By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun
Spurred by a recent article in Rolling Stone, some Baltimore television meteorologists are weighing in against global climate change -- and are drawing some criticism for it.
WBAL-TV's Tony Pann shared the article, which calls some TV meteorologists "climate crackpots", on his Facebook page. He, along with others like WMAR-TV's Mike Masco and former WMAR meteorologist Justin Berk, argue climate change is an unproven theory.
The Rolling Stone article, published Dec. 5, questions why more TV meteorologists don't agree with global warming. Its author suggests in some cases it's because of conservative station owners, or because many TV meteorologists aren't trained in climatology.
Baltimore City Paper editor Evan Serpick joined in the criticism on Pann's Facebook page, getting into a climate change debate with Masco and Pann. You can read the exchange here (be wary of some salty language, if that offends you). In a post to a City Paper blog on the debate, Serpick highlights statistics from the National Academy of Sciences showing that 97-98 percent of active climate researchers are on board with global warming theory.
In an interview, Serpick said he considers it a dangerous thing given TV meteorologists' broad reach during severe weather events.
"People should know this," Serpick said. "[Pann] seems like a nice enough guy, they all seem to be. But it may work its way into what they say to the public."
But the meteorologists dismiss the criticism. Pann said in an interview that while he isn't convinced global warming is occurring, he does support environmental stewardship and exploration of alternative fuels as well as a healthy debate over climatology.
"I thought the scientific process allows, and even depends upon, different opinions!" Pann wrote in his original Facebook post.
Pann said while he understands where the concern is coming from -- "We are the conduit for most of it" when it comes to science news, he said of TV meteorologists -- he doesn't think his opinion on the issue matters to most viewers.
"I only get 2 minutes for the weather; it's not like I can start talking about global warming and the ice caps melting before the 7-day forecast," Pann said.