Thursday, October 10, 2013

Former Wall Street Journal Meteorologist Explains Why He Decided Never To Fly Again

By Rebecca Leber on October 8, 2013

or a meteorologist like Eric Holthaus, the fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is something like waiting for the Super Bowl for six years. Holthaus, who writes for Quartz and formerly for the Wall Street Journal, was awake at 4 a.m. on a Friday morning reading through the summary that made it clear the world is running out of time to act. Boarding a plane home to Wisconsin, he broke down in tears. He determined to stop flying, a decision that has gained national attention. “It’s not worth the climate,” one of his tweets said.

IPCC’s conclusion, in short, is that scientists are unequivocally certain that the Earth is warming and that humans are the dominant cause. Without immediate action to curb emissions, the world has little chance to limit warming to 2°C. We only need to burn 10 percent of fossil fuels reserves to blow past that upper limit.


In an interview with Climate Progress, Holthaus said he thought, “Well, that’s it,” as he read the report. “There’s no way we can wait anymore for world leaders to take action on this.” That’s what made him decide, as a as a meteorologist who has covered climate change for more than 10 years, to stop flying. He doesn’t consider it a drastic change, but leading by example.

“I do everything, I recycle, I don’t own a car, I’m a vegetarian, all of the things that are reducing my carbon footprint. But I also fly 75,000 miles a year,” he said. “So when I plugged that in a carbon calculator, it’s like, wow, I have double the emission of the average American and here I am every day telling people to take action and I’m not doing it myself.”


As a meteorologist, Holthaus says he feels compelled to do what he can personally, while being an unbiased source of information for the public. “As a journalist and as a scientist I have to talk about facts,” he said. “The truth is there is no remaining doubt and there’s no need to waver on the issue of do humans cause climate change anymore. So I think my reporting and my response as a human and a fellow person on the planet — I think that of course — it should reflect that.”

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