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Meteorologists, do your job

Inform people about climate change when you talk about record-high temperatures



We are fortunate to have John Lindsey writing columns on weather in our local newspapers. Mr. Lindsey is PG&E's and Diablo Canyon's meteorologist and media relations person. He knows weather!

In Sunday, June 18's SLO Tribune, he explained the higher temperatures we're seeing in our part of California. He discussed the relationship between the thickness of the atmosphere at a given time and temperatures.

He notes we are breaking high temperature records, as is true worldwide. One thing he leaves out of his discussion is the relationship between carbon in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels (the main cause, but there are others) and temperature.

Scientists have warned that mankind should never exceed 350 parts per million (PPM) of carbon in the world atmosphere or we'd soon reach a tipping point whereby earth had heated so much that it would start eking off CO2 from permafrost, frozen carbon hydrates deep in the Arctic Ocean, and other sources.

That would lead to a runaway increase of atmospheric carbon and non-stop rising heat. Scientists doubt that life could survive.

Normal carbon levels in the atmosphere are around 210 PPM. Rather than halt at 350 PPM as we were warned, we're now at 410 PPM and rising. Mr. Lindsey needs to tell us more about where this rise will lead. Are the string of recent high temperature records worldwide caused by carbon levels? What do we know scientifically for sure?

As with the link between smoking and cancer, the connection between fossil fuel generated CO2 levels and global warming has been deemed "controversial" by some powers that be—most probably the fossil fuel industry, as it was with the tobacco industry when its products were threatened by scientific findings regarding smoking and cancer. This provides a convenient reason for TV and other weather people to avoid the topic.

The problem is global warming is not at all controversial. All academies of science in all countries say it is real and man-caused. NASA says the same; the American Geophysical Union says so; the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's most famous body on climate, states this fact.

But as there always are, a few scientists disagree—very, very few.

The conspiracy set says the reason for the unanimity is "a payoff." But imagine how could such a payoff be carried out to get thousands of scientists from dissimilar countries and organizations around the globe saying the same thing for a "payoff." It's laughable, but not funny since the topic is so important. The continuation of humanity on this little blue planet depends of what we do or do not do.

So if Mr. Lindsey is reading this, or any of our TV weather people are reading it, please tell readers and viewers the full story on climate change and CO2's role in it. Honest journalism demands you do that, right?

The people told by media and Big Tobacco in years past that the link between smoking and cancer was "not proven" were ill-served by that information. Millions of them died when they might have quit smoking and lived full lives.

But now we are dealing with the whole planet and every one of us on it, including small children who cannot yet participate in making their future climate livable.

So you weather people, please stop suggesting climate change is debatable when its not. Do your job and tell the full truth. That is your responsibility in the important field you've chosen for your life's work. We know you want to carry out your work honestly, so do that.

For the public wanting to know this full story, read James Hansen's (former top NASA climate scientist) book, Storms of my Grandchildren. Or, read the great English scientist, the man who resolved the ozone hole crisis, James Lovelock, whose books on climate change include The Revenge of Gaia and The Vanishing Face of Gaia. They are short and written for the layman. Δ

William P. Gloege is from Santa Maria. Send comments through the editor at [email protected] or write a letter to the editor at [email protected].

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