The Weather Channel Meterologist Controversy

Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 12:04 | Category : Environment
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Lots of chatter about this. I decided to see what actually was said. Dr. Heidi Cullen was reacting to a blog interview with a DC-area TV meteorologist, Brian van de Graaf, who had this to say about global warming:

“The subject of global warming definitely makes headlines in the media and is a topic of much debate. I try to read up on the subject to have a better understanding, but it is complex. Often, it is so politicized and those on both sides don’t always appear to have their facts straight. History has taught us that weather patterns are cyclical and although we have noticed a warming pattern in recent time, I don’t know what generalizations came be made from this with the lack of long-term scientific data. That’s all I will say about this.”

Dr. Cullen then noted a later entry on that same blog (Capitalweather.com) which responded to van de Graaf’s statement:

“”If that were a question on a climate science exam, van de Graaf better hope for partial credit. Sure, there are cyclical patterns of climate change and weather patterns, but he misses the more important point about trends in long-term data.

The global surface thermometer record only stretches back to the 1800s, but reliable traces of the planet’s temperature can be made stretching back thousands of years using ice cores, tree ring records, ocean sediments and other “proxy” methods. Together, these records have showed a stark warming trend during the past century, particularly the last 30 years, that is out of step with previous shifts.

Scientists have identified human emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, as the most likely culprit for the warming. This is the opinion of most climate scientists, and van de Graaf and others should know this and communicate this to the public….

Van de Graaf and his colleagues can look to the American Meteorological Society, which awards them their television “seals of approval” and hence their legitimacy as TV meteorologists, for a nonpartisan scientific view on climate change.

More than three years ago the AMS issued a statement on climate change that 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.”

Perhaps AMS members should be required to read the organization’s statements and consider getting on board with the group’s new emphasis on becoming station scientists. Either that, or continue to be left out of covering the biggest weather story of all time.”

Dr. Cullen referred to that blog post, and went on to say:

“”I’d like to take that suggestion a step further. 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… Meteorologists are among the few people trained in the sciences who are permitted regular access to our living rooms. And in that sense, they owe it to their audience to distinguish between solid, peer-reviewed science and junk political controversy. If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval”.

So – not quite as extreme a statement as this Alabama broadcast meteorologist would have you believe. Also – Spann makes the statement that “Billions of dollars of grant money is flowing into the pockets of those on the man-made global warming bandwagon”. I can’t find anything close to that. The Federal government spent a few hundred million dollars on climate research in 2005, the latest year for which I could find figures. Here’s the link for that. That amount will buy you a few days of war in Iraq, by the way. I doubt that private sources are covering the remaining billions Spann claims. On the other hand, ExxonMobil is spending millions to convince people that the science behind global warming isn’t legitimate. I don’t claim to know for sure whether we’re causing some of the problem. With all the data that’s accumulating indicating we are, I’m inclined to believe that there’s some fire under all that smoke, and if we can put some of it out, we should.

Dr. Cullen’s original blog post is here, followed by this post.

5 Comments for “The Weather Channel Meterologist Controversy”

  1. 1M1EK

    You’ve been snookered into false balance again. It’s not that 50% of the climatologists think we’re partially to blame and 50% don’t. It’s that every climatologist in the world who isn’t in the pocket of Exxon _knows_ we’re partly to blame at this point.

  2. 2Harry

    I don’t think I’ve been snookered into any kind of balance. I’ve been convinced for years that we’re screwing up the atmosphere, and that we’ve already affected the warming cycle. In my mind, there is no debate.

  3. 3M1EK

    I mean that you’ve been fooled by the astroturfing into thinking that it’s still been up for serious debate among climatologists. They settled their debate five or more years ago.

  4. 4Harry

    OK, I see your point. But I don’t really consider many TV meteorologists to be climatologists, at least based on most of what I’ve seen locally. There are a few who came up through honest-to-Zeus schools of meteorology; others who were weathergirl/guy pretty faces who later got soe kind of legitimizing certification. Not many climatologists in that latter group, but as Dr.Cullen said, they’re who we let in our houses more often.

  5. 5summer

    Oil is crack. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.