One of the top Western U.S. broadcast meteorologists hit out recently at “clickbait” stories that demonised every major weather event. Don Daly, often referred to as ‘Wyoming’s weatherman’ said that politicians, media and environmental group’s constant mantra that every national weather event is somehow the result of human activity, “is intellectually dishonest”. Most climate news stories were “heavy in anecdotes and light in any data”, said Day, who syndicates to over 70 stations.
According to the report in the online publication Cowboy State Daily, climate clickbait stories follow a formula that includes claims of impending doom, reference to non-atmospheric scientists, cherry-picked or misleading data, and a suggestion that we all change our ways and ‘do what we say’. Day says that reporters will often interview people who offer personal anecdotes, and then try to frame their stories as another sign of man-made climate change. Ignored by most media are stories that do not fit the narrative such as the last tornado season, that was one of the least active.
The role of the media in driving a political narrative around climate is also of concern to the science writer and former economics professor Roger Pielke Jr., who noted last month that climate journalism has evolved from reporting news to narrative. “I’m calling out climate journalism because I am seeing its pathological effects on public views, especially among young people, on the research community and in policy discussions, including political advocacy. Climate is too important to be just another cul-de-sac of identity politics,” he said.
According to Pielke, it has become fundamental to the climate agenda to associate every extreme event, happening every day, with climate change. “There are studies to cherry-pick, quotable experts and a new cottage industry of rapid event attribution studies. Extreme weather is no longer about the weather,” he observed. This need to feed the climate beast leads to a knock-on effect of creating incentives for researchers to produce studies with links to climate – “no matter how tenuous or trivial”.
As regular readers will recall, we have frequently noted that the switch to demonising bad weather has occurred because global warming ran out of steam about 25 years ago. According to end April data, the UAH satellite record shows a current pause of nearly nine years in length. State weather services have needed little encouragement to run with the single weather narrative to help promote the collectivist Net Zero project.
The U.K. Met Office is proud of its new claimed temperature record of 40.3°C from last July 19th, despite doubts being raised about the fact it lasted for only 60 seconds and was taken halfway down a military airbase runway. At times, broadcast weather maps in the U.K. turning orange and vivid red during the summer recall the TV mock Latin weatherwoman on The Fast Show, and her constant comic catchphrase, “Scorchio!”. In Australia, it appears that the Bureau of Meteorology has been claiming recent one-second heat records following the switch from mercury to highly accurate electronic sensors.
In the United States, local media outlets broadcasting weather information have been targeted by Climate Central, a green agitprop operation funded by many Left-wing foundations such as the Schmidt, Grantham and Hewlett funds. A sub-group called Climate Matters aims to bring climate change into weathercasting “via local voices highly trusted by Americans everywhere”. Over the last decade, it has produced a “weather underground” said to be a “coast-to coast network of TV weathercasters who believe that educating their audiences about global warming is as crucial as telling them to bring an umbrella”. Kaitlyn McGrath, a meteorologist at WUSA9, helpfully reveals: “To a lot of our viewers, it’s lost on them how much Climate Matters really is doing. But it is so far from lost on us”.
In a recent essay on climate sceptic Dr. Judith Curry’s blog, David Young draws connections between the politicisation of science during the Covid pandemic and climate change. “The complete playbook that made climate science’s culture deteriorate was deployed to Covid science and epidemiology, making meaningful scientific debate virtually impossible,” he writes. In the U.S., narrative-driven media consists of little more than ideologically-driven – and partially state-controlled – purveyors of carefully screened information. This invariably supports the views of elites in the West – “and the public is becoming more and more convinced that they cannot be trusted,” says Young.
Young draws attention to the growth in recent years of a large ‘disinformation’ industry, a category he describes as largely meaningless with no well-defined content. Over the last 30 years, “realistic” scientists have been cancelled, and now political operatives, activists, the media and often the deep state and some scientists, “compete to see who can be in the forefront of rounding up the witches who spread disinformation and burning them”. Young writes that many of the tactics of the disinformation complex are rationalised as being necessary to combat threats to democracy. But he argues that the war on ‘disinformation’ is itself a threat to the democratic process, noting the view of the great Covid sceptic Professor John Ioannidis that democracy cannot function if the public is fed a “constant diet of half-truths and even disinformation, with dissenting voices systematically excluded”.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.