Discussing the weather has long been a harmless British pastime, with forecasters relying on their predictions of drizzle to ruin bank holidays or the good news of some mild summer sunshine.
But now TV meteorologists have found themselves on the front lines of the climate culture war, following extreme temperatures in England last month, with record-breaking and highs of 40.3C (104.5F).
Laura Tobin is best known as the chirpy weather forecaster for Good Morning Britain. He is popular among the audience and has 200,000 Twitter followers. But she has found herself spending her time battling the climate crisis as her job has tipped from providing updates on mild British weather to charting the dire progress of the climate crisis.
He said: “When I did the weather forecast at 6.15 a.m. Tuesday, I said we were forecasting 41c and I sat down and looked at my map, I was talking to the guy who was there for me. The graphics of my weather do, I really burst out. I said, ‘I’ve predicted it, it’s gonna happen, it’s actually reality and it’s going to happen’. We in the forecasting community believe it Couldn’t. I was very emotional about it.”
But not all of her viewers took the hot temperatures so seriously, accusing it of “scare” and complaining on social media when Tobin linked the heatwaves to climate breakdown.
Some of the tweets accused her of sharing the “hype of the season” and said they were turned off when they saw her on television. Some called him jailed over his climate warnings and others called him “Dr. Doom.”
“People say you should tell us about the weather, you shouldn’t talk about climate change,” she said, “people think it’s someone else’s problem and they don’t want to hear it. People It doesn’t like being told what to do.”
Unlike many who face abuse and complaints on Twitter, Tobin makes a point of responding to climate denialists and even responding to their questions directly by responding to their tweets.
“Meteorologists are one of the main ways climate change is communicated to the public,” she said.
“We have a duty to tell the science and show why it matters. What we know, what we’ve seen [in such a short timescale]What we are saying is not worrying – what we are seeing is worrying. It’s not scary – the truth scares people but the reality is scary.”
She sees it as part of her job of convincing people that the climate crisis is real. “I realized long ago that even if those people are one in a million or one in a thousand, you have to talk to them and convince them they’re wrong, showing them the evidence. And I’ve managed to do it before “I have spoken to cater to climate deniers and skeptics, show them the science in a non-condescending way, and reassure them.”
And the angry comments don’t bother her, because she believes it’s her call to warn people about the climate emergency.
Tobin explained, “Anything that anyone may say may be negative on me, my feelings about climate change blow out of the water, I don’t get upset, I just want them to care and understand.”
“The more emotional thing for me was that these temperatures were predictable and they became a reality, that wildfires started, and that there would be hundreds if not thousands of deaths. Because we had given massive warnings, care homes and Places like schools could have been built and more people could have been saved.
“We had comments saying that the Met Office should not tell people what to do. Actually, I said, wait a minute, all these things must have helped save lives, so why is this a bad thing? We suggest that people bring an umbrella if it is going to rain, no one needs to go to us for that, so why can’t we suggest that people be prepared for extreme weather?
Meteorologist Scott Duncan has shown rapid climate change by creating and sharing stark graphics on social media. Many of these were shared thousands of times during the heatwave, but were abused as well.
“These [extreme weather] The events you get, you get the masses coming out with pitchforks and torches. People think that they can predict the weather themselves, which is fine, but it doesn’t work when people come on social media and curse the weather forecaster,” he said.
Celebrities and the media have also started heaping unhelpful piles of forecasters trying to warn of extreme heat.
“When Jeremy Clarkson Was Tweet Wrongly how France didn’t declare a heatwave was like inciting a crowd, it’s not helpful. It doesn’t make people take it as seriously as they should,” Duncan said.
After Duncan’s tweets got everyone’s attention, he’s started posting less because of the emotional toll of reading the comments.
“I’ve seen terrible arguments between comments and I’ve had to ban comments because things go down a very dark path. You start to freak out about it, you used to be shocked to see these things and not anymore.
“I’m posting really short, I wanted to take a step back after the response.”
But Duncan and Tobin plan to continue telling the world about the climate emergency.
“The air we were breathing was hotter than our lungs on Monday and Tuesday.” [18-19 July] Which wasn’t really a thing in the past—seeing 40C in places like Doncaster where it was never above the mid-30s—the scale of these record breaks certainly warned of the highest level of heat. If you don’t have a red alert for that, when are you going to use it?” Duncan said.
Tobin said: “It’s my job to give people a little more science, a little more understanding. I’ll keep doing it.”