Met Office Predicts White Christmas for All Scottish Cities
Four Months of Snow and Bitter Winter Ahead
Do either of the headlines above seem familiar? Did you read them in any of the Scottish newspapers recently?
Both statements actually come from leading Scottish daily newspapers printed during the last fortnight. The unfortunate reality is that both are lies - such predictions are no more accurate than the average horoscope or crystal ball gaze. But surely these are 'White Lies' (lies told without any intentional harm)?
Alas, this is not the case either. They are cases of 'Post-Truth Meteorology' - a term I recently coined on the television programme Sunday Politics Scotland, based on the new word of the year 2016: Post-Truth. The meteorological aspect works like this:
Deliberately false media reports about the weather (such as above) are becoming increasingly commonplace. These 'forecasts' are not made by scientists, but are instead created by journalists with a political agenda and other attention-seekers. However, the publishing newspapers falsely attribute them to scientists and meteorologists (e.g. The Met Office), so as to increase public doubt and confusion over weather and climate change. This can have serious political ramifications, as the public are then less likely to support mitigation measures against climate change (such as renewable energy), or take precautions in the advent of severe weather.
You can view Eddie talking on the BBC here:
@eddy_weather, Stornoway, Scotland (December 2016)