Mike the Mad Biologist

Freeping the Weather Channel

A few weeks ago, climatologist and Weather Channel blogger Heidi Cullen suggested that:

I’d like to take that suggestion a step further. If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming…

Meteorologists are among the few people trained in the sciences who are permitted regular access to our living rooms. And in that sense, they owe it to their audience to distinguish between solid, peer-reviewed science and junk political controversy. If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn’t agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns. It’s like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise and tsunamis are caused by the weather. It’s not a political statement…it’s just an incorrect statement.

I agree with every meteorologist who says the topic of global warming has gotten too political. But that’s why talking about the science is so important!

Well, at a follow up post, the right wingers all showed up (since many accused the Weather Channel of being ‘liberal’, I think the description is apt. Besides, as a liberal, I know for a fact that the Weather Channel is part of our conspiracy to turn everyone into TEH GAY AL-QUEDA!).

The arguments were ridiculous, even to a non-meterologist. For example, both methane emissions and carbon dioxide emissions can add to the greenhouse effect–it’s not either-or (there are no permalinks to comments). Other comments also show that a scientist can be very ignorant of certain disciplines (particularly when there’s a financial incentive). One commentor, “Ronald A. Newcomb”, who if he is this Ronald A. Newcomb, should know better, argues that there is no temperature data before 1854, so we don’t know what we’re talking about. Erm, ice cores

The comments are fascinating, in a bizarre way. They’re worth reading. It’s as crazy as the creationists.

Related post: It looks like the freeping might be partially orchestrated. Christopher Mims has the details.

Update: Eli Rabett and Tim Lambert have more. Andrew Dessler also weighs in.

Comments

  1. #1 oku
    January 19, 2007

    Most of the outrage is because Heidi Cullen said (bolds mine):

    Meteorologists are among the few people trained in the sciences who are permitted regular access to our living rooms. And in that sense, they owe it to their audience to distinguish between solid, peer-reviewed science and junk political controversy. If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn’t agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns. It’s like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise and tsunamis are caused by the weather. It’s not a political statement…it’s just an incorrect statement.

    I am not really sure if I agree with it, but it does give food to the persecution complex of the global warming deniers.

  2. #2 oku
    January 19, 2007

    Maybe I should give the link.

  3. #3 Brian X
    January 19, 2007

    I liked particularly the calls to switch to AccuWeather. Now, IIRC, Joel Myers is a global warming denialist, as is their superstar weather guy Joe Bastardi. Now I’m not that crazy about TWC’s copyright policies, but they seem to be at least a somewhat reliable site. AccuWeather, on the other hand, backed the Santorum NWS amendment two years ago and got called out for it by virtually everyone who relies on the NWS on a day-to-day basis, and also shows some shocking hubris in the way they present their weather forecasts (15-day forecast? You may as well try to predict the path of a Plinko chip… and then there’s RealFeel(tm)…)

    And yes, it does read suspiciously like Christians crying persecution… same hypocrisy and everything…

  4. #4 ciel
    January 20, 2007

    It’s no surprise that Fox News has been picking up on the story. I suspect that most of the flagrantly wingnut responses come directly from their viewers, and wouldn’t be the least surprised if a number of the names were bogus and simply multiple posts from the same wingnut(s). Same with the anon postings.

    That said, what I think Dr. Cullen meant to convey is not what was actually interpreted by many. I believe she is simply frustrated with the years and years On-Camera Mets who pretend to have more understanding of climatology than they really do, and use the tremendous goodwill they have with their regular audiences to promote views of their own – often views which they frankly are not really in a position to portray any expertise on, ie. AGW is “hype,” or “still largely uncertain,” etc., but which, because of the cult of personality standing with their audience, are taken as fact.

    As such, her suggestion of requiring a more indepth understading of climate science before one gets their AMS seal of approval is not exactly all that outlandish, at all. However, I believe that, perhaps owing to her frustration and choice of words, and combined with the subsequent spinning done by the Inhofes of the political spectrum, the message once received by the masses was one of suggesting “stripping” mets of their AMS seals who do not believe “as she does.” I simply reject that this was her intention.

  5. #5 Susan
    January 21, 2007

    I am not a scientist, but am seriously concerned about global warming.

    Unfortunately, these denial-wingnuts do vote. Wingnuts just like these ones pressure their Senators (like Inohofe) to vote for bad bills. These wingnuts must be educated now, while we have 4 months to pass legislation that will reduce emisssions.

    That thread is the best place to educate them. You’d never get on talkradio. Please go over there and convince them now.

    Theres these 4 bills coming up in the Senate this year. Of them 3 are crap: only the Boxer/Sanders bill will actually fix global warming.
    Please get over there to provide argument from scientists.

  6. #6 Gman
    January 22, 2007

    This statment seems quite clear to me .

    ….If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval…..

    Why are you trying to excuse her attempt to punish those ‘deniers’ who don’t agree with her? Is this the postmodern rage among liberals nowadays where words don’t really mean what they represent unless it is put in the best psychological light? LOL!

    I’m always amused by those who fancy themselves as modern day “Galileos” raging against the mainstream yet are themselves so adamant and nazi-like in making everybody swallow the whole groupthink about climate change, hook, line and sinker.

    Learn from the ignonimous fate of the Malthusians and learn to think for yourself!

  7. #7 ciel
    January 22, 2007

    Gman,

    I think you may have misread what Dr. Cullen is actually conveying, accepting the Right Wing spin on this “hook, line and sinker.”

    What Dr. Cullen wrote “If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval,” I believe to mean that – *going forward* – if a TV met (and remember, we’re still talking about TV mets here who very often have far, far-less meteorology – let alone climatology – courses under their belts than mets who work elsewhere) – if a TV met can not at least take a few basic climate courses so he/she is truly familiarized with the science and not just spewing opinions out of their necks, as many do, then AMS should not GIVE them the seal (not TAKE it away from existing mets, or anyone who does not believe as Dr. Cullen does).

    The spin from the Right on this issue has been absurd. And reading the brainless, monkey hear-monkey repeat comments over on the One Degree blog has only made it all too clear where the attacks are coming from.

    Ciel

  8. #8 James
    January 22, 2007

    Sadly, just as in the Weather Channel Blog, all of the skeptics have data to back of there stance and all of the alarmists have big words, watered down explanations, intollerance, and so forth. It’s an issue of science and scientists, not politics. Please, read and look at all of the raw data.

    Many thanks.

  9. #9 Shelby
    January 31, 2007

    Really, there is enough scientific data to make conclusions on global warming… the problem is the interpretation of the data… One group sees one thing, another sees another. The politics are the important thing in this situation. Unless we can get over our petty political differences and work together to find solutions to complex problems like global climate change, then we are doomed to fail as a society with our without the impacts of global climate change.

  10. #10 Peter Brunson
    March 5, 2007

    One question. Was there a Medieval Warm Period?

  11. #11 Oyun
    December 6, 2008

    Sadly, just as in the Weather Channel Blog, all of the skeptics have data to back of there stance and all of the alarmists have big words, watered down explanations, intollerance, and so forth. It’s an issue of science and scientists, not politics. Please, read and look at all of the raw data.

    Many thanks.