It’s been publicly noted for a long time now that some highly visible television weathercasters count themselves as being “skeptics” on the matter of climate change science.
Considering how publicly visible many of these weathercaster personas are, and how much people trust them even if they have no training in climate science (typically, they don’t), the situation has been recognized by some as a bit of a problem. After all, if “the weather guy” doesn’t believe in anthropogenic and potentially catastrophic climate change, then why should you?
Given the increasingly common “extreme” weather that we’ve been getting these past few years — the ceaseless breaking of heat records, extreme droughts and fires, etc. — is this situation now starting to change? Are weathercasters increasingly embracing the science of climate change?
Perhaps. Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week seems to think so, noting that at a recent meteorologist conference in Austin, Texas, he spoke to some who had had a change of view over recent years.
Here’s an excerpt from that: “The TV Mets I interviewed were smart, thoughtful, had science training, though not at the PhD level, enough to have begun digging into the data on their own to draw conclusions. Some, like Amber Sullins of ABC 15 in Phoenix, had initially been skeptical, ’10 or 20 years ago,’ she told me. But after doing what a scientist does — ‘… take in the information, question, and research it yourself’ — she came to understand the problem was real. Likewise, Greg Fishel of WRAL in Raleigh, formerly a self-described ‘hardcore skeptic’ — who finally realized that he was only seeking ‘information to support what I already thought’ — began searching independently for answers. Dan Satterfield, of WBOC in Maryland, spent his own money to travel to the high arctic, where he witnessed the change firsthand, as did Fishel.”
A meteorologist for the Washington Post by the name of Jason Samenow was apparently working on a similar line of thought for an article when queried by Sinclair. Here are a couple of interesting bits from that:
It is perhaps the most frustrating response I encounter as a meteorologist when I write about climate change. It stems from doubts about climate change or the view that it’s a political issue, one that shouldn’t contaminate straight weather reporting.
‘Stick to the weather,’ people say. But climate change is a scientific reality, and it’s one that is modifying the weather in important ways. However, despite overwhelming evidence that climate change is impacting weather, George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication found that only ‘a minority’ of television weathercasters ‘feel very comfortable’ presenting climate change information on air. Most say discussing climate change won’t help their careers. Some fear discussing the role of climate change on weather will upset their viewers — or even newsroom management.
…Greg Fishel, chief meteorologist at WRAL in Raleigh, NC, shifted from climate change doubter to climate change instructor after a long, self-led education. ‘Broadcast meteorologists have the least amount of formal education (on climate change) of all atmospheric scientists,’ Fishel told the Capital Weather Gang. ‘But even though we have the least education, we have most responsibility to educate ourselves so we can educate the public in the right way.’
Interesting. Also worth pointing out is that these media personalities are focused completely on covering the weather, which is notoriously difficult to predict. If they conflate weather with climate, they may initially think that predicting the climate is just as difficult. It is not, as climate is a much more stable matter, and science has developed a strong understanding of the global climate.
After the ceaselessly hot weather, “1000-year floods,” enormous forest fires, disappearing glaciers, and extreme droughts of recent years, I would guess that even the most skeptical out there are starting to have doubts about where things are headed. Belief in anthropogenic causation is another matter, though, and depends much more on a recognition of the authority of the scientific worldview — those who don’t see the current scientific paradigm as being objective truth are much more likely to look for their explanations of events and phenomena elsewhere.
Though it may offend some reading this, I’m actually a bit skeptical that belief in anthropogenic climate change will increase over the coming decades. It may well even decrease, as the disparity grows between what the future has been projected to be by various utopians masquerading as scientists and what it actually becomes. Turning away from the current paradigm and towards alternatives seems likely, as that is, after all, what typically happens in periods of great turmoil — as a look back through the various rises and long, slow, bloody falls of the cultures and civilizations of the past will show.
And once the effects of anthropogenic climate change start hitting in earnest, there will be great turmoil — with falling agricultural yields, mass migration, water scarcity in certain regions, civil and inter-state wars, reduced sanitation, failing medical solutions, and rapidly spreading disease vectors all playing their usual parts.