Happy winter solstice! Yes, I’m excited. Not for winter, because we all know that I don’t do winter. I’m excited for daylight. Starting tomorrow, daylight hours will begin to increase and will continue to increase (by about two minutes per day) until the summer solstice in June. Bring on the light!
Astronomical occasions like this remind me of my old life as a science teacher. Wait, first I have to tell you about David Letterman. I discovered Late Night with David Letterman when I was 12. As soon as I saw him throw a pencil through the window and make crazy faces at the camera, I knew that we were kindred spirits. I used to tape his show on my cranky VCR to watch after school. For a few years of junior high and high school, the two things I looked forward to all day were going home to read on my bed and going home to watch Dave. There were lots of disappointing days when I settled in on the beanbag chair in front of the TV with my snack, only to discover that my mother had turned off the VCR after only a minute because the TV was in her room and she said the VCR was so loud that she couldn’t sleep. So you can imagine how psyched I am to be living in 2009! I can watch Dave online on my sexy iMac anytime I want. If I had a TV, I’m sure I’d watch The Late Show every night it’s on. After all these years, I love that Dave is still quirky and weird. I can relate to quirky and weird.
So I was watching Dave a few days ago and guess who was on? (Note: I am aware that Tobey Maguire was just on – I will be watching that ep when it becomes available tomorrow). Dr. James Hansen! He was my boss when I worked at NASA! I did climate change and global warming research for two summers after grad school at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies here in New York. These are some of their current research projects and findings. Anyway, I was so excited to see Dr. Hansen on the show. He was the first person to testify before Congress that global warming is a reality. His book, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, describes what will happen unless we all reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Earth’s climate is changing so dramatically that thousands of species are becoming extinct, entire ecosystems are being destroyed, and severe types of weather like hurricanes are becoming much more dangerous. Oh, and diseases will get even scarier. If we don’t stop using coal and oil and start using alternative forms of energy, we will continue to destroy the only known planet we can live on and, ultimately, ourselves. It’s awesome that Dr. Hansen has not given up hope that the world will start to listen to what he’s been saying for the past 30 years. You can watch his Amazon video here, in which he explains that if we don’t take dramatic steps to save our planet now, it will very soon be too late.
P.S. If you encounter someone who still doesn’t believe that global warming is a reality, kindly inform them that 1978 called. It wants its debate back.