By Cynthia Tucker

Weather Forecasters And Climate Scientists Live On Different Planets

December 8, 2012 12:00 am Category: Memo Pad 24 Comments A+ / A-

Here in Atlanta, we’ve had a string of days in which the temperature has hovered around 70 degrees — more representative of late spring than late autumn. The balmy weather has left me in a funk.

Sure, I’ve enjoyed the chance to put my toddler on the back of my bike and take her out for a ride. Yes, it was pleasant to don a short-sleeved shirt to put up my outdoor Christmas lights. Of course, I like the long chats with my neighbors, who walk their dogs at a leisurely pace instead of rushing to get out of the chill.

But I fear the unseasonable temperatures are a harbinger of a slow-moving disaster — a serious threat to my child’s future. What will it take to get people focused on the crisis of climate change?

It would certainly help if TV weather forecasters at least noted the possibility of a link between the un-December-like weather and disastrous global warming. They are popular figures who are embraced by their local viewers as climate authorities. If they helped the public understand the dangers of global warming, the voters, in turn, would demand solutions from their elected officials.

But there’s a troubling dynamic that helps to explain why you’re unlikely to hear about global warming when you’re watching the weather report on the 6 o’clock local news: Many TV weathermen — and weather women — dispute the science of climate change, believing it’s a “scam,” according to a recent study. Their ignorance has contributed to the public’s apathy.

Even though cooler weather is expected soon, 2012 is still on track to be among the hottest years on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency. With the exception of 1998, the hottest years on record have occurred since 2000, climate scientists say. The longstanding consensus among scientists is that greenhouse gases are warming the Earth, melting the polar ice caps, raising sea levels and creating untold environmental havoc.

Yet, many television weather forecasters — who are not climate scientists — remain skeptical. Only about 19 percent believe that human activity is the primary cause of climate change, according to a 2011 study by George Mason University and the University of Texas. A similar fraction — 18 percent — knows that scientists have concluded that human activity is warming the planet, the study said.

Quiet as it’s kept, you don’t have to know much science to be a TV weather forecaster. Those with science degrees tend to be meteorologists with expertise in short-range climate models. They can predict the weather a week from now with relative accuracy, but they know little about long-term climate trends.

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Weather Forecasters And Climate Scientists Live On Different Planets Reviewed by on . Here in Atlanta, we've had a string of days in which the temperature has hovered around 70 degrees -- more representative of late spring than late autumn. The b Here in Atlanta, we've had a string of days in which the temperature has hovered around 70 degrees -- more representative of late spring than late autumn. The b Rating:

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Comments

  • nobsartist

    Weather forecasters are just another form of entertainment. Today news is just another source of entertainment to get you to buy more junk. If it looks like any amount of snow may fall, the idiots want you to go buy enough junk so that you can be snowed in for a month and then nothing happens.

    Here in Michigan you would think they would be more concerned that lake levels have dropped so much that now there is another 150 yards of beach on lake huron.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/6CXRWX65TSWYLM3KWCICGOI2NE richardjjordan

      Far in the Future , The Great Lakes may very well be ‘Saline’ due to rising oceans .

  • commserver

    TV weatherperson isn’t forecasting just reporting what is already being predicted. Most just read from a script.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dominick.vila.1 Dominick Vila

    The problem is not TV weather forecasters, they simply repeat whatever the Weather Bureau tells them, the problem is all the oil company “scientists” that continue to promote fossil fuels while the polar caps and glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, weather patterns changing, and droughts expanding. It will not be long before disasters like the one cause by Sandy are the norm, low level cities end up under water, arable land becomes scarce, and the price of potable water matches the price of gold.
    The longer we wait to prepare for the inevitable the harder and costlier it will be to mitigate the effects of mother nature.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/6CXRWX65TSWYLM3KWCICGOI2NE richardjjordan

      Totally Logical , however , the Human emotion of ‘Greed ‘ is more powerful than That of Reason and Foresight !!!

    • adler56

      Dominick- small point- the National Weather Service hasn’t been the Weather Bureau for about 35-40 years.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dominick.vila.1 Dominick Vila

        Freudian slip…

    • Elsie Yarham

      Denialists are nihilists. It seems like they believe they own the planet and do whatever they please with it without consulting with us. They don’t care if they destroy it, as long as the end comes after they’re no longer around and able to give a damn. They know there’s a calamity around the corner, and as long as they don’t have to give up any part of their lavish lifestyles while they’re alive, they really don’t care what happens to the rest of us because they are spoiled selfish pigs. So their only job is to keep the natives from becoming restless, and ignore what happens to their grandkids if they have any.

  • http://twitter.com/Lilobri Lil O

    I’ve noticed over the last few years that TV forecasts have been increasingly inaccurate as presenters use past models to predict temperatures and storms. They have consistently underestimated temperatures and forecast precipitation that doesn’t materialize.

  • CPANewYork

    Global warming is caused by astronomical phenomena. The Earth moves around the sun in an elliptical path. That’s why we get ice ages and ages of heat.

    The present problem is that the destructiveness of the greenhouse gases is making the warming trend even worse. Our glorious leaders probably don’t really beleive the oil patch malarkey denying global warming, but they pretend to believe it because the oil patch lobbyists are paying them to pretend to believe it and to stifle legislation that will encourage and financially support alternative energy sources.

    • adler56

      Nice job working “malarkey” into your post.

  • howa4x

    Weather forecasters work for local stations that recieve advertising dollars from the petro-chemical industry and are not going to speak out against their intrests. Can you imagine a TV station in WVA talking about global warming or climate change when the entire state is involved in the coal industry? Stations dice up their programming so that advertisers can pick and choose what they want to fund, and local weather falls into that bucket. NO need to be controversial. This is the bottom line reason they stay clear of the debate. They take the industry line that all the facts are not in, and don’t drill down deeper. By chopping the global weather into a 5 day forecast they stay away from trends for the most part. Global warming is portrayed as hey folks, it’s going to be another beautiful day, with bright sunshine and mild temperatures. Major storms are not fit together in patterns and are portrayed as isolated events. Some weather forecastors like CNN ‘s hype everything so every rain storm is protrayed as severe weather so people can’t discern any patterns becuase if you keep using the term severe for everything it looses meaning. The oil/gas/coal industry is not giving up any ground and the local weather is one of their defenses.

  • adler56

    You’re way too kind to TV weather forecasters. Many don’t even have a degree in meteorology or it was so long ago that they are now nothing more than rip and read guys or girls- using the National Weather Service forecasts. Few if any make more than minimal changes to National Weather Serevice forecasts – e.g. high of 87 instead of 88. Not one will ever change severe weather forecasts from NWS- why? if they’re wrong their career is probably over- if the NWS forecast is wrong- they just read it- they didn’t make it.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JMT6C3LHLJDD4RX4NB4KY5ICAE gargray

    We have wind and solor, yet our constitutants oppose change in our energy consuption and still they clame to be educated. Our cities reject the idea of self substained because of idiology, my reaction is stupidity.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/K6QHS352L77QJNX4YFCTOLIC24 olddude70

    and why should todays warming trend be any more disasterous then the one 12,000 years ago that got rid of that mile thick glasier that covered a third of the northern hemisphere? we WILL adapt, either inexpensively or with great cost, but we WILL adapt – - – that’s OUR nature!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/william.quigley.73 William Quigley

    In the Boston TV market, I find a wide range of competence in forcasting the weather. We do have our share of stylishly dressed weather girls reading the weather with little comprehension of what they are reading. But, we also have some extremely compentent meteorologist. Some of whom nailed down Super Storm Sandy nearly a week out, while others showed no interst until the day before the storm and even then blowing the forecast. We even have several meteorologist that gone into extensive expalnations of global warming. While on the west coast of Florida, I find weather forcasts consist of largely of some bimbo reading what’s placed in front of her.

  • onedonewong

    Global Warmers are hardly a scientist. Its a bunch of flimflam artists trying to milk the taxpayers of their $$$. You only have to look at Al Gores carbon credits that allowed him to make $1 BILLION and not do 1 thing for ‘warmers”. It was delisted from the stock exchange because it was identified as a con

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B6RROC4IUESHT322QS5VJVPYRM Lynda

      Unfortunately you are letting your politics get in the way of an understanding of the science. Apparently you believe that nearly every scientific institution in the world belongs in the flimflam camp. That speaks volumes of your ability to comprehend basic science. Don’t let fear and distrust cloud your judgement.

      • onedonewong

        the fact that every time an independent research activity looks into their data and correspondence they find they lack integerity They fight tooth and nail not to release internal documents even though they are taxpayers funded.
        If they want to be creditable time they open the books

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7L73ZAOXKZ6WYKGYMQIXAE64TI mark

    “Weather” and “Climate” are not the same thing.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B6RROC4IUESHT322QS5VJVPYRM Lynda

    For the denier crowd the confusion never ends. They continue to conflate weather and climate without the slightest thought to the science involved. Some of the talking heads doing the weather are well qualified to discuss the changes in climate, but most have enough trouble just reading the prediction for tommorrow’s weather.

  • ridemybroom

    Predict…?….Who ?…..Forecasters ? short range weather ?????…..God help us if this is what we have today to predict tomorrow’s weather…they cant predict rain on coastal areas as it now…hell some of them cant even predict a radar’s rain movement….for instance….take a look at the weather channel…NBC came in and took control over and it now has become the Clown Channel…there is no one there i trust anymore to give accurate and updated weather….its a pile of crap…i dont even watch it anymore…i dont care to watch it anymore…if i have to watch the likes of Al roker and that bimbo hes with id soon watch nothing…besides i trust me…i have my own weather site and im good at it….i predict and follow hurricanes from beginning to end…i can tell you when and where one will form and where it will go….and when it will get there…and i have no formal education in that field whatsoever….it has been a hobby since i was at a young age…these forecasters today are a joke…most cant even tell you what time of day it is…or what day it is for that matter….and this is one forecaster who believes in global warming…if you dont believe it isnt happening just to to google earth and see how the ice has melted around the shore line of Greenland…from North to South the coast is becoming more clearer with each passing day….never thought i would see the likes of that in my life time…!

  • rustacus21

    I got up today, to a bright sunny December Michigan morning & well, was a bit stunned as Ms. Tucker explains here. I walked to the bus stop & broke a ‘mild’ sweat & then it occurred to me that it’s the 14th of December!!! While only 50 degrees by then, I really miss the snow & cold of this time of year & reading over this article, I thought about my children as well & what their future future holiday seasons… & summers… & water quality… air quality… & food availability… & U get my point… The fact that so many people globally, discount Climate Change is terrifying, especially considering developing nations like China & India, want to be ‘just like U.S.’, w/out the benefit of building from the (scientific) ground up. It’s a tragedy, b/c their eventual catastrophe’s will be much worse than ours, given their populations. But we have to advocate for the things that will make a difference now – not later & soon! W/this as a golden moment in history, when we have an administration that is willing to at least ‘listen’, this is the perfect time for a national dialog on Global Climate Change…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F3AEVYAEPTF5EQAQBKY7B4IUSU EAT THE RICH

    gee, you think just maby all thoese big brains who have been screaming for decades have somthing correct? na, just a burp, right? no problem, just keep poisioning the planet, no sweat. listen to your world loving gop leaders . …….or get a clue………and bobby said it best…” you don’t need a weather(man) to know whitch way the wind blowes”

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