Georgia State Climatologist Cashiered

Bearing bad news is never welcome

2 min read
Georgia State Climatologist Cashiered

Ten days ago Georgia governor Nathan Deal abruptly dismissed the state climatologist and assistant climatologist, announcing the climate office would be moved from the University of Georgia, Athens, to the state's Environmental Protection Division in Atlanta. Complaints followed that at least for a time the state would be without climate assessments and forecasts of considerable value to its US $65 billion agricultural sector. A small local movement emerged to reinstate David Stooksbury (photo) and Pam Knox. Now the federal government has decertified the Georgia state climate office on grounds the new operation may not be competent to fulfill its mission.

The decision to move the office has been made in terms of administrative efficiency, and Governor Deal has denied political motivation. Deal, however, is known to count himself among climate science skeptics. In 2009, as a member of the United States House of Representatives, Deal signed onto a petition challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate carbon, despite a Supreme Court ruling that said it could and probably should do so.

Defenders of the Athens climatology office naturally take a dim view of the governor's motivation. One, a close associate of the cashiered climatologists, characterized the sequence of events like this in a personal communication to a fellow scientist:

"(1) Summer 2011 was hot and dry in Georgia. (2) The GA State Ciimatology Office reported that it was hot and dry. (3) Certain drought-sensitive business interests resented that... (4) The governor heard those business interests..."

Last June, Georgia State Climatologist Stooksbury (correctly) predicted the summer would be unusually hot, which will not "give you much comfort," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution warned its readers. Evidently it did not much comfort at least one reader, who happened to be the one who mattered most.

Under the circumstances perhaps we should take comfort from small things. Texas governor Rick Perry, out on the presidential campaign trail, has been casting aspersions on climate science while Texas burns. But he has not actually denied that the world is getting warmer, and Texas along with it. He only casts doubt on the case for human causation.

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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