The American Meteorological Society surveyed its members and found a surprising result. It turns out that there is no consensus amongst its members that global warming is happening and mostly human caused.
Indeed, only 52 percent of the meteorologists responding to the survey believe global warming is happening and is mostly human-caused, while 48 percent do not. Almost 50/50. Looking deeper, those that research and write about climate topics were more confident that humans were causing global warming but still a substantial number of expert meteorologists were skeptical to one degree or another.
For me, three facts in particular stood out about this survey:
1) It did not treat belief in human caused global warming as a yes or no proposition. Rather in noted a spectrum of skepticisim, from outright disbelief that global warming was happening, to belief that it was happening but not human caused, to belief that it was occurring and partly human caused but not likely to cause serious harm – and a variety of other levels of skepticism. Too often the media, and environmentalists and politicians for political reasons, lump all skeptics together. The AMS avoided this.
2) The two factors that were most likely to influence or predict whether an AMS member believed that humans were causing dangerous global warming, was not independent research or expertise, but rather whether they believed there was a consensus on the matter among those they considered experts (the fallacy of appeal to authority and possibly the fallacy of appeal to majority — neither position is a hallmark of sound science); and, even more unscientific and less professional, whether meteorologist was politically liberal. When politics directs scientific endeavors and beliefs, the search for the knowledge, explanation and the truth is sacrificed to the expedience of political goals.
3) The authors concluded that rather than treating skeptics as ignorant or as fringe researchers, “the AMS should ‘acknowledge and explore the uncomfortable fact that political ideology influences the climate change views of meteorology professionals; refute the idea that those who do hold non-majority views just need to be “educated” about climate change; [and] continue to deal with the conflict among members of the meteorology community.’”
This survey, the way it was conducted and its honest conclusion gives me more hope than I’ve had in a long time concerning the integrity of climate research.