Winter™ — Property of The Weather Channel®

(photo: Blizzard 2010 by *Low* via Flickr)

With a lot of self-justifying, back-patting hoopla today, The Weather Channel announced it’s decided unilaterally to assign names to winter storms.

During the upcoming 2012-13 winter season The Weather Channel will name noteworthy winter storms. Our goal is to better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events. The fact is, a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation.

Yes, fewer surprises. Just the one about winter’s natural disasters being branded by The Weather Channel.

There’s no indication that any federal government entity, including NOAA, has sanctioned this scheme let alone the names.

…until now, there has been no organized naming system for these storms before they impact population centers.

One of the reasons this may be true is that there is no national center, such as the National Hurricane Center, to coordinate and communicate information on a multi-state scale to cover such big events. The National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s Hydrologic Prediction Center (HPC) does issue discussions and snowfall forecasts on a national scale but it does not fill the same role as the NHC in naming storms. …

At this point The Weather Channel’s management breaks their arms with back-patting, lauding their efforts while calling it a bunch of euphemisms for team-playing:

…it would be a great benefit for a partner in the weather industry to take on the responsibility of developing a new concept.

This is where a world-class organization such as The Weather Channel will play a significant role. We have the meteorological ability, support and technology to provide the same level of reporting for winter storms that we have done for years with tropical weather systems. …

In the absence of any government inputs, the selected storm names for this season appear to be intellectual property of The Weather Channel.

Bet you didn’t think that natural disasters could be co-opted, branded, and marketed! 

Let’s follow the money behind this brave new branding program. Not only does NBCUniversal (owned jointly by Comcast and GE) and The Blackstone Group own The Weather Channel—so does Bain Capital.

Yeah, THAT Bain Capital, a.k.a. Mitt Romney’s “former” employer.

Will these corporations sue every non-NBC network and news outlet that uses these The Weather Channel-generated storm names? Or will they insist that every entity using these names provide free promotion of The Weather Channel by way of attribution?

Surely you can see it now, at the bottom of every local weather report: This storm name brought to you by The Weather Channel®.

Let’s also look at the holdings of GE, Blackstone, and Bain, to see how they might benefit from this nifty new naming nexus.

GE may own business involved in wind energy production, but it’s been invested for decades in traditional energy and transportation businesses, all of which rely on fossil fuels.

Blackstone has owned chunks of automotive parts businesses along with Houston-based Dynegy, a business wholly consisting of fossil fuel-based energy production.

And then there’s Bain; its holdings make it more like NBCUniversal’s joint venture owner Comcast, in that it owns communications outlets Clear Channel. How nifty that weather reports on Clear Channel might disseminate the branded winter storm names!

In other words, these corporations could own and resell the names of the storms spawned by increasingly volatile climate, created by their other climate changing activities—uh, profit centers.

Welcome to the vertical integration of climate change.

Enjoy it while you can for free; any time now the corporate suits will figure out how to monetize this brand, Climate Change™, property of The Weather Channel®. Then you’ll have to pay for licensing or provide attribution before you can discuss it.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
24 replies
  1. BSbafflesbrains says:

    @MaryCh: I believe they have the first list already finalized…
    1. Barack Blizzard
    2. Michelle monsoon
    3. Stephen Coldbear

  2. Rayne says:

    @MaryCh: Very close, so close. Now you know why it’s spelled “Rayne” and not “Rain.”

    Oops, that’s Rayne™.

    Don’t want to get embroiled in that international intellectual property dispute between Spain and The Weather Channel as to which entity owns “Rain.”

  3. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    I think the guyz at Something Awful should be giving the Weather Channel some competition.

    The names will be more interesting, at least.

  4. Rayne says:

    @klynn: Nice to see you, too! ;-)

    I may have more weather/climate related content. I’m so pissed off about the so-called leaders with their heads-in-the-sand while a global crisis deepens. Watch this space!

  5. person1597 says:

    NOAA asked, so I coined the name “Sloppy Slammer” for a wet December storm that hit the PNW a few years ago. They didn’t use it so I don’t want the WX Chan to co-opt it, either . Public domain, WxMen!

  6. Rayne says:

    @Brian Martin: Agh. That sucks. I see TWS offered their list last year on 16-OCT. Guess the smart move would have been to launch names in early September, just in case, and to post a big, fact general public license with attribution — something like Creative Commons — in the middle of it all. Bloody corporate squatters, those NBC-spawn.

    @person1597: Cannot imagine why “Sloppy Slammer” didn’t get picked up more widely. Uh. Yeah. Hmm. LOL

    @Cujo359: I’m sure the re-use makes it confusing for idiots like Chuck Todd. If the prompter says “snowmaggedon,” is the story about Chicago or DC or NYC or…? Can’t have Chuckster any more confused than he already is.

    @Peterr: I’ll never forgive that stupid bonehead for the ‘not news,’ white flag or no. People die in bad cases of ‘not news,’ and he’s marginalizing deadly storms. Grrr…at least with this amount of investment in branding storms for sale, Chuckster will be muzzled so as not to cause brand damage.

  7. Rayne says:

    @klynn: Hey, ever heard of the Seuss or de Vries solar cycles?

    Jared Diamond said in his 2005 book, Collapse (p. 174) that a solar cycle of approx. 208 years may have led to the demise of the Mayans (the Classic collapse). He also suggests that numerous other societies failed because this same solar cycle(s), including the Anasazi of southwestern U.S.

    Rather funny that this particular phenomenon is well-known and linked to drought and population collapse across multiple cultures and millenia, but the general public knows very little about preparation for the next cycle’s peak/trough.

    Heads. In. The. Sand.

  8. ღℨḉℌїℯḟ says:

    Nice to see your fonts, Rayne!

    As for:

    In the absence of any government inputs, the selected storm names for this season appear to be intellectual property of The Weather Channel.

    Bet you didn’t think that natural disasters could be co-opted, branded, and marketed!

    Let’s follow the money behind this brave new branding program. Not only does NBCUniversal (owned jointly by Comcast and GE) and The Blackstone Group own The Weather Channel—so does Bain Capital.

    ACK! Shades of Santorum!! These conflict-of-interest-ed bringers of the LIBOR rigging scandal just won’t quit with the relentless attempt to privatize everything even if it takes them one step at a time to do it. We should be looking for ALEC involvement while we are at it as well as warning the Canadians re the activities of the ALEC correlate, CCCE.

  9. jawbone says:

    “Mitt Romney’s “former” employer: — I thought Romney owned Bain…was he ever considered or do I have that wrong? Owner, president, CEO, etc. all Mitt.

  10. Rayne says:

    @jawbone:

    1977 — hired by Bain & Company
    1978 — VP of Bain & Co
    1984 — co-founded spin-off Bain Capital, tied with weird partnership structure to Bain & Co
    1991 — January: returned to Bain & Co as CEO, while remaining managing gen’l partner at Bain Capital
    1992 — December: left Bain & Co to return to Bain Capital (never really left)
    1993 — November to November 1994: leave of absence during Senate campaign. Met w/strikers at Ampad during that time, so acted in capacity of Bain Capital employee
    1994 — returned to Bain Capital
    1999 — February: paid leave of absence from Bain capital to work Salt Lake City Olympics; not active in operations, but retained positions on boards of directors (incl. Marriott Intl, from 1993-2002)
    2001 — August: announced he would not return to Bain Capital
    2002 — unclear timing, “early” 2002: separation from Bain Capital finalized including liquidation of ownership w/passive profit sharing as a retired partner in portions of Bain Capital. Payouts were millions each year in spite of “retirement.”
    2002 — November: won MA gubernatorial race
    2003 — January: took office
    2007 — January: term ended
    2007 — February: announced candidacy for GOP POTUS
    2008 — February: terminated candidacy
    2009 — Board of directors, Marriott Intl, until Jan 2011

    Unclear what terms of “retirement” from Bain Capital were, documents may be out there but I’ve not read them, am admittedly not up to speed on this guy. Seems odd to me, though. there was that much income from a passive position without an active ownership stake or employment.

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