Tags: Weather | Channel | Advocates | Global | Warming | Theory

Weather Channel Advocates Global Warming Theory

Thursday, 14 April 2005 12:00 AM

On March 15, TWC's climatologist Heidi Cullen appeared at the U.S. Senate Dirksen Building to support a disputed scientific report that asserted human activity was causing a catastrophic warming of the North Pole.

On that day, Cullen said she did not want to be seen as an "advocate" for human-caused climate change. "[F]or me even ... coming and giving a talk like this (on Capitol Hill), I try to be very careful because I don't want to be an advocate.

"There are enough advocates out there, there is not that many scientists out there just talking about [global warming]," Cullen told Cybercast News Service in an exclusive interview.

Yet during a panel discussion, Cullen stated that it is scientifically undeniable that humans are causing the earth to warm. Cullen participated on the same panel as Robert Corell, the chair of the controversial international Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), which purports to show that the earth is experiencing "rapid and severe climate change in the Arctic."

"There are certain aspects of the science that are really so strong and so solid, we should just say it's good [so] we can move on and talk about the rest of the issues.," Cullen, formerly with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said at the news conference.

"We know that CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a greenhouse gas and it is warming the earth. We have known this for over 200 years now. We know that CO2 concentrations are increasing because of human activities. We can't debate to a certain extent anymore. We know this is clear, the globe is warming," she added

"Simple measures" could be implemented to limit U.S. energy emissions, Cullen stated. "The UK has cut emissions by 15 percent and it hasn't hurt their economy."

Cullen also appeared to reveal her personal ideology when she joined Hollywood actors at the May 2004 premier of "The Day After Tomorrow," the politically charged and heavily publicized film that cost $125 million and provided what Gore called "a rare opportunity to have a national conversation about what truly should be seen as a global climate emergency."

As the celebrities arrived and posed for the paparazzi that night, a mock snow machine overhead churned out snow flakes on the celebrity carpet.

Paul Iaffaldano, the senior vice president for network sales at The Weather Channel, also shared "the downy walkway with the stars," at the New York premiere of the film, according to Advertising Age magazine. "[The Weather Channel] acted as consultants. They used our hurricane graphics in the movie. And they (the movie) showed the Weather Channel reporting, factually, what was going on around the world," Iaffaldano was quoted as saying in the June 7, 2004 edition of Advertising Age.

Not only did The Weather Channel allow its logo and graphics to be used in the movie, the channel produced a half-hour television special timed to coincide with the movie's release called, "Extreme Weather Theories." The goal of the television special was to explore the science behind catastrophic changes to the climate, according to Advertising Age magazine.

On May 25, 2004, Cullen partially defended the scientific logic for "The Day After Tomorrow" during an interview with USA Today. "Some of the events in the movie, we're beginning to see already," Cullen said. "But of course everything is condensed and dramatized."

The Weather Channel's participation in the disaster film has produced criticism from groups and individuals who are skeptical about the idea of catastrophic human-caused "global warming."

"The Weather Channel has evolved from a station providing pure weather information to one providing what they perceive to be entertainment," said Patrick J. Michaels, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia, in an interview with Cybercast News Service.

"I am not surprised that [The Weather Channel's] take on global warming has gone from neutral to more lurid," said Michaels, noting that the network's emphasis on climate change is consistent with its "foray into the genre of tragedy television." The Weather Channel has in the past offered up such programming as "Tornado Week" and "Storm Stories."

Michaels, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of a new book "Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media," accused TWC of "attempting to move opinion in the United States" on climate change through its association with "The Day After Tomorrow." He also criticized Cullen for her defense of the scientific premise of the film.

"The movie is completely farfetched. There is no evidence for sudden glaciations or ice induced tsunamis that will wash away the Statue of Liberty. To try and put a shed of scientific credibility to that movie is a difficult stretch," Michaels said.

Myron Ebell, director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group skeptical of catastrophic human-caused climate change, echoed the view that TWC was attempting to "entertain" its viewers through its involvement in the "Day After Tomorrow."

"The Weather Channel's involvement with the silly sci-fi disaster movie, 'The Day After Tomorrow' is a good indication of how they really see global warming. It's an opportunity to entertain rather than to educate the public about the science," Ebell told Cybercast News Service.

Cullen joined the The Weather Channel in July of 2003. In December of that year the network announced that it was officially taking a position that "a significant portion of the current warming is a result of human activities."

Following the announcement, titled, "The Weather Channel Position Statement on Global Warming," Cullen began a regular segment called "Forecast Earth," to focus on climate change and other environmental issues.

The TWC statement went even further by asserting that "humans are also changing the climate on a more localized level" through the eradication of "vegetation by buildings and roads.

"Urbanization and deforestation can cause an increased tendency for flash floods and mudslides from heavy rain," The Weather Channel stated.

At her Capitol Hill appearance, Cullen dismissed the opinion held by those who are skeptical of catastrophic human-caused "global warming."

"We keep saying that there is sound science here, and I am beginning to think that we are probably a little bit paranoid about the scientific component," Cullen said. "Because within the media itself there is so much energy being put into various aspects of the problem that seem to try to tear down the science."

Cullen said The Weather Channel is attempting to provide "the consensus statement, which doesn't try to blow everything out of proportion and say that we need to go live in huts."

But Michaels criticized Cullen for her appearance on the same stage as the authors of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report, who he said "were certainly alarmists."

Michaels added that climate change is an issue that "prospers in a culture of exaggeration and politicization." He noted that the earth has seen much warmer periods than the present.

"The earth was warmer than it is now for three millennia between 4 and 7,000 years ago. Alaska was warmer than it is now by two degrees between 9 and 11,000 years ago and that is when human cultures up there began to flourish," Michaels said.

Michaels did concede that "the Arctic is warming, but the fact of the matter is the integrated warming of the Arctic in recent decades has yet to exceed the integrated warming of the Arctic that peaked around 1935. It will eventually exceed it but right now ... not yet."

Cullen presented a series of Weather Channel reports following her trip to Alaska in 2004, linking human-caused "global warming" to melting permafrost, coastal erosion, expanding spruce beetle infestations and the northward expansion of the West Nile Virus.

Ebell of CEI said TWC should stick to what it does best. "The Weather Channel does a good job giving accurate weather forecasts, but forecasts aren't very exciting. It looks like their global warming features are intended to add a little excitement, but they wouldn't do that if they weren't alarming," said Ebell.

"So instead of just giving the facts about global warming, they are featuring scare stories," he added.

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On March 15, TWC's climatologist Heidi Cullen appeared at the U.S. Senate Dirksen Building to support a disputed scientific report that asserted human activity was causing a catastrophic warming of the North Pole. On that day, Cullen said she did not want to be seen as an...
Thursday, 14 April 2005 12:00 AM
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