By Keith L. Seitter, AMS Executive Director
27 November 2013
(AMS) – Earlier this week, the Heartland Institute appears to have sent an extensive e-mail blast with what is more or less a press release for a paper that will appear in an upcoming issue of BAMS titled “Meteorologists’ Views about Global Warming: A Survey of American Meteorological Society Professional Members” (in full disclosure, I am a coauthor on this paper). A disturbing aspect of this e-mail is that it seems some effort was placed in making it appear to have been sent by AMS. It was sent from an e-mail account with AMS in the name (though not from the “ametsoc.org” domain) and featured the AMS logo prominently (used without permission from AMS). Only in the fine print at the bottom was it clear that this apparently came from the Heartland Institute. The text of the e-mail reports results from the study far differently than I would, leaving an impression that is at odds with how I would characterize those results.
If you got this Heartland Institute e-mail, or if you have read articles or blog posts related to this study, my suggestion is simple. Rather than take someone else’s interpretation of the survey results, read the paper yourself and draw your own conclusions. It is freely available here as an Early Online Release. [more]
ABSTRACT: 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). In this paper we tested four hypotheses: (1) perceived conflict about global warming will be negatively associated -- and (2) climate expertise, (3) liberal political ideology, and (4) perceived scientific consensus will be positively associated -- with (a) higher personal certainty that global warming is happening, (b) viewing the global warming observed over the past 150 years as mostly human-caused, and (c) perception of global warming as harmful. All four hypotheses were confirmed. Expertise, ideology, perceived consensus and perceived conflict were all independently related to respondents' views on climate, with perceived consensus and political ideology being most strongly related. We suggest that AMS should: attempt to convey the widespread scientific agreement about climate change; 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; continue to deal with the conflict among members of the meteorology community.
In a survey of American Meteorological Society members, perceived scientific consensus was the strongest predictor of global warming views, followed by political ideology, climate science expertise, and perceived organizational conflict.