Understanding climate change and how it impacts the weather

By Krista Van Tassel
October 15th, 2013

Wells Fargo is finding new ways to minimize energy consumption, address climate change, use renewable energy and inspire our customers and team members to do the same. It’s all part of our public commitment to help reduce our operational impact on the environment.

We also have goals to increase energy efficiency to 40%, increase the waste diversion rate to 65%, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2020. But despite these goals, a large company like Wells Fargo is bound to have a few cynics in our midst.

That’s why we are thrilled to welcome Stu Ostro, Senior Director of Weather Communications and Senior Meteorologist at The Weather Channel. He will be giving a presentation to Wells Fargo team members about climate change and its impact on the weather.

17 - Stu OstroStu began his career in communications at Penn State, where he was a radio broadcaster for the university’s Campus Weather Service. After receiving his B.S in Meteorology, he started his professional experience as a forecaster at Accu-Weather. In 1989, Stu started working at The Weather Channel, where he currently leads the organization’s team of weather experts, providing perspective on weather events and putting them in context, and helping to position the field crews. Stu also appears on camera, contributes to The Weather Underground blog and posts frequent weather updates and insights for his Twitter followers and TWC Facebook fans.

More recently, Stu has been documenting and analyzing extreme weather events and identifying connections between climate change and smaller-scale weather patterns.  Stu also served as the lead author for The Weather Channel’s position statement on global warming, which affirms that the earth’s atmosphere is warming and that some human activity (specifically around burning fossil fuels) does increase the naturally occurring “greenhouse effect.”

Stu speaks and writes regularly on the connections of weather and climate. But he hasn’t always been a believer in climate change. Stu was once a self-described “vehement skeptic” of both the human role in climate change, as well as the unusual weather patterns being an outcome of climate change.

We recently caught up with Stu to learn how his thinking evolved on this topic and what he’s seen in his 30+ years as a meteorologist that changed his mind.

Environmental Forum:  You’ve been watching the weather since the age of 3. What profound weather changes have you seen in your lifetime?  

Stu Ostro: There have been extremes for as long as there has been weather. But during the past decade it has become apparent that the nature of those extremes is changing, as well as things just being different in the day-to-day weather, and there are other profound and alarming changes in the “climate system” such as the precipitous loss of arctic sea ice. 

EF:       We understand that you were once a bit of a climate change skeptic. Can you please tell us more about what changed your mind on this topic?  

SO: A number of things, including becoming more attentive to peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate change, which have been published, and starting to notice that something ain’t right with the weather — that can’t be totally explained by natural variability.  

EF: On a personal note, what environmental actions do you and your family take to help your local community or the larger global community?  

SO: As much as possible, I eat organic foods and recycle, and I drive a small, fuel-efficient vehicle.   The actions I’m taking can have a broad global effect beyond an incremental individual one. This adds up collectively if enough people do it, which is represented in my presentation: researching and communicating about what’s going on in the weather, to let people know that climate change is not only an issue for future generations, it’s already having a profound effect.   

You can learn more about climate change and the weather through an upcoming The Weather Channel documentary called Tipping Points. The show profiles several examples of climate change and explores the connection between small local changes that trigger chain reactions that can create profound global impacts. Stu served as a research and science reviewer for the documentary crew.









Tags:   climate   employee   The Weather Channel   
Krista Van Tassel

Krista Van Tassel

As Community and Team Member Engagement manager for Wells Fargo’s Environmental Affairs Team, Krista supports the company’s 70+ Green Teams, recognizing and promoting environmental innovator best practices, and engaging and educating team members about their role in helping the company’s sustainability efforts. She also manages Wells Fargo’s Environmental Solutions for Communities’ $3 million annual nonprofit grant program focused on helping make long-term sustainable economic investments in local communities where its customers and 264,000 team members work and live. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2009, Krista worked in a variety of sustainability and marketing positions in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. Krista earned her MBA in International Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

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