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Climate Hustle

TV Meteorologists Seen Warming to Climate Science

Posted on 1 May 2018 by greenman3610

This month’s “This is Not Cool” Yale Climate Connections video reports several leading TV weathercasters’ views on discussing climate in the context of weather forecasting.

Through their own words in a series of in-person and Skype interviews, plus clips from some recent broadcasts on extreme weather events, independent videographer Peter Sinclair’s video describes the rapidly evolving perspectives: prominent national and local broadcast meteorologists saying they now see it as their responsibility to keep certain weather events in the context of the changing climate.

The TV weathercasters featured in the video relate how their views on the science of climate change have evolved in recent years. “I think you’re seeing more and more TV meteorologists understand that responsibility,” says Washington Post meteorologist Jason Samenow.

Raleigh, N.C., WRAL-TV meteorologist Greg Fishel points to TV weathercasters being a principal link between the science community and the public, placing a “tremendous responsibility to make sure that we are not letting any ideology into our science reporting, that we are dealing with facts and relaying them as accurately as we can to the public.”

Phoenix ABC 15 chief meteorologist Amber Sullins points to “a definite increase in the amount of extreme heat just in my life time there in the City of Phoenix.”

“It’s irresponsible if you don’t put the current weather trends into some sort of climate context,” Samenow says. “There are some people who don’t want to hear about that, but you’re not telling the entire story if you just report the weather and you don’t explain how this weather fits into changes which are happening.”

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Comments 1 to 10:

  1. I find it astounding in the video that some people are still stupid enough to genuinely believe "climate change is a hoax", however this research gives some understanding of why. It finds conspiracy believers either have lower IQ, or lack a strong motivation to be rational. 

    And its great meteorologists are spreading awareness, and they are in a perfect position to bust open denialist myths that conflate weather and climate.

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  2. Dr Ivar Giaever is a Nobel laureate who believes that global warming is a religion of sorts. So when an uninformed person is getting information from a person like Dr. Giaever, it can be confusing to determine what is the truth.

    Meteorologists are important scientific ambassadors in this respect, but they also risk losing their jobs if they speak up too much on what is still a very controversial subject. We need to respect and support the effort and risk they are making by speaking up.

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  3. #1

    I would be very hesitant to say that those who believe climate change is a hoax have a lower IQ.  As for motivation to be rational?  There is a radio personality on USA Public Radio, Shankar Vedantum, whose book "The Hidden Brain"  points to much evidence that most of us are far less rational than we think.  Most of us have deeply held beliefs we have clung do for decades.  Something as feeble as "facts" is not about to change that! 

    Only when you come to accept that that is the case can one move beyond one's personal biases.  It has very little to do with relative intelligence.  Some of the most "stupid" people I know are far smarter than I am.  This is something to bear in mind  when talking with a "true believer".

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  4. I watch the Weather Channel quite a bit and have yet to see anything other than a passing comment concerning climate and that is quite rare.  As for IQ being a reason for denial I don't encounter that.  What I see in discussions from deniers is 100% politics.  I can't enter a discussion, not even mentioning a person or anything political, and immediately get called a liberal.

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  5. If you've read this far down into the Comments section, chances are you will be interested in the following post about Paul Douglas, one of the most respected weather forecasters who spoke out on Climate Change.

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  6. Meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters, a former "Hurricane Hunter" crew member, co-founded The Weather Underground, Inc. in 1995 while working on his Ph.D.  In the meteorology community, he was an early supporter the findings of climate science that indicated that AGW/CC (Anthropogenic Global Warming and Climate
    Change) was a looming disaster for human civilization.from   Jeff was among the minority of meteorologists for many years

    One of the subset of blogs at Weather Underground for several years was that of University of Michigan climate scientist and mitigation planner Dr. Ricky Rood.  I participated at the Rood blog for several years, discussing science and doing battle with hard-core AGW/CC denialists, even as I continued to study climate science.  I even took an online course (MOOC) in basic climate science from Canada's University of British Columbia.  

    Unfortunately, the Rood climate blog was discontinued a couple of years ago when IBM purchased Weather Underground for its weather analysis products.  Fortunately, even though it does not produce a "revenue stream"  Jeff Masters and his climate communication associate Bob Henson, continue to blog there - and they frequently discuss climate and AGW/CC. 

    During my years of participation at Dr. Rood's blog, I became acutely aware that, based on surveys, a majority of broadcast meteorologists were firmly in the "AGW/CC denialist" camp.  Along with the engineering community, these were two major groups of science-based professionals that we should be able to convince with science and logic.  But logic be damned, these professionals stubbornly resisted science and fact-based reality for many years.  (Unfortunately, broadcast meteorologists - if they want to keep their jobs - are bound by the direcives of their employers to toe the corporate line and ignore AGW/CC - or treat it as a false alarm.)  

    It is great to see this significant change in the participation of broadcast meteorologists in the AGW/CC discussion.  They probably reach and influence more laypersons than any other group, and are critical to informing the public of the reality of the dangers of anthropogenic global warming and climate change. 

    Engineers are another issue.  Although they do not communicate daily with the public like broadcast meteorologists, many are still vocal in their denialism.  Plus, it is an unfortunate reality that many engineers think that they and their technoogies can fix almost any problem - including AGW/CC.  Engineering and technology solutions can generate massive revenue for corporations, so their proponents tend to ignore or overlook societal impacts and other externalities.  Again, basic human nature makes us want to ignore or deny anything that would have a negative impact on our lives and economic well-being.  Therefore many people will eagerly jump on the promises of technological solutions, adding yet more resistance to the unequivical necessity of reducing greenhouse gas emission.  

    But that is a "whole 'nuther problem" - and I am very happy to see the positive changes in the broadcast meteorology community. 

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  7. One doubts that the average TV meterologist will actually be equiped or have the time to put weather events in the context of climate.  At best they may be able to make a statement such as this storm is within the top quartile with respect to the amount of rain dumped in a given period or something similar.  Besides, only when they collect a bunch of events and compare them with the historical record will their comments gain a modicum of scientific respectability.  Hopefully they will have a climatologist on tap to make relevant statments for the TV presenters to use.

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  8. Knaugle, S Vedantum has indeeed written a book on the hidden brain, but he's a journalist and electronics engineer, not a psychologist, so I would be cautious about accepting absolutely everything he says. Its an interesting book worth a read, but thats as far as it goes.

    The point is really not that we are all perfectly rational, because we aren't. The point is we clearly differ in how rational we are.

    Understand that the article I originally quoted is saying low intelligence assocates with conspiracy thinking, but that high intelligence people can sometimes be accepting of conspiracy theories also, because some high intelligence people are poor rational thinkers.

    "Some of the most "stupid" people I know are far smarter than I am." You prove my point exactly. Scott Pruitt is intelligent enough but says and does stupid irrational things and believes agw is all a hoax for example.

    Its clear many climate denialists are conspiracy thinkers. Of course many are also influenced by politics, it's not an either / or thing.

    The research I quoted showing as association between conspiracy theorists and low intelligence and / or poor rational thinking skills has been replicated many times, heres another relevant article on the research.
    .

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  9. Every one of us does motivation reasoning. Also known as rationalization. Highly intelligent people are just especially good at devising very complex support for what they want to believe.

    Visiting a highly intelligent person in prison to try and help with his drug problem really brought this home to me. You had to work very hard to spot the loose links in his chains of logic - which naturally concluded that drugs werent an issue for him - just his choice same way other people drank coffee - and that it was everyone else at fault.

    Scientists are not immune so no matter how much you believe your conclusions are data-driven, you still need peer-review.

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  10. 'Peer review' is of course just another part of standardised method! Otherwise it's just anarchy with beakers.... without method you have man in his natural state bordering on the side of cruelty!

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