Poll: Brits want weather forecasters to speak up on climate change

Online abuse of weather forecasters for providing advice during heatwaves does not represent majority public view

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By Patricia Curmi


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Three quarters (77%) of British adults say weather forecasters should be talking about climate change as much – if not more – than they do currently, according to a new poll [1]. A small minority (15%) want them to mention climate less.

The poll also found strong backing for the Met Office issuing advice to people to be careful in extreme heat. More than two-thirds (68%) thought it was sensible for weather forecasters to provide these reminders, with only a quarter (25%) saying the opposite.

The polling found no real divide on political grounds: for example, 76% of those intending to vote Conservative back weather forecasters talking about climate change, compared to the average of 77%.

Commenting, Professor Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said:

"Over the last four years, the Royal Meteorological Society has been delivering climate change training for various communicators, including broadcast meteorologists from ITV, BBC and Sky. We aim to refresh and deepen their knowledge to develop a broader understanding of climate science, causes of climate change, climate modelling, and the social and economic impacts of climate change.

"As well as providing guidance on where to find reliable and up-to-date information and providing evidence-based updates on key events; the training aims to ensure broadcast meteorologists have the knowledge to answer (often difficult) climate-related questions and, therefore, they are well placed to communicate the effects of climate change to the broader public when we are witnessing it first-hand at times of extreme weather."

Matt Williams, Climate and Land Programme Lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said:

“Britain has a proud history of weather forecasting and has produced many of the world’s leading climate scientists. Setting out the links between the extreme heat - which the public has witnessed first-hand - and climate change is a public service that the vast majority of people want from weather forecasters. Any sense there is some kind of culture war divide on this issue is confected.”

The poll follows weather forecasters reporting that they have experienced online criticism and abuse for linking the recent heat with climate change [2]. Scientists have subsequently found that the UK heatwave of the 18th and 19th July was made at least ten times more likely because of climate change [3].

Following the July heatwave separate polling has found that Britons see climate change as the second most important issue facing the country, only behind the cost of living crisis [4].