On the basis of science, not politics, meteorologists and leaders from the weather community largely united in denouncing the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement on Thursday.
The American Meteorological Society’s executive director, Keith Seitter, called the decision “deeply troubling” and said it ignored “so many … components of the risk calculus that went into the treaty” in a statement issued Friday morning. “[F]rom a scientific viewpoint, it is particularly troubling that the President’s claims cast aside the extensively studied domestic and global economic, health, and ecological risks of inaction on climate change,” he said.
Weather.com, the Weather Channel’s website, transformed its homepage into what was perhaps the most highly visible protest.
The president of The Weather Channel, David Clark, made this call to action on his Facebook page Thursday: “Today was a blow for all of us, whether you ‘believe’ in climate change or not, whether you work in coal or not, whether you voted for Trump or not, whether you’re American or not … we are all living on the same planet and share the same problem. There are solutions, some exciting, but now without federal leadership it’s on all of us to get read up and start to put real pressure on our elected officials.”
Additional voices in the weather community across the political spectrum criticized the announcement.
“I frequently believe the liberal elite consensus is wrong, hypocritical and partisan,” said Rich Sorkin, a moderate Republican and chief executive for Jupiter, a start-up focused on risk from weather and climate. “However, on the issue of the Paris Agreement, President Trump is flat out wrong and directly harming U.S. interests.”
Paul Douglas, a meteorologist in Minneapolis who has operated several weather companies, worked in television, and is also a Republican, responded to the news with a tweet storm. “We have freedoms, we have rights, but what about personal responsibility? Future generations will judge us harshly,” he tweeted. “I’ve been tracking the symptoms in our increasingly screwed-up weather for 20+ years. This isn’t about polar bears — this is about our kids.”
Another tweet storm was unleashed by Marshall Shepherd, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia and past president of the American Meteorological Society. “This is a sad day for the world…the Climate Accord is about American lives,” he tweeted. “Use this moment not to sulk or lick wounds….use it to motivate you to engage and help preserve our home planet. Our kids depend on it …”
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research President Antonio Busalacchi issued a diplomatic response. He refrained from specifically criticizing the withdrawal but said it creates “new uncertainties about the future of our climate.” He added: “The work by U.S. researchers — to understand and anticipate changes in our climate system and determine ways to mitigate or adapt to the potential impacts — is now more vital than ever.”
A minority of meteorologists expressing an opinion questioned whether participating in the accord would’ve made any difference or even supported withdrawal.
“If the goal of Paris agreement is to reduce extreme weather and other negative impacts it is grossly inadequate,” tweeted Roger Pielke Sr., a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University. “It’s really not about climate.”
John Coleman, a prominent climate change doubter and one of the founders of the Weather Channel, tweeted that the withdrawal was “a major victory on the road to Scienceville where at last the fake science that carbon dioxide is major greenhouse gas will be defeated.”
But the most common reaction among meteorologists who chose to weigh in was of disappointment, if not anger. Below find a selection of viewpoints posted to Twitter.