May 6, 2014

The New York Times | Politico

President Obama visited with weather forecasters Tuesday to discuss the National Climate Assessment, Justin Gillis reports in The New York Times. His administration “hopes to use the report to shore up public support for the president’s climate policies as he attempts to put new regulations in place to limit emissions.”


The administration’s decision to use meteorologists “absolutely is a great move,” American Meteorological Society Executive Director Keith Seitter told Politico reporter Darren Goode. “The meteorologists that are on TV are the ones in your living room every night, and people tend to trust them because they are getting good, reliable information on the weather every day.”

Meteorologists are, as a group, not always on the same page as climate scientists: A draft report the AMS published last year found that only 52 percent of its members believed that global warming is real and caused by humans. That study found that the political ideology of those surveyed was the second-most-important factor in their answers after “perceived scientific consensus.”

That finding, the report says, “goes against the idea of scientists’ opinions being entirely based on objective analysis of the evidence” and “suggests that members of professional scientific organizations have not been immune to influence by the political polarization on climate change that has affected politicians and the general public.”

Some outlets, including The Daily Caller, played the survey as evidence that there is not, in fact, consensus on climate change. Looking at the same report, Chris Mooney wrote in Mother Jones that “AMS members who publish less peer-reviewed climate research, or less peer-reviewed research in general, are more likely to be climate skeptics.” (Mooney also wrote about the schism between climate scientists and forecast meteorologists last year.)

In an email, AMS spokesperson Tom Champoux referred Poynter to the organization’s official position on climate change, which says “It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.”

Many broadcasters are “very much on board with the science,” Seitter told Goode. “Sometimes we tend to focus on the people who are saying things different a little too strongly and we forget there are many, many folks who are saying the exact same thing as the rest of the scientific community.”

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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