The Weather Channel typically sticks to reporting on science and weather, but it waded into politics on Tuesday, after climate skeptics had appropriated its work and presented it in a context that the channel considers incorrect and irresponsible.
In an editorial posted to Weather.com, the Weather Channel singled out last week’s Breitbart News article, headed “Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists.” The gist of the column on Breitbart, a right-wing news site whose former executive chair, Steve Bannon, is now working with President-elect Donald Trump, was that global land temperatures have dropped by one degree Celsius since the middle of this year and that this has been greeted with silence by media outlets that are supposedly pushing an “alarmist narrative.”
“The last three years may eventually come to be seen as the final death rattle of the global warming scare,” Breitbart columnist James Delingpole wrote.
Much to the Weather Channel’s chagrin, one of its videos — “La Niña in Pacific Affects Weather in New England” — was plastered prominently above the text.
“Breitbart had the legal right to use this clip as part of a content-sharing agreement with another company, but there should be no assumption that the Weather Company endorses the article associated with it,” the editorial reads.
According to the Weather Channel, the Breitbart column is “a prime example of cherry-picking,” in which a single item is taken out of context to build a misleading case. The article later attracted even more attention after the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology somewhat inexplicably shared it on Twitter.
But the Weather Channel, naturally, sides with the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is creating greenhouse gasses that are warming Earth’s climate — and will continue to do so.
To make its case, the Weather Channel refuted the Breitbart article’s hypothesis: that global land temperatures have fallen by one degree Celsius since the middle of this year.
“This number comes from one satellite-based estimate of temperatures above land areas in the lower atmosphere. Data from the other two groups that regularly publish satellite-based temperature estimates show smaller drops more typical of the decline one would expect after a strong El Niño event,” the Weather Channel said.
“Temperatures over land give an incomplete picture of global-scale temperature. Most of the planet — about 70 percent — is covered by water, and the land surface warms and cools more quickly than the ocean. Land-plus-ocean data from the other two satellite groups, released after the Breitbart article, show that Earth’s lower atmosphere actually set a record high in November 2016.”
A Breitbart editor, speaking anonymously to Business Insider, didn’t back down in the face of the Weather Channel’s criticism. “Environmentalist agenda drivers in the media can go back to their safe spaces now,” the editor said sarcastically.