For a decade, the weathercaster and broadcast meteorology communities have been the subject of a focused campaign to force them to cover global warming in a manner acceptable to the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and other advocacy groups.
How well is their strategy working?
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) is in the process of publishing the latest weathercaster survey from 2014-16 in its Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
The title of the article by Maibach et al. is:
The Maibach et al. (2017) paper begins:
For more than a decade, academic researchers and members of the broadcast meteorology community have been studying TV weathercasters’ views about human-caused climate change. The primary motivation behind this research has been to determine the degree to which these TV news professionals – who, in most cases, are the only scientist in their newsroom – are up to speed on the science of climate change, so they can report on it.
The paper then says (lightly edited for clarity):
Surveys in 2010 and 2011 by Maibach and colleagues found somewhat higher rates of weathercasters convinced of climate change. The 2010 study – an attempted census of AMS and National Weather Association (NWA) broadcast members (response rate=52%) – found that over half (54%) indicated global warming is happening, while a quarter (25%) indicated it isn’t, and 21% responded they didn’t know. The 2011 study – another attempted census of AMS and NWA broadcast members (response rate=33%) – found that over half (54%) of weathercasters indicated that climate change “caused mostly by human activity” (19%) or “caused more-or-less equally by human activity and natural events” (35%) is happening; 29% indicated that climate change “caused mostly by natural events” is happening. Fewer than 1 in 10 felt climate change was not happening (9%), or they didn’t know (8%).
The earlier survey (‘2010-11 survey‘) was of television meteorologists. The 2010-11 survey found that 54% indicated ‘global warming is happening.’ It also found that 54% is believed global warming is ‘caused mostly by human activity.‘
However, the new poll is not a survey solely of meteorologists. The exact breakdown of the respondents’ scientific background as explained in the 2017 paper is not completely clear. Here are the paper’s words:
Most hold a BS (59%) or MS (8%) in meteorology/atmospheric science, or a BS or BA (8%) or MS or MA (2%) in broadcast meteorology. Other commonly reported degrees are a certificate in meteorology/broadcast meteorology (19%), a BA in journalism/mass communication (17%), and a BA or BS in other disciplines (13%).
Stated another way: 19% + 17% + 13% = 49% have no degree in atmospheric science. However, the study’s author says 59% hold a BS in meteorology/atmospheric science and then mentions other scientific degrees. The numbers add to far more than 100%. Based on working with broadcast meteorologists for the past 46 years, it is infrequent for someone to attain a degree in journalism and then to get a degree in meteorology or vice versa. So, we will use the number 100% – 59% = 41% to estimate the number of respondents without formal degrees in meteorology or atmospheric science.
Because they do not have an extensive science background to fall back on, the weathercasters may be more subject to being influenced by media reports and peer pressure (most newsrooms are populated by liberal-leaning journalists as numerous studies have shown). Why? The Stenhouse, Maibach et al. (2014) survey included this statement in a global warming survey of the Society’s entire membership:
In a survey of AMS members, perceived scientific consensus was the strongest predictor of views on global warming, followed by political ideology, climate science expertise and perceived organizational conflict.
So, according to the statement above, if one eliminates ’climate science expertise‘ — which would be the case for weathercasters without scientific degrees — the only things remaining are opinion and ideology. By adding non-scientists to the 2014-16 survey, the results may be skewed by broadcasters more likely influenced by ’consensus‘ rather than their own independent evaluations of the science.
Read rest at Climate Etc.
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