Finally, TV Meteorologists On Board with Climate Change

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There was a time when I picked which local TV news station to watch based on the way the TV meteorologist addressed global warming. There were two stations in the running. One of them had a guy who frequently disparaged climate science, and the other had Paul Douglas, who no longer does TV meteorology (I no longer watch local TV news) but who has become a major spokesperson for reason and science (see: Paul Douglas on Climate Change and A Q&A with Paul Douglas, the evangelical Christian Republican poster boy for climate change). Paul and I have become colleagues and friends.

In 2011, George Mason University produced a survey of TV meteorologists demonstrating that more than 50% did not understand or accept that climate change was happening as a result of human caused greenhouse gas pollution. Just now, George Mason University has looked at this again and their results demonstrate a dramatic shift. Today, something close to 9 in 10 TV meteorologists in the US are on board with the science.

The dismal results of the 2011 survey resulted in the development of the Forecast the Facts project. Today, Forecast the Facts’ Deputy Director Emily Southard released the following statement:

Forecast the Facts is excited to learn that the number of meteorologists who accept that humans plays a role in climate change has increased from 50% to nearly 90% according to a recent GMU study. With viewers facing unprecedented climate-change induced heat waves, droughts, and flooding – it’s more important than ever that meteorologists, as some of the most trusted communicators on climate, accept the facts and present them to their audiences accordingly. We hope all meteorologists will follow suit and commit to broadcasting the truth on climate change.

The 2011 study is here (PDF), and this graph summarizes the results:
2011GMU_Study_Meteorlogists_Climate_Change

I’ve not seen the new study yet, just the press release, but if I get a copy of it I’ll post a link or show some pretty pictures or something …

ADDED: I’m still trying to get a copy of the report (there are technical problems at the site) but I did find this graphic summarizing it:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 11.16.01 AM

Meanwhile, here is an interview I did with Paul Douglas a while back, demonstrating that TV meteorologists can have some very important things to say about climate change!


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42 thoughts on “Finally, TV Meteorologists On Board with Climate Change

  1. I feel that global warming is a result of both human and natural causes. Since global warming has become a problem many changes in our lives were made to reduce our carbon footprint but I feel we should still strive for even better results. Although human activity may be the main cause I feel that natural causes such as volcanic eruptions also contributes to global warming.
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  2. I think it is very good that more and more people are becoming aware of humans that cause climate change but why are we only addressing this now? Should this not be some form of logic?

    I think if we go in depth of teaching about humans and our impact on the climate at school level people would be more aware of their behavior towards their contribution to climate change.

  3. Good news and I think expect and hope it reflects the growing majority of people throughout the United States finally realising the reality here.

    Is it too optimistic to say that – outside of the Republican party die-hards (voters and leadership) and fossil fuel lobbyists and ideologues – maybe the “debate” that was never really a scientific debate is finally ending?

  4. Global warming is happening at a faster rate than expected by the scientific models.Our planet is about 4.5 billion years old,that is enough time to allow several climate alterations till now.Climate change could be a natures way of balancing systems though human activities are increasing the rate of climate change exponentially.(14165865)

  5. I watch WBAL while eating my porridge in the morning (WJZ is way too reactionary) and have heard nary a mention of climate change from Tom Tasselmeyer, John Collins, Tony Pann, Ava Marie or Miri Marshall. They may be on board, but they aren’t bringing it up on air.

  6. They need to be bringing it up on air, but as Paul Douglas has pointed out, they may not be able to since anti science forces would give the station a hard time.

  7. My complaint about local forecasters is that while they may accept climate change, they still talk about how “nice” the weather is when winter or fall/spring temperatures are above normal ranges. In a way, that feeds into people’s perceptions that climate change isn’t going to be a bad thing. It’s a disconnect.

  8. I am afraid to say but we are not going to stop global warming no matter how hard we try. There is no way to have the entire planet’s people’s co-operation. There are simply too much people on earth to stop our effect on global warming.

  9. My complaint about local forecasters is that while they may accept climate change, they still talk about how “nice” the weather is when winter or fall/spring temperatures are above normal ranges. In a way, that feeds into people’s perceptions that climate change isn’t going to be a bad thing. It’s a disconnect.

    Bill McKibben has a nice analysis of that in “The Age of Missing Information”

  10. It’s pretty much common knowledge by now how serious global warming has become. There is no doubt in my mind that humans have an enormous effect on this crisis in addition to the natural causes and i find it quite shocking that there are still people out there who are unaware or deny that this is taking place. It is clear that people need to become more aware and i agree the most effective way of doing this would be to put it on the air.

  11. I do believe that humans have a huge influence on climate change. We have seen over the past decades that our climate changes dramatically. There are natural causes but us humans are the ones that play a tremendous role. Many people are aware and in denial but this is the reality.

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  12. I feel that natural causes such as volcanic eruptions also contributes to global warming.

    Andre Kolver, have you looked at the relative contributions of CO2 by humans compared to CO2 emissions from natural sources such as volcanoes? Please do a search and have a look. I think you’ll be surprised by the results.

  13. Volcanic eruptions contribute to reducing surface temperatures, but surface temperatures have pretty much kept going up despite this (and added atmospheric dust from human activities as well).

  14. It is great to hear that society is being to accept current scientific knowledge. Accepting what scientists have to say doesn’t mean that you have to blindly follow along with them, but keeping an open mind never hurt anyone.

    Many natural factors also contribute to Green House gas emission and global warming, however, I think the largest portion of the emissions come from humans and human processes.

    Thank you for the article, it was very informative.

  15. There is no dispute in the fact that both humans and the nature itself contribute to global warming and people are informed about that. But what do we do about about? Many strategies were put to place to try minimize global warming, but its like we are still increasing it. I just think global warming is one incidence or guardian to bring forth the end of the world, i mean if scientists were able to know how the world came about, surely they know the incidences that will end it as well and global warming is one of those and nothing can be done to stop it.

  16. this is quite surprising that people who work with the climate and its change do not believe that humans are the one of the causes of global warming, this then raises a question of how will normal and clueless humans ever accept their responsibility in climate change when people who work in the field do not believe that humans are the cause because they are the ones expected to be explaining the consequences of our actions .they also do not have faith in reduction of climate change through mitigation but yet the rest of the world is expected to believe that, i really find it contradicting that people who work in this field have problems admitting to the truth yet the rest of the world is expected to admit to the truth and own up. we need to own up to our actions because as much as the natural world does contribute to global warming we humans have a more and increased contribution through the exploitation of the natural resources because we are constantly developing the word from a basic and simple planet into a complex planet because we want it to suit us
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  17. From my own personal view and what we were taught, it is not only the Human impact who cause global warming but Nature also contributes

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  18. We often hear that the world as we know it is being changed as a result of global warming. Places such as Antarctica are melting also, there are increasing wildfire alerts and flooding risks. Dangerously hot weather is becoming more and more frequent, in comparison to a mere 50 years ago. Unless action is taken, these impacts will become more and more costly, not only on the government systems but on individuals like you and me due to home wreckages, etc. Therefore, people should be notified about their effect and the predicted future if the situation does not change and people become more aware of their carbon footprint. On the other hand, many people have been notified and yet their actions have not altered a bit. What will it take to show the world the intensity of the situation?
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  19. Greg, Email me if you do not have a copy yet, and i will email it to you. It’s been very obvious that a sea change has occurred and it’s been much talked about at the last few conferences i attended. The efforts of several groups (including the comm on station Science) has paid dividends.

    Dan S
    Chair AMS Comm. on Station Science

  20. It is scary to think that TV Meteorologists are only now accepting that humans have caused global warming. There have been so many talks and documentaries, such as ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, as early as 2006, which would have educated many people in the US and around the world. Alternative energy sources can be quite expensive and I think that is one reason we have not seen a great shift from using and producing fossil fuels, so we need government funding. I have seen many recycle bins in my community and informal settlements close to an area where I live with solar heating for each house which shows that the government is taking initiative. I think we need to remember that there are economic factors that play a role in how we reduce our contribution to global warming, such as large companies that provide electricity would be put out of business if we just stopped using fossil fuels.

  21. one would think in today’s time and age grownup people would realise that global warming is common knowledge and that it is both caused by human and natural causes. Finally the meteorologists are on board! Can we now do something about global warming please? Before my great grandkids have nothing but melted peaks and google images left of what earth used to look like?

  22. It all begins with acceptance! now that even the meteorologists have accepted that most of the global warming and climate change is caused by not only nature but humans as well, I think this will help instill the positive attitude to the humans not to decrease their carbon footprints, thus decreasing the chances of the global warming becoming more intense

  23. This is quite surprising that people who work with the climate and its change do not believe that humans are the one of the causes of global warming, this then raises a question of how will normal and clueless humans ever accept their responsibility in climate change when people who work in the field do not believe that humans are the cause because they are the ones expected to be explaining the consequences of our actions .They also do not have faith in reduction of climate change through mitigation but yet the rest of the world is expected to believe that, i really find it contradicting that people who work in this field have problems admitting to the truth yet the rest of the world is expected to admit to the truth and own up. We need to own up to our actions because as much as the natural world does contribute to global warming we humans have a more and increased contribution through the exploitation of the natural resources because we are constantly developing the word from a basic and simple planet into a complex planet because we want it to suit us.
    u15298133

  24. Climate change has been going on for a while now.It is surprising that meteorologists did not agree with the fact that humans do contribute to global warming.Humans have been contributing to the rapid greenhouse gases increase indirectly through industrial activities like burning fossils,through deforestation since plants are essential for absorbing carbon dioxide,poor farming practices and high electricity demand.From these listed human activities we can see that nature contributes to global warming but human activities can be said to be the main causes of global warming.

  25. It all begins with acceptance! now that even the meteorologists have accepted that most of the global warming and climate change is caused by not only nature but humans as well, I think this will help instill the positive attitude to the humans not to decrease their carbon footprints, thus decreasing the chances of the global warming becoming more intense

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  26. With the increasing hotter summers and the colder nights……and vice versa, you would think the people, the “experts” who provide us with this information would know what is now mainly common knowledge, we are experiencing snow for the first time – IN AFRICA and snow has been reported in the DESERT.Global warming and climate change is now not only common knowledge but it is a rather vibrant topic therefore many know about it and its causes, it is shocking that Meteorologists don’t know as much as we expect.

  27. Global warming has unfortunately become an unalterable law of life, partly because of natural causes but admittedly most of it is due to human negligence. While broadcasters may or may not discuss global warming it is ultimately big industrial companies (who know quite well the effects that they have on the environment) that are to be held responsible for their actions. Until they are held accountable we will never truly see a positive change in global warming.

  28. One result of global warming is more frequent drought seasons in Africa. This means that there is a great decline in food production as most crops and herds will die due to too much heat. The issue with drought is that the water sources dry out very fast which means farmers do not have enough water for the crops and animals. This results in both crops and animals dying and this leads to shortage of food which then triggers price hikes.u13127846

  29. What will happen to the century after 20 years from now if natural and man made cause of global warming increase?

  30. Global warming is a very serious issue as we all know. i think that it is mostly caused by human activity. All people can be held accountable for this but especially greedy people who don’t take the effects on the environment into consideration when trying to make themselves more money. Chopping down woods, making products that cause pollution, etc. plays a very big role. I therefore think it is necessary that all people start to realize how big this issue is and that if we don’t start doing something about it we will basically just kill the planet with ourselves on it. Weather reporters stating the importance of climate change caused by global warming is a very good start for people to realize what they are doing and start changing their ways.
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  31. There’s some old phrase about repeating the message over and over and over in all venues, and when you’re tired of it saying and hearing it yourself and figure everyone must have heard it by now, say it again anyway, because that may be the point at which people start actually hearing the message. Glad to hear most meteorologists have accepted the science now, but it did take them a while.

    Two or three years ago at the AGU there was talk about how much warming was the result of human vs natural factors. The hallway talk was that humans were responsible for more than a 100% because all natural factors indicated the world should be cooling. If you have time or inclination, Greg, I wouldn’t mind seeing updates on that (if not, no worries, as I’ll eventually have time to check myself, or maybe I’ll get to the AGU this year to lurk and listen).

  32. Addressing a problem after it has arrived. I think that we have become desensitised to the magnitude of the problem. The general public responds to the main-stream media and often do not understand the full consequences of the information provided to them. This is a huge problem in educating people and following up on it. The vast majority of people do not know what happens t waste, let alone to how to properly dispose of their trash. The common mindset is “someone will pick it up” or “that’s why the municipality has a department of sanitation” and it’s these small changes that need to be pushed.

  33. I agree it has to start with the small things like educating people of the long term effects of such actions and how easy it can be to live and not negetively affect our planet and its natural climatic cycle

  34. Climate change is not as simple as cause and effect there are alot of factors at play, including natural ones which history has shown us to be slightly inconsistent and fluctuating.

  35. We should start looking for a new planet to inhabit. Not enough will be done to save our planet and as a result some last-ditch efforts will be tried. We should just cut our losses and plan for the future.

  36. I am curious-what took so long? Those of us of a scientific background could see the preponderance of evidence and multiple lines pointing in one direction over a decade ago.
    How can a field so closely allied to climate science have taken such a long time?

  37. As much as climate change is real and it is happening because of humans, is it not inevitable since according to geology, our planet has cycles of increasing and decreasing temperatures in it’s history.
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