Meet The Weather Influencers: Climate Change, Vacation Plans, Lightning Bolts!
In recent years, social interest in climatology has grown exponentially, turning meteorologists into quasi-rockstars who, thanks to technology, can interact with their audiences and provide real-time updates.
Bernard Mergen's bookWeather Mattersexplores the notion that meteorological experiences hold a strong presence in people's imagination, sometimes even elevated to a quasi-religious category: it illuminates the paradoxes of order and disorder in everyday life and brings together forces such as scientific law, chance, and free will.
Our society lives with the constant need to know what the weather will be, tallied in the countless inquiries we make to websites or mobile apps. In the face of this and the specter of global warming, the job of climatologist and good ol' fashion weather forecaster is no longer confined to a trivial elevator conversation, but becomes a matter of public interest.
And with that, meteorologists have become true modern rock stars.
Until recently, weathermen and weatherwomen were figures we saw in passing on television. Typically, they appeared in short segments, delivering the forecast with a serious tone and a map behind them. They were viewed by the general public as scientists who kept themselves at a distance from public attention.
Weather used to interest only farmers, ranchers, or fishermen.
However, this has changed dramatically in recent years, and those in question can feel it. "We have a permanent and growing social presence," says Marcelino Núñez, of AEMET, Spain's state meteorology agency. "The meteorologist increasingly influences society."
Mario Picazo, one of Spain's best-known weathermen, explains how his profession has evolved in recent times. "In the last 10 or 20 years, we have been able to document many unprecedented meteorological phenomena that have been rather spectacular. In weather segments, a lot of time is dedicated to images: lightning, tornadoes, clouds," he explained. "But it's also that meteorology is now seen as crucial to society. Before, it was important for farmers, ranchers, or fishermen; but today, with our tight schedules, planning our lives or spending our money depends a lot on the weather. I don't want to pay 500 euros to go somewhere if it's going to pour all weekend. And of course, weather segments are no longer just about meteorology; they are also a chance to talk about climate change."
Mònica López Moyano, a Spanish meteorologist and television presenter.
The climate change angle
One of the fundamental reasons behind the rise of meteorologists is precisely the population's awareness of global warming. Nowadays, people are increasingly interested in knowing what the weather holds for their future, and how it can affect their lives.
Weather experts have become advocates for scientific knowledge and environmental awareness.
The reality is that climate change has added a significant dimension to weather experts' work. Extreme weather events, such as wildfires, floods, and hurricanes, have led to a greater emphasis on preparation and safety. Meteorologists play a crucial role in providing accurate and timely information to protect communities.
In this context, weather experts have become advocates for scientific knowledge and environmental awareness. They not only report on the weather but also educate the public about the causes and consequences of climate change. It's an additional responsibility that has elevated their profile and contributed to their increasing celebrity status.
How technology helps
Technology has also played a crucial role in this transformation. Meteorological information has become more accessible than ever before. Mobile apps, websites, and specialized TV channels provide accurate forecasts and real-time updates, which makes the weather constantly present in our lives. It's no longer necessary to wait until the end of the news to know the forecast; we can access it anytime.
In this digital universe, meteorologists have seized the opportunity to interact directly with the public. Platforms like X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, and TikTok allow them to share real-time updates, images of weather phenomena, and answer followers' questions. This has brought meteorologists closer to their audiences and generated a sense of personal connection.
As Mergen points out in his aforementioned book, weather is perfect for the electronic age: always in motion, omnipresent and comes with stunning visual content.
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