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

Mary Ellen Campbell, president of the Parksville Museum, visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: A chat with Parksville Museum president Mary Ellen Campbell

Podcast: Talk includes plans for 2021, dealing with COVID-19 and more

Eaglecrest Golf Club plans to operate as a nine-hole course starting April 1. (Eaglecrest Facebook photo)
Eaglecrest Golf Club in Qualicum Beach still plans to have course layout reduced to 9 holes

Town council continues to negotiate lease for 18-hole operation

A rendering of a proposed housing development located across from the beachfront in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Multi-residential development planned across from Qualicum Beach waterfront

Residents raise variety of concerns about project

Proprietor of Sweet Truck, Morgan Ray, as she hands off her baked goods to a customer. (Photo courtesy of Avrinder Dhillon Photography)
COVID-19: Qualicum Beach baker eyes move back from food truck to bricks and mortar

Storefront offers more stability amid growth in sales: Ray

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read