Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Weather presenters grapple with uncertain climate

GENEVA — Familiar faces and voices took to the stage at the World Climate Conference over the past week as weather presenters grappled with a core issue, how best to inform their audience about climate change.

Wedged between the pondered complexity of climate scientists and the demands of the average viewer or listener for certainty come rain or shine, the weather men and women act as a go-between -- and the scapegoat if the forecast errs.

"The truth is we're the ones out there and the face they trust," remarked US TV weather anchor and meteorologist John Toohey-Morales during the Climate Broadcasts Forum in Geneva.

After two decades in the geopolitical and research arena, the science behind climate change is more conclusive and reliable than ever, meteorologists and officials said.

"Imagine farmers being able to determine what to plant and where based on drought forecasts three to five years out," said Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Weather forecasts have gained a degree of reliability that allows presenters to give their audience an idea how to dress or tend livestock for the next day or five.

But climate predictions seasons, years or decades down the road are another matter.

(Very interesting article - meteorologists, who specialize in weather, looking out the next 7 days or so, are not - automatically - experts on climate. It would be a little like saying a doctor who is a general practitioner is, by default, a gifted surgeon. That's a tough leap to make. BTW, I've never pretended to be a climatologist, either. I've been following the science (peer-reviewed science, not blogs and talking points put out by industry groups with a strong desire to maintain the status quo).

Click here for the rest of the article.

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