I may have some future posts on this but I wanted to link to it here and give the topline numbers. The paper is titled, ‘Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Discussion of Climate Change.’ The paper’s intent is to understand how professionals confer legitimacy upon themselves, something I’d like to investigate further. But the broad findings by themselves are very interesting.
This survey of scientists and professionals gives far different answers to climate questions than surveys of scientists drawn primarily from academic fields. So the catch is obvious–most of these scientists and professionals work in the petroleum industry in Alberta, Canada. The view that would normally be labeled ‘consensus’ in academia received only 34% backing from this group, with a further 5% backing action despite being brutally unsure about the extent or attribution of climate change.
This means that in private industry the consensus of scientists and professionals is almost the exact opposite of academic opinion, where 66% support the consensus. Here, 61% oppose the consensus.
Those preaching the consensus today will dismiss the findings for two reasons: First, because so many of the respondents to this survey work in the petroleum extraction sector. Second, because 70% of the respondents are engineers (rhymes with ‘sneers’, for the climate activists of today).
Fortunately, I don’t share the prejudices of climate activists so I can look at the survey results and enjoy and perhaps appreciate what is there to be learned. It’s a pity the climate concerned aren’t a bit more open-minded. They could learn a lot from this paper.
From the abstract: “This paper examines the framings and identity work associated with professionals’ discursive construction of climate change science, their legitimation of themselves as experts on ‘the truth’, and their attitudes towards regulatory measures. Drawing from survey responses of 1077 professional engineers and geoscientists, we reconstruct their framings of the issue and knowledge claims to position themselves within their organizational and their professional institutions.”
From the paper: “A survey of scientists in Alberta Canada produced 5 broad groupings of opinion.
The largest group of APEGA respondents (36%) draws on a frame that the researchers label ‘comply with Kyoto’. In their diagnostic framing, they express the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause. They are the only group to see the scientific debate as mostly settled and the IPCC modeling to be accurate, e.g., ‘I believe that the consensus that climate change is occurring is settled.
The second largest group (24%) express a ‘nature is overwhelming’ frame. In their diagnostic framing, they believe that changes to the climate are natural, normal cycles of the Earth. Their focus is on the past: ‘If you think about it, global warming is what brought us out of the Ice Age.’ Humans are too insignificant to have an impact on nature.’
Ten percent of respondents draw on an ‘economic responsibility’ frame. They diagnose climate change as being natural or human caused. More than any other group, they underscore that the ‘real’ cause of climate change is unknown as nature is forever changing and uncontrollable. Similar to the ‘nature is overwhelming’ adherents, they disagree that climate change poses any significant public risk and see no impact on their personal life. They are also less likely to believe that the scientific debate is settled and that the IPCC modeling is accurate.
‘Fatalists’, a surprisingly large group (17%), diagnose climate change as both human- and naturally caused. ‘Fatalists’ consider climate change to be a smaller public risk with little impact on their personal life. They are sceptical that the scientific debate is settled regarding the IPCC modeling: ‘The number of variables and their interrelationships are almost unlimited – if anyone thinks they have all the answers, they have failed to ask all of the questions.’
The last group (5%) expresses a frame the researchers call ‘regulation activists’. This frame has the smallest number of adherents, expresses the most paradoxical framing, and yet is more agentic than ‘comply with Kyoto’. Advocates of this frame diagnose climate change as being both human- and naturally caused, posing a moderate public risk, with only slight impact on their personal life. They are also sceptical with regard to the scientific debate being settled and are the most indecisive whether IPCC modeling is accurate: ‘the largest challenge is to find out what the real truth is… I don’t know what the impact really is. I suspect it is not good.’
They believe that the Kyoto Protocol is doomed to failure (‘can’t do it, even though we should’), yet they motivate others most of all to create regulation: ‘Canada should implement aggressive policies to reduce GHG emissions in the spirit of the Kyoto Accord.’ They also recommend that we define and enact sustainability/stewardship, reduce GHGs, and create incentives.”