Podcast: Does Punxsutawney Phil Believe in Climate Change?

UPPA/Zumapress.com

Climate scientists have for years complained of their inability to educate the public about the dangers of global warming.

Maybe they can learn a thing or two from Punxsutawney Phil.

The world’s most famous groundhog prognosticator has little trouble getting attention for his weather predictions. And on Wednesday, the world will tune in once again to watch as Phil emerges from his home on Gobbler’s Knob and looks for his shadow. [UPDATE: Phil failed to see his shadow Wednesday morning, signaling an early spring.]

Few know as much about Phil as Mike Johnston, the vice president of the groundhog’s Inner Circle, and one of Phil’s closest confidants. In honor of this year’s Groundhog Day, Need to Know spoke with Johnston to discuss the history of Phil’s predictions, the mysteries of the Inner Circle and whether Phil believes in anthropogenic climate change.

As Johnston revealed, Phil does study the work of other climatologists — but mostly for laughs.

“He’s a student of weather predicting, weather forecasting, for one day,” Johnston said of Phil. “He studies the models, he likes a little light reading, and maybe some humor mixed in with it. And I think that’s what he gets with most other weather predictions.”

This podcast was produced by Need to Know for the Climate Desk collaboration.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

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In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't find elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

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