A surprising battle of opinions has erupted over global warming between two groups that you would expect to agree on the issue.

When it comes to global warming, or climate change as it's called by climate scientists, we expect to see different opinion from those who mine coal on the West Coast to those who reside on the Coromandel Peninsula. But we don't expect to see meteorologists and climatologists tearing their arguments apart – and this is precisely what's happening in America at the moment.

A fantastic article by the New York Times has discovered that scepticism about global warming is widespread amongst TV forecasters – in which about half have a degree in meteorology.

Before you're quick to attack the credibility of a TV meteorologist it's worth understanding this important fact. Most meteorological organisations, such as MetService, support the view of the IPCC – which says man-made climate change is happening. This is an incredibly important point – a TV forecaster can have an open opinion on global warming but someone who works for a government weather agency can not.

Many of us will remember Augie Auer, former chief meteorologist at MetService and a strong opponent of the IPCC. When Augie left MetService he became very outspoken about his doubts that CO2 was making the planet hotter. It was around this time that MetService – in order to distance themselves from Mr Auer – put out a press release explaining that the New Zealand MetService supports the findings of the IPCC.

In 2006 the MetService CEO, John Lumsden, said the latest report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) confirmed the global warming

"The WMO preliminary report on the global climate for 2006 has just been released and it confirms that 2006 is set to be the sixth warmest
year on record, continuing the trend of global warming. We are certain of this observation and would like to point out that the views recently made public by Augie Auer in relation to climate change are his own, and in no way do they reflect those of MetService."

In 2006 MetService chief meteorologist, Neil Gordon, added that MetService's position on climate change is consistent with the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001 report.

So it's no wonder we don't hear much from MetService forecasters on this matter. A) The company has outlined their position. B) MetService is about weather forecasts and doesn't really delve into climate issues. C) You can't publicly speak out about your company, in the same way that I couldn't lash out at the Herald.

However I don't want to lash out at the Herald, and it's quite possible that all of the forecasters at MetService don't want to lash out or disagree with their company supporting the IPCC as they support the IPCC too. I guess we will never know what our government meteorologists personally think unless we're close friends with them.

But in America, it's quite a different set up. There are a number of non-government weather forecasters both online and on TV. I personally know of American weather forecasting meteorologists who disagree with their organisation's official view on climate change. Some suggest the majority of forecasters feel this same way.

The New York Times article says that researchers at George Mason University and the University of Texas at Austin found that only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was "caused by human activities".

Even more stunning was the fact that more than a quarter of the weathercasters in the survey agreed with the statement "Global Warming is a scam".

The article says the split between climate scientists and meteorologists is gaining attention in political and academic circles because "polls show that public scepticism about global warming is increasing, and weather forecasters – especially those on television – dominate communications channels to the public".

In New Zealand we just don't see these opinions. This may simply be because in NZ all of our meteorologists support the IPCC findings (although I find that hard to believe). It may also be that One News has the only weather programme with an actual meteorologist on it – but they are funded by the NZ government, which supports the IPCC findings and also have a contract with MetService.

TV3 also have a contract with MetService.

Of course, this may all simply be the usual American response to anything. You may have noticed that America has a habit of splitting 50/50 on almost every subject ... starting way back when slavery existed and the fight to end it created the Civil War - to 2010 when a number of Americans believe Obama has a lot in common with communist China wanting a national health service, when all Obama wants to do is ensure 20 million poor or unemployed Americans can get health coverage if they get sick.

The climate change debate is only just starting. Many want to see more experiments and less computer models. More factual evidence and less
projections. Whichever side is right, it's going to be many years before we know it ... and that will leave many more years of debating this issue.