Sunday, June 27, 2010

What weathermen know about climate change

Answer – surprisingly little. From Climate change is a topic that impacts the weather not only globally, but also locally. While some people may be concerned about the melting ice sheets at the far corners of the Earth, what most really want to know is "how will global warming affect me?" -- and they often turn to their local weatherperson to find out.

A study released today study by the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication in Fairfax, Va., showed that 27 percent of broadcast meteorologists -- who are, according to the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, "often the most visible representatives of science in U.S. households" -- believe that global warming is a scam.

According to the National Science Foundation’s 2010 Science and Engineering Indicators, television is the number one source the public turns to for information about science and technology. Broadcast meteorologists are often the only people at TV news stations with a science background. But the education and experience of those who deliver news about the weather varies dramatically.

"In television, when it comes to weather, there is an extremely wide range of education sets," said Jim Gandy, chief meteorologist at WLTX-TV in Columbia, S.C. "Some have bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and Ph.D.'s, but you also have some without."

…Beginning in July, the next phase of the National Science Foundation-funded study will begin. A test case at Gandy’s station will include 30-second segments in some of the weathercasts to educate viewers about climate change. "It will be a year-long effort using our resources on-air and on the Internet in an effort to educate the public about climate change past, present, and future," said Gandy. "I wish the public knew how difficult it is to have knowledge of climate science. Simply being a meteorologist is not enough, and this is a mistake that some television meteorologists make."...

Austell, GA, September 25, 2009 -- This news media telecommunication vehicle is on site at the Cobb County Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) as reporters speak with FEMA and other partnes inside. George Armstrong/FEMA

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