Storm Hits Weather Community Over Climate Expert's Global Warming Claims

The Weather Channel is standing by a climatologist who is taking some heat after blogging that TV weather forecasters skeptical about man-made global warming theories should lose their professional certification.

Climate expert Heidi Cullen defended herself last week in The Weather Channel's One Degree Climate Change blog after questioning the fitness of meteorologists who disagree with her conclusions.

Click here to read Cullen's controversial global warming blog.

"I've read all your comments saying I want to silence meteorologists who are skeptical of the science of global warming. That is not true," wrote Cullen, host of "The Climate Code with Dr. Heidi Cullen," a weekly global-warming program on The Weather Channel. "The point of my post was never to stifle discussion. It was to raise it to a level that doesn't confuse science and politics. Freedom of scientific expression is essential."

Cullen raised Cain last month when she suggested that the American Meteorological Society decertify meteorologists who don't warn about climate change.

"If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming," Cullen wrote in the blog. "If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a seal of approval."

The AMS certifies broadcast and consulting meteorologists with three programs. The Seal of Approval, introduced in 1957, aims to "recognize meteorologists for their sound delivery of weather information to the general public," according to the AMS Web site.

According to a statement by the AMS, the society agrees with Cullen on the science of global warming, if not the certification of its approved meteorologists.

"There is convincing evidence that since the industrial revolution, human activities, resulting in increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and other trace constituents in the atmosphere, have become a major agent of climate change," the statement reads.

On Friday, Matthew de Ganon, executive director of the blog, backed Cullen wholeheartedly.

"We believe that by presenting her perspective in her blog, the site was able to put into action its mission statement, which states, 'One Degree's mission will be to present an open, balanced dialogue around the scientific facts concerning global climate change. We will provide a place where sound science can be heard and a forum where all people can question and debate,'" De Ganon wrote.

But James Spann, chief meteorologist for ABC 33/40 in Alabama, who has been in operational meteorology since 1978, said Cullen is wading into dangerous waters when it comes to judging her colleagues.

"I do not know of a single TV meteorologist who buys into the man-made global warming hype. I know there must be a few out there, but I can’t find them," Spann said on his blog. "I have nothing against 'The Weather Channel,' but they have crossed the line into a political and cultural region where I simply won’t go."

Kent Laborde, a spokesman at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, suggested the whole argument may be off the mark since Cullen and her critics are two different categories of weather experts — climatologists who look at long-term trends and meteorologists who look at short-term conditions.

Meteorologists are "really not going to have as much of a climate perspective," Laborde said.

NOAA doesn't have a position on climate change but contributes to assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"We have a strong feeling that what they'll do is upgrade their certainty of whether humans are inducing climate change from likely to very likely," Laborde said.

The issue of man-made global climate change has long stirred debate in the scientific and political communities.

On Capitol Hill, Democratic lawmakers have pledged to devote time to the controversial subject in the coming months. Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to create a new House special committee to study global warming and suggest ways to cut back on greenhouse gases. If approved, the panel will draft legislation that aims to cut greenhouse gases.

President Bush also plans to lay out a response to challenges of global warming in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Cullen said she and The Weather Channel don't have a political position on global warming.

"Our goal at The Weather Channel has always been to keep people out of harm's way. Whether it's a land-falling hurricane or global warming," Cullen wrote. "We aim to help our viewers better understand why scientists are so concerned about climate change — and then to decide for themselves what they want to do about it. The bottom line is ... this issue isn't going away."'s Melissa Drosjack contributed to this report.