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Sunday, August 04, 2013
Note to Broadcast Meteorologists pressured by News Directors or Forecast the Facts

Joseph D’Aleo, AMS, Fellow of the AMS

We have heard tales of broadcasters who dare express some degree of skepticism in the blogs or twitter or sometimes on air, being scolded at by News Directors or outside advocacy groups like Forecast the Facts (funded by the Center for American Progress, a George Soros advocacy group) claiming to be a grassroots organization, whichs conduct letter writing campaigns to attack them with station management. Their launch coincided with the AMS Annual meeting in 2012 where they disrupted the council meeting to lobby the society to make a stronger statement and exert pressure on broadcasters. On their site Forecast the Facts lists their mission:

Forecast the Facts is dedicated to ensuring that Americans hear the truth about climate change: that temperatures are increasing, human activity is largely responsible, and that our world is already experiencing the effects. We do this by empowering everyday people to speak out in the face of misinformation and hold accountable those who mislead the public.

In other words, they want broadcasters to tie virtually every weather (and other) extreme, to our use of fossil fuel and not attempt to explain these events with natural factors or cycles.

Dr Neil Frank, former Director of NHC and long time Houston, Texas on-air meteorologist and Dr William Gray, CSU hurricane forecast pioneer and I sent a strongly worded statement to the AMS in which we started with our view on the real state of the climate::

The UKMO and Rajendra Pachauri have admitted to no warming for the past 16 or 17 years. James Hansen has agreed it is at least a decade. Any significant warming since 1979 was not global but confined to north of 20N.  Even the heat records last year, if you only look at stations with 80+ year history, were but a blip compared to the 1930s. These records, you should know, are not altered like station temperatures used for climate analyses. Moreover, global hurricane frequency is at a 30+year low and strong tornado trends are down. There is no trend long term in droughts and floods. Snow and cold have been increasing in winter not decreasing as the IPCC and NOAA climate reports have forecasted. We have seen deceleration in sea level rises.

Both weather balloon and satellite data clearly indicate that there is no hot spot in the tropics, which invalidates the theory on which CO2’s supposed impact on Global Average Surface Temperature is based. Given that the Climate Models upon which EPA relied are all based on this theory, it is not surprising that comparisons of the model forecasts versus actual temperatures have proven the models to be invalid as well. In fact, to our knowledge, EPA never carried out any published Climate Model forecast reliability test results.

We could go on and on as the “consensus” position is in collapse on all fronts. But what we have mentioned so far should be more than enough to condemn the demands for orthodoxy on the subject of climate science.  As the great Physicist Richard Feynman said, “...no matter how smart you are, how beautiful your idea or theory, if the data or experiments don’t support it, it’s wrong.”

We then addressed the Forecast the Facts campaign:

We hope that going forward, the AMS will protect the professional interests and freedom of thought of its members by forcefully and publically repudiating the Forecast the Facts campaign, and by taking aggressive legal action against it if necessary...The AMS should welcome all points of view on all subjects within our field of science. In your own words....we must also embrace legitimate science that seeks to increase our understanding even as it complicates the emerging picture of how the climate system works.  We all must continue to work toward ensuring that we are operating with the very highest levels of openness and honesty in the presentation of our science. The fruits of such honest, open debate will surely lead to an improved understanding of the Earth’s complex climate system and better weather and climate forecasts, a goal we know we all share.

Keith Seiter responded with a letter in which he stated:

Personally, I do not feel the Forecast the Facts approach is a productive one, and I have told them so directly on several occasions.  I published a column in the July 2012 BAMS that described why I feel the tactics used by Forecast the Facts and a few other organizations are counterproductive to improving communication on climate change.  I continue to feel this way, and continue to do my best to open up communication on this issue rather than try to suppress it.  As you quoted from one of my columns in your letter, I have enormous faith in the scientific process.

Let me close by quoting another of my recent BAMS columns (May 2013), which I encourage you to review:

“Frequent readers of this column will know that I have long been advocating for open and respectful dialog on the science of climate change, with all parties recognizing that as scientists it is our job to be skeptical and require solid theory and evidence to back up claims.  We must always be cognizant of how hard it is to keep our intrinsic values from triggering confirmation bias as we review research results or listen to alternative explanations for observational evidence.  Our training as scientists, however, makes it clear that our goal must always be the objective truth whether it supports our belief system or not.  We must all strive for that level of integrity.”

In his 2012 BAMS article Keith decried the tactics of groups like Forecast the Facts. You may wish to copy that article if challenged by your station management based on letters from FTF or other environmental groups who have little knowledge of the actual facts but are strong believers in the so called consensus position because of their education or political leanings.

And always remember what Michael Crichton has said about consensus:

Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.  Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics.

Posted on 08/04 at 12:34 PM
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