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NASA image of Superstorm Sandy

Climate out of control

TV meteorologists talk about climate change: An interview with Paul Douglas, plus four local TV meteorologists


Orlando meteorologists weigh in on climate change

We contacted multiple local TV meteorologists to find out where they stand on the climate-change debate – and to ask them whether they try to bring climate change up when reporting on extreme weather. All interviews by Victor Ocasio.

Tom Terry
chief meteorologist, WFTV Channel 9


Orlando Weekly: Do you believe our planet is undergoing a significant climate change?
Tom Terry: Yes, and year after year, the facts are bearing this out. As an example, October went down as the fifth warmest globally according to the climate scorekeepers at NOAA. And this is only one small facet of the overall changing conditions the world is experiencing.

OW: Are human actions causing this change?
TT: Though there's still debate as to this, I do believe that man-made or "anthropogenic" causes are mainly responsible for the changes we're seeing globally. Changes in solar radiance from one year to another also play a role. Deforestation, changes in the permanent ice caps, including Greenland's ice sheet, new world modernization, etc., all play a role.

OW: Why do you think there is such a controversy over climate change?
TT: Climate's a tricky thing, because we're talking about long-term changes as opposed to singular or even multiple events. And there are numerous sources for error in decoding the climate of the past, even in the past 50-100 years, as our sensors have gotten much better today. Also, our urban sprawl can make it difficult to compare conditions in similar areas. These are only a few examples. Plus, some experts are simply "all-in" in a certain way of thinking and aren't open to mounting pile of evidence in regard to changes in climate.

OW: Do you think a lot of people deny climate change?
TT: To be honest, I don't come across the topic very often when I talk with people.

OW: What issue relating to climate change concerns you the most?
TT: I think what we have to realize is that we all have to make changes, even subtle ones – I drive a hybrid to work – to help make a difference, but we are only small cogs in a much larger wheel that is the world we live in. Countries such as China and India, who are undergoing rapid modernization, can make far more contributions to the amount of greenhouse emissions than you and I will not contribute. It's a global problem.

OW: Are super storms like Sandy something we are likely to see more frequently?
TT: Yes. … You can't make this place warmer, and that place drier, as an example, without changing all the other weather parameters. Namely, the jet stream. So, it's a feedback mechanism. The more out of balance the world gets, the more rapid and violent the shifts can be to make the weather move back into balance again. So outbreaks and super-outbreaks of hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, heat waves have been – and I think will continue to be – more frequent globally.