Should We Care What the Weather Anchors Think?

While hunkered down at the cabin over the long MEA weekend watching a monsoon-like system refill northeast Minnesota rivers and lakes I had to laugh at a front-page (above-the-fold) story in the Duluth News Tribune. It seems Duluth NBC affiliate weatherman Karl Spring, formerly of KSTP and WFTC here in the Twin Cities thinks Al Gore is “a left wing nut” with “an agenda”. At least that’s what he said on a panel discussion on a Twin Ports public radio show.

Tsk, tsk. Mr. Spring’s response to the kerfuffle he set off and the News Tribune’s interest has been to tuck it in, keep his head down and bury himself in five-day forecasts. No further comments have been forthcoming, no doubt on strict orders from his superiors.

But I kind of like the fact he said what he thinks. I don’t agree with him for a second, especially if his “Al Gore is a left wing nut” rant is code — as it seems to be — for disparaging the human effects of global climate change. But at least he had the guts — OK, more likely the “imprudence” — to say what he believes about an issue of greater relevance than whether the kiddies should wear their galoshes at the bus stop in the morning.

Not that I look to TV weather people for any great depth of science, much less a political point of view. But the perhaps sad fact is that for a lot of folks the TV weather anchor is their most frequent interface with meteorological science. With that in mind, and with climate change as profound an issue to everyone as it is (with or without Al Gore, although Gore’s knee-jerk adversaries seem incapable of separating the two), it seems valid to me that those charming, glib people clicking through the weather maps offer a clue to their, uh, educated opinion on climate change.

I’ve mentioned this before, but here in the Twin Cities, WCCO’s Paul Douglas is, for all intents and purposes, alone in his unconditional view that climate change is upon us, it is serious and human activity is a key component. This is to Douglas’s eternal credit and, to my mind anyway, greatly enhances his credibility. His primary competitors … eh, not so much.

It would be fascinating to hear Douglas, KSTP’s Dave Dahl (or Chikage Windler), or KARE’s Belinda Jensen or Fox’s Ian Leonard on say, Kerri Miller’s MPR show talking seriously about the yeas and nays of climate change. Conventional wisdom says that any weather anchor at KSTP knows better than to wade into any “pro-Gore”-like thinking about climate change. Stanley Hubbard the boss of KSTP, after all, has actually produced his own documentary suggesting “global warming” is rank alarmism at best, and a hoax at worse. (And good luck finding a link to that gem on the KSTP website.)

Over at KARE, where according to the well-tuned Gannett formula, they have perfected the game of never offending anyone, the educated, professional opinions of weather department employees are blocked by well-tailored socks in their mouths.

Oh, and do I have to even mention that Mr. Spring, up in Duluth, concedes he hasn’t even seen Gore’s movie?

BTW: Relative to Mr. Spring, here is a fascinating column from the Baltimore Sun collecting reader response to the news story on Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Frankly, fear of exactly this kind of vicious, almost unhinged reaction is what prevents your average timorous weather anchor from saying anything about climate change.