Crazy Americans threaten TV meteorologists with death – because of the word “climate change”

More and more American TV meteorologists who mention climate change in the weather report are being verbally abused by angry viewers – some even receive death threats. Fearing for their safety, some have already given up the job. Others are encouraged by the broadcaster not to use the word “climate change” anymore.

Chris Gloninger, weather presenter at a TV channel in Des Moines (Iowa), also threw in the towel a few weeks ago. At first, viewers only complained that he should no longer talk about climate change in the weather forecast. But a year ago it started with the worst attempts at intimidation, which escalated into death threats.

Death threats because of “climate change”: US weather moderator throws down

“One long letter said in no uncertain terms ‘I’m going to kill you’ – followed by emails that sounded obsessive,” the 38-year-old told Mother Jones. The threats said the New York native should go back to where he came from – and give his home address because “we Iowa conservatives will give you a welcome you’ll never forget” – as “punishment” for turning the weather report into a “leftist conspiracy theory” and spreading “Biden’s lies.”

The incessant emails and letters weighed heavily on him, Gloninger said. He lost his joy in his work. Doctors finally diagnosed him with stress-related stomach problems and a chronic cough. For a year, the meteorologist tried to get his fears under control through psychotherapy.

But especially during his late shifts, he and his wife increasingly feared for their safety, according to the meteorologist: “When I worked until 11 p.m. and my wife was home alone, we found it scary when a car drove by at night – the heart then raced a little faster. We were scared—we just couldn’t appreciate what a man in rural Iowa might be capable of making a mark. We often lay awake all night.”

After a 16-year TV career with stations in Milwaukee and Boston, Gloninger had moved to Iowa just two years earlier.

In US states with a high proportion of Republican voters, more and more meteorologists are encountering angry viewers

On July 7, the journalist then announced his farewell in front of the camera, visibly moved. After 18 years as a weather forecaster, he left his television job and moved with his wife to Cape Cod, where he took a position at the Institute for Marine Research. In Massachusetts, which is close to the Democrats, the majority of the population supports measures to protect the climate. According to recent polls, 78 percent of all US Democrats see climate change as a major threat – among Republicans the figure is only 23 percent.

So Gloninger’s experience in rural areas like Iowa is not unique. In many US states with high proportions of Republican voters, growing numbers of forecasters are met with angry onlookers when they mention a connection to climate change in their reports of increasing blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and extreme temperatures. Many conservative Americans consider the findings of climate researchers on global warming to be conspiracy theories from the Democrats.

“They berate me for giving them information they don’t want to hear”

Countless of Gloninger’s colleagues shared their own horror stories at a recent national conference of the Association of Meteorologists of the Americas. Some of them are “really scary,” said association president Brad Colman in the Guardian newspaper.

Sean Sublette, a meteorologist from Virginia, also experienced countless insults: “They call me names, say I’m stupid, or bully me because I give them information they don’t want to hear.”

Many US meteorologists should now be careful not to use the word “climate change” – especially since they depend on ratings. Even during the most recent record heat in the US Southwest, where 51.6 degrees was measured in Corpus Christi (Texas) for the first time since weather records began, only five percent of all TV stations in the region mentioned a connection with global warming.

“Hateful polemics that spread like a cancer in political debates”

Eric Sorensen, a longtime weather expert and currently a member of the House of Representatives, speaks of a new trend of “hateful polemics that spread like a cancer in political debates and have changed radically in just a few years”. Meteorologists who address climate change are often exposed to wild insults and even death threats, the Democrat told Mother Jones.

Gloninger’s nightmare could also cause others to stop reporting on climate change, he warned. There have always been vocal climate change deniers. “But now we are dealing with threats of violence. We need to be able to talk about climate change without worrying about ratings or falling victim to malicious voicemails.”

Jean Harris

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