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Global Warming and Climate Change

Show Summary - July 20, 2009

Guest: Greg V. Jones, PhD

Greg V. Jones, PhD (Ashland, OR), Professor of Climatology, Southern Oregon University. "Climate Change, Global Warming and the Environment."

Dr. Greg Jones teaches Climatology in the Environmental Studies Department at Southern Oregon University, where he is an expert in global warming and in wine growing. He began by talking about air and weather as a "fluid" with its own life processes. The air needs water to survive just as much as living organisms do. It also needs oxygen, nitrogen and other factors.

In the Northern Hemisphere, weather moves from west to east. In the United States, our weather originates in Asia, in Asia the weather originates in Russia and Europe, and in Europe, the weather originates in North America. Moral: we are all interdependent and what one country messes up will affect other countries down the line.

When asked about global warming, Dr. Jones said that it was not clear-cut and that many "scientific" facts are biased and politicized. Part of the problem is the public's perception of forecasters tends to be influenced by a few bad calls, even though the forecasters get it right 97% of the time.

Dr. Jones was asked about "indoor air" and, after emphasizing that it wasn't his expertise, noted that we have many "sick" buildings, with far too little air exchange with the outside. Sharon reiterated her belief that until this problem is fixed, it is important that each individual take steps to protect themselves from dehydrating indoor air.

Dr. Jones then discussed the difference between "climatologists" and "meteorologists." Meteorologists predict short term weather while climatologists predict long-term climate changes. Regarding "global warming" and "climate change," the climate is always changing, no matter what humans do and the extent of human influence is highly debatable. However, with 6.7 billion people and widespread fossil fuel burning and land development, there certainly is an affect on the atmosphere (if only because humans exhale CO2).

Dr. Jones noted that a one or two degree climate change may not affect humans but it can cause the extinction of some highly adapted organisms.

The discussion then turned to wines. Dr. Jones stated that it is believed that grape cultivation and wine-making began in Persia (possibly China) about 5,000 years ago. He said that today, some grape varieties are extremely sensitive to climate and that the best wine grapes usually have very narrow parameters. Oregon is excellent for cool climate grapes such as merlot and pinot noir. California is fantastic for zinfandel. In France, Champaign is grown in the north because it is cooler and the grapes won't fully ripen.

Categories: Ecology and the environment; global warming and climate change; Outdoor Recreation