The Eric Factor: My letter to our president-elect

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Dear Mr. President-Elect,

Congratulations on being elected the 45th president of the United States! In addition to setting the tone for domestic and international relations, you have a plethora of obligations to our country over the next four years.

I’d like to talk to you about the subject of climate change (or global warming). For years, when it comes to climate change the Republican Party has favored business and economic interests over regulation on fossil fuels and incentive for cleaner energy. Four years ago, you went further than most, questioning whether global warming even exists!

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2012 Tweet from Donald Trump suggesting climate change is a hoax

In the years since, even though you’ve steered away from the topic of climate change, it continues to occur. And because we continue to set record after record, I believe we need to step up our efforts in combating this worldwide problem. This is why I’m writing…to encourage you to become the leader we need.

Some say there really isn’t a need…yet. All the while, Miami Beach, Florida has embarked on a $400 million mitigation plan to fight the effects of climate change and rising sea levels. The project is in motion now and will combat a sea-level rise forecast for fifty years. After that, a new plan will be needed and more city funds will need to be set aside to keep the water out of the city streets. Miami Beach isn’t the only city in danger.

More frequent droughts are causing economic impacts in the Heartland and western states which negatively impact our agricultural economy. On a recent episode of “CBS Sunday Morning,” it was reported that Glacier National Park may lose it’s last glacier in just 16 years! Outside today, the temperature in the Quad Cities is above normal again, all the while a very warm Arctic Ocean continues to steer the coldest air off the North Pole into Russia. If the weather doesn’t become wintry when the days start getting longer next month, it’s possible that some foliage will begin to foliate, as if it was really Spring.

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Temperature departure from normal, November 16, 2016. Climate Reanalyzer, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine.

I think you can agree, we are beyond calling climate change a hoax. It’s my sincere hope that you will be more succinct in your vision for the country in the next few weeks.

I have been studying the weather and climate for the past 25 years. All scientists are skeptical until science is proven. I was that person 20 years ago. But scientific research has progressed and conclusions have been made that make it essential we acknowledge the issue today.

In March, I attended a prestigious conference at the United States Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado where I was able to ask questions to the smartest climate scientists on the planet…some who’ve won Pulitzer Prizes for their work. I asked “How do we know for a fact that we are causing global warming?” The answer: “We can identify the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and they contain carbon. We’ve identified that carbon and matched it to fossil fuels.” The science isn’t out. It’s fact. And we’re doing very little to reverse or slow the progression.

So where do I think we go from here?

It concerns me that some in Washington may be telling you that this is a problem for the next president. But the success of your administration and your legacy could be determined by how you receive information from climate scientists and what you do about it. We already have a significant economic impact and the forecast is for more significant impact in future years. If we aren’t proactive and progressive as a nation, I fear we will get to a point where there will be real, human perils. I hate to be pessimistic, but I believe this will be too late for the next president.

I am hopeful you will see the importance of climate change in your administration. I, along with many in the broadcast meteorology field, would like to help show you the way forward. I would love to be the conduit between the decisions you make and the public who craves progress. I’m willing to work on it together because I believe it will make us safer, more prosperous, and healthier as a nation.

Respectfully and sincerely,

Eric Sorensen
Morning Meteorologist
WQAD-TV
Quad Cities, USA