Wondering Willis Eschenbach is irate (archived here). He's discovered a survey conducted by Pew Research Center that sampled the views of AAAS members as well as the general public.
The survey itself was of people living in the USA. It included questions on a range of topics relevant to science. For example:
- genetically modified foods,
- safety of foods grown using pesticides
- vaccination of children
- evolution of humans
- human influence on climate
- humans straining the supply of natural resources
Willis dons his tin foil hat and talks about the AGW "hypothesis"
Sounds good … until you realize that not only is membership in AAAS “open to all”, but in addition anyone who subscribes to Science magazine is a member of AAAS … and for years Science magazine has been a strong supporter of the hypothesis that “climate change is mostly caused by human activity”, whatever that might mean.
So we are already dealing with a self-selected group of people, many of them not scientists, who read a magazine that for years has strongly supported the “anthropogenic global warming” (AGW) hypothesis.
But wait … it gets worse. For starters, you’d think that the Pew Research folks would have made a selection of scientists that weren’t subscribers to a magazine that has an axe to grind. And you’d also think that they would have picked … well … scientists.
What scientific societies dispute AGW? Answer: None
I've got a question for Willis at this point. Can he tell us which scientific society would have a majority of members who don't accept that humans are causing global warming. He might reply with the American Meteorological Society, which came close. A survey was done of its members a year or so back. It found that only 52% of respondents accepted that humans are the main cause of global warming. Most of those who accepted the facts were scientists who were doing research in climate-related fields. Most who didn't weren't doing research (59%) or were doing research unrelated to climate (34%). 93% of people saying they were publishing research related to climate agreed that humans are causing most of the warming.
In any case, that survey wouldn't meet Willis' criteria. He was arguing that the AAAS people included in the survey weren't necessarily scientists. The same can be said for the AMS survey. 44% of the people responding to that survey said they weren't publishing any research. And another 43% weren't publishing research relating to climate. Only 13% of respondents reported publishing climate-related research.
So where does that leave Willis? I don't know of any scientific organisation that has a policy relating to climate, which doesn't agree that humans are causing global warming. Is there one?
Willis wants to breach privacy
Willis thinks it gets worse. He wrote:
But failing both of those, once the Pew Center folks had foolishly chosen to sample from AAAS members, surely they would make their own random selection of the AAAS membership? … well, think again. Their methods section cited above goes on to say:
“A simple random sample of AAAS members was selected for participation by the staff of AAAS.
At this point, I’ve got to assume that the good folks at Pew have lost the plot entirely. They let the staff of the AAAS, a group which by and large seems to have swallowed the climate koolaid without demur, choose a “random sample” of which “scientists” the Pew folks would interview. Yeah, that’s the ticket, that inspires confidence …
Now I don't know what Willis expected. Organisations do not normally hand out details of its members to anyone. They are usually happy to participate in reputable surveys but they'll do the initial sampling themselves. Most certainly wouldn't hand over their full membership list with personal details of their members. That would be considered a breach of trust and a breach of privacy. (In Australia if an organisation the size of the AAAS handed over member's personal details it would probably be in contravention of Australia's privacy legislation. I don't know what the situation is in the USA.)
What Willis is arguing is that the AAAS cannot be trusted to take a random sample of its members. That's his tin foil hat showing. He's just another conspiracy theorist of the type one finds every day on denier blogs like WUWT.
Here are details of the survey sample of AAAS members:
As you can see the majority, by a large margin, are in the bio/medical sciences.
I don't understand the question, sez Willis
Failing all that, Willis gets down to semantics and argues that the question was badly worded, writing:
Then there’s the matter of the poorly worded question. They asked if “climate change is mostly due to human activity”, with 87% of “scientists” saying yes versus 50% of citizens. I hate this kind of vague question, with no time frame on it, no definition of “climate change”, and no definition of “mostly”. For example, the IPCC defines “climate change” as being human caused … but under the general definition, the climate has been changing forever. This means that the well is poisoned before we even start. And what period of time are they talking about? The last ten years, during which there has been no statistically significant warming? The last century? The period since industrialization? And is 51% “mostly” or not? A vague question like that means nothing even if the rest of the survey had been handled perfectly.
That's what I call picking nits. In any case, Willis got the question wrong. Here it is as asked:
Which of these three statements about the earth’s temperature comes closest to your view?
[READ AND RANDOMIZE FIRST TWO OPTIONS; KEEP THIRD OPTION LAST]:
- The earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels [OR]
- The earth is getting warmer mostly because of natural patterns in the earth’s environment
- There is no solid evidence that the earth is getting warmer
- Don’t know/Refused
Looks to me fairly obvious that the question relates to the current warming, not climate change in general and not just the last ten years. Willis, who insists that people "have the courtesy to QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS YOU DISAGREE WITH", often doesn't bother with exact words himself.
What else does Willis Eschenbach dispute?
Now given Willis doesn't want to believe that most scientists agree that humans are causing global warming you've got to wonder if he agrees with the general public? He doesn't say. I think it's reasonable to ask him if he agrees that:
- It's not safe to eat GM foods (37% general public and 88% AAAS agree it is safe)
- It's not safe to eat foods that have been grown using pesticides (28% general public and 68% AAAS agree it is safe)
- We should not build more nuclear plants (45% general public and 65% AAAS say we should build more)
- There should be no increased use of fracking (Only 39% general public and 31% AAAS favour an increase)
- The growing world population will strain natural resources (59% general public and 82% AAAS agree)
The above are all from the results of US adult (general public) responses to the Pew Survey. You'll be interested to know that the general public agrees that:
- Humans have evolved over time. (68% general public and 98% AAAS agree)
- Childhood vaccines such as MMR should be required (68% general public and 86% AAAS agree)
The gap between scientists and the general public
You can download the pdf of the survey here.