US taxpayer dollars fueled a 1,200 increase in TV weathermen talking about global warming

By Michael Bastasch

There’s been a 1,200 percent increase in on-air global warming reporting by TV weathermen in the past four years, according to soon-to-be-released data, and the effort is being fueled by U.S. taxpayer dollars.

George Mason University professor Ed Maibach and the non-profit Climate Central work with about one-quarter of U.S. weathercasters to get more global warming mentioned more often on TV.

Maibach told Axios’s Amy Harder on-air global warming reporting increased more than 1,200 percent from 2013 to 2016 as part of the Climate Matters to “aid TV weathercasters in presenting science-rooted climate information in clear, concise and relevant ways,” according to Climate Central’s website.

Taxpayer funding has fueled Climate Matters and Maibach’s work with TV weathermen.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) gave Maibach and other researchers a nearly $3 million grant in 2014 to “expand the implementation of a currently active and proven climate education method delivered by TV weathercasters around the country.”

Maibach and others would then “improve the rate of use and effectiveness of Climate Matters materials by weathercasters over time and to study the effect on learning about climate by the public.” NSF gave Maibach and company a nearly $1.8 million grant in June 2017.

Maibach told Axios that regular TV segments on global warming “tend to have more influence on people’s mindsets hardwired to think a certain way,” rather than only speaking about global warming when extreme weather events, like Hurricane Harvey occur.

“It isn’t good to overreach,” Maibach said. “We don’t need to overreach to help people understand what climate change means to them. It’s actually quite good to focus on the mundane ways it’s changing our lives.”

Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm in late August, breaking a 12-year streak of no major hurricanes making U.S. landfall.

Harvey idled over southeastern Texas and dumped about 50 inches of rain over the greater Houston area, which caused mass flooding and forced refineries and oil rigs to shut in.

Some scientists said that while global warming did not “cause” Harvey to form, the effects of the storm were made worse by two aspects of global warming: sea level rise and increased atmospheric moisture.

But University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass looked at the data and found global warming played an “inconsequential” role in Hurricane Harvey.

“The bottom line in this analysis is that both observations of the past decades and models looking forward to the future do not suggest that one can explain the heavy rains of Harvey by global warming, and folks that are suggesting it are poorly informing the public and decision makers,” Mass wrote on his blog on Friday.

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2 thoughts on “US taxpayer dollars fueled a 1,200 increase in TV weathermen talking about global warming

  1. Having grown up in Eastern NC along the Neuse River (which is five mile wide where I lived) and been through numerous hurricanes. In the coastal areas, building should not be allowed within a certain distance from waters edge or quit insuring them if they are. I owned a timeshare in Gulfport, MS that was wiped out by Katrina. They are allowing rebuilding in the surge flood area with stringent building codes but even with these, most buildings can not with stand that kind of hurricane. There should be a buffer zone where no building is allowed. And then comes Irma.

  2. Cliff Mass’ points can easily be debated…a .5-1 C temp. increase in gulf waters is appreciable.

    He does make an excellent point here however and the fact that conservative outlets keep missing this is worth noting. Minimally regulated development, such as Houston, is costing taxpayers significantly. Building resilient infrastructure is key in the long term.

    “What the media SHOULD be discussing is the lack of resilience of our infrastructure to CURRENT extreme weather. Houston has had multiple floods the past few years and poor planning is a major issue. When you put massive amounts of concrete and buildings over an historical swamp, water problems will occur if drainage and water storage is not engineered from the start.

    China may be ahead of us in such planning, with a huge investment in their sponge cities program in which they are investing hundreds of billions of dollars. Blaming global warming makes it easier to neglect the infrastructure investments that are required to protect our cites.

    Can you imagine if President Trump announced an infrastructure program to make our nation more resilient to CURRENT extreme weather? A bipartisan effort to deal with extreme winds, flooding, rain, drought, and other severe weather?”

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