Places like South Carolina face a dilemma when it comes to climate change. As a southern state, it’s more vulnerable to the effects of global warming than much of the country. But, as a bastion of right-wing politics, it’s an unlikely place for public figures to speak out on the subject.

This makes a local news segment called Climate Matters particularly impressive. In Columbia, S.C., weathercaster Jim Gandy uses the regular WLTX feature to explore the way climate change affects the weather.

You might think this sort of thing would be common across the country. After all, the heat waves and droughts sweeping across the country this year have been big news, and it’s hard to escape making a connection with human-made global warming.

Yet, according to a 2011 survey, only 19 percent of TV weathercasters believe climate change is “mostly” created by people. Weather Channel founder John Coleman is one of the most prominent critics of global warming, though scientists have sharply rebutted his arguments. Their views stand in sharp contrast to those of climate scientists, who overwhelmingly believe that human-driven climate change is a reality.

Part of the difference may stem from the very different methodologies used in meteorology and climatology. Heidi Cullen, a climatologist who has worked for the Weather Channel, told the New York Times that meteorologists tend to be skeptical of the complex models used by climate scientists. The Times also noted that weathercasters generally don’t need advanced degrees and may perceive climatologists as elitists.

Of course, few Americans hear from climatologists on a regular basis, but many of us care a lot about what our local weatherman has to say. One survey found that 58 percent of Americans would be interested in learning what their weathercaster thinks of climate change, so there is good reason to hope more will follow in Jim Gandy’s footsteps.

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