U.S. Meteorologist Fired for Not Believing in Global Warming

Written by David Abel, Boston Globe


Mish Michaels, a U.S. meteorologist, lost her job as a science reporter at WGBH’s show “Greater Boston” last week after colleagues raised concerns about her views on vaccines and climate change.

They observe changes in the atmosphere like astronomers study the stars, analyzing everything from air pressure to water vapor and poring over computer models to arrive at a forecast.

But for all their scrutiny of weather data, many meteorologists part ways with their colleagues — climate scientists who study longer atmospheric trends — in one crucial respect: whether human activity is causing climate change.

Meteorologists are more skeptical than climate scientists, and that division was underscored by the recent departure of Mish Michaels (pictured above) from WGBH News.

Michaels, a former meteorologist at WBZ-TV, lost her job as a science reporter at WGBH’s show “Greater Boston” last week after colleagues raised concerns about her views on vaccines and climate change. She had previously questioned the safety of vaccines and the evidence that human activity was causing global warming, both widely held views in the scientific community.

A national survey last year by researchers at George Mason University in Virginia found that just 46 percent of broadcast meteorologists said they believed that climate change over the past 50 years has been “primarily or entirely” the result of human activity. By contrast, surveys of climate scientists have found that 97 percent attribute warming to human activity.

“Weather forecasters are people, too, and their political ideology plays a role in their views,” said Ed Maibach, who directs the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason and oversaw the study. “So conservative forecasters tend to be more skeptical than liberal forecasters.”

Among those skeptics is Tim Kelley, who has issued weather forecasts on New England Cable News since 1992. He describes himself as a “student of climate change,” but says his experience with the variability of computer models has made him skeptical that anyone can predict how greenhouse gases will change the environment in the coming decades.

“How can their computer models be better than ours?” he said. “We look at computer projections all the time, and we know how off they can be.”

Kelley acknowledges the climate is changing, but like many skeptics he questions whether rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are the reason. He believes most of the changes are natural, not man-made.

“I’m much less alarmed by global warming than most people,” he said. “I’d rather it be warmer.”

Kelley said he was deeply concerned by what he sees as Michaels’s firing.

“It’s alarming that you can be scapegoated or branded as a denier,” he said.

Officials at WGBH did not return messages seeking comment, and earlier said simply that Michaels’s departure was a personnel matter. In a statement last week, Michaels said her “personal beliefs as a private citizen have been positioned inaccurately,” and maintained that she never claimed not to believe in vaccines.

“Scientific consensus does not equal complacency. It is a challenge to scientists to verify the science or push it forward,” she said.

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Comments (1)

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    Carl Brehmer


    “By contrast, surveys of climate scientists have found that 97 percent attribute warming to human activity.”

    Again we see in the news the bogus statistic that 97% of climate scientists attribute global warming to human activity. The survey that they cite in the story is yet again the 2013, Cook et al paper, which revealed that only about 1/3 of the 11,944 scientific papers between 1991-2011 that mentioned “global climate change” or “global warming” attributed it to human activity. The rest—2/3 of the papers—were silent on the subject. This is the classic “argumentum ex silentio” or the “argument from silence” that draws a conclusion based on what is absent. 2/3 rds of the papers under review didn’t say that they didn’t believe that global climate change and global warming were not human caused.

    What the paper actually said is this “Among papers expressing a position on AGW, an overwhelming percentage (97.2% based on self-ratings, 97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW.”

    Forget for the moment that 1/3 does not constitute a “consensus” and just think about the irrelevance of this statement. Among those scientists who believe that climate change is man-made 97% believe that is it primarily due to human activity.

    This is like saying that 97% of all Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
    97% of pro-lifers think abortion should be against the law.
    97% of Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God
    97% of those who embrace the Second Amendment own guns
    97% of all Muslims believe that Muhammad was a Prophet of God
    97% of all minimum wage workers think that the minimum wage should be raised
    97% of taxpayers would like their taxes to be lowered
    97% of all . . .(fill in the blank)

    It is no surprise that 97% of those who believe in a particular thing are in agreement on the truth of that thing.

    It is also no surprise that the majority of those meteorologists who are graduating from today’s universities believe in human caused climate change, because that is what they are being taught. 97% of all priests who are ordained out of seminary believe that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ. So what?

    When someone believes what they are being told, does that prove that what they are being told is true?


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