Television’s Weather Channel wades into climate debate with hour-long special

Special will include interviews with nine U.S. presidential candidates

This combination photo shows, top row from left, Presidential candidates, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, middle row from left, former Congressman Joe Walsh, Sen Cory Booker and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and bottom row from left, Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who will participate in an hour-long special about climate change, airing Nov. 7. (AP Photo)

This combination photo shows, top row from left, Presidential candidates, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, middle row from left, former Congressman Joe Walsh, Sen Cory Booker and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and bottom row from left, Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who will participate in an hour-long special about climate change, airing Nov. 7. (AP Photo)

The Weather Channel is moving beyond cold fronts and heat waves to wade into the politics of climate change, with a special planned for early next month that includes interviews with nine presidential candidates on the topic.

The campaign’s most prominent climate change skeptic — President Donald Trump — declined an invitation to participate.

The hour-long special, scheduled to debut Nov. 7, interviews candidates at various sites chosen to illustrate the impact of climate change. Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, speaks at the site of a devastating California wildfire and Sen. Kamala Harris along a flood-prone area of the Mississippi River.

The Weather Channel has done specials on the impact of climate change in Alaska and along the Louisiana coast, for example, but this is the first time the network has gotten involved directly in a political campaign.

READ MORE: Top 10 Climate Change myths debunked

“It gets the conversation going in a big way,” said Rick Knabb, the network’s on-air hurricane expert and former director of the National Hurricane Center. He and meteorologist Stephanie Abrams traded off on the interviews.

The Weather Channel wanted to do the special through its own scientific lens, said Nora Zimmett, the network’s senior vice-president for content and programming. Although other networks inquired about joining and doing a town hall-style event, TWC turned them down.

“We didn’t want to have a food fight about whose plan is better,” she said.

While the special is something new for the network, Zimmett said executives weren’t concerned about turning off weather fans who view it as a refuge from politics, or people like the president who see less urgency in addressing the issue. Despite a “vocal minority,” surveys show most viewers want to learn more about the issue and potential solutions, she said.

Trump may not be there, but the special won’t ignore him or what his administration has been doing, Knabb said.

Trump recently mocked Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter for a United Nations speech to world leaders and skipped a UN meeting on the issue.

READ MORE: No discipline for SD71 students attending Courtenay’s March for Climate Change

All three announced Republican challengers to Trump — Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman, Bill Weld, former Massachusetts governor, and Mark Sanford, former South Carolina governor and congressman — are interviewed. For time reasons, organizers chose the top seven Democrats in the polls: in addition to Sanders and Harris, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Former Vice-President Joe Biden was not interviewed; his campaign said it was a scheduling issue.

Knabb said the interviews have taught him a lot about the complexities of proposed solutions.

“The public is going to learn a lot from this,” he said.

The Weather Channel’s show is separate from the Covering Climate Now initiative, which encouraged news organizations to do more stories on climate change. There’s been some criticism that the issue hasn’t received enough attention during the presidential debates.

“We’ve been lonely here on these issues,” Zimmett said, “and all we can do is hope that our friends at other media outlets join us.”

David Bauder, The Associated Press

READ MORE: VP quits after backlash to University of Alberta’s billboard on climate change

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

Nav Canada will not be closing the tower at West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada tower to remain open at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization was considering closing the tower

School District 20 is advising the public there has been a positive case of COVID-19 at the Trail high school. Photo: Trail Times
COVID exposures at three West Kootenay schools

Three West Kootenay schools have students in isolation

A cougar encounter near the flagpole above Pulpit Rock has closed off a section of the popular trail. File photo
Part of Pulpit Rock trail closed by cougar sighting

Pulpit Rock to the flagpole will be blocked to the public for the next two weeks

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Most Read