This guest post is well worth a read – Anthony
Guest post by Harold Ambler
What follows is an excerpt from my new book Don’t Sell Your Coat, available here:
I want to examine the moral component of meteorological journalism. As I mentioned near the beginning of this book, I used to be an avid watcher of The Weather Channel. For a good couple of decades, the network was not only an important component for the fledgling cable industry, but an excellent source of information about current weather and climate, as well about atmospheric science itself. An interesting thing took place during the 1990s, though. Weather Channel viewership was found to spike during hurricanes, and not merely among viewers in areas that could be affected by the individual storm being discussed. A lot of folks evidently loved watching the progress of tropical storms, the stronger the better. Hurricanes became, over time, a revenue producer for the network. Experts were hired and given regular on-air time, and hurricane segments were given their own titles, their own graphics, and their own music.
People loved it. Much of this was quite innocuous, and arguably inevitable. Hurricanes are indeed interesting, and for a period of about 15 years it was widely believed, even by many scientists, that manmade global warming was ramping up the number, intensity, and duration of storms. In the last few years, however, links between recent atmospheric warming and hurricane activity, as we have seen, have been reconsidered.
In the meantime, though, the false link had lodged in the popular imagination, and The Weather Channel was more or less avidly exploiting it. The network’s presenters didn’t overtly come out and say that individual storms were generated by tailpipe and smokestack emissions, but they didn’t really have to at this point. The misconception was so pervasive and so widespread that merely trumpeting the “unusual” power of the storms themselves sufficed. In the meantime, the network slowly upped its on-air mentions of the phenomenon of global warming during the daily program cycle and eventually devoted a new segment to the phenomenon known as “Forecast Earth.”
Video alarmism regarding atmospheric phenomena is, perhaps, to be expected by a network like The Weather Channel. After all, it is hardly alone. The major cable news networks routinely send meteorologists and other reporters into the path of hurricanes, so that they can be seen amid the rising waters, gusting winds, and torrential rains.
Get it out of your head: weather didn’t used to be friendly. It didn’t used to rain just enough, snow just enough, with the wind blowing just enough, and the Sun shining just enough. Things didn’t recently go to Hell in a hand basket. That is just a story. And it’s not
a particularly hard story to prove false.
On the other hand, the tranquil weather being experienced by most people around the globe at any given time goes ignored and unvideotaped. Again, one can understand why this would be so. In the newspaper business, and other journalistic domains as well, fires are of note. Non-fires aren’t. Fair enough. But something very insidious has taken place. The selling of weather disasters as entertainment has led to a state in which big business stands to gain handsomely from the perception that the planet has gone meteorologically mad. Specifically, General Electric stands to profit. When in 2008 NBC (owned by General Electric) purchased The Weather Channel, an interesting thing took place: the largest domestic producer of wind turbines became the owner of the best-positioned purveyor of images of destructive weather. The same year, NBC’s Today Show continued its longstanding practice of “showing” the great destruction to the ocean-atmosphere system caused by manmade global warming, with story after story: fires, floods, melting Kilimanjaro, you name it. The rest of NBC News, and the Weather Channel, meanwhile, keep the same pieces of videotape on nearly infinite repeat.
Summing up: Wind turbines do not deliver reliable electric power; the ocean-atmosphere system is not broken; scaring people needlessly isn’t nice – and it distracts them from the actual environmental problems surrounding them.
About Harold Ambler
I was obsessed with weather and climate as a young boy and have studied both ever since. I have English degrees from Dartmouth and Columbia and started my career in journalism at The New Yorker magazine, where I worked from 1993 to 1999. My work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The AtlanticWire (the Atlantic Monthly’s online presence), Watts Up With That?, The Providence Journal, Rhode Island Monthly, Brown Alumni Monthly, and other publications. I co-wrote and edited a 600-page history of rowing for Brown University, published in March 2009. I am grateful for donations to my research through PayPal on this site’s front page. I am married to the painter and illustrator Kim Edge. We have two daughters, one dog, and a cat.
“ Harold Ambler has assembled an easy-to-follow, systematic, common-sense treatment of the manmade global warming agenda that demands the attention of any person of good
will in this debate.” – Joe Bastardi, chief forecaster, WeatherBELL Analytics
“ How did the good politics of social justice become chained to the bad science of global warming? Read Don’t Sell Your Coat to find out how it happened.” – Freeman Dyson, world-renowned physicist, professor emeritus at Princeton
“ You don’t need to be a right-wing SOB to think that ‘Man Made Global Warming’ is an Enron-style scam. Harold Ambler is a card-carrying liberal and he thinks so, too.
He’s also very funny. Buy this book!” – James Delingpole, author of Watermelons: The Green Movement’s True Colors
I helped Harold gather some information for this book, and have read portions of this final book, and I recommend it as well. It is an easy to read narrative. It may surprise some people to learn that Harold Ambler is not your typical skeptic. I can collaborate what Delingpole says, that Ambler’s political leanings are very much liberal. He simply doesn’t buy into the global warming issue anymore as many of us used to, including me. – Anthony
Buy the book here: