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