Thursday, January 7, 2010

Meteorologists Biggest Skeptics Regarding Global Warming

Over the years, many have heard me opine that meteorologists (and geologists) are perhaps the biggest skeptics with regard to human-caused global warming.  Here is a video report regarding a survey of meteorologists on the issue.  Only 19% (!) believe the climate models are reliable.  I think you'll find the brief video quite interesting.

You will frequently hear "A majority of scientists agree human-induced global warming is real."  But look at the questions and composition of the survey:

Experts in academia and government research centers were e-mailed invitations to participate

Two questions were key: have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.

Note that the sample excludes scientists outside of academia and government research centers.  The questions themselves prove nothing.  "Pre-1800's levels" were the temperatures associated with the Little Ice Age!  Of course temperatures have warmed since then.  The second question regarding "human activity" being "significant" is one I would answer "yes" to, but is not terribly relevant to the IPCC's hypothesis that CO2 is the culprit.  There are many ways that humans affect the climate such as urbanization, deforestation, creation of soot, etc.  So, one could answer yes to the question and still believe the IPCC's hypothesis is wrong or overstated.

Of course, the survey sponsors were dismissive of the opinions of meteorologists and geologists:

"The petroleum geologist response is not too surprising, but the meteorologists' is very interesting," he said. "Most members of the public think meteorologists know climate, but most of them actually study very short-term phenomenon."

After you watch the video, consider this question:  If we are going to "science by poll" (a terrible way to do science), then shouldn't the fact that the scientists are most familiar with atmospheric processes (meteorologists) and the evolution of the earth (geologists) are skeptical carry a great deal of weight?

UPDATE:  This global warming "coaching" for the news media was brought to my attention today. Note how they "use" the survey results mentioned above.

Avoid false balance. Some journalists, trying to be fair and balanced, report the views of climate change sceptics as a counterweight to climate change stories. But this can be a false balance if minority views are given equal prominence to well-accepted science. For example, an overwhelming majority of climatologists believe that average global temperatures have risen compared to pre-1800s levels and that human activity is a significant factor in this. [emphasis mine]

No wonder so many news stories about global warming seem like they come from the same template.

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