Climategate hurt the reputation of climate science among TV meteorologists

There's a forthcoming paper to appear in BAMS that reviews the results of a survey of credentialed TV meteorologists. The survey asks about their political beliefs, belief in anthropogenic global warming, and their response to the "climategate" scandal. The result seems to be that the coverage of the scandal was injurious to climate science in the eyes of conservative and moderate TV meteorologists. The main caveat to the paper is that the survey was conducted only about 2 months after the initial story broke, so well before all the involved climate scientists were exonerated. You can reach at least the abstract of the study at the AMS journals web site [LINK].

The opinion of TV meteorologists is important because they are one of the main links between science and the general American population. People tend to trust their TV personalities, who they see on a regular basis, especially compared to nebulous government (or non-government) entities. It has also been shown that a surprising number of broadcast meteorologists are "climate skeptics." This has been somewhat disconcerting for a lot of the climate science community, because these broadcasters have at least a limited ability to sway public opinion about climate change. Whether they decide to make the most of that ability or not is another issue, but the potential harm they could do (and are doing, at least in some cases, e.g., Chad Meyers of CNN) is a serious issue. I think we'll continue to hear about these kinds of studies over the next few years; I'm not sure there's a strategy for reaching out to the broadcasters in a meaningful way, but I'm sure that there are a few people spending time thinking about it. (Too bad they probably aren't science communication experts.)

No comments: