Climate activists launch petition challenging WBAL-TV, Tony Pann

June 18, 2013|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

Two climate change advocacy groups are challenging WBAL-TV and Tony Pann, one of the station's meteorologists, for Pann's stance denying that global warming is occurring.

Forecast the Facts, a Berkeley, Calif.-based group focused on broadcast meteorologists who deny climate change, has teamed with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network on a petition calling on the station and Pann to "publicly correct the false claims about climate change made by" Pann.

The petition, launched Tuesday, follows a meeting with WBAL news director Michelle Butt over the issue, said Jordan Haedtler, a campaign associate with Forecast the Facts. The groups plan to deliver the petition, signed by local viewers, to the station within the next couple of weeks.

"We have organized so far hundreds of Baltimore viewers to urge WBAL's station management to correct Tony Pann's misinformation," Haedtler said.

Butt confirmed that she met with the groups for about 45 minutes to hear their concerns. But she said there are no plans to address the petition on the air given that Pann has never discussed his views on climate change on the station's broadcasts. Pann could not immediately be reached for comment.

The online petition does not reveal how many signers it has gained, though the page had been shared more than 50 times via Facebook as of early Tuesday evening.

Forecast the Facts formed last year and this is the first time it has singled out a meteorologist for his or her views, Haedtler said. Organizers focused on Pann and Baltimore after reading articles in the Baltimore Sun and City Paper from last year about a debate among local meteorologists via social media over climate change, he said.

Pann writes a blog for Examiner.com in which he has cited studies and statistics that counter evidence that global warming is occurring. Forecast the Facts cites more than two dozen of them, most of them dating back to 2009. 

A 2011 report by the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University found that one-fourth of TV meteorologists in the U.S. did not believe climate change is occurring, while another 20 percent were undecided.

A study in the journal Environmental Research Letters published earlier this year meanwhile found that 97 percent of scientific papers taking a stance on climate change from 1991 to 2011 concluded that the phenomenon is occurring.

An earlier version of this post misspelled Haedtler's name.

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