TV weather forecasters aren't always climate change experts. But they are often responsible for informing the public about climate change impacts in real time, so it's important that they accurately reflect the science.
Fortunately, a new survey from George Mason University provides some hope in that regard. It found that more than nine out of ten broadcast meteorologists acknowledge that climate change is happening, and about two-thirds say human activities play a significant role.
This represents notable progress from George Mason's 2010 survey, when 27 percent of weather forecasters shockingly agreed that “global warming is a scam.”
Most weathercasters now recognize that climate change has and will continue to impact the weather in their area, with rising temperatures and extreme weather events like heat waves and heavy storms.
And importantly, they feel it is appropriate to convey the science of climate change to their audiences.
So why are weathercasters coming around on climate change?
Following the last survey, a grassroots non-profit organization called Forecast the Facts launched a campaign calling on TV meteorologists to “report the facts about climate change” and drawing attention to those who weren't.
Now, most TV forecasters say they have read findings from the National Climate Assessment, a report by the U.S. government to inform Americans about the climate change impacts already occurring all across the country.
And almost a quarter of them are enrolled in Climate Matters, a Climate Central program affiliated with NASA, NOAA, and other major institutions that provides TV forecasters with local climate analyses, broadcast-ready visuals, and other materials to keep them up-to-date on the latest climate-related news and research.
But while more and more meteorologists are accepting climate science, the forecasters at Fox News are still casting doubt and denial.
Fox News' senior meteorologist, Janice Dean, claims that “anything past a five day forecast is impossible to predict,” and that “we're not going to be able to prove climate change for decades, even centuries.”
And then there's the other Fox News favorite: Weatherbell Analytics Chief Forecaster Joe Bastardi. The network often turns to Bastardi for climate commentary, providing him a forum to spout anti-science denial, like his claims that man-made climate change is “an obvious fraud” and that the human contribution to carbon dioxide levels is too “tiny” to cause warming. Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Neil Cavuto have both admitted that Bastardi is -- in O'Reilly's words -- a “climate change denier,” and yet they and their Fox News colleagues keep hosting him time and time again.
As the nation's meteorologists continue to educate themselves about climate science, it looks like Fox News' forecasts will remain misleading with a strong chance of denial.
Video created by John Kerr