May 7th, 2014
11:17 AM ET
8 months ago

On climate change forecast, White House opts for meteorologists

Washington (CNN) - When it came to spreading the word about the government's alarming new report on climate change, senior advisers to President Obama thought who better to talk about extreme weather forecasts than meteorologists.

A senior administration official said the decision to bring in well-known weather forecasters from both national broadcast networks and local television stations for a series of interviews in the White House Rose Garden with the President was designed to avoid a debate over whether climate change is actually happening. Instead, the intended focus was to help communities prepare for the National Climate Assessment's predictions of droughts, heat waves, and severe storms that are on the way.

Meteorologists and their loyal viewers, the official said, were the perfect audience for that message.

"This isn’t something in the distant future. Climate change is already affecting us now. If you live along a coast, you’re more likely to face flooding. If you live in the West, you’re more likely to face drought because of climate change," Obama told South Carolina meteorologist Jim Gandy.

The senior administration official pointed to Gandy as an example of a meteorologist who now does regular reports on climate change for WLTX-TV, the CBS affiliate in the South Carolina capital of Columbia.

Last March, the Columbia Journalism Review featured a story on Gandy, describing the weather man as willing to take on the subject of global warming in a red state where there are plenty of climate change skeptics.

“I do accept the science that increasing [carbon dioxide] significantly leads to a warming of the earth,” he told CJR. “We know that the increase in CO2 is largely the result of burning fossil fuels, which is a human activity. I am not afraid to say that it is happening because the science is crystal clear on this point.”

The "Weather from the White House" interviews, as the interviews were dubbed on the President's schedule, represent the latest example of senior administration officials opting to bypass the traditional press corps covering Obama to deliver its message. White House officials have repeatedly defended the approach as part of a strategy to reach Americans "where they live."

In March, Obama sat down for a mock interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis for a discussion aimed at generating interest among young Americans in the Affordable Care Act.

The "Between Two Ferns" segment on the web site, "Funny or Die," was deemed an instant success by the White House after it resulted in droves of new visitors to HealthCare.gov.

But the White House’s preference for meteorologists to drive a news cycle on climate change is not new.

As a senior administration official who served in the Clinton administration pointed out, dozens of meteorologists participated in an event on global warming at the White House in 1997.

The official said it was a good model. So why not use it again, Obama's advisers thought.


Filed under: climate change • President Obama • White House
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Silence DoGood

    We have science vs. AM radio talking heads that say "hey I saw more snow over here – climate change is wrong".

    May 7, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. rs

    I think the tack the president needs to take to get the pre-Scientific Revolution GOPpers on board is to simply say: "There is no global warming, there is no climate change and I'll be damned if I am going to spend one red nickel on fighting it because that would be very, very bad for our nation". The GOP would vote for any bill at that point to reduce CO2 levels (or fix air pollution or anything) so fast our heads would spin.

    Not because it would be the right thing to do, but because once again, they'd get to vote against the will of the President of the United States, and against the better interest of our nation.

    Why not? Appealing to them with logic and Science has failed so far. They are simply way too deep into the oilman's pockets to care about the future.

    May 7, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. Silence DoGood

    The US is worried about turning out quality scientists and engineers to compete on the world stage.
    Radical right-wing elements in our society are pushing more guns, less science, and revisionist history.
    Think about it.
    Maybe the Japanese robots can help us rebuild our hovels and huts.

    May 7, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. tom l

    rs,
    Does your logic tell you that the earth is constant and nothing changes with it throughout millions of years?

    While on that topic, does your logic tell you that all of these scientists are funded and therefore to get that funding will possibly manipulate or make numbers look the way the way they want to so they can continue to get said funding?

    Does your logic tell you that the computer models that these scientists are working off of are based on certain "assumptions" that, again, can be manipulated.

    The ironic thing is that you call repubs the party of fear yet look at what the dems are doing with regards to this. Is this not fear?

    Calm down. Is the earth's climate changing? Logic would tell me that it changes all the time since there is no certainty with anything. There are so many variables that it's impossible to say anything with any certainty.

    This is fear mongering and an attempt for more govt control over our freedoms but you just have too much trust in our govt to notice it.

    May 7, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. Donna

    OK, so pull the guys in that can't tell us what the weather will be 3 days from now in order to tell us about what will happen much further out. Yes, very, very credible! Please remember, if you like your weather you can keep your weather!!!

    May 7, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  6. Tommy G

    The obvious solution for this problem is to outlaw all fossil fuel usage, mandate solar panels and windmills for everybody and raise taxes on the 1% to 100%. Trust Obama and the Democrats they know what they are doing, just like knew what they were doing with Obamacare.

    May 7, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    Considering that our planet Earth is the only planet equipped to handle life as we understand it, it behooves us to continue to coddle and nurture said planet as if the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink are life itself.

    Those who wish for the Rapture to overcome all our planetary climate woes? I wish you all the best of luck.

    May 7, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Prepare for a summer of drought, a hurricane season like no other, the deterioration of our infrastructure(sinkholes) from freak weather events. It's happening before our very eyes.

    May 7, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. tom l

    I never knew that Al Roker knew so much about global warmi...errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr climate change.

    May 7, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. CryBabies

    The key here is "loyal viewers" They vote.

    May 7, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. it must be said

    I'm still waiting for the coming Ice Age and flying cars these same whack jobs predicted. Talk about a total distraction from how miserable things are economically and job-wise. I can hardly wait to see what Obama and the Democrats concoct next.

    May 7, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Sniffit

    "The ironic thing is that you call repubs the party of fear yet look at what the dems are doing with regards to this. Is this not fear?"

    If you can't understand the difference between demagoguing "death panels" and muslims versus relying on scientifically established conclusions that are based on observable, measurable data, then I'm surprised you can even get your shoes on the right feet in the morning.

    May 7, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "This is fear mongering and an attempt for more govt control over our freedoms but you just have too much trust in our govt to notice it."

    Right. Start from a place of deep cynicism and blanket paranoia and then accuse the normal people of being blind to the vast and insidious conspiracy you see behind everything. Got it. Anything else you'd like to share before the men in white coats come for you?

    May 7, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. Silence DoGood

    @Donna
    OK, so pull the guys in that can't tell us what the weather will be 3 days from now in order to tell us about what will happen much further out. Yes, very, very credible! Please remember, if you like your weather you can keep your weather!!!
    ---------–
    If you don't think the scientists in Meteorology can tell us about the weather and climate, what branch of "science" are all the nay-sayers a part of that you are listening too? Surely this is a new branch of science like creationism I suppose.

    May 7, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I like the way you think rs.... I've been saying the same thing for about 4 years now. The POTUS could get everything done that he wanted to by simply saying he's against it and they would break their necks being for it.

    First on the agenda... Speaking out against breathing oxygen.... It would definitely give us a nice purge....😃😃

    May 7, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. rs

    tom l

    rs,
    Does your logic tell you that the earth is constant and nothing changes with it throughout millions of years?

    While on that topic, does your logic tell you that all of these scientists are funded and therefore to get that funding will possibly manipulate or make numbers look the way the way they want to so they can continue to get said funding?

    Does your logic tell you that the computer models that these scientists are working off of are based on certain "assumptions" that, again, can be manipulated.

    The ironic thing is that you call repubs the party of fear yet look at what the dems are doing with regards to this. Is this not fear?

    Calm down. Is the earth's climate changing? Logic would tell me that it changes all the time since there is no certainty with anything. There are so many variables that it's impossible to say anything with any certainty.

    This is fear mongering and an attempt for more govt control over our freedoms but you just have too much trust in our govt to notice it.
    __________________________
    The utter foolishness of your post deserves no response. You made my case for me.

    May 7, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Huh?

    As a part time weather nerd I have noticed a distinct pattern with the Global Warming...er.. Climate Change crowd.

    Every extreme weather event is a sign of Global Warming...er.. Climate Change. No matter what. A convenient but intellectually vapid position.

    Any attempt to disagree with their viewpoints is instantly met with derision and condemnation.

    Their narrative says that all of the scientific evidence has been collected on the subject and no further discussion is allowed.

    I can still remember the Time magazine cover page from the late 1970's entitled "THE COMING ICE AGE". It was probably written by the same people now who are promoting the Global Warming...er.. Climate Change agenda. They were wrong then and they are probably wrong now.

    P.S. – If you think last winter was bad, wait until next year.

    May 7, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. rs

    Tommy G

    The obvious solution for this problem is to outlaw all fossil fuel usage, mandate solar panels and windmills for everybody and raise taxes on the 1% to 100%. Trust Obama and the Democrats they know what they are doing, just like knew what they were doing with Obamacare.
    ____________________
    Considering that the ACA is working better than expected, what's your point? You prefer to trust the 3% of "climate scientists" whose research is paid for by the Koch brothers?

    May 7, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. Denise

    No doubt, a group of liberal lawyers got together years ago in a secret location and came up with the conspiracy of global warming.....who knew that years later, Obama, Sebelius, Hillary and the gang met with a bunch of socialist muslims to come up with a plan to provide health care at lower cost and no pre-existing conditions. What will they think of next?

    May 7, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  20. Denise

    Of course, all of the hot air that Boss Hogg and his ilk blow, would account for an outbreak of tornadoes, etc.

    May 7, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    I hereby call this meeting of the Flat Earth Society to order. ORDER.

    There are folks out there spreading lies about our weather. They're telling us that they've discovered something called "climate" that has a large impact on what our weather will be from one day to the next. It's based upon their theory that the Earth isn't flat, but actually round and that the air goes round and round this large ball that we are supposed to live on.

    Now they're telling us that all of the pollution that we put into the air and water is having a negative effect on this climate thing of theirs all across the world. I say, "Bah, Humbug." They're all wrong. The Earth is flat, which means that there is no such thing as a climate. "Bah, Humbug."

    May 7, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. Tommy G

    rs
    Considering that the ACA is working better than expected, what's your point?
    ---

    How can it be working better than expected when most of it hasn't been implemented yet? Obama unconstitutionally changed the law to delay the parts that will affect hundreds of millions of people and all businesses. All in an effort to save the Democrats from total annihilation this November.

    So please, spare us your lies about working.

    May 7, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "P.S. – If you think last winter was bad, wait until next year."

    If you think a cold winter disproves "Global Warming" or "Climate Change," then you clearly don't understand any of it.

    May 7, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. rla

    Palin voter get the issue– Climate change (ie global warming, coming ice age, cooling world temps ) does not mean we are in charge of it nor will we be doing nothing but throwing away money if India and China and the third world do nothing... POINT___SET MATCH

    SOme one actually thinks obama care is working??? Must be and extremist progressive

    May 7, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. rs

    I can still remember the Time magazine cover page from the late 1970's entitled "THE COMING ICE AGE". It was probably written by the same people now who are promoting the Global Warming...er.. Climate Change agenda. They were wrong then and they are probably wrong now.
    ____________________________
    Shoot, why stop at 1970? Why not go farther back? Maybe the 1700s, or even 1600's. The "scientists" then had much more fun theories about weather. The opinion represented in the story above represents the decided knowledge of 97% of the scientists in the field, based upon more than 100 years of collected data.

    May 7, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
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