‘Climategate’ undermined belief in global warming among TV meteorologists: Study

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new study has shown that ‘Climategate’ undermined the belief in global warming, and possibly also trust in climate scientists among TV meteorologists.

Climategate’ is the unauthorized release of stolen e-mails between climate scientists in the U.S. and the U. K. in late 2009.

In the largest and most representative survey of television weathercasters to date, George Mason University researchers asked these meteorologists in early 2010, when news stories about the climate e-mails were breaking, several questions about their awareness of the issue, attention to the story and impact of the story on their beliefs about climate change.

Eighty two percent of the respondents indicated they had heard of Climategate, and nearly all followed the story at least ‘a little’.

Among the respondents who indicated that they had followed the story, 42 percent indicated the story made them somewhat or much more sceptical that global warming is occurring.

These results stand in stark contrast to the findings of several independent investigations of the emails, conducted later, that concluded no scientific misconduct had occurred and nothing in the emails should cause doubts about the fact which show that global warming is occurring.

The results also showed that the doubts were most pronounced among politically conservative weathercasters and those who either do not believe in global warming or do not yet know.

It showed that age was not a factor nor was professional credentials, but men were more likely than their female counterparts to say that Climategate made them doubt that global warming was happening.

“Our study shows that TV weathercasters - like most people - are motivated consumers of information in that their beliefs influence what information they choose to see, how they evaluate information, and the conclusions they draw from it,” said Ed Maibach, one of the researchers.

“Although subsequent investigations showed that the climate scientists had done nothing wrong, the allegation of wrongdoing undermined many weathercasters’ confidence in the conclusions of climate science, at least temporarily,” he added.

The poll of weathercasters was conducted as part of a larger study funded by the National Science Foundation on American television meteorologists.

The results were published in the journal Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society. (ANI)

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