America’s television meteorologists are the primary source of climate information for most Americans, and are second only to scientists — who have much less access to the general public — in the level of trust they are given. Yet more than half of TV weather reporters don’t believe in human-induced climate change, even as our poisoned weather grows more extreme.
Forecast the Facts, a new campaign of 350.org, the League of Conservation Voters, and the new Citizen Engagement Lab, aims to turn the tide. The first call to action challenges the American Meteorological Society to vote next week for a strong climate change statement that rejects science denial:
It’s a big problem: weather reporters reach millions of people every night, and right now they’re not telling their viewers the full story. We can change that. Meteorologists are meeting this month at the annual conference of the American Meteorological Society, where the AMS Council will vote on a new official statement on climate change. Denier meteorologists don’t want the statement to pass, and are doing everything they can to derail the process. We can’t let that happen.
In 2009, ThinkProgress Green exposed weathermen James Spann and Joe D’Aleo as Marc Morano’s go-to climate deniers. Forecast the Facts has identified dozens more zombie weathermen (yes, they’re all male) from around the country. These climate denier meteorologists are betraying the public’s trust and distorting America’s airwaves with ideological science denial:
|Climate Denier Weathermen|
|David Aldrich||WVLT-TV Knoxville, TN||“I do not believe CO2 is a pollutant. I’m made of CO2, you’re made of CO2 … the ocean is a reservoir of CO2.” [Philadelphia City Paper, 06/06/07]|
|Chris Allen||WBKO-TV Bowling Green, KY||“If you don’t believe in God and creationism then I can see why you would easily buy into the whole global warming fanfare. I think in many ways that’s what this movement is ultimately out to do – rid the mere mention of God in any context. What these environmentalists are actually saying is “we know more than God – we’re bigger than God – God is just a fantasy – science is real…He isn’t…listen to US!” I have a huge problem with that.” [Grist, 12/30/07]|
|Justin Berk||WMAR-TV Baltimore, MD||“In the face of scrutiny, many scientists have questioned the Global Warming Theory. Isn’t a rare event like this ice extent on Lake Superior contrary to what is expected in a warming world? While some may argue that this is a blip in the system, there seems to be mounting evidence that is making the public more skeptical.” [Examiner.com, 03/18/09]|
|Andre Bernier||WJW-TV Cleveland, OH||“This cry that ‘We’re all going to die’ is an overreaction and just not good science. I don’t think I personally know any meteorologists — here in Cleveland or anywhere else I’ve worked — who agree with the hype over human-induced warming.” [Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 12/02/08]|
|Karl Bohnak||WLUC-TV Marquette, MI||“The worst case scenario, which is the extreme end, which is the least likely to happen, says seven or eight degrees. Yeah, then we’d have problems. But that is probably about the chance that I’m going to step outside right now on a February day and get struck by lightning” [Valley Central, 02/18/10]|
|Bob Breck||WVUE-TV New Orleans, LA||“Not that the future isn’t important, but if you can’t live for now, what do you care about the future? So should we be channeling all of our focus into trying to stop something we can’t stop anyway? And spend billions and billions and billions of dollars when you have problems out there that could be solved..” [Federalist Society, 05/21/11]|
|Mike Breunling||WSAW Wausau, WI||“I do not believe in any way that our existence will lead to irreversible climate change” [Mike Breunling's Blog, 01/01/04]|
|Mike Clay||Bay News 9 Tampa, FL||“I first heard about global warming in a conference I attended in 1988. I remember someone saying ‘Be wary of (researchers) who tell you there’s a problem, because if they tell you there’s no problem, their [research funding] goes away.’” [St. Petersburg Times, 03/14/10]|
|John Coleman||KUSI-TV San Diego, CA||“We’re talking about the greatest hoax in history, let’s understand this. There is no man made global warming. The whole thing is a phony call for quick action. Their support is collapsing amid a turn to much colder weather worldwide. Half of the people in the United States are now saying global warming? You gotta be kidding me.” [CNN, 01/31/09]|
|Grant Dade||KLTV-TV Tyler, TX||“Is the Earth warming? Yes, I think it is. But is man causing that? No. It’s a simple climate cycle our climate goes through over thousands of years.” [KLTV, 01/24/08]|
|Dave Dahl||KSTP-TV Minneapolis, MN||“It is pretty widely accepted that the earth has been cooling for the past several years…” [Minnesota Post, 09/26/08]|
|Paul Dellegatto||WTVT-TV Tampa, FL||“I just think the whole global warming doomsdayer theory is tough to see based on current calculations” [MSNBC, 03/12/09]|
|Gary England||KWTV-TV Oklahoma City, OK||“Climate is changing, always has and most likely always will until that thermonuclear engine in the sky, the sun, goes out” [EnidNews, 04/11/09]|
|Geoff Fox||WTIC-TV Hartford, CT||“My life would be easier if I was a believer! All my non-meteorologist friends are global warming adherents. Faith doesn’t come to you just because it’s a desirable trait.” [GeoffFox.com, 06/22/11]|
|Jym Ganahl||WCMH-TV||“I have always thought we should celebrate and be thankful we live in a time when it is warmer, not curse it. It allows us to grow food and feed the population — and the warming is slow and we can adapt to it.” [The Other Paper, 02/05/09]|
|Steve Jerve||WFLA-TV Tampa, FL||Asked if he agrees with the AMS climate statement: “I don’t talk about [global warming] on television … because I don’t see it as part of my short-term forecast, I don’t think it’s good for a scientist to talk about an opinion.” [St. Petersburg Times, 03/14/10]|
|Mark Johnson||WEWS-TV Cleveland, OH||“Consensus does not mean fact. … Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” [Crain's Cleveland Business, 02/13/07]|
|Tim Kelley||New England Cable News Boston, MA||“There is absolutely no consensus that manmade emissions are a major factor in climate change.” [Sharon Advocate, 03/30/10]|
|Jon Loufman||WOIO-TV Cleveland, OH||“Climate records also show that long before industrialization, the Vikings had settled in Greenland because it was warm enough. I think the jury is still out on this.” [Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 12/02/08]|
|Bill Meck||WLEX-TV Lexington, KY||“Can you believe the deafening silence regarding Climate Gate? The ‘science’ that led to cap and trade was likely doctored (faked, fudged, made up, take your pick) with hard evidence being discoverd and nary a word anywhere.” [Bill's Weather Blog, 11/25/09]|
|Dave Murray||KTVI-TV St. Louis, MO||“The climate is always changing and has been since day one” and will continue to do so.We have been in a warmer-than-average pattern for the last 10 to 15 years. That cycle is now just starting to flip to a colder-than-average pattern that will last 15 to 20 years, although there will be some blips in this pattern.” [St. Louis Journalism Review, 03/01/09]|
|Mark Nolan||WKYC Cleveland, OH||“I’m not sure which is more arrogant — to say we caused (global warming) or that we can fix it” [Crain's Cleveland Business, 02/13/07]|
|Morgan Palmer||KIRO-TV Seattle, WA||“Folks that are writing these papers, that a lot of institutions are going after, grant money and grant money is given by folks who might have very good intentions, but unfortunately the papers that are being written are heavily weighed on man-made Global Warming” [KLTV, 01/24/08]|
|David Paul||KLFY-TV Lafayette, LA||“So, does carbon dioxide drive the climate? The answer is no!” [KLFY, 07/08/09]|
|Denis Phillips||WFTS-TV Tampa, FL||“You can look at what’s going into the atmosphere and we see it’s having an effect on components of the atmosphere. But there’s nobody who can tell you what that means.” [St. Petersburg Times, 03/14/10]|
|Mark Prater||WIAT-TV Birmingham, AL||“So much for Global Warming!” [Twitter, 10/29/11]|
|Bernie Rayno||AccuWeather||“The climate has been changing since the dawning of time, it’s whether we are changing the climate.” [Accuweather, 06/13/11]|
|Mark Scirto||KLTV-TV Tyler, TX||“Eventually, what is going to happen 20, 30 years from now, this is all going to be gone because we will not be warming anymore” [KLTV, 11/08/07]|
|Topper Shutt||WUSA-TV Washington, DC||“What percentage of the atmosphere is CO2 ? 0.03 % !! That’s driving climate?” [Twitter, 12/07/09]|
|Joseph Sobel||AccuWeather State College, PA||“It has been claimed that global warming is responsible for an increasing number of tropical storms and hurricanes, but here is a reason that the number of storms is increasing that has absolutely nothing to do with global warming…any increase in the number of hurricanes observed over the last 100 years is only the result of the fact that we have more ships at sea, more people living on coastlines, and satellites to see storms now that would have gone unrecorded 50 or 75 years ago.” [NewsBusters.org, 05/10/07]|
|Brad Sowder||KOAA-TV Colorado Springs, CO||“I have been more on the side of a skeptic, I think global warming is a political issue and it’s safer to stay out of it.” [ClimateChangeDispatch, 06/06/10]|
|James Spann||WBMA-TV Birmingham, AL||“The Earth’s climate has changed since the day God put it here. We’ve had these cyclical changes, and I believe most of this is purely natural.” [Glenn Beck Show, 01/22/07]|
|Karl Spring||KMSP Minneapolis, MN||“I wouldn’t pay a dime to see [An Inconvenient Truth] for many reasons..[Al Gore] is a left-wing nut. And he does things for other agendas.” [BusinessNorth, 10/16/07]|
|Bill Steffen||WOOD-TV Grand Rapids, MI||“AGW scientists said it’s going get much warmer. Since that isn’t happening right now, they’ve shifted the terminology to “Climate Change” and “Climate Disruption”…acting like we’ve never had storms before and ignoring the fact that their predictions aren’t coming true.” [Bill's Blog, 04/30/11]|
|Herb Stevens||WLNE Providence, RI||“I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 10 years researching this matter. It is the greatest hoax perpetrated on mankind.” [TomNelson.Blogspot.com, 09/25/08]|
|Bill Taylor||KENS-TV San Antonio, TX||“We TV weathermen do not agree on man-made global warming” [Twitter, 05/15/10]|
|Kevin Williams||WHEC-TV Rochester, NY||“The Earth is not warming, sea levels are not rising, global ice masses are actually starting to grow.” [Tea Party Rally, 04/15/10]|
The primary barrier to national action on climate change is the intransigence of corporate polluters, and the amount of influence they wield over the political system. Climate zombies have overrun Congress, and every Republican candidate for president denies the reality of greenhouse pollution.
To overcome that will require the mobilization of the American public, and science-denying weathermen are standing in the way.
Forecast the Facts (on Twitter at @ForecastFacts) defines a denier as anyone who expressly refutes the overwhelming scientific consensus about climate change: that it is real, largely caused by humans, and already having profound impacts on our world. Forecast the Facts also includes meteorologists who have suggested that extreme cold spells or snowstorms disprove climate science. They track the views of meteorologists through their on-air statements, blog posts, social media activity, public appearances, interviews, and interactions with viewers. To add to their database, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Meteorological Society explains the 2007 climate statement, which states that “strong observational evidence and results from modeling studies indicate that, at least over the last 50 years, human activities are a major contributor to climate change,” will not be updated at the annual meeting:
But despite the importance of keeping the public up to date on advancing climate science, don’t expect any major decisions in New Orleans. In fact, adoption of the updated Statement isn’t even on the Council’s agenda.