Dan Barkin

Warming to a global issue

Staff WriterSeptember 29, 2007 

The N&O has produced a series on global warming that does a pretty good job of revealing the local impacts of a cosmic issue. The problem with getting your hands around climate change is trying to understand how it affects us now, where we live. The final installment, written by environment writer Wade Rawlins, is scheduled to run Sunday and focuses on what cities and states are doing.

The series is available online at www.newsobserver.com/news/health_science/global_warming. I know, that's a long URL. You can also get to it from our newsobserver.com home page by typing the word "global" into the search box, which will give you the name of the series -- Global Warming Hits Home -- as a link.

(By the way. I've got to believe that somewhere out there is a student who has a paper due Monday on some part of global warming. Kid, go to this Web site.)

We had help in putting together this series from folks like you. With each installment, we invited people to ask questions of local Ph.D.s.

Some of these questions and answers ran in the newspaper, and we put a lot of the Q&As online. The experts included Douglas J. Crawford-Brown of UNC-Chapel Hill, Brian C. Murray of Duke and Len Pietrafesa of N.C. State. That's one of the advantages of publishing a newspaper in the Research Triangle. We have access to a lot of smart people.

But all the smart people aren't in academia. The questions came from smart, curious people, many of whom are still trying to figure out how climate change is going to hit home and what they can do about it. For this last installment, we asked folks to tell us what they would be willing to do about climate change. We will publish some of the responses online and in the paper.

Here's a preview.

Doreen P. Stover of Durham wondered why North Carolina hasn't aggressively encouraged solar power with grants and tax breaks. Her parents' home in Miami had solar power 60 years ago. "If that technology was being utilized in 1947, how much better would it be today if this country had chosen that route to follow rather than the options given us by Big Oil interests?"

Dan Frey of Garner thinks Gov. Mike Easley needs to go on prime-time TV with legislative leaders and announce that from now on, the central organizing principle of North Carolina would be a "carbon-neutral" economy. That is, any new greenhouse gas emissions would be offset by measures aimed at reducing emissions.

David Sokal of Durham suggests that government should make it easier for people to use bicycles to get to work.

Along with the series and the Q&As we also have information resources on climate change compiled by our News Research department. You can find them directly at www.newsobserver. com/news/health_science/infocentral_globalwarming. There's an interesting calculator on the page that will let you figure how many tons of carbon dioxide your household is responsible for annually. The national average is 7.5 tons. The inconvenient truth is that I'm not doing so well, I found out using the calculator. I love my A/C and my Buick a little too much.

State Fair

Assistant metro editor Deborah Jackson wants to hear about your State Fair plans for her blog at http://blogs.newsobserver. com/fair/. Send her e-mail at deborah.jackson@newsobserver.com or post at http://share.triangle.com/statefair2007.

dan.barkin@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4562

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