Heidi Cullen’s modest proposal

Not content to report the weather, the Weather Channel’s Heidi Cullen has become a global warming pundit, recently appearing on Larry King Live, where she seemed to say (incorrectly) that melting sea ice contributes to sea level rise.

In a blog post a few weeks ago, Ms. Cullen scolded a fellow meteorologist, who declined to lecture viewers about global warming, noting how the issue had been “politicized” and that, given the cyclical nature of weather patterns, he was unsure what “generalizations” could be inferred from the warming trend of recent times.

I admire her colleague for his lack of political and intellectual pretension. But Cullen found it unacceptable, and proposed a remedy: “If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming.” She elaborated: “If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval.”

Many bloggers instantly denounced Cullen for proposing to decertify meteorologists who don’t espouse global warming alarmism. She denied doing any such thing, and if we consider only the letter of her remarks, that is correct.
However, she did propose that the AMS establish what amounts to a global warming litmus test for meteorologists seeking AMS certification. And given the importance professional societies put on continuing education, it is hard to see how in practice Cullen’s proposal would not threaten the credentials of meteorologists who are skeptical about the alleged perils of global warming.

Also, it is silly to pretend that Cullen is simply asking for meteorologists to receive additional scientific training. Instead of citing a climatology textbook, she says, “One good resource if you don’t have a lot of time is the Pew Center’s Climate Change 101.” The Pew Center is an advocacy organization that lists toward alarm and energy rationing. Virginia State Climatologist Patrick Michaels is an outstanding expert, but would he pass a politically-correct test on global warming? Only if he suppressed his real views.
At a minimum, Cullen’s proposal amounts to a plan to turn meteorologists into preachers of the global warming apocalypse. She comments: “Meteorologists are among the few people trained in the sciences who are permitted regular access to our living rooms.” Most people are content to get their sermons in church. Nothing will drive down viewership of the Weather Channel faster than an endless parade of Al Gore wannabes urging us to repent of our sins of emission.