Various finds and ruminations on … 3

Climate Change 3

Yes, I’m afraid so. And some are really basic things that have occurred to me as a layperson as I have pondered quite a few views since last posting on this. I’ve been storing my finds on Google. So before I purge the favourites, I’ll share a few with you.

Weather presenters

phpThumb_generated_thumbnail Lately, following this story in The New York Times, there has been some discussion about the role or radio and TV weather presenters in the climate change story, for or against. For example, see The NY Times once again equates non-scientists with climate scientists.

Memo to NY Times:  TV weathermen are not climate experts.

In fact, Dr. Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech explained to me a few years ago:

Meteorologists are not required to take a course in climate change, this is not part of the NOAA/NWS [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service] certification requirements, so university programs don’t require the course (even if they offer it). So we have been educating generations of meteorologists who know nothing at all about climate change.

The reason I am repeating this basic fact for the umpteenth time — see “Are meteorologists climate experts?” — is that the former paper of record has once again equated people who don’t know about climate science with people who do (see “NYT Faces Credibility Siege over Unbalanced Climate Coverage“).

In a new, uber-dreadful he-said, she-said piece, “Scientists and Weathercasters at Odds on Warming,” the NYT’s Leslie Kaufman gives a platform to some of the most uninformed, most widely debunked anti-science weathermen in the country, including Joe Bastardi and, yes, Anthony Watts!  Does anybody read Boykoff any more on (see  “Exaggerating Denialism: Media Representations of Outlier Views on Climate Change”)? …

Mind you, last year The New York Times ran this story:

Joe Witte, a meteorologist for News Channel 8 in Virginia and Maryland, hopes that people watching his television forecasts will think about more than just the weather…

Two years ago, Mr. Witte started to include phenomena linked with climate change in his reports, like how warmer conditions affect life in Chesapeake Bay and prospects for recreation in the area.

Changes in the bay’s temperature have been “large and significant,” Mr. Witte said. “That’s a scientific curve we can show on the air and then ask viewers, ‘Will your children and grandchildren still be able to go crabbing?”’

Presenters like Mr. Witte are still rarities. Among public figures, television weather presenters are relative latecomers to leading efforts to deepen knowledge about climate change.

Wary of offending viewers and the authorities, who might be skeptical about the effect of human beings on climate, and mindful of making references to hugely complex science during three-minute broadcasts, most presenters have studiously avoided using their prime-time slots to discuss global warming.

But that may be changing.

In September, the World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency based in Geneva, anointed television weather presenters as climate emissaries, highlighting the role they could play in communicating evidence and information about global warming directly to viewers.

That overture to weather presenters is part of a broader drive by the United Nations to bring the discipline of predicting the weather, which is the state of the atmosphere at a particular time in a particular place, closer to the discipline of predicting climate, which is the average of weather over periods of months to thousands and millions of years…

That last bit will cause some hackles to rise!

Back to the current story. The most interesting post I have seen comes from a TV weather presenter in Alabama: TV Weather People and Climate Change.

A lot of TV weather people avoid talking about climate change on air. There are multiple reasons for this. Among them are the fact that the person you see doing the weather on TV in many cases does not know that much about science. (Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to stop some from saying some really silly things.)

The number one reason is the political overtones involved in it. This is actually a good reason not to do it and something I thought long and hard before I said something.

There are two parts to this story and here is why I decided to do it.

What we DO about climate change is a political issue.  The reality of the threat and it’s magnitude is a scientific question.  Especially when you consider that the average person sees only one person with a background in science each day.

Who??

The person giving them the forecast on TV.

I’ve long thought that those of us who are real meteorologists with a background in atmospheric physics have an obligation to provide accurate scientific information. We get plenty of questions about science everyday, from “What’s that bright star in the western sky?” to “How big was that quake??”

So with that justification for doing so, the next question becomes “what do I say??”…

Make sure you read the rest of Dan’s post!

His conclusion:

… Scientists are taught to be skeptics. Show us the data. Being skeptical is good scientific practice but ignoring a mountain of evidence while giving credit to claims in political journals instead is not scientific skepticism.

It’s politics.

This is why I am not afraid to talk about climate change. I think I’m obligated to do so when there is overwhelming evidence we are tampering with the very air conditioner of our planet.

I have all the world’s major scientific organizations backing me up as well.

Richard Feynman was right. “Science is what we do to keep from lying to ourselves”.

Dan

The final post will offer a few extras, after which I can purge my favourites! ;)

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