117: Chris Gloninger, Iowa Meteorologist Quits Over Climate Change
Guest Name(s): Chris Gloninger
Matt speaks with Iowa meteorologist, Chris Gloninger, who quit his 18-year career at KCCI in Des Moines, after death threats over climate coverage.
Episode Audio Links:
ACC #117 – Chris Gloninger – A Climate Change with Matt Matern
You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host, and I’ve got Chris Gloninger in your who is from joining us from Des Moines, Iowa. Chris is a meteorologist there. And if you’ve been following the news at all, Chris has gotten some press coverage because of what’s happened there in Des Moines. And that Chris is covering climate change from meteorologists perspective, and he got some blowback from some of the people who are viewers out there, upset about him talking about climate change, and, and kind of politicizing the weather. And that’s kind of remarkable.
The weatherman used to be a pretty innocuous job where they would tell us about the weather and how things were going and what whether we could expect rain or sun or snow and and now, it’s turned into a political occupation. It’s pretty, you know, sad state of affairs when we have when we’re politicizing the weather. So, Chris, thanks for joining us. And tell us a little bit about your experience as to what happened in Des Moines. That was kind of so upsetting to the point where you’ve decided to leave Des Moines and take another job.
Matt, thanks for having me. I came to Des Moines two years ago, I was the weekend meteorologist and climate reporter at the NBC owned station in Boston. For five years, I’ve been doing this for 18 years. I think when you start talking about climate change, you are going to get pushback but not the level that I received here in Iowa. And it was pretty instant, when I started connecting the dots between some of the extreme weather we were seeing and how climate change was exacerbating those weather conditions and was unfortunate.
It’s funny I, one of my good friends is Bob Inglis, Republican congressman from you know, the southeast and and he told me find ways that you can get on an even playing field. And I thought, talking about renewable energies as this is a mecca for wind. That would be a great way to kind of bring these two sides so to speak together, and in some ways it was successful. But since I started, there have been serious pushback. It reached kind of a climax last summer when I received a threat that police deemed as a death threat just by how it was written. And then it was a series of harassing emails that were obsessive that were set by the same individual until police made contact and then issued him a summons. And he pled guilty to harassment.
Wow, that’s that’s pretty intense. Obviously, not a common thing for the weatherman to get death threats. So I guess maybe you can walk us through that and in your journey there as to what brought you to, you know, your position it gets to begin with and meteorology and, and the study of that and your interest in climate change. What’s kind of your your background.
I grew up in eastern Long Island. When I was in going into the second grade Hurricane Bob hit back in 1991. And the trees down flooding they were sailboats washed up onto the beach left a lasting impression. And that was the catalyst for my deciding that I wanted to go into meteorology. So through the rest of elementary school, middle school and high school, I pursued that dream and then went to school for atmospheric and climate sciences. And that’s what my undergraduate degree is in and immediately went to broadcast started in Rochester worked a series of jobs between there and my last job in Boston, kind of working up the market size.
But there were some benchmark storms that I covered, firsthand experience that had me scratching my head a little bit and saying this doesn’t seem natural. We went two decades before Hurricane affected the New York City metropolitan area since Bob and then we had three within two years Irene Lee, and Sandy all having devastating impacts from freshwater flooding with Irene and Lee in upstate New York to the devastating storm surge that moved into New York City.
So I started connecting the dots and doing the research myself. And I like to see myself as always at being politically middle of the road and we’re in an industry where you should didn’t show a bias. So I wanted to make sure that this data that I was looking at was data that I produced that I could credit. And I found that in fact, humans were having a huge impact on what was happening with increased carbon dioxide emissions.
Fast forward to my time in Boston, and I was on the NBC Task Force to cover landfalling hurricanes, and I got to cover hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Dorian, and Florence. And Harvey was the storm where I said, I need to do a whole hell of a lot more than I’m doing now. 60 inches of rain falling over the time period that we were down there. And I had meetings with news management and said, “look, we should really have a series on climate change.”
We started the country’s first weekly series on climate that was on broadcast news. And it was successful, we covered everything, it was overwhelming. And one of the challenges that we had, that we faced was upper management worrying about Is there enough content to sustain a series? Well, it was overwhelming, how much content there was, right? I mean, there were solutions, renewable sources of energy mitigation, adaptation, everything in between. And we sustained it for two years until I got recruited to come here to Iowa as chief meteorologist to do what I did in Boston to start talking about climate change in this part of the country.
Well, that’s a that’s a great journey, I guess. You know, having experienced a little bit of covering climate now for two years myself, I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface by talking to 100. Experts and guests and political leaders, there’s just so much to talk about, obviously, it’s an immensely complex area. And I guess, one of the things that I think could be challenging for somebody who’s a, you know, in this field, or maybe just as a non expert, is it sometimes there are weather events that maybe are harder to tie to climate? And then what do you do? What do you say?
I think that’s a great point. Because I think when you have the climate activist side of the conversation that wants to tie everything together, I think that that hurts the job that scientists are doing in using attribution signs to accurately connect the dots. And I think it’s maybe worth the weight to kind of step back, look at the top down, use a top down approach, kind of connecting those dots to see if in fact, climate change created or exacerbated this weather event that we that we just had.
And, for example, the duration show in August of last year or two years ago, or now maybe three years ago, in Iowa, and then the December during a show that I personally covered when moving here had a lot of red flags. And sure enough, it took a little while. But within several weeks, we were able to kind of compile that data.
I talked with fellow researchers at Iowa State University and what they had found and some of the trends that they were looking at. And we may have going forward less in the number of severe weather days during the year, meaning they’re less days that have severe weather, but the days that we do, our days that could be go bigger, go home, they’re all in with a lot of severe weather reports, tornadoes, damaging winds.
So it took a little while to connect those dots. And then looking at the water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico. How were we this warm and humid back in December of that year. And you could connect this event into the ways that climate change was making the environment a little bit more favorable favourable for this kind of just devastating event that moves through.
So that’s a long winded answer to say you have to do it carefully. And you can’t jump at every extreme weather event and say that climate change is the reason for it. Because then you take aside that skeptical and you give them reason for that skepticism. And we want to be as clear, concise, and easy to understand in our analysis as possible, so that we can accurately connect those dots.
I think that kind of goes back to a point that from a non experts standpoint, I could see that what are we had 18 or 19 of the hottest years in the last 20 years. So somebody has a non expert has just taken a single college level statistics class can recognize that is aberrant that isn’t normal for for us to have that many hot years in a row.
I you know, it’s more challenging I think to talk about Any particular storm from a non expert to have any sense of whether or not that this is really making a change? I’ve certainly talked to a lot of experts who talk about the warming of the oceans and things of this nature that that probably are going to drive bigger storms and change the weather patterns and make our weather more extreme. And the loading up of co2 and the oceans, which have been kind of a carbon sink for a lot of the CO2 that we’ve been generated, but now they’re kind of becoming saturated. So you know what’s going to happen next.
If that’s something we’re i that that really keeps me up at night. I know that’s a cliche that’s used a lot, right? That it’s something that I worry so much about that I lose sleep over, but it does. And I think when you look at the big picture, Matt, this year, when we enter into an El Nino year, we are going to see a top five warmest year on record coming up across the area, not just here, but globally.
Well, it’s certainly a cause for great concern for all of us. You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern. And I’ve got Chris Gloninger from Des Moines, Iowa. He is the meteorologist there who has received some death threats recently for reporting on the weather and the climate. And so we’ll be back in just one minute to talk to Chris and what he’s looking forward to doing in his new line of work or a new job.
You’re listening to A Climate Change. And I’ve got Chris Gloninger, meteorologist from Des Moines, Iowa, who would receive some death threats from some of his listeners out there or viewers out there in Des Moines. And regarding Chris’s reporting on climate. And, Chris, if you wouldn’t mind, can you share with the listeners some of what you had been threatened with? Because you’ve your reporting.
You know, it was when I received the threat, I had been getting my hair cut, my wife was out running errands, I get home. And as chief meteorologist, I need to be tied to my phone in my email all the time. So I get this inbox from a gentleman that I tried to tried to talk with. And I tried to do that when somebody is dismissive.
When somebody tries to send me a nasty email, I try to engage in a conversation. I am the least bit concerned or afraid of confrontation. And I think it’s good and you know, opposing sides, you know, really helped establish this country, right. So I don’t avoid it. But the email that I received kind of just left me paralyzed. My mind was racing, but I was physically paralyzed. It said, “what is your address. Us conservative Iowans would love to give you a welcome that you’ll never forget.” Kind of like the lib tried to give justice Cavanaugh.
I was like, Oh my God. I just read like that. What’s your address over and over again, I got my wife on the phone. I always laugh at this. She’s always hard to get she gets more spam calls than anyone I know. But she answered right away, even though her phone is usually on silence. And I said to her, we gotta get home. We have something to talk about. When I hung up with her, I called police. And they took that seriously that part about justice Cavanaugh, because there was an individual that was arrested with zip ties with weapons who had the intention of going to the justice his house and doing bodily harm or, you know, worst case, try to kill him.
So they took that as more than just a hey, I’m going to kill you. They took that as something that was laid out a process that was laid out and that’s what concerned them. And then it was followed up with a series of obsessive emails. So I don’t work watch your worthless weather cast because you’re an idiot, but someone else texted me and said “You’re still an idiot and go to Hell. Go back to where he came from you a little bitch.”
So that also gave us reason for concern because he’s clearly talking about it with other people that likely share his view. “Science like Fauci, you dumb son of a bitch. Go east and drown from the ice melting ice caps you dumb and then getting sick and tired of your liberal conspiracy theory on the weather climate changes every day, always has always will. You’re pushing nothing but a Biden hoax. Go back to where you came from.”
How did you feel after getting all that?
I was scared. You know it’s one thing to get a threat. It’s one thing to know that you’re top of mind for this person. He was thinking about it, he was obsessing about it. There are parts of the state that are a gun sanctuary. And you don’t think that that kind of weighs in the back of your mind that is this going to be the issue that somebody wants to take a stand on?
We were terrified. We stayed in a hotel, and there’s nothing stranger than staying in a hotel in the town, you live miles from your house. And you know, it’s not a restful night’s sleep, you’re thinking about, well, how are we going to feel safe when we return home, you know, that weekend, we spent installing security cameras on our property to make sure that we knew it was going on when we weren’t home, I work crazy shifts at work three to 11pm, my wife’s at home.
Sure doesn’t give me peace of mind knowing that she’s here by herself. We live on a cemetery. And it’s a historic cemetery. So people do walk through there, they drive through there, and you see headlights that that are driving through at 10 o’clock. And you wonder is this somebody that’s looking at us?
I was a firefighter in college for four years, you know, you see some crazy stuff doing that as well, and things that you can’t ever forget. But this was something that really weighed on my wife and I, our happiness, our sense of security. And that was kind of what got the ball rolling only a year into this job and in, in starting the conversations of what are we going to do next?
Yeah, it’s it’s really upsetting that there are people out there that I think they’re just so thoughtless, and part just that they have no sense of what they’re doing to somebody else. I mean, if if Do unto others, as you know, I would do it. You know, if you’re, if you’re following that, how could you threatened somebody like that, and, you know, in some of the, you know, far right tends to be quite righteous in their beliefs.
And yet, you know, following the golden rule doesn’t necessarily seem to be one of them on many occasions. So I kind of am shocked by the level of discourse that our country has stooped to, particularly regarding things that, you know, like science, if you have a different opinion, I welcome people to engage and say, Hey, I disagree with you. I have evidence to the contrary, I, you know, I have a different opinion. That’s all well and good. But there’s no sense to threaten somebody because they have a different belief than I do.
But what I find is a lot of that pushback that, quote, data that they use, I mean, are photoshopped graphics, and charts, showing trends that are clearly artificial, and they’re bad Photoshop jobs at that. I mean, it’s clear as day that, that somebody took the warming stripes and tried to put some of the warmer stripes back down on the timeline, you know, about 2000 years ago. And look, one of the things that I always tell people is, you know, there were palm trees in the North Pole.
It’s not a question of have we ever been this warm before? We have, but it’s the rate of warming now that there civilization, people are on earth, that is what’s concerning, and that there’s so many people that live in vulnerable locations. That is why we should all be sounding that alarm bell and saying we need to do more than we’re doing.
So yes, it’s been warmer. And we know that because we have hundreds of 1000s of years of data. And I tried to explain that to people who scratching their head saying, Well, how is their data from 100,000 years ago, or 200,000 years ago, and he tried to explain that through ice cores through ocean sediment, that these are ways that we can get an idea of what the atmosphere and the the chemistry make up the atmosphere was like that long ago.
And we can tell how the concentrations of CO2 have changed. But even that, you know, you know, when there’s somebody that they’re not arguing in good faith, and that’s when I kind of pulled back and just say, look, there’s no way you put ideology and belief over scientific fact. So at that point, it’s no longer a conversation worth engaging in.
But you kind of have to laugh at the people that are being quoted, you know that the late founder of The Weather Channel, I know was outspoken against climate change, you know, gifted man and starting the Weather Channel. And that has saved I’m sure countless lives that technology and their ability to cover severe weather. But he wasn’t a meteorologist. People quote and cite him every day that I’m on online tweeting things or posting things on Facebook.
Yeah, I’ve I’ve looked fairly extensive way to find somebody who is a reputable client scientists who would deny that climate change is affected by human behavior. And and I can’t really find anybody that and I haven’t seen other people quoting two sources that I find in any way reliable or so it’s not like there’s just, I’m trying to avoid it. It’s just that I don’t find that it exists. And and it’s like you’re saying when engaging in this kind of discussion with people who kind of don’t believe in it.
Their the evidence that they have is very thin and it’s not supported by real science. It might be an anecdotal thing like it was cold in Minnesota last year, therefore, we’re not having, you know, global warming that which is technically natural. That’s always the argument. Oh, it snowed in Texas. Oh, it was cold in Texas. Well, yeah. Well, there’s research that also shows that when you have an ice free Arctic that hold this air that’s normally locked up there starts to drift down equator word, and that jet stream becomes a lot wavier and that waviness takes that arctic air and it drops itself.
So they also miss the fact that sea ice is at record low levels, usually during these times, and add in the fact that there’s some record warmth in a normally cold area. So you can’t cherry pick your data, you can’t just pick and choose what you look at and how you listen to it. And I loved your point that that a lot of the warmest years on record have happened in the last decade.
I’ll take that one step further, at 536 out of the last month at 536 consecutive months, in the last, you know, 536 months, have all featured temperatures that have been above average. If this wasn’t a trend, you’d have to say, hey, there’s, you know, one or two months that are colder, and we’re just not seeing that.
Well, you know, this is the alarm bell that I’m trying to sound on the show, which is climate change is real. It’s caused by humans, we need to change our behavior. And it’s an existential threat. So we’ll be right back, talking to Christopher Gloninger, meteorologist in Des Moines, Iowa, and you’re listening to A Climate Change.
You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern. And I’ve got Chris Gloninger on the program, meteorologist in Des Moines, Iowa. And Chris, you know, you were talking before about the windmills there in Iowa and and how you had tried to kind of make some connections to folks out there to say, hey, this isn’t political. Everybody is affected by this. And and I assume everybody could benefit by it in ways like I was my understanding is, produces what 40% of their electricity or maybe more from wind power at this point. And what, what kind of win did you have on that front?
Actually thinking 2022, that number was high as 60 to 65% of the power grid. So I always joke when I moved here from Massachusetts House was doubled the size. Everything’s bigger once you get out of New England, and the utility bill was slashed significantly. And that’s because it’s renewable energy. I mean, we’re powering the grid. 60 to 65% is wind so it’s cheaper once you get that infrastructure. It’s relatively inexpensive, so I was enjoying low electrical rates.
For two years, my two years that it was here, and I think there’s some pride in that, I think that there’s, there’s even if you’re conservative in the state, you acknowledge that, that we’re making a difference. And even if you don’t believe in humans impact on climate change, at the very least, you’re getting low utility rates, some of the lowest in the country, right. So that was one of the things that I that I tried to find that common ground.
And I was discouraged that people weren’t appreciating what I was trying to do. Just look at the science of it and get away from the politics of it, show the trend show the date, I was crunching the numbers for the for Des Moines and unfortunately, took my resignation, to really feel how a lot of the state felt. And it’s telling that I printed just the emails, just the emails from Iowa over two days. And in this pile, there’s probably 200 to 250 emails that appreciated the job as a meteorologist connecting the dots with climate change. But I was I was Jim Gandy, South Carolina meteorologist, the grandfather of meteorologists connecting the dots between extreme weather and climate change.
I called him after that death threat. And he never had had one before, super supportive about it. And I said, Jim, I’m not getting really any positive feedback, maybe an email here and email there. And he said, Chris, how many times have you eaten out at a restaurant, I love the service, terrific food, you go home, you put in a Yelp review, or a Google review and say this was great. And I was guilty to admit that I don’t do that. You know, you have that great meal, awesome.
At the time, you leave, you don’t think about it again. And then you go on vacation, the airline loses your bag, your flights delayed, delayed, delayed and canceled and your vacations off to a slower start, you know, push back by two days? How inclined are you to write the airline and tell him how you feel. And I said, Oh, I do that all the time.
We said, even though it’s 11% of the population that’s dismissive. And that’s from the Yale program on climate change, communication, and George Mason University. Those are the people you’re hearing from, those are the people that have a problem with what you’re doing. The 89% that either love what you’re doing, or are lukewarm on what you’re doing, aren’t going to be the ones that are writing in, they don’t see a need to,
I guess in the question is, why not stay in Iowa and kind of keep doing what you’re doing? Because obviously, it’s educating the public. And, you know, it’s kind of one of the places that needs voices like yours, to to, you know, speak up and tell people the truth about what’s happening.
Since that death threat, I have gone to therapy every single week. And, you know, I if I can say something for mental health and learning about mental health and all this, if you think if you think even a portion of you thinks that you need to go see a therapist, chances are you need to see a therapist to work through your problems.
And one of my goals and going to therapy was figuring out what is best for our situation, what’s best for what’s happening next. I will say my station was incredibly supportive through this. But they’re also a ratings, ratings driven industry, and all they’re hearing is the negative feedback.
They would rather hear less of it than more of it. And ultimately, I think they would prefer less talk about it. And not even using the term climate change because it has been so polarized. So when you when that’s the feedback that you get, and you’re getting that constant drumbeat of negative emails, even after long after the death wrap, and then add in some family related issues, and it’s just the time to go.
And I think that the legs that this has gained, so still will have a lasting effect in this area. And that’s why I’m trying to fit in as many interviews and talk about this as much as I can. Because it’s not about me, it’s about the bigger issue. It’s the issue that scientists are getting attacked for what they’re doing by providing facts. And that’s wrong, and that needs to stop.
So, yeah, I certainly question your decision. And obviously, it’s a personal one, but I also, you know, I wanted to throw it out there because certainly it’s a question probably the minds of other listeners and viewers. Because you know, what you’re doing is right, and I hate to see the voices who are dysfunctional and half crazy.
He’s kind of maybe want, you know, notching a win because they were jerks and worst, you know, I appreciate that I do. And, you know, I weighed that heavily over the last year. I mean, it wasn’t like it just decided, you know, I think if I truly gave up and wasn’t trying to keep working on it, and I understand your question.
I’m not saying that that you’re accusing me of giving up. But I think that it was a years worth of reflecting and trying to figure out what is the next best move. And I think after 18 years, it just felt like the right change. And then again, adding in the family related issues as well. But my next job, which I’m so excited about takes my science background and the communications background that I’ve developed for over 18 years. And it kind of helped me chart my next path.
Tell us a little bit about your next job and what you’re going to be doing. I will be a senior scientist in climate and risk communication at the Woods Hole group. If listeners are familiar with a really well known Academic Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, while back in 1986, one of the professor’s there branched off and said, We need a environmental and coastal engineering company. And we can use some of the tools developed here and apply them in the private sector.
So in my role, I’ll help communities with funds from the inflation Reduction Act. In states there are some funding for communities to do vulnerability assessment assessments to climate change in a big part of these assessments is getting the community involved in improving climate literacy.
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here and saying and and I don’t think I’ll get too many of my coworkers upset and saying the true engineers and scientists may not be the best at communicating. And that’s the same for doctors, sometimes you have the most brilliant doctor, medical doctor who just cannot talk and relay what they’re trying to say, in a compassionate way. I think I add that value.
And I’m excited to be able to improve climate literacy in these projects in these communities that are on the frontlines of climate change. The science side of it is diving into some of the climatology, looking up some of the records and changes that we’ve seen that I do now in Des Moines that I did in Boston, but for other communities to help them show some of the trends that we’re seeing with the climate crisis going forward.
So what I was doing, and then was told to do, maybe only once or twice a week, which was discouraging, I could do my entire professional career now 40 hours a week, you know, 52 weeks out of the year. So I think that that’s going to be rewarding, and in ways it’ll be a greater impact I think that will have on the communities that I’m working with.
Well, that’s great. And I applaud kind of having more personal alignment to your goals and maybe a greater hopefully even a greater impact on helping solve this climate problems. And it is, in part great part a communication problem. And I just had a famed PR person on the show David Fenton, who has been advising yellow dot, which is a new project with his all about communicating about climate. And then they produced a lot of great funny videos about climate, and I think it’s an it’s, it gets people’s attention.
And one of the things that David talks about is, is calling it a “pollution blanket,” which we’re experiencing, and that communicates far more effective way than a climate change. Because climate change, they’ve done the kind of testing of that phrase, and it doesn’t communicate it very well and net zero, and terms like this that we’ve been using in the environmental movement just aren’t effective communication tools, so we can do a better job on that front.
Just kind of switching back to Woods Hole which you’re going to be working at. I visited Woods Hole in 1973 before your glimmer in your in your mom’s eye. And I was impressed by it as an eight year old and I understand it continues to expand and it’s truly a world class facility.
So I am sure that you will enjoy working there and you’ll be a great contribution to to their team. We’ll be back in just one minute. You’re listening to a climate change. I’ve got Christopher Gloninger, meteorologist from Des Moines, Iowa, but going off to Massachusetts, the Woods Hole Group, a famous institution of learning and climate science, so stay tuned.
You’re listening to A Climate Change, this is Matt Matern, your host, and I’ve got Christopher Gloninger, meteorologist from Des Moines, Iowa, who’s on his way to Woods Hole. And Chris just asked you about who are your top four people that you’d put on the Mount Rushmore of climate, the climate change movement, the environmental kind of Titans – who you think we should be looking up to? Or you look up to? And this on the subject matter?
In making a difference? I think Dr. Jennifer Francis from wood well Climate Research Center in Massachusetts, Dr. Francis is a meteorologist who has devoted her career into keeping up with the latest data and climate models. She’s done tremendous work, even though she isn’t one of the top mentioned, climate scientists that we all hear. Dr. Francis is great carry manual over at University of Albany.
Se’s a great story, because, you know, she started this journey into climate science is somebody that admittedly was a little bit skeptical, but then figured things out and is one of the most decorated climate scientists you could argue in the country. I think when it comes to, you know, scientists who creatively speak on the issue and have a great presence is Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. She’s terrific. I mean, her books, her, her social media, tremendous job.
And then this, this top spots a Local Edition, but he’s a hero unto himself just by what he does and how he gets climate change on the map here in Iowa is a as an attorney, by the name of Channing Dutton. And chanting shows up at the commute time, and puts up a sign in Des Moines overbridge, that says climate action now. And it’s faithfully done.
So for several years. He, that’s his his full time attorney, but he spends all of his time and trying to improve climate literacy and getting people to do something about it. And he said, It’s fine to sit on these meetings, but they don’t do a damn thing during these meetings and just talk about doing things. They don’t do things. And he’s somebody, again, in this area should be held to hero for his for what he has done over the recent decade of working climate advocacy.
I think that great point is that the call to action that all of us can do something, whether it’s voting for politicians that take this issue seriously, to going out there, maybe running for office, or speaking out, speaking to our neighbors, communicating, communicating is such an important thing every day to be talking about it.
There are articles in the paper all the time, about about climate, a hundreds of them probably every day, if you if you counted all across the world. And so that’s an important thing and get involved in in local, local activities, whether it’s planting trees or helping protect the water to make sure it’s clean, you know, so that we have less air pollution.
So you know, buying less things, buying less polluting cars, all these things have an impact. And and we all have something to do to make that change. What are the things that you would say are the top five things that we could do as a as a government? Or I guess whether there are governmental or non governmental actions that could be taken to address the climate change? What do you think those most important things are?
Spending a lot of money on innovation, because I don’t think the solution to renewable energy is a technology that hasn’t even been developed yet. I think we need a blend of technologies to get us there to get us at net zero emissions. So I think that we need to fund the research that’s going on And the options that are out there. Now we have to make social socially equitable for environmental justice communities.
I mean, there, you look at the price tag in an electric car, you’re looking at a single mom on one income, do you think she’s really going to be able to afford that electric car if she wants to make a difference. So there needs to be ways to make it equitable for people. So that is a step that the government certainly can take in finding ways to get solar to get EVs into the hands of people that really do need it most. And I think that we need to have our communities do the appropriate planning, but we need to give them ways to take it from a plan and turn it into a reality.
I think what I what I’ve seen in the side of climate consulting that I have done is the lack of action, the plans are great. But if you don’t have a shovel in the ground working on those plans, we need to expedite. And then we really do need to find ways like Europe has successfully done to expand rail. And I think that that’s something when you have 45 minute flights that are producing a ton of carbon dioxide, put limits on those flights and change it to train. Travel where possible. I know we have a long ways to go. But we have the technology to do it.
Well, certainly train travel is something that I’ve kind of been looking into a lot more seriously. I took my first long train ride a few weeks ago from Chicago, where I was born to out to Colorado, it was a beautiful ride and went through Iowa. And it was it was fun. And quite frankly, it was it was different than the drag that I guess I would have thought it was I never thought I would travel by train because of course you just always jump on a plane and, and it was fine, but I as I’ve dug into this a little bit more.
The US has an embarrassingly bad train system when you compare, you know, compared to Europe or Japan or other places around the world. Why do we have a railroad system that has less per capita train tracks than Ukraine when we have 10 times 50 times or 100 times the amount of GNP that they have? That is insane. Why, you know, we need to change that. So I echo your comment on expanding rail.
When you when you took that train ride, one place that you missed on that ride through Iowa, is de Moines that capital the biggest city, you have to travel an hour from ossola to get to Des Moines. I mean, how practical is that? And that’s just another example of how the system really is a true failure.
Yeah, I mean, so many cities are off the grid as far as train travel. And one of the Amtrak employees told me all these train tracks the rest of the East Coast are not even Amtrak. They don’t even own those tracks.
So I mean, it’s kind of it’s pathetic, quite frankly. So we can certainly do a better job on that front. So what would you do? What what what have you done to kind of convince naysayers? And what do you think will be necessary in order to open the eyes of people who are denying that climate change is real and it’s caused by humans? polluting?
I think when you see on TV images of like a hurricane Harvey, right, that just devastated Houston, or what Dorian did to the Bahamas. I think that, you know, you’re Wow, that’s terrible. But you have to live through some of these events if you’re a naysayer to really to change your mind. So I do want to read one last little note that I got from a gentleman down in southern Iowa, we’ve gone back and forth on this and he and I piped right up when I was talking about fires in Canada, he said, here we go again, with a fucking climate crisis bullshit in Canada.
Maybe you can control the lightning some days when these fires won’t start. So, you know, most people just ignore him. But I’ve had good conversations with him. We had a severe weather outbreak in April, that I was honed in on forecasted accurately the forecast models didn’t really have anything major setting up, but I looked down at the Gulf of Mexico. And he called me out and said, Why are you forecasting this? You’re blowing this up, ended up being a high end, Severe Weather Day back in April, and that was because largely due to the Gulf of Mexico being nearly 10 degrees above average.
He stepped back and he said, wow, okay. That was his reaction. He didn’t push back He didn’t have a expletive laced email or message sent my way. I kind of took it and saw Wow, well, yeah, no one else is talking about it. But you did the investigation, he saw that the Gulf of Mexico was, you know, a hot tub.
And that moisture was injected into this system that happened early in the season in April and produced significant severe weather. So when it takes it takes living these events for people, I think, you actually you don’t just have to see it on TV, you live through it to change a skeptic from from from their viewpoint.
So yeah, I think that you’re persuasive. Because you had the science behind you, you had done your homework. And you also engaged with this person that has a different point of view, and you’re treating them Hey, with dignity, with respect, and that’s the kind of thing that communicates the message. And, you know, I appreciate your great work there.
It’s been a pleasure having you on the program.
For all the listeners out there, you should be following Chris Gloninger at where he’s going to the Woods Hole and hook up with him on your social media, because he’s somebody who’s was a student of this. And he is really on the forefront of trying to trying to communicate what are important ideas in in ways that are persuasive. And I think that’s what we all need to be doing.
So I would invite you to follow him and also follow us on A Climate Change and take a look at some of our old episodes. We also have it all up on Spotify and Apple, as well as on our website: aclimatechange.com. So take a look at it. We welcome your input, send us your questions. We’d like to respond to them as well.
So again, thanks, Chris for being on the show. And listeners tune back in next week.
(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)
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