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Robert Henson

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How weathercasters and reporters have covered climate. since 1950 ... TV Guide (23 July 1955), 10. Professionalizing the field ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Robert Henson


1
Tomorrows climate a look back
How weathercasters and reporters have covered
climatesince 1950
  • Robert Henson
  • UCAR Communications
  • bhenson_at_ucar.edu
  • AMS Short Course
  • Covering Climate Change Science
  • 21 June 2009

2
The ultimate station scientist challenge
Many weathercasters say little or nothing about
climate change.Some are vocal contrarians.Others
talk about the mainstream science and its
implications.
Some factors in the mix . . .
limited time perceived lack of authority
insufficient information insufficient support
from station managers personal skepticism
about climate change
3
This may sound familiar . . .
Was this past mild winter just part of anatural
cycle?. . . Is the warming-up process worldwide
or merely regional?
4
Science and weathercasting
Late 1940s and early 1950s Early broadcast
meteorologists call on cartoons and other
techniques they used in World War II flight
training. As they present tomorrows forecast,
they also teach the public how weather works.
(Courtesy Roger Turner.)
5
Science and weathercasting

Late 1940s and early 1950s Early broadcast
meteorologists call on cartoons and other
techniques they used in World War II flight
training. As they present tomorrows forecast,
they also teach the public how weather works.
The visual style of TV weather evolved from
mating wartime educational practices with
synoptic maps . . . under the constraints of
low-resolution TV screens.
Roger Turner, University of Pennsylvania doctoral
student in history of science
6
Enter the entertainers
Mid-1950s Puppets, clowns, and weathergirls
threaten the scientific aspirations of broadcast
meteorologists.
7
The AMS responds
Mid- to late 1950s The AMS develops its Seal of
Approval program, introduced in 1959.
8
Professionalizing the field
1960s and 1970s The growth of the AMS Seal
helps keep science-based approaches to
weathercasting alive in the face of happy
news Still, theres little discussion of
climate per se.
Fred Gadomski, Weather World, early 1980s.
(Photo courtesy Paul Knight, Penn State.)
9
The great global cooling scare
10
There was more to the story . . .
Although the 1970s cooling got a lot of press,
the bulk of climate scientists were more
concerned about warming than cooling.
The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific
Consensus, Bulletin of the American
Meteorological Society 89 (September 2008),
13251337.
11
Technology arrives
1980s into 1990s The advent of computerized
graphics transforms the look of TV weatherand
strengthens the role of broadcast meteorologists
as sci-tech experts.
12
1988 Firestorm
Jim Hansen testifies before Congress on June 23,
1988, with record heat in D.C., drought along the
Mississippi, and forest fires in the west
99 confidence that long-term warming under
way greenhouse gases probably to blame. Media
frenzy ensues global warming becomes a household
phrase.
13
Concern is bipartisan
Those who think we are powerless to do anything
about the greenhouse effect forget about the
White House effect. George H.W. Bush, on the
campaign trail August 1988
14
Concern is bipartisan
. . . We have unwittingly begun a massive
experiment with thesystem of the planetitself.
Margaret Thatcher, British prime
minister, speaking to UK Royal Society September
27, 1988
15
Too hot to handle?
During the 1990s, TV weathercasters arelargely
silent about climate change.
16
1990s Dueling scientists take over the
climate-change dialogue. Why?
Journalisms roots in political reporting
Industry lobbying
Weather coverage that pushes a single cause
and effect (yes, it is vs. no, it isnt)
17
The White House summit
October 1997 More than 100 weathercasters trek
to the White House to meet with Bill Clinton and
Al Gore and get briefed on climate change.
Many weathercasters address the topic on air for
the first timebut not everyone takes an
identical message to viewers.
18
The White House summit
October 1997 More than 100 weathercasters trek
to the White House to meet with Bill Clinton and
Al Gore and get briefed on climate change.
Many weathercasters address the topic on air for
the first timebut not everyone takes an
identical message to viewers.
19
Early 2000s Yesterdays news?
National concerns shift after 9/11 attacks,
Mideast wars
Energy remains relatively cheap
No immediate climate catastrophe
20
Four years, four big events
21
200506 a major shiftin US media
22
The Weather Channeltakes some big steps
TWCs 100 Biggest Weather Moments series (April
2007)global warming ranks 1
23
The evolution of TWCs position statements on
climate change
August 2001 . . . it is likely that at least
some of the current warming is a result of human
activities.
December 2003 there is strong evidence that a
significant portion of the current warming is a
result of human activities.
December 2005 and today there is strong
evidence that the majority of the warming over
the past century is a result of human activities.
24
Local weathercasters and climate changewhats
new?
Growth of AMS Station Scientist
program (including workshops like this one!)
25
Local weathercasters and climate changewhats
new?
Blogs and other online resources
A tremendous way to deliver enhanced climate-chang
e background to viewers while adding a personal
touch
26
Local weathercasters and climate changewhats
new?
Online tools for continuing education
The COMET/NEEF distance learning course Climate
Change Fitting the Pieces Together, designed
for broadcast mets, debuted in May. See meted.uc
ar.edu Also from NEEFwww.earthgauge.net
27
Enjoy the conference!
For a wide variety of resources, see UCARs
website for broadcast meteorologists www.ucar.ed
u/news/journalists/AMSsurvey08.jsp
28
Enjoy the conference!
For a wide variety of resources, see UCARs
website for broadcast meteorologists www.ucar.ed
u/news/journalists/AMSsurvey08.jsp
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