I sent this e-mail this morning to Rick Montgomery, reporter at the Kansas City Star.
I enjoyed your article in the Star today, Climate change splits forecasters. I was disappointed that only a passing mention was made of the Climategate e-mails in your story. If people knew more of the facts around that, they may think the meteorologists featured in your article are onto something.
I would like to respond to two quotes you used in the article. First, you included this quote from Keith Seitter of American Meteorological Society: “meteorologists tend to underestimate how much work the climate scientists do and care they take.”
What purpose does this serve in the article? It’s one man’s unsubstantiated opinion and it says nothing about the actual accuracy of the work output from climate scientists. I believe it was inserted to cast suspicion on meteorologists opinions of climatology, but a careful reader should recognized it as irrelevant to the story. I also wonder if Seitter’s opinion applies to the group of meteorologists who accept global warming or only to those who are skeptical. That would have been a good follow-up question.
Second, you quoted Kris Wilson, a University of Texas researcher, as saying, “The models used for predicting weather are inherently volatile. The climate models are not like that. They’re inherently stable.”
I’m not sure what purpose this statement served. I suspect that a reader not experienced with mathematical modeling may think that means that weather models are less accurate than climate models. I also suspect Wilson did not intend to convey this meaning. I believe he was stating a fact and that statement was used inappropriately. If he did intend this statement to convey the comparative accuracy of the weather and climate models, then it is an inaccurate and irresponsible statement from a researcher. A reader with math modeling experience would correctly interpret the statement as unrelated to your article.
The words volatile and stable say nothing about the accuracy of either type of model. Wilson’s statement is like saying that the speed of your vehicle goes up and down more often when driving around town and varies less while driving on the highway. While this is a true statement, it doesn’t there’s anything better or worse with either type of driving, just as Wilson’s statement doesn’t say that there’s anything better or worse with weather or climate modeling.
If you are thinking about ideas for future articles, I would recommend reporting on the Climategate e-mails and presenting the global warming science that is so “widely accepted” to let people judge for themselves. Hopefully, the world is learning that scientists are people too and they are not immune to political motivations or to being wrong.