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Meteorologist Breaks Down In Tears After Climate Change Report, Say He Will Never Fly Again

Adam Taylor
eric holthaus


Most New Yorkers may know Eric Holthaus thanks to his incredible coverage as the Wall Street Journal's meteorologist during Hurricane Sandy. Holthaus now writes for Quartz and works on an app called Weathermob.

This week Holthaus made a big decision, one that immediately prompted a huge amount of debate on Twitter. The decision reflected his deep knowledge of extreme weather patterns and how global warming is changing them, he explained.

Holthaus is giving up flying, forever.

To a lot of people, that sounds crazy. How can someone live the rest of their life without getting on a plane?

Holthaus explained his decision in a series of tweets yesterday. It's hard not to find it compelling.

Personal tweets forthcoming: I'm at SFO right now, flying back to Wisconsin. Just got off the phone with me wife.

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

I just broke down in tears in boarding area at SFO while on phone with my wife. I've never cried because of a science report before. #IPCC

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

I realized, just now: This has to be the last flight I ever take. I'm committing right now to stop flying. It's not worth the climate.

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

We all have to do everything we can, every day to reverse CO2 emissions. There is no other way that makes sense.

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

All of our energy...each one of us...should be devoted to this issue. Nothing else matters. It's a zero sum game.

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

Why am I committing to not flying any more? Its the same reason I'm vegetarian: it's my biggest carbon footprint. #lastflight #climatechange

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

Holthaus went on to explain his decision in a series of responses to tweets from his followers:

A global price on carbon. RT @samuelfine: @EricHolthaus Let's start from the top down: what single change would have the greatest impact?

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

If no one buys tickets, they won't fly. need cleaner fuels. RT @sjparis the problem is, planes will still fly whether you’re on them or not.

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

I'm ok with not traveling abroad anymore. Skype works internationally. RT @mariaramirezNY: And what about traveling abroad? Boat?

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

I'm thinking of vasectomy. RT @PaulEMetz: You're courageous. Last week an artist had herself sterilized for similar reason. @looovetinkebell

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

Holthaus says that his decision to stop flying was prompted by news of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that found 95% confidence human-emitted greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the Earth's warming since 1951. It's certainly a disturbing report.

"Without jumping up and down on the desks of their computer terminals, this forum of scientists has done about as much as they can do," Holthaus wrote for Quartz. "With this report, they have proven humankind’s impact on the climate, and confidently projected dire consequences should world governments fail to act immediately."

Finally, Holthaus also gave an interview to Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle about his decision, which you can read here. As Holthaus tells Berger, his experience as a meteorologist during events like Hurricane Sandy convinced him of the dangers of climate change.

"I’m considered an expert in my field," he says. "I have to do something big, right now."

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