BBC weather presenter reveals heatwave abuse - 'People get so worked up'

·Freelance news writer, Yahoo UK
·3 min read
Matt Taylor: 'The world is warming but in this world of social media, false information can be spread quite quickly.' (BBC/YouTube)
Matt Taylor: 'The world is warming but in this world of social media, false information can be spread quite quickly.' (BBC/YouTube)

A BBC weather presenter has revealed the abuse and trolling he has faced after linking the recent heatwave to climate change.

Matt Taylor is one of the many forecasters and meteorologists to have been abused, and said some people get “so worked up”.

In last week’s heatwave, the mercury reached 40.3C in Coningsby, smashing - by 1.5C - the previous record of 38.7°C set in Cambridge in 2019.

The Met Office concluded it’s “virtually impossible for the UK to experience 40C in an undisrupted climate, but climate change driven by greenhouse gases has made these extreme temperatures possible”.

Watch: Scale of fires across London during heatwave unprecedented, warns brigade chief

Taylor, who has worked in the weather industry for 25 years, admitted he was baffled by the abuse.

“The vast scientific community is seeing what we are seeing,” he told the BBC News channel on Friday. “The world is warming but in this world of social media, false information can be spread quite quickly, [be] latched upon and re-shared.

“It just seems to fall into two camps of either those who think 'it’s all a lie, it’s all a hoax' and then the others who have this almost rose-tinted vision of what the weather was like.”

TOPSHOT - In this aerial view taken with a drone on July 19, 2022 smoke columns rise from Dartford, Kent, where a fire erupted earlier in the day as part of the consequences of an important heat wave touching Britain. - London Fire Brigade and fire services around the country were tackling hundreds of wildfires caused by the extreme temperatures turning fields tinderbox dry. A fierce heatwave sweeping western Europe has pushed temperatures up to record levels in parts of south, southeast and eastern England. At least 34 locations in Britain beat the previous record of 38.7C set in Cambridge, eastern England, in 2019. Experts blamed climate change for the soaring temperatures -- and warned that worse is yet to come. (Photo by William EDWARDS / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)
A fire in Dartford, Kent, caused by last week's heatwave. (AFP via Getty Images)

Hundreds of people used social media to share their experiences of the 1976 heatwave, with suggestions the discussions over this month’s heatwave were exaggerated.

That heatwave saw temperatures exceed 32C somewhere in the UK on 15 consecutive days. It was also the sunniest summer on record, with 669 hours of sunshine. It also saw the hottest ever June temperature of 35.6C in Southampton - a record which remains to this day.

However, the temperature that summer peaked at 35.9C: way below the 40.3C recorded last week.

Watch: GB News host tells meteorologist to be 'happy' about heatwave

Last week, GB News presenter Beverley Turner told meteorologist John Hammond that experts in his profession have become "fatalistic and harbingers of doom", before comparing the heatwave to that of 1976.

Hammond rejected the comparison, saying there are now "more and more records, more and more frequently, more and more severely".

Taylor, meanwhile, said information will be shared online with a “ring of truth about it, a slight believability, and if you wrap little bits of facts in a narrative which is completely false in the end, people tend to have that little belief.

"And some people don’t want to think about the world warming and the impact it could have.”

Read more: Fundraiser for Wennington family of five who 'lost everything' in heatwave fire

Of linking reports around the heatwave to climate change, Taylor added: “Because the heat was so unprecedented, climate change [was] actually forced into the forefront, including in the weather forecasts. We try and bring all the pictures, all the facts together, and let people try to realise what’s going on in the bigger picture.

"But with what we saw - record temperatures, two degrees [sic] more than we have ever seen and way, way more than we were expecting early on - I think that narrative around climate change forced out those who wanted to disagree with it even more, and [they] decided to take to social media and online just to try and abuse and discredit the facts as we were telling it.”

The BBC, Royal Meteorological Society and Met Office have all condemned abuse of forecasters.

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