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

Alberta had 1,571 active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta’s central zone now has 1,101 active COVID-19 cases

Provincial death toll has risen by nine

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Moderna chairman says Canada near head of line for 20 million vaccine doses

Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre speaks during a news conference Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 in Ottawa. Poilievre says building up the Canadian economy post-pandemic can't be achieved without a massive overhaul of the tax system and regulatory regime. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Conservatives attack Trudeau’s ‘reset’ but they have ideas for their own

‘We don’t need subsidized corporate welfare schemes that rely on endless bailouts from the taxpayer’

There were 47 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Spread of COVID-19 in Brampton, Ont., linked to systemic factors, experts say

‘We’re tired. We’re numb. We’re overworked. We’re frustrated, because it’s not our rules’

A couple embrace during a ceremony to mark the end of a makeshift memorial for victims of the Toronto van attack, at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. in Toronto on Sunday, June 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
‘I’ve been spared a lot,’ van attack survivor says as she watches trial alone

Court has set up a private room for victims and families of those killed in the Toronto van attack

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

Most Read