Climate Change and Your Local Meteorologist

ParisendoffossilfuelsThe United Nations Climate Conference in Paris concluded on December 12, 2015. The most significant take away from the Conference is that 195 countries have agreed and come to terms with what scientists around the world have been telling us with alarming clarity for many years: OUR future, and that of OUR children, is clearly at risk, and OUR future, and that of OUR children, is truly in our hands. The Conference generated a lot of discussion and renewed debate on how we will and must collectively respond to the threat of global warming, with a clear message delivered – we must stop using and burning fossil fuels in as soon as 35 years. This is not a distant time frame, but a reality that we will see successfully achieved, or not, in OUR lifetime.

Everyone seems to be weighing in on the Paris Climate Agreement – from late night television hosts, presidential hopefuls and senators, to our local mayors, book club friends, water cooler buddies and most importantly, our children. You would think that our local meteorologists – who we give a lot of trust and authority to – who we rely on and who we listen to and watch on a daily basis, would also have a lot to say on this subject. Yet as a group, these folks have been particularly silent and rarely if every help us “connect the dots” on weather trends and climate change.

Climate Papa extraordinaire Mark Mesle has tuned into this fact, and has created 50yearforcast.org to help us remind our local meteorologists that they can and must have a say. Mark clearly reminds us that: “We are in a race to convince people to care about climate change before the weather makes it impossible for them not to care.”

It’s “Do Something Wednesday” at ClimateMama, so grab the kids in your life and share Mark’s post with them. Show your kids how we all can “DO SOMETHING” every day to address our growing climate crisis. We can and we must take action. Mark gives us one strong and simple way that empowers us to take action today and everyday!

Why TV Meteorologists are Uniquely Positioned to Change the Way America Thinks about Climate Change
By Mark Mesle

TomskillingclimatechangeSeveral years ago I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion on climate change here in Chicago that featured WGN’s popular Chief Meteorologist, Tom Skilling, and University of Illinois Atmospheric Science Professor, Don Wuebbles. Dr. Wuebbles is a heavyweight in the field. He was the author of the first and second international assessments of climate change sponsored by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a distinction that earned him a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Yet, despite Wuebbles’ considerable clout and expertise, I suspect that prior to this presentation only a handful of people in the audience had ever heard of him. Tom Skilling, on the other hand, well, everyone in Chicago knows Tom Skilling.

This presentation illustrates perfectly why I decided to build 50yearforecast.org, a site designed to allow anyone in the country to search for and contact their local meteorologists to encourage them to speak openly about climate change. While even the most environmentally conscience citizens might struggle to name a climatologist, almost all of us have a meteorologist that we know and respect. Because of that familiarity and trust, TV meteorologists are uniquely positioned to shift the way we talk about climate change in America.

Our country desperately needs to get past the point where climate change is seen as yet another partisan debate with both sides throwing out information and the truth getting lost somewhere in between. Meteorologists can help move that needle. They are not lumped in with politicians or pundits who are seen as pushing a partisan agenda. Meteorologists are part of people’s daily routine and they work hard to build local connections.

If TV meteorologists across the country were talking about climate change and setting aside time to discuss how it will impact their communities directly it would help drive home the fact that climate change impacts us all and it is not going away.

There is certainly no shortage of material for meteorologists to cover. As I write this it is mid-December in Chicago and there are two teenagers walking down the street in shorts and t-shirts. And as we transition to a warmer planet we will not only see higher temperatures but epic rains, prolonged droughts, higher sea levels, intense forest fires, and a host of other ripple effects that will impact everything from the food we eat to the sports we play. Many local stations are already telling these stories and helping their viewers connect the dots. We should all be encouraging our local meteorologists to do the same.

Typhoon Haiyan, Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Typhoon Haiyan, Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

We are in a race to convince people to care about climate change before the weather makes it impossible for them not to care. The sooner that meteorologists feel comfortable or compelled to speak about climate change, the sooner we can take off our blinders and acknowledge the challenges we face.

So, please visit 50yearforecast.org and find your local meteorologist. Thank them for their hard work, and offer them the support and encouragement they need to address this issue head on!

Mark Mesle is an Iowa native who lives and works in Chicago. In addition to creating 50yearforecast.org he is a public servant, Cubs fan, presenter with the Climate Reality Project, a slow but determined runner and proud papa of two amazing girls.

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