Right Opinion

I'm Just a Prisoner of the Weather

Joe Bastardi · Jun. 9, 2016

I am going to appear in an upcoming documentary by an independent film group on the phenomena that is Bill Nye. Like it or not, the guy has a huge following because almost every school child who is now grown up saw Bill Nye movies in science class.

Anyway, the guys filming me clued me in on some interesting things. Bill is not an evil guy. I obviously think he is wrong about CO2 and about what I consider despotic views on free speech, which is certainly not something a Constitution-loving person like me agrees with. But after hearing about his upbringing, family life, etc., and some of the other things he is up to, I realized my spats with him are an issue by issue thing. No, I am not going soft. It’s no different than how I am about everything, be it the weather or training. You prepare as hard as you can, and you fight the fight in front of you at the time.

But what was interesting was what I heard Bill thought about me. He really thinks I am a shill for fossil fuels. Apparently, he actually believes that I take a non-science, protect-the-evil-corporation-fossil-fuel-people stance. Anyone who knows me realizes that is not the case. But what is very disturbing is where he got that impression.

I cannot say for sure, since it’s hearsay, but I’ll put it this way. The source of it is very near and dear to me in a grand sense. And from that source, I had a dear friend of mine quoted in a major newspaper as saying I do what I do to get attention. Another friend of mine said I do it because I like having all these followers on Twitter (by the way, Nye has 100 times more than me). But Bill apparently was told by someone from this same source region that I make my money shilling for fossil fuel companies.

So let me get this straight. If an energy company is a client of mine because of my proven track record, and I am competing in the marketplace against 1,700 private companies and a publicly funded government weather service, me giving them a forecast is being a shill? Or going to talk to them on the upcoming weather makes me a shill? Does that make me a shill for retail, snow fighting, agriculture and just about everything else that needs a weather forecast? What about my buddy that got married this past weekend — he got a forecast. Am I a shill for him?

I love to speak in public. Almost all of my talks are on the upcoming weather patterns, as that is what people want to know about. Climate change is not a big deal in the overall forecast. Most people couldn’t care less. If you are a wind or solar company, I am happy to talk to you not only about the upcoming seasons but about providing you with better methods to capitalize on near-term needs. I guess I would be their shill too.

Now, have I made talks directly related to climate change? Of course. Did I get paid? Yes. (The money goes to my company, by the way.) But the last talk was over a year ago and I rarely get asked to do one. If I do get asked, I certainly oblige. But when I talk to an energy company or a produce group like I did in Texas in late March — warning them, by the way, about how wet it was going to get — it’s all about weather, weather, weather. My last talk to an energy based group at the LDC in Atlanta had no climate changes slides on it! There are times to take questions and you can always corner me in the lobby because I hang around. But the fact is, this is not the big deal that it is to a lot of people on the other side of the issue. And given my simplification of the whole climate change equation, which relies on the sun, oceans, stochastic events and the very nature of the entire planet as the major proven drivers of climate, it can’t occupy that much time anyway.

So if you want me to talk to you, I would love to do it. And if you want it on climate change and some of the linkage issues I see with that, of course I will do it. In fact, I don’t begrudge Bill Nye or anyone for the money he gets with his talks on this matter. That is how freedom and capitalism works, but it needs to be about the exchange of ideas, with people of good will that love to compete for the right answer, whatever that may be. But if I am a shill for anything, it’s for pursuing the why before the what on these matters and getting our forecasts out so I can go after my real agenda — making my company the premier long range forecasting entity in the world.

I guess I’m just a prisoner of the weather, cause it captured my heart from the day I was born.


Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

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