TV Meteorologists to Help Explain Climate Change
President Obama is asking TV weathercasters to help disseminate information on climate change. Recent research published by the American Meteorological Society shows that these broadcasters can affect the public’s understanding of the issue.
President Obama is enlisting TV meteorologists to help spread the word about climate change.
Earlier this week, upon the release of the third National Climate Assessment, an in-depth report on the current and potential effects of climate change on the United States, Obama invited eight broadcast meteorologists to Washington for briefings and one-on-one interviews.
“It absolutely is a great move,” Keith Seitter, executive director of the American Meteorological Society, told Politico of the president’s visits with the weathercasters. “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.”
Among the invitees was WLTX Chief Meteorologist Jim Gandy, who helped create “Climate Matters”—a 12-segment TV program meant to help educate the viewing public in Columbia, South Carolina, about the science behind climate change.
The program was the subject of an article published recently in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which explained how researchers used “Climate Matters” to measure the degree to which TV weathercasts could educate the public.
To do this, researchers interviewed TV news viewers in Columbia before and after “Climate Matters” aired and found that those who had watched the program were more likely to hold “science-based beliefs about climate change,” according to the article.
One of the study’s authors, Edward Maibach, director of the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, recently told Politico that weather forecasters can be “phenomenal educators” regarding climate change.
“Every day when they’re on the air, they’re taking complicated scientific information and finding a way to make it simple and make it enjoyable,” Maibach said. “They’re not as trusted as climate scientists, but the public can’t even name one climate scientist, while most of the public knows at least one weathercaster.”
President Obama will do interviews with Al Roker, shown, and other famous TV weathermen in the coming days. (photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)