As if we all haven't endured enough political ads this election year, an environmental activist group now wants to compel every TV meteorologist to promote its flawed policy agenda. ForecastTheFacts.org, led by Daniel Souweine, chief of staff of Citizen Engagement Lab- oratory, an organizational recipient of George Soros funding, declares, "Our goal is nothing short of changing how the entire profession of meteorology tackles the issue of climate change ... and [TV meteorologists] who continue to shirk their professional responsibility will be held accountable."
Having worked for many decades as a meteorologist and atmospheric scientist myself, I must defend my colleagues from Mr. Souweine's threatened inquisition.
Yes, it is true as he says, many meteorologists - not just TV meteorologists - aren't ready to accept the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change party line. They are joined by tens of thousands of scientists and engineers who have enough exposure to real science to know that some fundamental questions have not yet been answered. Just last month, 16 well-recognized scientists from countries around the globe, with expertise in climate science and its subsets, stated matters very clearly in the WallStreetJournal, including the stifling effect of self-appointed elitists upon researchers.
The California-based anti-TV-meteorologist campaign, for all its talk about "educating" the public, frankly seems to be sadly uneducated about physical processes involved in climate change. For example, Mr. Souweine accuses, "TV meteorologists spout outright falsehoods on air - like the idea ... that global warming is caused by sunspots (not carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases)." Falsehood? What do you suppose is the primary energy input to the atmospheric-ocean-land system? I studied the correlation between climate change and sunspots at Massachusetts Institute of Technology back in 1960.
Which brings up the core question of climate change. Climate was changing long before the Industrial Revolution by magnitudes and at rates equal to those of the 20th century. What were the causes then? No one really knows (other than it certainly wasn't human carbon-dioxide emissions). If recent climate change correlates not only with those emissions but also with other processes such as solar activity, oceanic cycles, etc., then how does one separate the effects of these possible causes?
Current climate research relies upon computer modeling that theoretically amplifies carbon-dioxide-induced warming by a hypothesized "positive feedback" effect of water vapor (by far and away the major, but unmentioned, greenhouse gas). Model results have not reproduced some key observational data. Whether water vapor actually has such a positive feedback is a key part of the debate, and several observational studies published in peer-reviewed journals indicate it may be net negative, not amplifying but reducing the roughly 1 degree Celsius warming from doubled carbon dioxide to about 0.5 degree Celsius - an amount no one claims would be harmful.
Contrary to Mr. Souweine's claim, it is not climate change per se that most meteorologists doubt; it is the alleged cause of change they doubt. They have good reason: Daily they struggle to interpret sophisticated model forecasts of clouds and precipitation. Everyone recognizes their shortcomings. So why should we meteorologists have confidence in climate models that claim to know beyond a doubt that the hydrologic cycle amplifies the relatively trivial carbon-dioxide effect?
There's irony, too, in a Soros-funded activist group trying to curtail scientific dissent in order to impose public policies that will have massive economic effects. Mr. Soros' mentor, Karl Popper, turned away from closed, top-heavy, Marxist-type governance toward an "open society" that responds to diverse inputs from below. How "open" is society when every TV meteorologist is forced to interlace activist propaganda with the daily weather forecast?
Charles A. Clough is a contributing writer for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He recently retired as chief of the Atmospheric Effects Team at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground.
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