with Paulina Firozi


First it was CNN. Then MSNBC. Now even the Weather Channel wants to ask presidential candidates about climate change.

The weather news network — better known for tracking hurricanes than following political campaigns — is set to air an hour-long prime-time special of interviews with nine 2020 White House hopefuls focused on how to tackle the causes and effects of global warming. 

The special, planned for Nov. 7, is yet another sign that the issue of global warming is getting more media attention than in past presidential election cycles. And it's a win for climate activists -- though they say it is still not getting coverage commensurate with the threat it poses to the world. 

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), two of the top-polling candidates in the Democratic field, will participate. So will other Democrats, including South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Sens. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) and Cory Booker (N.J.). And three long-shot contenders for the GOP nomination against President Trump — former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, ex-South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld — also will be interviewed.

The biggest name not included in the Weather Channel special is Joe Biden. The former vice president won't participate because of scheduling issues with the network, according to a Biden campaign official. 

Biden did appear at the CNN town hall on climate change last month, where he was pointedly questioned by an activist about a fundraiser co-hosted by a businessman who helped start a natural gas company. Biden declined to participate in the following climate forum, on MSNBC, as did Warren and three other major Democratic candidates.

Unlike last month's CNN and MSNBC climate forums, which aired live interviews with the candidates, the Weather Channel special will show pretaped interviews of the candidates. And it has meteorologists — not just journalists — grilling the politicians about their climate plans. Among those experts is Rick Knabb, former director of the National Hurricane Center and the network’s on-air hurricane expert.

The Weather Channel is doing the TV special in collabortation with the Climate Desk, a consortium of 18 media organizations that work together on climate stories.

Polling over the past decade shows that meteorologists are increasingly convinced that man-made global warming is happening, with some even talking about climate change on air. That shift came even as John Coleman, a weather forecaster who helped launch the Weather Channel in 1982, became better known in later years for championing skepticism about human-caused climate change.

Nora Zimmett, the Weather Channel's chief content officer and executive vice president, says her station takes the threat of climate change seriously. “As the nation’s only 24-hour science-based news network, we are proud to expand our original programming and address the serious conversations about climate change,” she said in a statement.

While the big news networks have carved out television time for forums on the issue, that hasn't always translated into coverage during marquee event. CNN's climate town hall, for example, was a whopping seven hours long, with candidates sitting for back-to-back interviews. But when it came time to host an actual debate between the candidates last week, CNN anchors did not ask a single climate-related question.


— Trump announces Rick Perry’s successor: The president said he plans to nominate Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette to replace Perry at the helm of the agency. The president announced the decision via Twitter, calling Brouillette’s experience “unparalleled.”

  • More about Brouillette: He "has served as deputy energy secretary since August 2017. He had worked for the agency 14 years prior as assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs in the George W. Bush administration,” The Post’s Colby Itkowitz and Tom Hamburger report. “In between, Brouillette was a top lobbyist for Ford Motor Co. and then the head of public policy for USAA, a financial institution for military families.”
  • Third time's the charm: Brouillette will be the third deputy secretary elevated to a Cabinet-level energy and environmental role in the Trump administration. David Bernhardt replaced Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary while Andrew Wheeler took over for Scott Pruitt as Environmental Protection Agency administrator.
  • Perry's team doesn't comply with subpoena: Perry, still energy secretary for the moment, missed the deadline to produce documents subpoenaed amid the impeachment inquiry, The Post's John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Michael Brice-Saddler report. In a letter to House Democratic lawmakers, the department’s assistant secretary Melissa Burnison called the inquiry illegitimate. “Even if the inquiry was validly authorized, much of the information sought in the subpoena appears to consist of confidential Executive Branch communications that are potentially protected by privilege and would require careful review to ensure that no such information is improperly disclosed,” Burnison wrote.

— House GOP member who pushed carbon tax is retiring: Rep. Francis Rooney, a Republican who represents a coastal district in Florida, announced he won’t seek reelection. Rooney has emerged as a leader in his party on tackling environmental issues, pushing other Republicans to act on climate change, co-chairing the revived Climate Solutions Caucus and introducing his own carbon tax legislation, while few other Republicans have backed such a tax.

  • Rooney announced his retirement a day after saying he would consider voting to impeach Trump: “Rooney told reporters Friday when asked about the political consequences of potentially impeaching Trump that he wanted ‘to get the facts and do the right thing because I’ll be looking at my children a lot longer than I’m looking to anybody in this building,’ ” The Post’s Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis write.

— Romney calls for “aggressive” climate action: In a talk with Goldman Sachs’ John Waldron posted earlier this month, Sen. Mitt Romney said he wants to take “aggressive action to reduce the human contribution to greenhouse gases and to global warming.”

  • To quote: The Utah Republican said he’s sought to push colleagues who are skeptical about human contribution to climate change to take action. “I say to my colleagues who say to me, ‘I don’t think we’re causing global warming.’ I say ‘what if there is a one out of ten chance we’re causing it?’… I think it’s more like nine out of ten chance. But even if you think it’s one out of ten chance and if it’s going to be as catastrophic as that would suggest… wouldn’t you do something to try and make it better?”
  • His fix: He suggested a carbon tax, or investing in research and technology innovation, both at the government and private level, to address the crisis. "I don’t pretend to be a scientist, but every scientist I know says we’re causing it so let’s do whatever we can to see if we can’t fix it."

— Another day, another potential wildfire-related blackout in California: Southern California Edison warned residents about potential preemptive blackouts amid high winds and wildfire risks this weekend. The utility was considering shutting power for more than 56,000 customers in eight counties across the southern part of the state, the Los Angeles Times reports.

  • The state could be facing a decade of these shutoffs: During a meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco, Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.’s chief executive said the utility could be forced to continue preventive shut-offs for up to a decade in Central and Northern California, the L.A. Times reports. “In his presentation to the commission, [William D. Johnson] laid out a long list of measures the utility has undertaken to improve its handling of future shut-offs, while limiting their duration,” per the report.
  • Amid the outages, California companies turn to solar: Numerous businesses in the Golden State have sought to prevent financial and productivity losses during power outages by turning to solar power. “Tech companies in particular have spent years touting their efforts to become more environmentally friendly via solar power and other ways to offset their huge carbon footprints. Most of the companies release annual reports tallying their gains and the way they’re improving the world,” The Post’s Marie C. Baca reports.

— How the world’s ecosystems are transforming: A recent study found the world’s ecosystems are reorganizing rapidly, and that it’s “probably the result of local extinctions, the introduction of invasive species and migrations motivated by climate change,” The Post’s Sarah Kaplan reports. On average, a fourth of all plant and animal species in an ecosystem are being replaced every decade. Marine ecosystems in particular are experiencing this transformation at high rates, she adds. “The waters of the western Atlantic and the northwest Australian shelf experienced rates of species turnover much higher than the global average. Tropical regions also seemed to change more than temperate ones, perhaps because these already-warm areas have now been heated to temperatures for which most species are not adapted.”

— Virginia will use renewable energy in state facilities: Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced a contract with Dominion Energy, the state’s biggest utility, to buy renewable energy for government offices, The Post’s Gregory S. Schneider reports. Under the deal, the state will target acquiring 30 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2022. “The deal calls for Dominion to supply state government facilities with 420 megawatts of renewable energy, which the governor’s office said is enough to power 100,000 homes,” Schneider writes. “The bulk of the purchase — 345 megawatts — will come from solar installations owned by Dominion.”


Coming Up

  • The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management holds a hearing on federal recovery efforts from recent disasters on Tuesday.
  • The House Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on Tuesday.
  • The Brookings Institution and the Millennial Action Project hold an event on how millennials think about climate change and national debt on Tuesday.