December 10th, 2009
12:35 PM ET

Dear President Obama #325: Hot planet! Get your hot planet here!

Reporter's Note: President Obama is jetting around the world, and I’m moving a bit too; working in New York for the week, yet still sending my daily missive to the White House in D.C.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

A number of my friends from New Orleans went to high school together, and had French class together, and learned the phrase “mon frère” together, and as high school boys are prone to do, found it funny. For them, it was not “my brother,” but rather a generic expression of extremism. As in, “That tackle hurt like mon frère!” or “That chicken is better than mon frère.” Anyway, when I became their friend I picked it up, so you’ll understand when I say it was raining like mon frère as I walked to the office this morning.

I tell you all this because we talk so seldom (like never!) that I want to keep you apprised of some of the finer points of my personality, just in case you’re feeling left out. I’m working in New York this week on my year-end special, 360’s All the Best, All the Worst of 2009. I do this show every year and it seems to have a huge following. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but you are featured pretty prominently this year, so you might want to have someone back at the White House Tivo it if you’re on the road when it airs around Christmas and New Year’s.

In addition to that work, I’ve been filing a fair number of stories about this whole issue of global climate change. And let me tell you, from a reporter’s perspective, it’s a hard story to get people into. “Why?” you ask, in your most presidential tone, “It’s an important issue.”

Well, there are several reasons. First, it’s slow. Even if we took on faith some of the direst warnings of coming floods, fire, famine, and pestilence; we’re not talking about next Wednesday. We’re talking about the future, and when we jump into that wrestling ring there are a lot of issues fighting for attention; population growth, infrastructure, the deficit; all of which may present a more immediate threat to life as we know it.

Second, it’s got a lot of science in it. You’ve said yourself; we’re not exactly a bunch of science whiz kids in this nation, so you can understand why a lot of us start glazing over when the temperature charts come out.

And third, for all of the science, there are still a lot of maybes. Maybe we can change what we do and make a difference, but we’re not sure how much; maybe if we don’t bad things will happen, but we’re not sure exactly how bad or when; maybe, maybe, maybe. I’m not trying to say the concerns are illegitimate, I’m just saying it’s hard for people to get their heads around complex cause-and-effect equations, let alone squishy ones.

Anyway, good luck with your work. Did you take a sweater? Global warming or not, we are in the cold and flu season. Call if you can, or as always when you travel, a postcard would be nice.



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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Lori

    I am really looking forward to your All The Best and All The Worst show. This will be my first Christmas with CNN. I just became a CNN/Anderson Cooper fan. I bumped into him in a restaurant last April and was impressed. He seems like a nice guy and I had to find out more on him.

    Anyway, I am an environmental planner. We called it global warming at first, because we realized that our emissions were creating chemical changes in the atmosphere (not just pollution) and producing a greenhouse effect and permanently trapping heat from the sun within the earth's atmosphere. We now realize that the greenhouse condition has spin-off effects leading to potentially extreme fluctuations in weather not to mention the potential for flooding and changed habitat over time.

    I suppose that a one- to three-foot increase in the mean high tide does not seem like much unless your house is on the ocean front. We have concern about this because the worst case scenario looks like New Orleans after Katrina in our environmental minds. We monitor criteria pollutants in emissions to predict the level of climate change from each of our activities and implement mitigation measures to offset impacts. The calculations look like a checkbook. Planting trees offset carbon (a credit) and a trip to the market for extra milk produces carbon (a debit). We use Carbon as the criteria pollutant for greenhouse gas formation.

    The importance of all of this to those focused on politics and economics follows. Since Carbon is the criteria pollutant of concern, it could be purchased and sold if everyone can agree on the unit value. Climate change is of world-wide importance. Everyone and every manmade thing has a carbon "footprint" resulting from the net amount carbon produced by activities.

    It's complicated. We live in a complicated world.

    December 10, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  2. Kim

    Sail boat and no cable but there is Talk Radio and that's a political rodeo. Global Warming is no scam ! Why there would even be a debate of reference is like smoking does not cause cancer. Rush hush and please stop throwing the political spit nasty spit balls of opinion and find factual solutions to your rhetoric. Solutions on the planet needed ! "Jobs Baby Jobs." Go Clinton !

    December 10, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  3. Tim Gibson

    You are the compass on my dashboard Tom. Honest and proven as a direction tool in navigation unlike the mysterious light in the sky to announce and behold the arrival of Obama in Norway.

    Climate change, evolution of our planet and the importance of Field Manual 3-24 in a "guide to action" and the long road ahead is in its self a paradox, to prepare for and contribute to national efforts in "doctrine," to COIN a phrase, is a big maybe in greeting with a hand shake or a hand gernade as nation builders and warriors.

    No "doctrine" has been so eagerly anticipated and so well received as Obama campaign to the oval office. It required a full spectrum dominance in any battle space. Relying on new standards and themes and an adherence to elements of a recognizable and revolutionary change.

    In the campaign on climate change and the challenges that may or may not be, based on what if, while aiming to win by undermining and outlasting public support will require creative efforts to meet. The squishy challenge remains immediate facts requiring action outweigh the lot of what ifs. There can be no "defense" when we have nothing left to defend.

    December 10, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  4. Elizabeth Healey : San Clemente,CA

    If people only realized how much global climate change is going to cost us financially in the future, perhaps they would think different. We seem to pay more attention when it hits us monetarily. We don't like that our kids, and grand-kids will still be paying for our bailouts, and our oil driven wars, yet we fail to think of of our children's futures as we drop them off at school in our over-sized gas guzzlers we don't need, and we would never think of purchasing carbon off sets for something that does not necessarily affect us yet. We have greedy 7-11 type mentalities – but no one wants to admit it, especially not our policy makers, because they are just as guilty as we are!!!

    December 10, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  5. Marcy

    I for one don't count the year complete until i've seen 360’s All the Best, All the Worst of 2009 at least twice 🙂

    December 10, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  6. SLM

    It's really hard to take any of their global warming scares seriously when the scientist are as corrupt as the rest of them and they have a financial stake in it with job security. Global warming has become to political to be trusted. Al Gore is personally invested in the success of our believing all the hype. Oh and guess I should go along with their new name, it is no longer called Global warming, new catch phrase is Climate change........guess that's cause the planet is actually cooling. Oh well, I've been around too long to fall for any new scare tactics or scientific proof, I still remember the Oat bran phase.

    December 10, 2009 at 8:46 am |