Our daily weather reports, cheerfully presented with flashy graphics and state-of-the-art animation, appear to relay more and more information.
And yet, no matter how glitzy the presentation, a key fact is invariably omitted. Imagine if, after flashing the words "extreme weather" to grab our attention, the reports flashed "global warming." Then we would know not only to wear lighter clothes or carry an umbrella, but that we have to do something about climate change.
I put the question to Jeff Masters, co-founder and director of meteorology at Weather Underground, an Internet weather information service. Masters writes a popular blog on weather, and doesn't shy away from linking extreme weather to climate change:
We've just crossed a sobering milestone. For the first time since humans have walked the planet, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at Mauna Loa Observatory has reached 400 parts per million. On May 9, scientists from both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography measured the daily average concentration of carbon dioxide in air above this value.
We did it, and it's nothing to cheer about.
The world hit the "sobering milestone" of 400 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 on Thursday -- a first in human history -- marking "a moment of symbolic significance on road of idiocy" the world has chosen, as well as a call for urgent climate action.
Reaching this threshold level represents a global failure to address the runaway greenhouse gas emissions; as Al Gore wrote today, it shows "we are reaping the consequences of our recklessness."