Thursday, April 8, 2010

Global Warming: Climatologists vs. Meteorologists

Who is right in the debate over global warming: climatologists or meteorologists?
"Yes, it's climatologists verses meteorologists in tonight's science cat fight." (Comedy Central)
Stephen Colbert may be able to joke about it, but for climatologists and meteorologists, the debate over global warming is a serious issue. 
A recent study found only about half of weathercasters surveyed believed global warming was happening -- and fewer than a third believed climate change was caused mostly by human activities. 
On San Diego’s KUSI, Joe Coleman posted an article titled "The Amazing Story Behind Global Warming,” saying: "I am totally convinced there is no scientific basis for any of it. Global Warming: It is a hoax. It is bad science. It is high-jacking public policy. It is the greatest scam in history."
But The Scientific Activist reports climatologists readily defend their side in a press release by the Union of Concerned Scientists: "Global warming is real and its consequences are becoming increasingly apparent as sea levels rise, glaciers melt, and extreme weather events become more prevalent."
While both sides back their arguments with scientific data, some say the disagreement stems from professional differences: "I believe that meteorologists don't believe in the long term 15 year computer models because our friends at Wright Weather here just gave, this is a ten day computer model. I doubt that this one is even right. So meteorologists are thinking there is no way we can get 15 years from now right if we can't get 15 days from now right." (CNN)
And Psychology Today says there may also be an entertainment factor as well: "Meteorology, at least on TV, is part of news, and news today is part of entertainment… That has little to do with the job of climatologists, who pore over data, write reports, talk to each other and occasionally testify at Congressional hearings."
This debate hit those outside of the science world as well. Meteorologists dominate communications channels to the public and, according to Fox News Watch, this is a problem: "It explains why so many Americans still think there is no such thing as global warming. If your local weather person says it, half of whom turn out to have no advance training in meteorology, no wonder America's confused."
So whose side are you on? Meteorologists or Climatologists?

Writer: Amanda Klohmann

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