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Sky Blues: Global warming prompts meteorologist to ground himself

October 23, 2013

The most recent report on the likely effects of global warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a sobering document.  In fact, it just makes you want to cry.  At least, it got the tears flowing copiously down Eric Holthaus’ cheeks. 

Holthaus, a meteorologist and former contributor to the Wall Street Journal who now writes for Quartz and contributes to Weathermob  (a cellphone app that disseminates weather data), was so freaked out by the IPCC report – which states that planetary warming from anthropogenic causes is accelerating –  that he began weeping at a boarding area at SFO. 

The lachrymose weather guy shared his fragile emotional state with his 13,000 Twitter followers.

I just broke down in tears in boarding area at SFO while on phone with my wife,” Holthaus tweeted.  “I’ve never cried because of a science report before.” #IPCC

Holthaus used a carbon footprint calculator developed at Cal and found that his frequent business flying trips made up almost half of his family’s annual carbon output.  By never stepping foot on an airplane again, he determined he could slash his household’s emissions from twice the American average to about one-third the average.

He returned to Twitter to herald a bold resolution:

“I realized just now: This has to be the last flight I ever take.  I’m committing right now to stop flying. It’s not worth the climate.”

And to emphasize the significance of his sacrifice:

“Granted I love flying.  I have a pilot’s license, actually. I grew up flying with my dad. But, enough is enough.”  #lastflight#climatechange

Holthaus already has some practice with self-abnegation on behalf of the planet.  As he noted in Quartz, he doesn’t eat meat and he takes his own bags to the grocery store.  But he has never committed to anything as dramatic as eschewing airplanes. Now he has to figure out some other way to travel the 75,000 annual miles he formerly logged in the sky.

On Quartz, Holthaus wrote he planned to ramp up his videoconferencing and continue traveling by train and automobile. 

 “But by removing my single biggest impact on the climate in one fell swoop,” he enthused, “I can rest a bit easier knowing I’ve begun to heed the IPCC’s call to action. Individual gestures, repeated by millions of people, could make a huge difference.”

—Glen Martin

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