Philippe Verdier is France’s top TV weatherman. His nightly forecasts on the state-owned broadcaster France 2 have made him a household name commanding a regular audience of 5 million viewers. But Verdier has been booted off the air — and could soon be fired — in a row over his new book about climate change.
The book, “Climate Investigation,” claims that the threat of global warming has been exaggerated by leading climatologists and politicians who are “taking the world hostage.” It also claims the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December will be a waste of time, and France could actually benefit from global warming as warmer weather will lead to more tourists, lower electricity bills, and better wine from more northerly vineyards.
Verdier says that he wrote the book after a French government minister urged him and his fellow weather forecasters to mention “ climate chaos” in their weather reports as a way of boosting interest in the December conference.
“The foreign affairs minister wanted us weathermen to talk about chaos — climate chaos — and I refused.” he said. “Why cause public fear and panic? People think it will be apocalyptic tomorrow. That’s not the case. It won’t be chaos. And that’s why I wrote the book: to set the record straight.”
Verdier said he was shocked and dismayed when he was taken off the air, but that it confirmed his view that climate change orthodoxy had eroded freedom of speech.
“We need freedom so that anyone can have and express their own opinion about climate change ” he said.
But many environmentalists insist this is no longer a matter of opinion. David Belliard, a Green Party member of Paris City Council, told Marketplace that the science is settled: man-made climate change is happening and “we have to do something about it”.
And Belliard applauds Verdier’s fall from grace.
“When you deny climate change and you are a public person, because you are a weatherman on TV, you have to be responsible,” Belliard said.
The weatherman does have many defenders. Many of the passersby Marketplace spoke to in the Place de La Republique in Paris said Verdier should keep his job.
“No way should an organisation push somebody out because they think differently from the mainstream,” argued Gerard Absalam, a film maker. “Freedom of expression is really essential.”
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