This article from the Grand Rapids Press primarily focuses area meteorologists and their predictions for winter snowfall. Aside from this, the article attempts to connect snowfall patterns with global warming. Does the Press make a convincing case that there is a connection? Do they provide any scientific sources to make this connection?
Beyond the snowfall predictions, the Press also reports on the positions of five West Michigan meteorologists with regard to global warming. Of the four, three believe that global warming is “real.” They differ over whether or not global warming will have an effect this winter, with most arguing that its effect is more long-term and will not have an effect on this winter. Despite this, the most space is given to WOOD TV 8 meteorologist Craig James, who according to the Press, “remains skeptical about global warming.”
The Press gives James’ space to make the claim that “the science is anything but settled whether carbon dioxide is to blame.” However, the Press never investigates this claim despite the fact that four other meteorologists and significant portions of the scientific community disagree with James’ opinion. Would readers have benefited from an investigation of this claim?
The Press reporter also apparently asked James about Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth film, to which James says “There were many, many errors in his movie. There are some gross oversimplifications.” Again, the Press failed to investigate James’ claim that there were errors in the movie. Since it was released, there has been a concentrated attack on Gore’s film, including ads aired on television by the oil industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute. In addition, an online ad that was designed to be “amateur” was in reality produced by a lobbying and public relations firm that has represented Exxon. In a lawsuit brought to court by global warming skeptics in England, a judge ruled that there were nine “errors” in An Inconvenient Truth–most of which centered on interpretations of data–although the film was “broadly accurate” in its claim that global warming is a fact and is happening because of human action. Would readers have been better served by an investigation of James’ claim that An Inconvenient truth had “many, many errors?”
Moreover, it is also worth noting that on his blog at WOODTV.COM, Craig James has referenced numerous entities connected to the oil industry. The industry has funded a number of groups to create “confusion” over the science pertaining to global warming. Would it have been beneficial if James’ previous statements–including his membership in ICECAP (a website and organization promoting “skepticism” over global warming)–were disclosed in the Press article? Does his relationship to these entities shape his opinion?
by Ted Roelofs
Most of our local weather experts say, yes, it’s real. Glaciers are melting. Greenland is greening.
But don’t expect agreement on whether that means more or less snow this winter, as they serve up their annual forecasts for The Press. Predictions are about as consistent as the Detroit Lions.
WZZM-TV meteorologist George Lessens looks north to the polar ice cap, noting that sea ice “melted to unprecedented levels” over the summer. He thinks this winter “might be influenced by global warming.”
For Lessens, it adds up to snowfall of 65 inches, about 7 inches below average, and warmer-than-normal temperatures.
National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Marino peers at the same set of observations and comes to a different conclusion.
Marino agrees that global warming is real. He says evidence is mounting that humans are causing it by dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
But Marino expects 80 inches of snow, mostly based on a pattern of cooling Pacific Ocean waters known as La Nina. Weather, says Marino, is far too complex to squeeze into a tidy little prediction box.
Global warming hardly means every winter in Michigan will be warm.
“It’s more complicated than anyone can figure out,” he said.
“They use supercomputers, and they still don’t have enough information to figure it all correctly.”
WOOD-TV meteorologist Craig James remains skeptical about global warming.
“We are certainly in a warmer period than we were in the 1960s and 1970s,” James said. “But the science is anything but settled whether carbon dioxide is to blame.”
As for former Vice President Al Gore — who made global warming a household word with his film “An Inconvenient Truth” — James is not exactly a fan.
“There were many, many errors in his movie. There are some gross oversimplifications.”
That said, James foresees a warm, with the same 65 inches of snow as Lessens predicted.
At WWMT-TV, meteorologist Keith Thompson offers no cold comfort for winter enthusiasts.
He predicts just 61 inches of snow, 11 inches below normal.
“Not a good year for the ski hills and snowmobilers,” he says.
As for global warming, Thompson says: “I believe it is real.”
But Thompson says his forecast has little to do with that, adding that effects of global warming “are marked over several years or even decades, not one or two years.”