AAPG Climate Change Poll Results

In September – October 2019, the AAPG conducted an email-based poll of all members concerning whether or not AAPG should have a position paper and, specifically, should AAPG have a statement on anthropogenic climate change. The AAPG Executive Committee has reviewed the results of that poll and carefully considered every comment provided by the members. We wish to share the results of that poll with the membership. The raw numbers are shown in the table below. However, the Executive Committee spent some time to sort through the data to try and understand the distribution of responses and the demographics of those that took the time to respond.

There were 3,226 members who filled out all or part of the poll. There were some technical issues with the poll when it was first sent out, however, we have eliminated duplicate poll responses that resulted from that issue.

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In September – October 2019, the AAPG conducted an email-based poll of all members concerning whether or not AAPG should have a position paper and, specifically, should AAPG have a statement on anthropogenic climate change. The AAPG Executive Committee has reviewed the results of that poll and carefully considered every comment provided by the members. We wish to share the results of that poll with the membership. The raw numbers are shown in the table below. However, the Executive Committee spent some time to sort through the data to try and understand the distribution of responses and the demographics of those that took the time to respond.

There were 3,226 members who filled out all or part of the poll. There were some technical issues with the poll when it was first sent out, however, we have eliminated duplicate poll responses that resulted from that issue.

Out of the more than 3,000 members who filled out the survey, there were 1,152 who also submitted comments, or about one-third of the respondents. These comments ranged from “thank you for asking for members’ opinions,” to criticism of the polling questions, and some interesting comments that were non sequitur to the topic at hand. The comments were analyzed to attempt to understand if the member (the names were kept anonymous from the analysis) leaned toward a position of believing in anthropogenic climate change or in a position of not believing in ACC. It needs to be noted that the Executive Committee, in requesting the poll, did not advocate a position for a statement but asked if a statement of any kind was needed.

Of the 1,152 members who added comments, there were 183 who could clearly be identified as opposing ACC in some manner and 141 who supported a position of ACC in some manner: a 56-44 percentage split. This is a similar percentage to the response for a statement: 55 percent in favor of a statement. When we examine the responses from those who do not believe in ACC: 42 percent would like a statement and 23 percent do not. Likewise, looking at the responses from those who do believe in ACC, 14 percent do not want a statement and 21 percent do.

Thus, the number of those who favor a statement is equally divided between those who believe in ACC and those that do not. Additionally, from the comments, both those who believe in ACC and those who do not also believe that the science supports their position.

Approximately 80 percent of the poll’s respondents were 50 years old or older, with 63 percent aged 60 or above. Less the 2 percent of the respondents were 30 years of age or younger. Of those commenting, 77 percent were from the sections and 23 percent were from the regions.

From the responses and comments to the poll, we can conclude the following:

  • Our members are almost equally split on whether or not AAPG should have a statement on climate, with those wanting a statement having a slight majority.
  • Our members are also almost equally split as to whether humans have a significant impact on climate.
  • Those members who believe in anthropogenic climate change are slightly more supportive of AAPG having a climate statement than those members who do not believe human activity strongly influences climate.

Future Steps

The Executive Committee is now working on drafting a statement on climate. As part of that process, we have reviewed statements put forward by other organizations, both scientific member organizations and commercial organizations. We are also working with AAPG’s Corporate Advisory Board to ensure that our statement is in line with our corporate members and sponsors.

In drafting a climate statement, we are taking into account the comments received in the membership poll, advice from the Division of Professional Affairs, advice from the Ad Hoc Committee on Climate Change, solicited comments from the sections and regions leadership and recommendations from the Advisory Council and Corporate Advisory Board. With the advice and comments from this broad cross-section of our membership and leadership, the EC is confident that it can write and bring forward a statement on climate that reflects the values and concerns of the membership and remains true to the mission of AAPG. Stay tuned!

Comments (10)

Proper statistics and more science needed
Statistically speaking, some conclusions from the survey are questionable: Numbers are clearly very small as compared to the membership, and the opinion of the members on anthropogenic climate change was not explicitly asked in this survey. Analyzing statistics based on free comments could clearly lead to statistical bias. Scientifically speaking, I am also unclear about the value of "belief" for a scientific organization as compared to peer-reviewed scientific papers.
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5/12/2020 5:48:18 AM
Science-based statement on climate change
In celebration of Earth Day, I recommend that members peruse the Climate Change Position Statement of the American Geophysical Union, the first sentence of which reads, "Immediate and coordinated actions to limit and adapt to human-caused climate change are needed to protect human and ecological health, economic well-being, and global security." I'm exceedingly proud to be a member of AGU, an organization that is promoting earth science data-driven change for the betterment of our life on this good earth.
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4/23/2020 11:17:49 AM
Measures of influence
An impressive summary of the poll on Anthropogenic Climate Change by Jeff Aldrich and Robert Shoup. This was no small task to take on, thank you very much. Venturing out to suggest that anything that lives on the planet has an impact big or small, would it be feasible for us to get a sense of how and to what degree anthropogenic activities and geologic parameters have influenced climate change? Since both occur at the same time but each is measurable on a different time scale, it would seem fitting to expect some overlap as well as some very distinct levels of impact attributable to each.
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4/10/2020 1:10:26 PM
AAPG needs a reality-based ACC statement
Thanks to Jeff Aldrich and Robert Shoup for expending the time and effort to interpret and report the results of the 2019 AAPG Climate Change poll. It is interesting that the ratio of responses favoring AAPG having a climate statement approximates a 2018 Gallup analysis showing 56% of Americans over the age of 55 worry about climate change Https://news.gallup.com/poll/234314/global-warming-age-gap-younger-americans-worried.aspx . The low response rate from AAPG members under 30 (2%) is unfortunate, since the same 2018 Gallup analysis found 70% of young adults (18 to 34) worry about global warming. It is heartening to hear that the AAPG EC is now “…drafting a statement on climate.” The Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 crisis aptly demonstrates that a problem cannot be solved by just wishing it away. Whether anthropogenic climate change (ACC) is “real” or not does not matter. There will be physical and/or political ramifications to the petroleum industry in the coming years. We ignore this issue at our peril. As I point out in my February AAPG Bulletin paper, How Action on Climate Change Could Benefit US Natural Gas Producers, But Not without Federal Mandates, the US NG industry can both maintain a viable business model and seriously help mitigate ACC. But this can only be done with a properly designed Federal plan. “Consequently, professionals within the petroleum industry and especially within AAPG, should be involved in discussions of what a proper mitigation plan should be and how our industry should adapt to that plan.” Good luck developing AAPG’s statement on ACC.
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4/8/2020 12:33:53 PM
ACC statement by EC of AAPG
Why does the EC find it necessary to draft a statement on ACC, especially after reviewing the results of the poll showing an approximate split in membership for such? I found the poll results very interesting and has value as a stand alone product. In fact, I would like to see more polls of the membership on controversial subjects related to the concerns of AAPG. Knowing the detailed demographics of AAPG is the first step, where is that reported on an annual basis?
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4/7/2020 2:54:51 PM
ACC Survey
AAPG needs to survey the membership to determine the percentage that accept ACC and the percentage that does not. This will inform the EC as to what a position paper should say.
4/2/2020 3:20:46 PM
Let's focus on helping AAPG constituents during this time of crisis
AAPG has wrestled with climate change statements over the years without providing any benefit to members unless you count venting many spleens. Can AAPG instead focus on helping members by providing opportunities to learn about the petroleum geoscience we know best, mentoring Young Professionals and students who are seeing a price collapse for the first time, and providing virtual community to support each other?
4/2/2020 10:42:59 AM
American Association of PETROLEUM Geos
Start advocating the goodness that is hydrocarbons and the hydrocarbon molecule. Start showing and talking about how the petroleum business improves the human condition. How cheap energy (oil and gas and coal) lifts people from poverty, improves health, education, living conditions, etc. Thats what AAPG should do and when not doing that start educating folks on the anthropogenic climate change boondoggle and its falsities by using geology to prove it and how if we went down the path that the climate catastrophist want us to go the human misery it would bring. Ernie Grodi
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4/2/2020 10:34:31 AM
Science does not go away when we put our head in sediment
Well, whatever. People have a right to state what they believe in. If 50% do not believe in climate science, so be it. By the way, how are we feeling about health science? Will we ignore the warnings of these scientists over the coronavirus? No it is not different, except it may impact you this year versus a longer time frame. It is not ethical to choose what good science to follow simply because one is more convenient than the other....
4/1/2020 4:50:00 PM
ad hoc Committee on Climate Change
For the record, the ad hoc Committee on Climate Change ceased to exist on June 30, 2019, and its former members are not currently providing advice to AAPG. The recommendation of the committee to the 2018-2019 EC in February of 2019 stands as the final work of the committee, and has not been reviewed by or published to the membership at large.
4/1/2020 2:04:05 PM

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