Anchor Bev Turner interrupted.
“So, John, I want us to be happy about the weather and every — I don’t know whether something’s happened to meteorologists to make you all a little bit fatalistic and harbingers of doom.”
Clips of the nearly three-minute segment on the right-wing news network — sometimes referred to as the Fox News of Britain — have gone viral. By Thursday morning, one had racked up more than 18 million views on Twitter by juxtaposing Hammond’s interview with a scene from the movie “Don’t Look Up,” in which an astronomer played by Jennifer Lawrence yells during a news segment that a meteor is about to hit and destroy Earth, only to have a TV anchor tell her that they’re trying to “keep the bad news light.”
Hammond’s prediction of brutal heat came true. Since he appeared on GB News, the United Kingdom and much of Europe have broiled. On Tuesday, Britain broke its record for highest temperature, and officials there described the heat wave as a “national emergency.” A large swath of England, including London, was subject to the country’s first “red” warning, meaning that the heat posed a danger even to healthy people, the Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, wildfires have plagued countries across the European continent.
U.K. sees hottest day on record, with temperatures hitting 40 Celsius
Neither GB News nor Turner immediately responded to requests for comment from The Washington Post early Thursday. Although Turner conceded Wednesday on Twitter that Hammond was right in saying the country was not “geared up to cope” with the heat, she said it has not suffered an abnormal spate of deaths because of it. Hammond told The Post in an online message that it’s too early to tally such figures.
After Turner implored him to be happy about the weather, Hammond pushed back. Again, he reminded her that he was predicting it would kill people. “I don’t think we should be too … lighthearted about the fact that many are going to die early next week because of the heat.”
Turner also likened the heat wave to one that happened 46 years ago: “Haven’t we always had hot weather, John? Wasn’t the ’76 — the summer of ’76 — that was as hot as this, wasn’t it?”
“Uh, no,” Hammond replied. He’s right — the peak temperature that year was about 96.6 degrees Fahrenheit (35.9 degrees Celsius) compared with 104.5 (40.3) so far this year, according to the BBC. Although people bring up 1976 as a way to dismiss climate change, it was a “freak event,” Hammond said. Unlike that outlier, Britain is now “seeing more and more records, more and more frequently, and more and more severely,” he said during the GB News segment.
“If everyone wasn’t telling me to be afraid … I would not even notice,” she wrote.
For many people, there’s still a disconnect between what they’ve always known as “nice weather” — clear skies, sunshine — and the reality that hot days are happening because of climate change and that they are only going to get more extreme and harmful, Hammond told The Post.
“The notion of thousands of excess deaths is clearly not fathomable to many,” he said. “Similarly, until floodwaters are lapping at our front door or the food runs out through drought, we don’t really ‘get’ the threat of climate change until it impacts us personally.”
Hammond said he hopes his brush with internet fame does its bit to help change that.
“It’s certainly started a conversation about the language we use and how we communicate the threat of extreme weather in our forecasts,” he told The Post. “That has to be a good thing.”