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Climate Hustle

Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman prefers conspiracies to climate science

Posted on 4 November 2014 by dana1981

The Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman was recently interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News, calling human-caused global warming “a myth.” The interview was then amplified through the media echo chamber, including an article at left-leaning Huffington Post, and Coleman was subsequently interviewed on CNN’s Reliable Sources.

Coleman has publicly denied the scientific reality of human-caused global warming for years, telling Fox News in 2008 that he wanted to sue Al Gore, for example. There’s no new content in these latest interviews; just the usual long-debunked climate myths and conspiracy theories. Coleman is apparently considered a credible climate interviewee because he was instrumental in creating The Weather Channel 32 years ago, but he’s woefully misinformed when it comes to climate science.

Coleman Denies Basic Climate Science

In his Fox News interview, Coleman said,

The Antarctic ice cap is at an all-time record high in both coverage and thickness, and the Arctic ice cap at the North Pole is at the highest it has been in several years. It’s in its so-called normal range since we got satellite observations that can measure it. So not only is the ice not melting, more polar bears are alive and happy today than in 100 years.

Each of these points is either wrong or misleading.

Although more Arctic sea ice survived this year than in the record-shattering melt of 2012, in 2014 the ice was nevertheless at its 6th-lowest level in thousands of years. About 70% of the sea ice in the Arctic has disappeared over the past three decades, mainly due to human-caused global warming. This rapid decline is well outside “the normal range” of Arctic sea ice extent and volume.

Reconstructed Arctic sea ice extent over the past 1,450 years, from Kinnard et al. (2011). Reconstructed Arctic sea ice extent over the past 1,450 years, from Kinnard et al. (2011).

The Arctic has lost 10 times more sea ice than the Antarctic has gained, and resent research suggests the collapse of the land-based Antarctic ice sheet may already be inevitable.

Of the 12 polar bear populations for which we have sufficient observational data, 8 are declining and just 1 is increasing. There’s a myth that polar bear populations are thriving because they’ve grown since the 1970s. That growth has nothing to do with the climate – it was due to the introduction of the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears in 1973, which restricted and in some circumstances banned the hunting of polar bears, which had caused their populations to dwindle. Global warming – specifically the rapid decline in the Arctic sea ice they need to hunt – has caused polar bear populations to decline in recent years.

Well there are 9,000 Ph.D.’s and 31 [thousand] scientists who have signed a petition that says that [carbon dioxide] is not a significant greenhouse gas

On both Fox and CNN Coleman referred to the discredited Oregon Petition, which can be signed by anyone with just about any college science degree, and which has included “signatures” from fictional characters and Spice Girls. In reality, 97% of climate science experts and their peer-reviewed research agree that human carbon dioxide emissions are driving global warming.

On CNN (which to its credit, established before the interview that there is a 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming and there aren’t two equal sides in this ‘debate’), Coleman went even further in denying basic science, saying,

Climate change is not happening. There is no significant man-made global warming now, there hasn’t been any in the past, and there’s no reason to expect any in the future. There’s a whole lot of baloney ... there is no global warming.

That’s just a denial of reality.

Coleman is Not Credible on Climate

Several times during the Fox interview, Megyn Kelly commented that The Weather Channel will “be pushed out of existence since [Coleman has] taken this position.” In reality, Coleman was forced out of The Weather Channel in 1983, just a year after he helped found it. Coleman has had no affiliation with The Weather Channel for over 30 years. The Weather Channel has an official statement on climate change, which it updated a few days after the Coleman interview. It states,

More than a century’s worth of detailed climate observations shows a sharp increase in both carbon dioxide and temperature. These observations, together with computer model simulations and historical climate reconstructions from ice cores, ocean sediments and tree rings all provide strong evidence that the majority of the warming over the past century is a result of human activities. This is also the conclusion drawn, nearly unanimously, by climate scientists.

On CNN, The Weather Channel CEO David Kenny said,

I’m concerned whenever the discussion of climate change veers from the science. The science is really clear, and I don’t like our brand being associated with something that’s not scientifically based. I think we can all be proud of our résumés, but I would prefer people use the credentials they have today, not the credentials of three decades ago.

On CNN, Coleman claimed to be a scientist. He’s been a TV weatherman for over 60 years, but his degree is in journalism. In recent years he forecasted the weather in San Diego, where it generally ranges from sunny and warm to sunnier and warmer.

The Weather Channel, on the other hand, employs meteorologists with climate science training. For example, Heidi Cullen was The Weather Channel’s first on-air climate expert. Cullen received a Ph.D. in climatology and ocean-atmosphere dynamics at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and has worked as a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society. On the subject of climate change, Cullen has said,

There is convincing evidence that since the industrial revolution, human activities, resulting in increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and other trace constituents in the atmosphere, have become a major agent of climate change ... If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming.

Those comments certainly apply to John Coleman.

Coleman’s Conspiracy Theories

Coleman has previously gone as far as to suggest that climate science is part of a conspiracy to create a one-world government. On CNN, he claimed,

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Comments 1 to 15:

  1. The article makes valid points. Of course it is worth noting not all sceptical arguments are poor arguments. However Colemans argument on arctic ice is just plain wrong and is unintelligent. Now he is obviously an intelligent fellow, so why makes such a stupid argument?

    Well possibly even though he is intelligent, he literally can’t comprehend graphs and trends. Some people are like this, although you wonder how a weather person could be like this and still function.

    Or Coleman hates the climate change consensus, so he is prepared to say outrageous things. I wouldn't know what his hatred is, maybe it is professional jealousy, or he has a libertarian ideology. I must admit I’m mystified by people like Coleman. Maybe someone has an explanation.

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  2. Nigelj:

    Can you suggest a skeptical argument that is not a poor argument?

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  3. nigelj, note that Coleman is a "weather person" only in the sense that he made a career out of reading the weather on radio and then television. Before that he was a radio DJ for a bandstand show. He's a professional communicator / entertainer. He has no background in meteorology or any other science.

    Thus, while he may have biases which make him not want to understand the science, it is also possible that he just doesn't have the academic background to "comprehend graphs and trends".

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  4. I can think of a lot of reasons to take a stance against the consensus that CO2 is causing all the problems with what is now called "climate change" and no longer called "global warming".

    The temperature taking has been influenced in many places by the "heat island affect" caused by large population centers. Some measurements are suspect because of the location of the sensor.

    I am sure that the sea water temperature is not being taken to assure that is it a good indicator since most is done by satelite now which only shows surface temps. I am not convinced we have sufficient temperature taking at enough places on the globe to assume any kind of rise or fall.

    I have seen graphs which show the rise of temps and fall of temps via core samples from trees and from arctic ice etc. I have also seen that the CO2 seems to rise following the temperature rise and not ahead of it. How do we conclude that the CO2 is causing the rise and not just rising because of it?

    I am looking at the use of water in the USA and I assume it is going on elsewhere too. There has been a marked increase in the amount of water used for irrigation in the USA since the 1950's. To ignore this is really questionable. I contend and a lot of others do too, that this use of water for irrigation and also use for creating green spaces is causing a major shift in weather patterns.

    No one can become rich if the cause of any warming trend is being attributed to water vapor. A great deal of money hangs on the selling of carbon credits doesnt it? I say follow the money.

    Also there has been some research about cosmic rays being responsible for climate change but that does not seem to get any attention. It is plausable in my opinion but noone wants to look into it but a very few scientists.

    If there were open and fair discussion of the proposal and theory of climate change I would be a lot more comfortable listening. That all who believe other than the "accepted truth" are treated as fools and disparaged is making me see this as a political issue and not a scientific one.


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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

  5. Electroken, your post amounts to a gish gallop. You should familiarize yourself with the comments policy. Each of the arguments you present has been thoroughly examined.

    The entire premise for the existence of the website known as WUWT was the temperature measurement argument, which was found to be in error early on by layman's work, then later by peer-reviewed studies.

    The water vapor argument is examined on this site, you can find the thread easily by a few clicks. Land use has been the subject of extensive study and is examined in detail by the IPCC when looking at attribution.

    There are enormous amounts of money to be made by already existing interests if the status quo is maintained, a few individuals stand to disproportionately benefit from it.

    Not a single one of your arguments has been shown to have merit. It seems you got some very poot quality information on the subject and that you have not bothered getting acquainted with the real science. It would advisable to do so if you want to have a truly informed opinion.

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  6. Electroken has commented here before [thank you Google, I thought the name sounded familiar], for example on water vapor, cosmic rays, and other threads. His theme of water vapor and aquifers has appeared before too. No learning curve has been evident, no response to information he has been presented with. 

    He tends to pop up, spout nonsense/Gish gallops, and vanish again. DNFTT.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Excellent advice. 

    Electoken is on a path to relinguish his/her privilege to post comments on this site. 

  7. ...But I you have admit Electoken's "heat island affect", instead of "effect" does nicely distinguish the 'skeptic' canard from the actual phenomenon.

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  8. If there were open and fair discussion of the proposal and theory of climate change I would be a lot more comfortable listening  

    Putting aside what "proposal and theory" might mean in this context, there has been plenty of open and fair discussion out there for many years for you listen to.  Read the IPCC technical reports for a start.  If there's something in there you disagree with, then read the underlying scientific papers that the reports reference (there are thousands of them).  And if you still have difficulties after that, contact the authors of those papers.  This is how the fair and open discussion in science works.

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  9. Michael Sweet #2.

    "Can you suggest a skeptical argument that is not a poor argument?"

    To be honest, no. However I was just not wanting to put down all sceptics, and come across as one sided. Obviously science needs good scepticism.

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  10. Science has good skeptics.  Gavin Schmidt ar Real Climate argued against a collapse of Arctic Sea ice in 2012 based on his model results.  His skepticism is looking much better now than it did in 2012.  He argues strongly that the "methane bomb" hypothesis of a catastrophic release of Arctic sea and/or land methane is unlikely to occur.   These arguments help to advance understanding.  Hopefully he is right on both counts.  Other scientists are equally skeptical.  The people who call themselves skeptics are really not skeptical.  They believe anything but CO2.

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  11. As a constant Skeptical Science lurker I’ve only made a couple of posts since the inception of this blog. I’ve read a lot on the subject at other venues as well.

    Over the years that I’ve been paying attention I’ve come to realize that the science in support of the theory of AGW is being researched by Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Every prestigious scientific society along with every prestigious peer reviewed journal say that man is the main driver of climate change.
    From my reading of the issue over the past 15 years or so it seems that those researchers and fake experts who are “skeptical” all seem to have one thing in common. They’re all Republican libertarian types which makes it seem evident that their political ideology rises to a much higher level than the science. Perhaps there is an exception that proves the rule but I’m not aware of it.  John Coleman and those in leage with him might contemplate that when you believe the world is all wrong and that your all right that perhaps some interspection should be undertaken.
    It’s just a nonscientist’s opinion.

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  12. Michael Sweet #10.

    Totally agree. I have seen Gavins comments on those isues. Unfortunatly the mainstream media (newspapers etc) often  ignore good scepticism like that, and often give vent to the extremists like Christopher Moncton.

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  13. "Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is this real?"

     - Megyn Kelly to Karl Rove Election Eve 2012 .... but it also seems to be a relevent question to ask here also

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  14. Which graph, Satoh? This one ?

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  15. Satoh,

    While I appreciate your opinion that you can detect flaws in peer reviewed science without reading the article, I doubt that many readers on this site will agree with your uninformed assessments.  Perhaps you should consider reading the article that graph came from before you decide it is incorrect.  The LIA and MWP are both very flexible time periods depending on who is looking at the graph.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] The comment that you have responded to has been deleted because it was nothing more than nonsensical trolling.  Satoh had been previously warned that his/her posts would be summarily deleted. 

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