dear john, dos

There are already enough people arguing about global warming policy. It wouldn’t help for the State Climatologist to step into the fray. He’s too valuable a researcher. Apparently.

At least that’s what John Nielsen-Gammon, the state’s climatologist since Bush was Guv, tells me. (Yes, he responded to my long-winded post.)

Sounded like this

Gharman – Thanks for the clarification. I refer you back to my next-to-last paragraph. Independent of my opinion of appropriate policy, I consider there to be sufficient people voicing their opinions about policy that my policy expertise would have no additional impact. Where I can have an input is through credible and reliable climate research and information untainted by a real or apparent policy bias. So, for example, when the Texas Water Development Board considers how to incorporate future climate scenarios into local, regional, and statewide water planning, I hope that they will turn to my office rather than a special interest group.

If you feel that we need more people arguing vociferously for climate policy action and fewer people providing credible climate information that would form the basis for whatever action is taken, I encourage you to work to replace me.

– John N-G

To which I say, as a chunk of ice the size of Northern Ireland prepares to fall off into the sea during the dead of Southern Hemisphere winter, “hooey.”


We have legions of climate data collectors combing the earth, nation, and our state. The result is that several times a year the evidence for and possibilities of worst-case rebound from our failed policies grows. Yes, we have lots of that sort.

What we don’t have is a Bush-appointed state climatologist blessed with both the ear of our foremost policy makers and – one would hope – an understanding of the gathering storm that global warming represents.

We don’t have courage in a key seat willing to go out of his way to either educate this state about the real risks at play or, failing that, vociferously expose the failures of our Governor and other elected leaders.

There is a point when your ethical duty as a human being will trump your perceived constraints of political appointment. My personal feeling is that you are rapidly passing it over.

Do you serve the Governor or the people of the state of Texas?

I will ask you again:

In the eight years since you were named state climatologist have you ever approached either Governor Bush or Governor Perry in an effort to educate them about global warming?

Did you ever seek to convey to Bush or Perry the responsibility that Texas — as a major greenhouse gas contributor — has to the rest of the planet?

Have you ever tried to warn the state’s 24 million residents that we live in an extremely “climate vulnerable” region? Or of the suffering we can expect if things don’t change?

Your decision to not say or do these politically uncomfortable things is putting people at risk.

If it is any comfort, I would wager that you’d still be able to live the life of a data collector even if Perry should replace you for attempting to live up to your human responsibilities.

If these words fail to reach you, my only choice is to believe that you don’t see the urgency that global warming poses for this nation, for Texas, for the world. For someone in your position, that possibility is equally as scary.

Mayor White has helped bring environmental awareness to Energy City. The Chronicle has groomed some good environmental reporters. However, Jeff Cohen should seriously reconsider who his staff has tapped to educate its readership about the monstrous and immediate challenges posed by climate change.

On a purely personal level, of course, I wish you nothing but the best.

What say ye?

From the Guardian:

Antarctic ice shelf collapse ‘imminent’

Wilkens Ice Shelf breaking up in dead of winter - a first. Image courtesy of the European Space Agency.

Wilkens Ice Shelf breaking up in dead of winter - a first. Image courtesy of the European Space Agency.

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Sunday, 13 July 2008

Scientists are warning that an Antarctic ice shelf the size of Northern Ireland is on the verge of disintegration, even though it is now the middle of the southern hemisphere’s winter.

The European Space Agency says new satellite pictures show that the Wilkins shelf – the largest to be threatened so far – is “hanging by its last thread”. Extending for approximately 5,600 square miles, it has been held in place by a thin ice bridge connecting it to an island, but this is now fracturing.

The shelf, which lies near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula, had not been expected to collapse until the early 2020s. It provides further evidence that the planet is warming more quickly than predicted.

Scientists are stunned that it is continuing to melt in the depths of winter, and believe that warm water is welling up from the ocean to attack it from underneath. So far seven shelves on the peninsula have collapsed due to climate change.

On Friday, President Bush – who last week told the G8 summit “Goodbye from the world’s greatest polluter” – defied a 2007 ruling by the US Supreme Court to take action on global warming under the Clean Air Act.

Another report states:

The ice shelf, which scientists speculate has floated in the Antarctic region for hundreds of years, is succumbing to recent rises in temperature in the area–an average of 0.9 degree Fahrenheit every 10 years for the last 50 years.

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