Climate Change 'Swing Voters' Affected by Weather, Not Denialists, Says Analyst

(Adrian Myers/Taxi/Getty Images)

Whatever the Public's Opinion on Wild Weather and Climate Extremes, World's Scientists Report the Same Manmade Warming, but Worsening - With New Discoveries About the Jet Stream


Nature's Edge Notebook #25       

Observation, Analysis, Reflection, New Questions

Just a quick note on an engaging video that can give you a glimpse of the new science on the jet stream… following a brief thought on public opinion and the worsening wild weather around the planet.

Recent reports say public opinion is beginning to swing back up to a larger majority who "believe in global warming."

A New York Times headline says, "In Poll, Many Link Weather Extremes to Climate Change."

Actually, that link appears to be old news.

Professor Jon Krosnick, who has been doing energy and climate public opinion research at Stanford University's Woods Institute, has looked closely at the opinions of the 30 percent of people who have low confidence in scientists - crucial "swing voters" in polls about  climate.

He tells ABC News that his polling data, going back a number of years, shows that the belief in global warming among this "low confidence 30 percent" goes up and down each year in step with how bad or extreme the weather was in the previous year.

And that it doesn't seem to be responding all that much, he says, to whatever the global warming denialist campaigns may have been doing.

For the past two years, wild weather has been breaking records not only in the United States but in most regions around the world.

TV screens everywhere have presented repeated scenes of flood, massive precipitation (snow in winter, rain in the other seasons), drought, swamped communities and burning brush land and forests, as well as unusual extreme cold spells - all "weather weirding," as it is sometimes called.

It is also old news now that the world's climate scientists firmly link this overall global pattern of world-wide extreme weather with manmade global warming.

For one thing, it exactly fits the patterns they predicted decades ago: As more energy - in the form of heat and the excess moisture it holds - piles up in the air, year after year, without dissipating, it's like "weather on steroids," as some of them describe it.

For another, a steady flow of new studies keeps arriving from academies of science in the United States and around the world that add newly discovered connections between the increasing weather extremes and manmade global warming - warming that is rising steadily over 20-year averages, just as predicted by the climate scientists decades ago, in step with increasing excess greenhouse emissions.

Obviously, whatever the public's overall opinion in any given year, it will have little effect if any on the physical reality… until and unless, say the world's climate scientists, opinion leads to significant and drastic cuts in greenhouse emissions.

"The air doesn't care about our opinions! It doesn't even have a brain to think with! It just heats up when you pour more greenhouse gas into it!" - the sort of exclamation this reporter has often heard from exasperated climate scientists.

The New Science of Warming's Effect on the Jet Stream - The TV Weather Forecaster's 'Escape Cause'

A number of America's TV meteorologists and other broadcast weatherpersons have been accused by peer-reviewed climate scientists either of being greatly uninformed about the science of the basics of manmade global warming, or, at the very least, of shying away from any mention of it during broadcasts for fear of losing ratings by driving their audience away with worrisome news.

Instead, complain these scientists, U.S. TV weather journalists, feeling the need to provide some explanation for the unusual weather, often escape into a simplistic nearest-cause answer, blaming the extreme weather on "the jet stream," while avoiding the science that connects the jet stream's behavior to manmade global warming … as well as ignoring other larger global patterns that also project such extremes.

Weather and climate scientists have long known that jet stream patterns directly affect weather extremes.

Now, as the world's global average temperatures continue to rise, the climate scientists also have new concrete examples of how that temperature affects the jet stream - which in turn brings more weather extremes.

When the Arctic is less cold in winter, they explain, there is less temperature difference with the warmer air to the south, which means the jet stream (which divides the two regions) is weaker, loopier, slower… and so, for one thing, weather systems don't move as fast, get stuck over one region for days on end, unrelenting.

Watch This Video to Get a Sense of the New Climate Science on the Jet Stream

On their website, The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media ("Connecting scientists, journalists, and communicators") has posted a video that is a lively attempt to give a sense of the new science on the jet stream.

"This Is Not Cool" is by videographer Peter Sinclair. He edits together a variety of media and scientists' reports on the subject.

It's a relatively new subject for communicators of any kind to try to make clear to the public, but it gives at least a sense of how the different parts of the story fit together and how manmade global warming - caused by excess greenhouse emissions - is rapidly changing seasonal schedules in backyards and wildlands everywhere.

You'll find it near the top of the Yale Forum webpage entitled " Weird Winter - Mad March - Part 2"

(The related video - labeled " Part 1" - gives explicit details and explanations of the winter's extreme weather in the United States and around the world. )

You may find other interesting reports on the Yale Forum page, such as:

  • "Rejection of Science Not Unique to Climate Change"
  • "The Global Warming Culture Wars"
  • " 'Green Muslims,' Eco-Islam and Evolving Climate Change Consciousness"

… and several others.

( The Yale Project on Climate Change "advances public understanding and engagement with climate change science and solutions and catalyzes action by the general public and leaders of government, business, academia, and the media.")


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