News Stories

Why Don't We Worry About the Weather?

We get weather forecasts every day, but not much news aboutglobal warming. U.S. scientists fear that the public "turnsoff" when it hears predictions of climate change, eitherbecause we don't want to face facts or because the subjectis too big to understand. Climate change has apublic relations problem. There have been major indicationsof global warming in the last few years, but none of themhave mobilized the U.S. public enough to demand governmentaction.

Dan Whipple writes in Space Daily that one of the firstmajor changes was the doubling of the amount of CO2 in theatmosphere. News organizations in the U.S. didn't pick thisup, so scientists next talked about the collapse of the WestAntarctic ice sheet. So scientists tried talking about thebreakdown of the ocean circulation. Then they found evidencein ice cores of abrupt?not gradual?climate change. Even therelease of the major motion pictureTheDay After Tomorrow didn't seem to wake people up to the danger.

Climatologists wish people could become as motivated aboutglobal warming as they once were about the ozone hole. Theinternational effort to close the ozone hole was the mostsuccessful worldwide environmental effort ever. In 1986,NOAA's Susan Solomon proved the depletion was caused bychlorofluorocarbons, the coolant once used in airconditioners and spray cans. The idea that the ozone layerwas being killed by ordinary household spray cans waspersonal, so it caught people?s attention. People were alsoafraid of an increase in cataracts and skin cancer.

By May 1989, 36 countries had ratified the Montreal protocolbanning CFCs. CFCs remain in the atmosphere for about 50years, but the results of this effort have finally begun toshow up.

Why hasn't the Kyoto Protocol gotten the same kind of publicsupport? One reason is that Congress hasn?t supported it.Another is that it has become watered down to the pointwhere even its supporters admit it won?t be very effective.In order to get them to sign the treaty, countries have beenallowed to plant more trees, instead of cleaning up theirpower plants.

There's at least one major story about global warming inevery major European paper every day, but the U.S. mediaavoids the topic?perhaps because the current administrationdoesn't want to alienate big business. The weather may haveto get more extreme before people associate their localweather reports with global warming, but that time may becoming soon. Parts of the U.S. seem to be experiencingeither drought (and fires) or flooding?or alternatingextremes of both. Sea levels are rising, and this will causeproblems for large coastal cities. The problems beingexperienced inAlaska willeventually spread to the rest of the country. As the weatherwarms, diseases likeMalaria,which have plagued tropical regions for centuries, arestarting to attack us as well.

Whipple writes: "Nevertheless, the general populace seemsunmoved. It is, after all, just the weather, and everyoneknows nothing can be done about the weather."

How can we know the kind of people we're dealing with?Here's one way: read theirauras.The CIA uses this method and so can you!

Photo credits: http://www.freeimages.co.uk/

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