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Old video of Weather Channel co-founder fuels climate misinfo

July 25, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Climate change is not happening, nor are humans causing significant global warming. There is also no scientific consensus that climate change is occurring.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The scientific consensus is that climate change is real and that greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity are driving climate change, as The Associated Press has previously reported. The false claims stem from a years-old CNN interview with John Coleman, the now deceased co-founder of The Weather Channel. At the time, he had not worked at the network in three decades, and The Weather Channel rejected his claims in the same CNN segment.

THE FACTS: A video of Coleman making a variety of false claims about climate change during a 2014 interview on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” resurfaced online over the past week, with social media users sharing it as if it were new.

During the interview, Coleman claimed that there is “no consensus” in science that humans are causing climate change. He went on to call the notion “baloney.”

“Climate change is not happening, there is no significant man-made global warming now, there hasn’t been any in the past and there is no reason to expect any in the future,” Coleman said.

The old video clip has spread widely on social media platforms including Twitter and Instagram in recent days. A tweet featuring the footage has been shared over 28,000 times since it was posted on Wednesday.

Coleman’s claims are false. As the AP has previously reported, overwhelming scientific evidence shows global warming and climate change are real and caused by human activity, including human-caused carbon dioxide emissions.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an entity consisting of more than 200 scientists, said in a report released in February that human-induced climate change is already causing deadly extreme weather, such as drought, fires, and floods, and that the situation will get worse if global warming isn’t curbed.

“The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health,” the report said.

Coleman, who died in 2018 at age 83, co-founded The Weather Channel in 1981 and served as its CEO for roughly a year, the AP reported. Despite his background as a meteorologist, Coleman caused controversy in the later years of his career for doubting humanity’s role in causing global warming, which he called a “hoax” and a “scam.”

When Coleman appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” in 2014, The Weather Channel’s parent company distanced itself from his comments. David Kenny, then CEO of the Weather Company, appeared on the same segment to respond, noting that Coleman hadn’t been involved at The Weather Channel for decades.

“The science is pretty clear about climate change,” Kenny said. “I think some people were confused to hear a statement from somebody who was noted as a co-founder of The Weather Channel, which is true, we’re grateful that he got it started 32 years ago. But he hasn’t been with us in 31 years, so he’s not really speaking for The Weather Channel in any way today.”

Weather Group, the channel’s current parent company, did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.