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Monday, July 18, 2011

The Weather Channel Expert Stu Ostro On Global Warming: Unabashed Q & A

A Bit Of Vintage Local On The 8's The Weather Channel Music (Pre-NBC Takeover) Forya To Listen To
 Whilst Yer Reading Stu's Perspective

Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro of The Weather Channel, which was acquired by NBC Universal in 2008 (and, of course, NBC itself was acquired recently by Comcast--can anyone keep score of modern corporate subsidiary subterfusion except the gangs occupying the Manhattan boardrooms and on the Fairfield county cocktail party circuit?) agreed to answer a series of questions posed to him unabashedly by your Unabashed Lefty. So thanks to The Weather Channel and to NBC and especially to a wonderful and inspiring friend, Stu Ostro.

Brief background. When I came online last year I objected to the BP oil spill and its effect on canines and felines on the Louisiana Gulf coast, and sought to raise money for the awesome Louisiana chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA SPCA -- donate immediately, get that darned debit/credit card out--here's the link: I was reinforced with some success and with meeting some wonderful people and this writing project of mine is the result. I learned to make contacts in order to advance the K9 and feline cause. The most approachable television on-camera media folks were far and away within the category: meteorologists! Ya gotta luvem!

To a "T" almost, these folks have been responsive, and are dedicated to saving peoples' lives through advancing technology, warning systems and their own broadcasts. I immediately found that the meteorologists at two national networks based in or near Atlanta, The Weather Channel and CNN were not only receptive, but enjoyed interacting with viewers and teaming up to cover stories and more! Fun galore, plus fund raising efforts for groups such as and when weather catastrophes were imminent or had happened were succeeding.

I immediately noticed Chad Myers' ability at CNN to explain the pseudo-science behind each successive pathetic ad-hoc effort to cap the spill in a way that was understandable to the layman, and his humility in not understanding the BP explanations of these efforts. He educated the public far better than the federal point man Thad Allen was my observation. I've always had a penchant for journalism, and had been noticing Julie Martin at TWC for years, without a meteorology degree herself, but doing on-camera journalism the way The Weather Channel should do journalism for a long time now. I followed her career a bit, and learned of her recent marriage to CNN producer John Murgatroyd. Murgatroyd happened to have produced a CNN prime time special on attempts to clean up the spill while it was still in progress, by their meteorologist Rob Marciano, with whom I'd already had several pleasant interactions, and I was delighted by that. A life-long fisherman and weather buff, with complex home meteorology stuff, I've been watching TWC religiously for years and my friends and family accept it as an eccentricity, even accepting that I'm fairly responsible in my efforts to chase tropical systems when they near my neighborhood (the tri-state area---lol).

Dr. Cullen in 2008 at the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook

Eventually, as a consequence of the BP spill and these meteorological interactions, I went into political writing, doing these photo/music/essay things, fiction and more. Now I am employed as a journalist for the online paper, and so on. I have a long list of media and government contacts and sources today, and it all began with the responsive stable of dedicated folks who are that special breed: on-air meteorologists. And I've interacted with many, many experts in the past year and only one out of that group of more than a hundred sees no direct connection between human behavior and not just climate change, but the actuality of global warming. Dr. Heidi Cullen is a PhD, a Princeton and Columbia University person, a TWC on-camera climate expert, and the CEO of Climate Central, linked at

Stu Ostro may be a weather geek, but he's a brilliant guy and a great educator.

Since most folks still get their news and climate info from TV, aside from Nobel Peace Prize winner and climate change advocate extraordinaire Al Gore (the former Vice President and winner of the 2000 popular vote for President of the United States over George W. Bush by more than 500,000 ballots), Heidi and Stu Ostro are probably the most effective public educators on the topic. Besides nuclear weapons, if there is one way we, as a species, will botch our ability to inhabit this little blue ball we call Earth and the delicate thin little layer of gas surrounding it that we call the atmosphere, it will be by continuing to despoil the atmosphere with our absurd and selfish gaseous emissions.

Dr. Heidi Cullen of The Weather Channel and Climate Central

Stu holds a degree in meteorology from one of the finest schools in the country for weather experts, Penn State, and has been working diligently on and off-camera for TWC since 1989. Here are his answers to some important questions:

Q1) Many people object to the use of the term "Global Warming" when speaking of the "Climate Change" phenomenon. Is the global climate warming due to human carbon and other atmospheric emissions in your opinion?

A1): There’s a lot of short-term year-to-year natural variability superimposed, but the overwhelming evidence is that the longer term temperature trend, which is one of warming, is primarily the result of human activities.

Q2) Besides climatic temperature changes, what other Climate Changes do you see happening in the past century due to human carbon and other emissions?

A2): A serious trend of Arctic sea ice loss, changes in atmospheric circulation patterns, and changes in the nature of precipitation extremes.

Q3) What weather phenomenon outside North America of note would you attribute, if any, to the Climate Change phenomenon, and what weather events in our country would you say have been affected by climate change over the past century?

A3): Some of the temperature anomalies and precipitation extremes we’ve seen in recent years likely have a climate change component to them.

Q4) Are human injuries, deaths and/or property damage occurring due to weather anomalies produced by Climate Change or is that impossible to assess?

A4): If climate change is affecting the day-to-day weather including extremes, which my assessment indicates it is, then there are injuries, deaths, and property damage which have occurred as a result. What’s impossible to assess is exactly how much of those impacts would have occurred without these changes in climate.

Q5) Environmentally, what damages have occurred or are occurring world-wide and here due to Climate Change, and are you aware of any species (whether single-celled, plant or mammal) which have become extinct or endangered primarily due to climate change?

A5): The frequency of devastating floods worldwide, and the nature of the 2003 Europe and 2010 Russia heat waves, and the kind of topsy-turvy patterns that have produced odd snow extremes, have a signal to them suggesting an influence of climate change. [N/A on the species question – outside my realm.]

Q6) What public policies should be highest on the agendas of the state governments, the U.S. government and the U.N. and the international community and which policy initiatives would accomplish the most in an expeditious manner and are ones you would advocate?

A6): An increased focus on adaptation to climate change, given that it’s already happening and affecting us regardless of what is done to mitigate the causes.

I can't overestimate the seriousness of one of Stu's comments. Please remember this one from an expert who has been at this for decades:

"If climate change is affecting the day-to-day weather including extremes, which my assessment indicates it is, then there are injuries, deaths, and property damage which have occurred as a result." 

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Robin Lyn said...

Thank you...these hard truths should be on all news sources...but truth is very hard to find in our society.

Steve Alexander said...

Thank YOU Robin Lyn. 'Hard' to find, but not impossible. The best part of the effort to find hard truths is bumping into people like Stu Ostro, and well-motivated people such as yourself and Heidi, in general. Kinda makes the entire journey worthwhile. Have a great weekend.

Aurelia Blue said...

Wow, that is a really heavy final thought. But one that should be on everyone's mind, everyday, in everything we do.

Steve Alexander said...

Thank you so much Aurelia. And watch for the next insallment of her series of fiction essays the next day or so here at Unabashed Left. <3