Chris Gloninger spent the last 18 years breaking down Iowa’s latest local weather news. This week, he is making the news.
After spending the last two years as chief meteorologist at Des Moines news station KCCI, a CNN affiliate, Gloninger announced Wednesday he is resigning as one of the many faces of local TV weather.
His departure comes months after receiving a series of harassing emails from a viewer who disagreed with one thing he did on-air: he explained how weather was linked to the climate crisis. He also received other negative feedback via private messages and social media, which has become a common experience for weather and climate communicators.
The decision was not easy, Gloninger told the Washington Post, but in a tweet announcing his exit, he cited a “death threat stemming from my climate coverage” which he said resulted in post-traumatic stress. He also mentioned the need to address family health issues.
The emails from the viewer, according to screenshots Gloninger’s tweeted, called the meteorologist a “liberal conspiracy” theorist and told him to “go east and drown from the ice cap melting.”
Gloninger said he plans to “embark on a new journey dedicated to helping solve the climate crisis,” in addition to spending more time with family. His last day is on July 7.
A statement from KCCI about his departure said Gloninger plans to go into climate consulting: “Gloninger is leaving television to focus on caring for his family and his own mental health. He plans to pursue work in climate consulting.”
Gloninger’s experience is not an isolated one. Climate change has become a highly politicized topic, despite hundreds of global scientists concluding it is “unequivocal” that humans have caused the crisis and that “widespread and rapid changes” have already occurred around the world.
Climate communicators, journalists, meteorologists and national weather services, including those in the U.S., Spain and Australia, have reported an increase in harassment, threats and abuse for connecting extreme weather events to climate change.
In France, for instance, meteorologists have been accused of overstating the country’s drought and heat. Météo France, the French national meteorological service, said the agency’s communications are “the object of more and more repeated attacks,” a Météo France spokesperson previously told CNN.
In a series of tweets posted Friday, Jeff Berardelli, the chief meteorologist at WFLA in Tampa Bay, said while the group of people who strongly deny climate change make up only a small fraction of the US population, “they are very loud, giving the impression they are a much larger slice of the public.”