The Guardian view on weather forecasts: We need the bigger picture

Guardian, the (UK)


Weather and climate are not the same thing, and to confuse them would be unhelpful. But the rapidly developing science of weather attribution means that experts are now able to analyse extreme events including floods and heatwaves to determine the contribution of manmade climate change. Last summer’s UK heatwave, for example, was made 30 times more likely by greenhouse gases. Findings such as this could feature in the remodelled broadcasts, and play a valuable role in increasing public understanding. So could information about globally important climate-related events, such as updates on melting ice sheets in Greenland or Antarctica.

Currently such items are treated as news, if they feature in current affairs schedules at all. But often they do not, and there is certainly no systematic effort on the part of such programmes to keep their audiences apprised of what climate scientists think is going on. If taken up, [the proposal of Mr. Bill Giles, the former BBC weather presenter] could lead to a re-evaluation of weather broadcasting – and a consideration of whether it is appropriate, in the era of global warming, to treat weather as the cheery endnote, delivered by a friendly face, that viewers have learned to expect.


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