Media observers have long complained about the tendency of some news outlets to cast discussions of climate change into a he said/she said “debate” that can never be resolved. Often this is accomplished by “balancing” climate scientists with sources who do not have expertise in climate science.
This practice was recently taken to a mind-blowing new level by an Australian TV network, which booked two guests to discuss whether or not recent extreme weather is an indication of climate change. On one side, Nick Rowley, a climate policy consultant (though not a scientist) and former adviser to Tony Blair. On the other, Ken Ring, a New Zealand-based “weather expert.”
The video is breathtaking. After Ring prattles through non-scientific explanations such as natural variations and sun cycles, a somewhat stunned Rowley patiently attempts to explain how increased moisture in the atmosphere leads to more intense storms, citing work by leading researchers.
The anchor’s verdict? “Well, Ken and Nick, you will obviously agree to disagree, and a lot of people will be coming down on each camp, I think. So thanks very much trying to explain your point of view this morning.”
Blogger Graham Readfearn, baffled by the broadcast, decided to look into Ring’s credentials. Not surprisingly, he discovered that Ring has no scientific or meteorological training whatsoever.
Ring’s field of expertise? Cat palmistry. Plus a stint as a clown and amateur magician.
Ken Ring uses moon and solar cycles to try and predict the weather and his predictions carry little to no respect among serious forecasters or climate scientists. On Sunrise, he dismissed the notion of anthropogenic climate change as having “no proof” and claimed that a solar minimum was to blame for “the cold” that we’ve been seeing in the last two years. Neither of the Sunrise hosts bothered to point out that 2010 is likely to be among our planet’s top three warmest years on the instrumental record, adding a big full-stop to the warmest ever decade.
So, if you’re frustrated by the way American media discusses climate science, it may or may not be comforting to know that it can get much, much worse.