"Are meteorologists climate experts?"
No, or I should say, not inherently.
The question arises because Weather Channel founder John Coleman wrote a recent article claiming global warming is “the greatest scam in history.” [Not! Everyone knows the greatest scam in history is the whole moon-landing nonsense.] But I digress. Coleman writes:
I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct. There is no run away climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril. I am incensed by the incredible media glamour, the politically correct silliness and rude dismissal of counter arguments by the high priest of Global Warming.
Oh well, then, case closed. A weatherman read a bunch of papers and thought about them.
In fact, one of the climate scientists I interviewed for my book told me:
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.
Asking a meteorologist to opine on the climate — or even the cause of recent extreme weather – is like asking your family doctor what the chances are for an avian flu pandemic in the next few years or asking a mid-West sheriff the prospects for nuclear terrorism. The answer might be interesting, but not one I’d like to stake my family’s life on.
As but one example of how meaningless it is to read a few scientific papers — especially the wrong ones — consider what Coleman said on CNN’s Glenn Beck:
When I looked at the hockey stick graph … it showed a steady lying (sic) temperature throughout the millenium and then a sudden rise, I knew that that was incorrect. I knew it couldn’t possibly be. … And I found out it was bogus science. It wasn’t real. The numbers had been massaged. The whole thing had been created.
Uhh, no. The scientific literature is very clear — the hockey stock is not bogus science. Indeed, the nation’s most prestigious scientific body, the National Academies of Science, has issued a pretty definitive statement about this, Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years, which is discussed here. Here is New Scientist on the myth the hockey stick graph has been proven wrong.
[Aside: I played the video twice, and it does sound like “lying” but I think what he meant was “declining”.]
You don’t need to be a climate scientist to talk about climate science — but you do need to have a thorough grounding in the actual scientific literature, as opposed to just the (much smaller, and rarely peer-reviewed) denier literature. If you insist on repeating long-debunked denier myths — attacking the hockey stick, and the like — then you lose all credibility. So in the debate between ThinkProgress and Newbusters, I am, no surprise, with my (big) sister site.
One last point. Coleman says:
In time, a decade or two, the outrageous scam will be obvious. As the temperature rises, polar ice cap melting, coastal flooding and super storm pattern all fail to occur as predicted everyone will come to realize we have been duped…. I strongly believe that the next twenty years are equally as likely to see a cooling trend as they are to see a warming trend.
To anyone who believes such nonsense — I am quite happy to make a large bet that the temperature in the next decade will be higher than this decade (and that the temperature in the decade after that will be still higher). Any takers?
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