics (88%).
The most important question in the AMS survey was done in two parts:
“Is global warming happening? If so, what is its cause?”
Respondent options were:
- Yes: Mostly human
- Yes: Equally human and natural
- Yes: Mostly natural
- Yes: Insufficient evidence [to determine cause]
- Yes: Don’t know cause
- Don’t know if global warming is happening
- Global warming is not happening
Just 52 percent of survey respondents answered Yes: Mostly human.