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Channel 8 continues tradition of climate denial

January 11, 2012

As I write this posting we are being told that there will be a snow-storm coming to Wet Michigan sometime Thursday night. All the local weather people have made sure we are prepared for this.

However, today is yet another winter day of temperatures about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a fact that WOOD TV 8 weather reporter Matt Kirkwood made during a Tuesday night forecast.

Kirkwood was reporting the weather standing at Rosa Parks Circle in his shorts to make a point about how many days the temperatures have been above average. Kirkwood stated that over the past 41 days of winter there have been 25 days of 40 degree plus temperatures.

At one point Kirkwood was holding both a shovel and a golf club to illustrate the point that people have been more likely to play golf than to shovel snow. Such an illustration reflects either what channel 8 personnel do in their free time or the kind of audience they want to appeal to.

More importantly, despite all the effort to tell viewers that it has been an extremely warm winter with minimal snow, Kirkwood did not attempt to offer any explanations as to why this might be happening. The WOOD TV weather reporter definitely did not suggest that maybe West Michigan has seen so many warm days in winter because of global warming.

This is not surprising from a station where other weather reporters have actually denied that global warming is a reality. In 2007, there was a posting on Media Mouse about former channel 8 weather reporter Craig James and his position on global warming.

In 2009, Media Mouse again noted that the most recent head meteorologist at WOOD TV, Bill Steffen, was also denying global warming. GRIID noted a year ago that Steffen went after Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell when the mayor mentioned global warming in his State of the City address.

The fact that WOOD TV weather reporter Matt Kirkwood did not mention global climate change as the reason that West Michigan has been experiencing such warm temperatures this winter doesn’t mean he is denying global warming. However, to not explore this issue does a tremendous disservice to the public.

Within the past year there have been numerous new reports how the impact of global warming. One report discussed how climate change was altering many plant species. Another report discussed the rate at which Arctic ice is melting and the International Energy Agency stated recently that the window for reversing human generated global warming is approaching nearly irreversible levels.

Considering that the global community of climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been stating for years that global warming is a very serious problem and that it is caused by human activity, it is time that weather reporters treat unusual climate patterns as a serious matter.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Nick Manes permalink
    January 11, 2012 6:49 pm

    I don’t disagree with your point here, Jeff, but I think the logic used is a bit wrong. While the above-average temperatures should be alarming, to immediately point it to a long-term problem seems like jumping the gun. In the end, reading this made me think of those who deny global warming and say “well it’s colder than average this week, so climate change must be a hoax.”

  2. January 11, 2012 7:44 pm

    Nick, I’m not arguing that the recent warmer days are conclusive evidence that there is global warming. What I said was that the failure of the channel 8 weather reporter to explore why we have had so many above 40 days in winter should be reason to question how they view global warming, which as I said that channel has a history of denying it.

    The links I provided at the end, along with the analysis of the 4,000 climate scientists at the IPCC says to me that global warming is a serious issue, but channel 8 refuses to even explore the issue or acknowledge that it is a concern.

  3. kswheeler permalink
    January 11, 2012 7:48 pm

    I believe that one problem with the local meteorologists, as well as a lot of people who deny the reality of global warming whether we’ve had unusually cold OR warm weather, is that they don’t understand the difference between weather and CLIMATE. Don’t they teach that in schools anymore?

  4. jess permalink
    January 12, 2012 1:40 am

    Do meteorologists (not sure they are “reporters”) typically explain why the weather is how it is beyond the latest cold front or whatever? Isn’t their job pretty much just to read the temperatures, make some dumb jokes, and hype up the extremes? Perhaps engage in some friendly banter with the news anchors?

  5. Jeff Smith permalink*
    January 12, 2012 2:20 am

    Jess, clearly what local meteorologists generally do is the minimal along with the banter that you mentioned. I don’t have any hopes or expectations that they will do more than this. Having said that since Matt Kirkwood didn’t just report on the week’s weather predictions and gave provided some data on the unusually warm temperatures thus far this winter in West Michigan, it is not unreasonable for channel 8 to try to look at the reasons for recent trends. On top of that, as the above article mentions, that station has a history of meteorologists taking public positions on climate change by deny its existence. Lastly, global warming is too serious of an issue for local news media to ignore it, in my opinion.

  6. klem permalink
    January 19, 2012 5:44 pm

    “Kirkwood did not attempt to offer any explanations as to why this might be happening”

    They know full well that people want him to explain that it is caused by AGW, but the subject of AGW is now poison on tv. You will be hard pressed to see any pro-warming alarmism on news outlets this year, it is a ratings killer.

    It will be interseting to see if the subject is even broached this year during the election campaign, it is political death everywhere now.

  7. klem permalink
    January 19, 2012 5:47 pm

    Nope, they only teach that climate change is all our fault, and that we need wind turbines, a new world government, carbon controls to fix it. And we’re all going to die unless we alter our sinful behaviour.

  8. klem permalink
    January 19, 2012 5:50 pm

    For deniers like me its not a serious issue at all.

  9. January 19, 2012 8:11 pm

    Wow, a new world government???? Who the hell in the climate justice movement is advocating for that? If you are going to make comments that refute the support of several thousand of the top international climate scientists you might want to offer some evidence.


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