Friday, March 25, 2016

New survey shows more AMS members accept global warming

Sou | 1:55 AM Go to the first of 10 comments. Add a comment
There was a report of a survey of American Meteorological Society (AMS) members published a couple of years ago, which deniers touted quite a bit. It showed that the least well-informed about climate science were also the least likely to accept that humans are causing global warming. Just released are the initial results of another survey of AMS members by some of the same researchers. It's not exactly a repeat, but the questions are not dissimilar. They are close enough for a comparison I believe. There's been a shift toward understanding climate science among AMS members since the first survey was conducted.

The first thing I noticed was that participation in the survey more than doubled this time around. There was a very good response rate from AMS members with 4,092 responding to this years' survey compared to 1,854 in 2014:

The next thing I noticed was that there was a jump in the proportion of respondents who agreed that global warming (from any cause) is happening, up from 88% in 2014 to 96% this year:

Then there was also a jump in the proportion who attributed global warming mostly to human activity and a big reduction in the number who said they don't know what's the cause of the warming. This is where the latest survey had an improvement on the question, so the responses aren't strictly comparable. I've squeezed them into categories to give you an idea of the shift:

The actual questions and responses for the 2016 survey are shown below. The big improvement is that the question is timebound, not open to many and varied interpretations, which was one of the concerns with the previous survey:

There are more nuanced and detailed questions in the survey, which you can download here. This includes questions about mitigation, and questions on the shift in thinking of AMS members over the past couple of years. Eighty seven per cent (87%) of the 17% who had changed their thinking said they were now more convinced that human-caused climate change is happening. Thirteen per cent were less convinced.

The next time some denier quotes the old AMS survey results at you, you can now point them to this latest one showing that a not insignificant number of AMS members have learnt something more about climate change in the past couple of years.

References and further reading

Stenhouse, Neil, Edward Maibach, Sara Cobb, Ray Ban, Andrea Bleistein, Paul Croft, Eugene Bierly, Keith Seitter, Gary Rasmussen, and Anthony Leiserowitz. "Meteorologists' views about global warming: A survey of American Meteorological Society professional members." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95, no. 7 (2014): 1029-1040. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00091.1 (open access)

Maibach, E., Perkins, D., Francis, Z., Myers, T., Englbom, A., et al. (2016) A 2016 National Survey of American Meteorological Society Member Views on Climate Change: Initial Findings. George Mason University, Fairfax, VA: Center for Climate Change Communication. (pdf here)


  1. The doubling in the participation rate may well be important for the change. The mitigation sceptics are quite, let's say, active.

    But there was also a large change in the perceived cause of global warming in 2016. Only 31% of USA are wrong and still claim global warming has natural causes. (It is sad that that number is not better for AMS members.)

    1. It will be interesting to see the results broken down by respondents' levels of education, fields of specialization, and expertise (e.g., by climate research publication activity or other metrics), but it wasn't done in the short initial report.

  2. Robin: Batshitman!!! The AGW conspiracy is about to crush more skeptic arguments under its vast warmist wheels!

    Batshitman: Quick, Robin, to the batshitcave and the meme generator!


    Batshitman: Again!


    Batshitman: Again...


    Batshitman: ...again?


    Robin: ...I think it's broken.

    1. A working one would output "Al Gore is fat"

    2. And/or But... but... Benghaziiiii!

  3. "It's not exactly a repeat, but the questions are not dissimilar. "

    In general, design of good surveys is very tricky, and is rarely done well by people without the relevant survey-design expertise.
    Even experts screw up, but this one was much better.

    For instance,
    "Second, our estimates of the proportion of AMS
    members who are convinced that global warming is
    occurring should be interpreted in light of an issue
    that arose regarding the time frame of global warming
    that we asked about. We asked respondents specifically
    about global warming that occurred over the last
    150 years. ...
    Six respondents
    sent e-mails to notify us that their answers would have
    been different if we had asked about the most recent
    50-yr time frame rather than the 150-yr time frame;
    the time frame used in the question may have also
    influenced other respondents. Our results therefore
    may represent a more conservative estimate of the
    consensus on global warming than would have been
    obtained had we asked about a 50-yr time frame."

    That was from the earlier survey, and they fixed it in this one.

    Even minor differences in wording can make a difference. I once heard a great talk by Jon Krosnick at Stanford with examples of that.

  4. The education level is interesting. Only 66% hold a bachelors' degree, 50% a masters' degree, and 53% a PhD. There might be under-counting, especially at the bachelors level, if some people either didn't list all their degrees or skipped over a degree. But I think it reasonable to conclude that a substantial proportion of those questioned haven't had much or indeed any education relevant to climate change, and given the age profile (>50% >50 years) their education took place a while back, probably before climate change featured heavily in most syllabuses.

    1. Yes, the age profile of respondents was interesting. 31% were at least 60 years old. The other thing is that 57% didn't consider themselves expert in climate science, which doesn't surprise me. As I understand it, the AMS is mostly for weather people, not climate science researchers.

      After the first study one of the recommendations was educating AMS members. It seems to be working, though there's still a way to go.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Considering it's America, perhaps the survey should have asked about religious beliefs as well :D


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