Weathercasters take on role of science educators; feel some uncertainty on issue of climate change

Mar 29, 2010

In a time when only a handful of TV news stations employ a dedicated science reporter, TV weathercasters may seem like the logical people to fill that role, and in many cases they do.

In the largest and most representative survey of television weathercasters to date, George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication shows that two-thirds of weathercasters are interested in reporting on climate change, and many say they are already filling a role as an informal science educator.

"Our surveys of the public have shown that many Americans are looking to their local TV weathercaster for information about global warming," says Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication. "The findings of this latest survey show that TV weathercasters play—or can play—an important role as informal climate change educators."

According to the survey, climate change is already one of the most common science topics TV weathercasters discuss—most commonly at speaking events, but also at the beginning or end of their on-air segments, on blogs and web sites, on the radio and in newspaper columns.

Weathercasters also indicated that they are interested in personalizing the story for their local viewers—reporting on local stories such as potential flooding/drought, extreme heat events, air quality and crops. About one-quarter of respondents said they have already seen evidence of climate change in their local .

"Only about 10 percent of TV stations have a dedicated specialist to cover these topics," says University of Texas journalism professor Kristopher Wilson, a collaborator on the survey. "By default, and in many cases by choice, science stories become the domain of the only scientifically trained person in the newsroom—weathercasters."

Many of the weathercasters said that having access to resources such as to interview and high-quality graphics and animations to use on-air would increase their ability to educate the public about climate change.

However, despite their interest in reporting more on this issue, the majority of weathercasters (61 percent) feel there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about the issue of global warming. Though 54 percent indicated that global warming is happening, 25 percent indicated it isn't, and 21 percent say they don't know yet.

"A recent survey showed that more than 96 percent of leading climate scientists are convinced that global warming is real and that human activity is a significant cause of the warming," says Maibach. "Climate scientists may need to make their case directly to America's weathercasters, because these two groups appear to have a very different understanding about the scientific consensus on climate change."

This survey is one part of a National Science Foundation-funded research project on meteorologists. Using this data, Maibach and his research team will next conduct a field test of 30-second, broadcast-quality educational segments that TV weathercasters can use in their daily broadcasts to educate viewers about the link between predicted (or current) extreme weather events in that media market and the changing global climate.

Ultimately, the team hopes to answer key research questions supporting efforts to activate TV meteorologists nationwide as an important source of informal science education about .

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2 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2010
Yeah, humans caused climate change. Sure. *watches from afar as the rats follow the piper*
4.3 / 5 (6) Mar 30, 2010
all those who disbelieve in climate change, and human's role in it, remind me of flat earthers... Yeah, the earth is round, likely story... or HA, the sun is the center of the solar system, that's just stupid.... I guess we' will simply have to wait a few more years before the truth of the situation is better understood by both sides of this "argument" even though 96% of people who study this climate change, agree it's happening...
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 31, 2010
all those who disbelieve in climate change, and human's role in it, remind me of flat earthers... Yeah, the earth is round, likely story... or HA, the sun is the center of the solar system, that's just stupid.... I guess we' will simply have to wait a few more years before the truth of the situation is better understood by both sides of this "argument" even though 96% of people who study this climate change, agree it's happening...

I take it you didn't read the article philosothink.
1 / 5 (6) Mar 31, 2010
How do you communicate with people who place faith and dogma above scientific evidence?

I have seen exteremly convincing evidence that the senstivity of the Earth's climate to CO2 is much lower than claimed by climate scientists. I have also seen water-tight scientific evidence that shows that natural (decadal) variations in climate are responsible for most if not all of the warming we have seen in the last 40 years.

This scientific evidence is so good that it can used to predict that the World's temperature will cool over the next 30 years.

However, nothing will sway the warming alarmists from their religious beliefs that humans are warming the planet. We will have to wait till 2030 before the pseudo-scientific charlatans are finally forced to recognise the truth.
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 31, 2010
Oh dear, another nutjob who insists on bringing religion into a discussion....
So Come on neanderthana, show us this 'water-tight scientific evidence'...oh and no nutjob blog 'evidence' please...
Just to clarify that the climate scientists know that decadal trends are part of the 'noise' but not in themselves drivers..we know that. So come on let's see what ground breaking evidence you have that AGW is not part of the equation. You say 'scientific' so we assume your sources have been peer-reviewed...somehow your anti-science stance means this won't happen..
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 31, 2010
@ninderthana: Just to show that most people familiar with climate science understand the 11 year cycle, lets talk about 1998 to 2009, when the temperatures should have dropped by .4 to .6 deg C. Where was the drop?

But please, do send us to Mcintyre's blog, or perhaps you could send us to Anthony Watts' Blog of Boogers where they talk about how snow proves AGW wrong?

And weather people are not climatologists. Most never study climate science, they learn how to read a screen and gesture.
1 / 5 (3) Mar 31, 2010
I doubt that anyone arguing against AGW does so out of disdain for the earths habitable climate. Rather I think that the AGW proponents use of guilt, shock words, alarmist, ignorant child indoctrination, "Earth Day" mentality, and so on(I do mean so on as the list is huge), throw into immediate question the purpose, intent, and origin of AGW and it's proponents.

The sky is falling, and mankind through it's evil ways has made it happen.

I doubt there will be a problem that mankind cannot fix through their technology. So stop your 'screaming', people are thinking of a better tomorrow.
3 / 5 (2) Apr 04, 2010
And let's not forget that most of the weatherpersons- especially on your local news channels- in addition to being pitifully undereducated(naturally), work for organizations that are usually owned by corporations with manifest interest in stimulating consumerism- so they aren't exactly likely to be preaching the gospel of low, low, low petrochemical usage.

Rather, you can look for them to be hyping "Climate Crisis 2010" so that their viewers will freak out and go buy bunches of crap that they don't need, and only further feeds the flames.

Most of these clowns can't get day-to-day weather right- but you expect them to referee this fight?

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