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)

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

Rockets’ Nolan Foote traded to New Jersey Devils

The Devils acquired Foote and a 2020 first-round pick from the Lightning in exchange for Blake Coleman

Smalltown DJs to bring sounds of Shambhala and Bass Coast to Sapphire Nightclub

The Electronic Dance Music duo is known for their bass-heavy beats

The Coldest Night of Year walk returns to Kelowna Feb. 22

The event raises money for charities serving hungry, homeless and hurting people in the community

Rockets lose 3-2 to Rebels in close game

The Rockets are back in action on Monday when they host the Calgary Hitmen at Prospera Place

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Registration opens soon for BC 55+ Games in Richmond

2020 55+ Games have been officially scheduled for Sept. 15 to 19

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read