Documenting a Flashpoint

So, as I often do, I've been turning the idea of getting the word out about climate change beyond scientific circles. Now I'm not trying to say that there haven't already been mammoth efforts on that score (along with a couple Nobel prizes), but a recent Gallup poll says that 52% of US citizens believe there's scientific consensus on climate change and 47% believe in scientific consensus on anthropogenic warming (that is, humans are causing it). But when these folks surveyed Earth scientists, they found the numbers much higher - climatologists answered 96% or so to both.

But there was a funky thing going on. The farther away from climate science that scientists got, in terms of their primary discipline, the less they believed in the consensus on anthropogenic warming. That, to me, says some interesting things - when it's not your field of study, how important is a "scientifically trained" mind? Apparently, it's worth something - more Earth scientists, regardless of discipline, believed in consensus than random citizens. But it's not worth as much as a lot of people may believe - more often than anything else, the reasoning I hear behind climate change (and the reasoning I repeat myself) is that it's scientifically determined. Well, so; but apparently just being a scientist doesn't change much. I'd be willing to wager that scientists in radically different fields believe in consensus just as much as non-scientists (with equivalent education), or near enough.

So that says something interesting, but there was a specific fact that also leaped out at me. The group of Earth scientists with the lowest consensus, at only 64%, was meteorologists. And that sparked some thoughts.

Now, before I go on (and on) about this, a note. First, it's hardly a representative sample - the sample size for meteorologists was like, 34 people. That's not a very good statistic amount. But still, that's a fair amount of meteorologists who don't believe in consensus, especially considering that their field is much, much closer to climatology (I would argue, anyway) than, say, geochemists (more of whom, apparently, believe in consensus). So, yes, I understand - it's not representative.

But it kinda is, because in my trawlings around the internet, I've encountered other things about meteorologists. (And apparently, even the dudes on the television have to be accredited as meteorologists.)

And it also made me remember an article I read a while back. Sadly, I've googled to hell and back and can't find it, but the thrust of it was that meteorologists are bizarrely unaccepting of the concept of climate change. Which is strange. And, ultimately, sad - the meteorologist on television and the newspaper is one of the best ways people could be reached. Imagine having the weatherman explain what climate change could mean for your region in fifty years.

Indeed, if meteorologists were able to connect honestly with the public about climate change, then there would probably be a raise in the level of people who believe in consensus. I'm not trying to say that meteorologists should be quick to connect a weather-related disaster to global warming (newspeople kinda already do that) - I'm saying that meteorologists across the board should be knowledgeable about climate change and what it means.

I mean, what is that we're doing now but trying to change our own forecasts?

Finally, it's worth noting that the group of people who believe in global warming less than meteorologists are Economic Geologists. I had to look it up, but this is the group of people who figure out where valuable stuff is in the Earth. Great.

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