Meteorologists caught up in climate change debate

I thought maybe you would like to hear from a meteorologist regarding the public controversy around climate science. The question is, should we take this controversial subject seriously?

I am a professional meteorologist with a 40-year career behind me, primarily in the private sector. I am skilled in both climate and weather, but have never been employed specifically as a climate change research scientist. While I do not speak officially in any way for meteorologists, I do want to volunteer thoughts for the approximately 12,000 professional meteorologists in the U.S.

Some of us daily work to present weather information to the public, and many of us work quietly in the background. We did not ask to be thrown in the middle of the climate change controversy. It is relatively rare for our field to be in such intense public focus. Our jobs require dedication to the scientific method, sharing of technical discoveries, attention to what weather and climate information the public really needs, and lots of discipline.

There have been occasions when weather or climate rearranged history. For example, the Vikings were attracted to North America by natural climate change, and repelled from it by climate change during the 10th century. Although no forecasts were available, weather made possible General Washington’s stealthy escape to Manhattan, and his attack on Trenton in 1776. The 1944 Normandy invasion required a critical forecast, and the Allies received a better one than the Axis.

The planet’s climate is an extremely complex natural machine, and climate change is nothing new to planet Earth. The often-referenced greenhouse effect is well-established science that has been known for many years. Our planet would be much colder without the contribution of this natural physical phenomenon.

There is no massive conspiracy to create and maintain a global warming scare. Hundreds of mature, dedicated, sincere meteorological scientists have worked hard during their entire careers to advance climate science and develop the best predictions. Their work has been critically reviewed for decades by hundreds of their peers — independent scientists — in the domain of open scientific literature.

Best available data and computer predictions now indicate that the human race has become capable of inadvertently affecting the global climate. That effect is already apparent, and is now superimposed on natural climate changes that continue to occur. The new global climate will have some destructive characteristics for humans.

Our problem now is that human society was constructed to be consistent with the climate of the last few thousand years. The new climate will be different. Therefore, the slowing of climate change, or adaptation to it, will be expensive. Regardless, it is a subject to be taken seriously.

Paul Derezotes, who lives in Eagle Point, has a certified consulting meteorologist designation from the American Meteorological Society, and B.S. and M.S. degrees in meteorology from Northern Illinois University. He was an applied meteorologist at a Chicago engineering firm for 37 years; taught as an adjunct climatology professor at an Illinois community college, and has served law firms for several years as a forensic meteorologist.

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