AMS Members Surveyed on Climate Change

February 17, 2012 · 0 comments

by Ray Ban, Andrea Bleistein, and Paul Croft, of the AMS Committee to Improve Climate Change Communication (CICCC)

Most AMS Members apparently agree that there is conflict among their colleagues in the Society on the issue of climate change. Those who perceive the conflict on this issue generally see it as at least a partly or somewhat positive thing, but at least some of them—29%, feel reluctance to bring up the topic of global warming at AMS meetings and functions.

Despite the perception of conflict, 82% of voting Members feel AMS should help to educate the public about global warming and 67% think AMS should help educate policy makers about it.

In fact, Members themselves are already involved in this outreach. They are spending significant time educating the public and policy makers about climate change—the median is 10 hours for this past year, and the mean is 55 hours!

Those are some of the key preliminary findings so far from our recent survey of AMS voting Members, e-mailed in December 2011. The survey was a collaboration between our committee, CICCC, and Dr. Ed Maibach at George Mason University. We asked all 7,197 AMS voting Members about their varied perspectives about climate change. Specifically, we hoped to learn about Members’ assessment of the evidence, perception of conflict among our members, views about AMS’s role in public education, and personal involvement in public education activities.

With a response rate of 26%, the survey results may not be easy to extrapolate to the membership as a whole. Nonetheless, we’ve made the preliminary results, which have been vetted by CICCC members and GMU researchers, available for you on the AMS website.

The AMS Commission on the Weather and Climate Enterprise established CICCC in early 2011 to facilitate communication among members of the weather and climate community so as to foster greater understanding about the spectrum of views on climate change. In addition to evaluating responses, the Committee and its partners held two workshops at the 2012 AMS Annual Meeting to facilitate dialogue about climate change within the AMS membership. More such events are planned for the near future.