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Are meteorologists climate experts?

By Joe Romm  

"Are meteorologists climate experts?"

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No, or I should say, not inherently.

moon-hoax.jpgThe 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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13 Responses to Are meteorologists climate experts?

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Maybe bet with Coleman?

  2. Glenn Macy says:

    Dear Mr. Benson,
    Your article did a fine job of railing about Mr. John Coleman’s comments. Point out that his lack of qualifications to have lagitomet opinion because he is merely a lowly meteorologist made you shine with brilliance.
    Your suggestion that because Global Warming not being his trained field of expertise, and that he could not possibly have the ability to reason properly any scientific facts on this subject really is quite astute. Outstanding observation!
    Mr. Benson with all due respect, at least he has researched on his own; accumulate facts to form his opinion.
    I suggest you might fine it enlightening to do the same instead of relying on the assumed expertise of others. Possibly by looking into Solar heating, Solar flares, cloud cover weather currents and trends over the last 100 years. You may find if fascinating and even broaden your perspective on the subject. Just a thought, assuming you do read and do your own research.

    Sincerely

    Glenn Macy

  3. caerbannog says:


    I suggest you might fine it enlightening to do the same instead of relying on the assumed expertise of others. Possibly by looking into Solar heating, Solar flares, cloud cover weather currents and trends over the last 100 years. You may find if fascinating and even broaden your perspective on the subject. Just a thought, assuming you do read and do your own research.

    I’m sure that Dr. Romm’s reply would be along the lines of “been there, done that, wore out the t-shirt.”

  4. Luther Franklin says:

    It’s a dull mind, indeed, that doesn’t understand that Global Warming is Real and Catastrophic.

  5. David says:

    “Global Warming is Real and Catastrophic”

    Real yes. Catastrophic, hardly. Have you ever thought what Earth would be like without global warming? Global warming is what makes life possible. It’s what keeps us all from freezing to death at night. Compare the amount of life on Earth, which has global warming, to the moon, which has none.

  6. Ron says:

    I wonder how many meteorologists were involved in the IPCC study?

    Any numbers on that, Joe? How many people total; how many were climatologists; how many meteorologists; how many ‘other’ scientists; how many ‘other’ non-scientists?

  7. Herb says:

    “Real yes. Catastrophic, hardly. Have you ever thought what Earth would be like without global warming?”

    That’s a bit like saying that a house fire is not catastrophic in the winter because heating the house keeps you from freezing.

  8. David B. Benson says:

    Glen Macy — All that from just a four word comment? I’m impressed…

  9. Steve Bloom says:

    FYI, Ron, there are a fair number of different degrees one can get on the way to becoming a climate scientist, and a PhD in meteorology is one of them. Confusingly, having such a degree does not necessarily mean one is a climate scientist. A related degree type (atmosphere science) leaves no question. In any case someone with just a bachelor’s or master’s in meteorology doesn’t pass the initial smell test.

  10. Ken Jackson says:

    Glen Macy – sure, Mr. Glen Macy. I am sure you did your own research. Yep, you had your own space shuttle to launch so you could observe how crystalline solids behave in zero gravity, observing how they begin to coalesce through electrical static charge that is created upon frictional collisions, mimicking cloud formations. I am sure you went into the caves of New Mexico by yourself to study the annular stalagmite formations that record solar activity over thousands of years, evident through carbon dating and radioactive data. And surely you built your own supercollider deep underground in Europe so that you may hopefully synthesize galactic background radiation in an hyrdrogen/oxygen-saturated air filled tube to observe what cloud formations may be like during periods of weak solar magnetic fields. And of course, you have your own UV data as it relates to cloud formation and ozone protection during weak solar periods.

    What you really did is take the research of a very few scientific people who are just embarking on new studies that aren’t even acknowledged by the scientific community as current theory. The science in these areas are in their infancy. It is a collection of “maybes” and “what if’s.” They may turn out to be right, but don’t act like it is accepted that they are and that you carried the research out yourself.

    We all use OTHER expertise to support our claims. You aren’t a scientist. And if “you” aren’t a scientist in the majority, you had better stand up to pier review or else you are just a fringe scientist until proven otherwise.

  11. Tony says:

    Mr. Coleman’s participation in the global warming debate is obviously politically partisan and has nothing to do with his being a broadcast meteorologist. Just read about the “2008 International Conference on Climate Change” in which he was a speaker and the “Heartland Institute” which sponsored it. Is the Heartland Institute a climate organization or a consortium of scientists? No, in fact, “Heartland’s mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.” Okay, so they are against the idea of human-induced global warming because they are against raising taxes and increasing regulations. They believe no one should ever be restricted by the government. Fine, this is a valid political point of view, but it is not valid science. The only people “creating” science to fit their views are the attendees of this bogus scientific conference.

  12. Nicholas says:

    I am just wondering if it was real Why was there no stars?

  13. shalah says:

    what kind of qualties do you have like how long did you go to school and stuff like that i need to know by monday so i can finish my science project i have to take all the qualities you have and make it into a help wanted ad… so send me a message explaining at marr_shalah@yahoo.com please… hurry