They have a national reach that most climate campaigners would die for. They are familiar and respected experts on the science of meteorology. And they have prime-time slots at the end of almost every TV news bulletin, morning, noon and night. But the weather forecasters who guide everything from our clothing choices to our weekend plans seldom – if ever – mention the issue that is increasingly shaping our beloved British weather: climate change.
This week, former BBC weatherman Bill Giles broke cover, and called for the BBC and other major broadcasters to overhaul their approach to forecasts, and add in information about the crucial context of climate change to their predictions about the daily weather.
While the weather can’t always straightforwardly be equated with a changing climate, the impacts of climate change are no longer a hypothetical concern, or a discussion for the future. Climate change is with us now, and is manifesting through rising temperatures, more violent and unpredictable storms, and heavier rainfall.
What Giles rightly highlighted is that while weather forecasting continues to operate in a vacuum while the climate changes around us, it is abdicating its duty to provide accurate, scientifically-grounded meteorological advice to the public. Don’t people have a right to know how their climate is changing? And aren’t weather forecasts the obvious place to alert us to these new risks that we face?