By Ken Stone
John Coleman says Al Gore started it — the “global warming silliness.” But now the retired weatherman and founder of The Weather Channel is “horrified” to see San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer channeling the ex-veep with a Climate Action Plan. It “just turns my stomach.”
“I think he saw money and power, and I don’t know what else he thought of it,” Coleman says of the Republican mayor. “I can’t believe he really [felt he] was going to save the city from some terrible fate.”
Coleman, 82, laughs during a lively phone chat from his home near Las Vegas.
“San Diego’s not going to go underwater. Period,” he says. “Not in my lifetime or yours or our kids’ lifetime. When the Earth ends in 4 1/2 billion years, it probably still won’t have flooded.”
He also mocks “the damn tsunami warning route signs that they put up all over the city,” which he calls “about as silly as anything I’ve ever saw in my life. The chance of a significant tsunami hitting Southern California is about as great as a flying saucer landing tonight at Lindbergh Field. It’s just sheer nonsense.”
Coleman also knows how many people regard his decade-old public arguments. As sheer nonsense.
“I’m just a dumb old skeptic — a denier as they call me — who ought to be jailed or put to death,” he says. “I understand how they feel. But you know something? I know I’m right. So I don’t care.”
“I went to the opening of the Trump campaign headquarters in Nevada, and that sort of thing,” he says of the man who labels climate change a hoax. “I went to one of his rallies.”
Coleman aims to expose what he calls “Algorian” scientists fudging data and taking billions in government research grants for the sake of career advancement and economic comfort.
At KUSI-TV in San Diego, with financial backing from the Republican McKinnon family, Coleman hosted two hour-long documentaries critical of the notion of manmade climate change. He did many news pieces.
Coleman calls global warming a scientific issue, not a political one. “But since it had become a political issue, [Michael D. McKinnon] strongly supported my skeptical position on global warming,” he says. “If it hadn’t been for that, I probably would have retired much sooner. [KUSI] gave me a great platform from which to work.”
How did Coleman go from the clowning meteorologist of ABC’s “Eyewitness News” in Chicago to the Kay-YOOOOOUUUU-Es-Eye crusader against “the greatest scam in history”?
Several stories are told.
Charles Homan of Columbia Journalism Review said Coleman “snapped” while watching an Eagles-Cowboys football game one Sunday night when TV studio lights were cut as a “green” gesture.
Coleman also points to Gore’s Oscar-winning “An Inconvenient Truth” of 2006. “I think the Al Gore movie probably stimulated me more than anything,” he now says. “I’m happy to see that his new movie seems to be less than spectacular success.”
But the seeds were planted decades before Coleman’s 2007 manifestos.
Coleman credits Joseph D’Aleo, his meteorological director at The Weather Channel and forecast assistant at “Good Morning America.”
“We started together in 1977, I guess,” he says. “He’s the one who has taught me about climate skepticism, about Algorian skepticism, and I learned it through him. And then I learned it through Willie Soon. It goes way, way back before 2007.”
In January 2010, responding to an “Other Side” broadcast on KUSI but not using Coleman’s name, research professor emeritus Richard Somerville of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography issued a 550-word, six-point “Response to Climate Change Denialism.”
In July 2014, John P. Reisman offered a line-by-line rebuttal to Coleman’s arguments in “The Amazing Story Behind the Global Warming Scam.”
On July 1, 2017, fact-checking site Snopes.com labeled as “False” the assertion — circulating after Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accords — that “Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman provided evidence that convincingly refutes the concept of anthropogenic global warming.”
But Coleman confessed to Times of San Diego that his TV turns are drying up.
He says a CBS production company contacted him about an interview for an hourlong TV show.
“And we talked and talked and everything was scheduled,” Coleman says. “And then two days before the shoot was to occur, they called and said, ‘Sorry, we have to cancel that. Thank you very much anyway.’
“Because?” Coleman asked.
“Well, you know,” came the reply.
Said Coleman: “That happens all the time.”
Coleman doubles down: “I understand that there are plenty of people who rip me to shreds, and you can find strong and powerful put-downs on every topic I’m talking about. … But the truth is that I know all about all that stuff, and I don’t give a rat’s ass, because I know I’m right.”
In the phone chat, Coleman was asked about “97 percent of climate scientists” citing manmade change.
Coleman shot back: “Do you believe that? That’s sheer nonsense.”
He called it a “totally contrived figure” that gained ultimate currency when it was “uttered by President Obama. … But it’s totally fabricated. The so-called research that came up with that 97 percent was done by people who were looking to produce that figure and had to manipulate everything they got.”
He directed me to wattsupwiththat.com to view “eight or nine well-done articles that debunk the 97 percent.”
So where did the 97 percent come from?
Coleman’s says it’s just the share of scientists who agree the earth is warming, which even Coleman concedes.
“You’ve had Ice Ages and glacial periods, warm spells, one after another, cycling back and forth,” he says. “And certainly man didn’t cause any of them. They’re all natural events.”
He says the American Meteorological Society, in its most recent survey, “came up with about 47 percent skeptical, so 53 percent support (manmade climate change). And that’s after the society did everything they can to promote it. The society has been totally politicized. And still they can’t get all their members aboard.”
What about Sacramento’s cap-and-trade measure — passed with GOP help?
“Just pure and total embarrassing nonsense,” Coleman says, “And another darn good reason not to live in California. If I have to get a passport to come see my son in Palm Springs in the future, so be it. That state has gotten so silly. Oh my God, I’m so glad I don’t live there.”
He calls efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions “an insult to the average American family,” whose energy costs already rise $2,500 a year “because of the threat of so-called global warming. And that cap-and-trade will take it up to probably $4,800 a year.”
“That takes phones away from the kids, or they don’t get new tablets so they can do their homework right. Or the college fund is down. Or clothes or vacations. It hurts that family very deeply. And these politicians who live on the top edge don’t have any understanding or feeling for the average people. And it drives … me … nuts,” he says, pausing between words for emphasis.
Does Coleman regard La Jolla’s prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography — a groundbreaker in climate studies — as doing fake science?
“I think that they are dead wrong,” Coleman says. “I think the Keeling Curve is excellent science — the measurement of carbon [dioxide] in the atmosphere through the years and the development of that good steady flow of data. That’s a very good scientific piece of work.”
But the rest of Scripps’ studies?
“Just pathetic,” he says. “And it drives me nuts. A fine institution just went … where the money is. Without that money, hundreds of people would have to be let go.”
He asks: “Have you looked at my video where I tell about that dispute between [Scripps and UCSD legend] Roger Revelle and [his Harvard student] Al Gore? I gather it didn’t impress you. I’m convinced that it’s correct [that climate scientist Revelle didn’t urge action on human-caused global warming]. By the way, that has over a million views on YouTube.”
Coleman insists: “I am an environmentalist through and through. So don’t give me any of that. My son has solar on his house. And pays $16 a month for power in Palm Springs, and I’m excited about the future of graphene.”
He says a day will come when homes are coated with graphene paint and homeowners “disconnect the power line.” Same with the car.
“The age of fossil fuels and the electric grid will come to an end,” Coleman says. “Not in my lifetime, but possibly in yours. Time will tell and it’s all wonderful. Our life is good today not because a bunch of politicians have made laws and regulations and try to tell us how to live. Our lives are good today because of science.”