Why Your Weathercaster Doesn’t Mention Climate Change

Call him one of the bravest weathercasters in the country. Broadcasting in South Carolina, a red state for sure, Jim Gandy is not afraid to link extreme weather events and patterns with climate change. Gandy does a segment called Climate Matters, a series that Grist describes as placing “weathercasts in the context of climate change.” One Climate Matters broadcast looked at global warming and heat waves.

Just how common is it for weathercasters to even mention climate change? Unfortunately, not many do. In fact, only 19 percent of weathercasters believe climate change is “mostly” human-induced, a 2011 survey by George Mason University found. The rest of those surveyed believed that climate change is caused “mostly” by natural causes (29 percent), caused equally by humans and natural events (34 percent), or they were unconvinced (nine percent) or undecided (eight percent). The good news is that 82 percent do believe that the climate is changing. However, as the survey findings point out, the largest majority of U.S. weathercasters, unlike most climate scientists, do not believe that human activity is the cause of climate change. Only 18 percent of all weathercasters surveyed were aware that there is a scientific consensus on climate change.

A 2010 Tweet by a Texas forecaster, posted on the website of the group, Forecast the Facts, provides a good example. The tweet proclaimed, “We TV weathermen do not agree on man-made global warming.” Forecast the Facts posts other statements on its website by weathercasters who are also climate change deniers. One statement is surprising as it’s a 2008 statement by John Coleman, a founder of the Weather Channel, and a current weathercaster for a San Diego station: “We’re in a cooling trend. The sun has gone quiet. Those guys in Canada and Russia were talking about an ice age.” Watching the Youtube video where the statement came from puts it in context. Coleman was not saying there is an ice age coming. However, Coleman is a climate change denier. In the Youtube video, he actually says that as a scientist he knows climate change is not occurring. “Global warming doesn’t exist in any sense of significance, and we have nothing to worry about.” Coleman has a degree in journalism.

A survey released this past spring found that only 11 percent of Americans surveyed reported that they have seen a weathercaster talk about climate change many times (five or more) in the past 12 months. Another 20 percent said they have seen a weathercaster talk about climate change a few times (three or more). However, 58 percent of those surveyed said they would be interested in learning what their weathercaster has to say about climate change.

Perhaps it’s a good thing, given the ignorance of most weathercasters on climate change, that more are not talking about it during their broadcasts. Coleman serves as an example. He produced a special report for the San Diego station he works for titled, “Global Warming: The Other Side.” According to DeSmogBlog, the special report “suggests that global warming is a scam and presents what Colemen contends is evidence of a deliberate manipulation of world temperature data by NASA and other groups.”

When was the last time you heard a weathercaster mention climate change?

Photo: Flickr user, NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

13 responses

  1. But you keep telling us that weather and climate are not the same.
    And why do they only say it is possible and likely instead imminent?
    Isn’t threatening the voter’s children just a free ticket for Romney?

    1. mememine, I’d answer your questions if I knew you weren’t a troll. However, given your commenting record across the internet, it’s likely that you’re a paid troll, so I feel I must answer.

      1. Climate is the aggregate of weather over time periods longer than 30 years.
      2. Scientists should not speak in absolutes, since science does not deal in absolutes. If you want certainty, go to a priest.
      3. It could be argued that each candidate is a threat to voters’ children in some way.

      1. Mememine, you are a paid denier troll? Wow, nice work if you can get it. There aren’t many people like you out there, at least compared to the number of paid alarmists trolls.

        Can you tell me how can I get paid to be a denier too?

      2. You’re the troll and, as I warned you, I’m a troll-hunter. $2,500 to the charity of the winner’s choice says that 5-year average surface temperature will be lower in 2015 than in 2005. Put up or shut up!

  2. Charles Homans,
    writing for the Columbia Journalism Review frames the argument more
    scientifically. “Meteorologists live in the short term, the day-to-day
    forecast. It’s an incredibly hard thing to predict accurately, even
    with the best models and data; tiny discrepancies matter enormously,
    and can pile up quickly into giant errors. Given this level of
    uncertainty in their own work, meteorologist looking at long-range
    climate questions are predisposed to see a system doomed to terminal
    unpredictability. But in fact, the basic question of whether rising
    greenhouse gas emissions will lead to climate change hinges on mostly
    simple, and predictable, matters of physics. The short-term variations
    that throw the weathercasters’ forecasts out of whack barely register
    at all.”


  3. The TV Weather Guy has Corporate Sponsors and Advertisers. Most BIG MONEY is on the same page as the Climate Deniers because the Climate Deniers are often PAID by big Money for their Propaganda.

  4. Think about Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.” A big piece of what weathercasters do is performing, not educating. But since people rely on them for guidance on things many of them don’t know much about, like climate science, we have to give them more information so that when they do talk about it, they at least get the basics right. More power to Jim Gandy.

  5. Without a doubt virtually all media lives on advertising. That, more than any argument below, is the reason we hear little on global warming and allot on “today’s weather.” As long as politicians are in the pockets of the polluting captains of industry, there will be no chance for change. Obumma, for all his “change” turned out to be the same coward lackey Brush was and we are NO better off today then yesterday.
    Chances Rummy is any better? Heck, he’s already told you he’ll disband the EPA. His newest fix for the economy? More Oil.
    Don’t we have someone out there with alittle vision?

  6. Land development professionals who rely on the scientific method to construct best management practices, given the ongoing trend of record high temperatures and arctic sea ice loss (http://j.mp/NmfmHs), have no valid reason to challenge scientific consensus on this subject.

    Sustainable Land Development Initiative
    Going Carbon Negative – http://j.mp/xueEWk

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