Expert answers to your most dire questions
Q: Paul, my dog was acting all screwy on a hike in the mountains. Can dogs be affected by barometric pressure?
A: It’s possible that your pooch was reacting to less oxygen at the higher altitude—a natural adaptation to the elevation. Your body, like Fido’s, breathes faster and more deeply to maximize the amount of oxygen that can get into the bloodstream from the lungs. I doubt it was the barometric pressure, per se, but rather a lack of oxygen (and possibly their favorite doggy treats). I have the same reaction when the beer runs out on Football Sundays.
Q: Does it bug you that global warming has somehow become a political issue?
A: Climate change should not be a political litmus test, in my humble opinion. I try to communicate the state of the science, not opinion or hyperbole. In spite of a few well-known skeptics, the vast majority of scientists emphatically agree that a roughly 35 percent increase in greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, are largely responsible for the warming we’ve experienced worldwide since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Our planet has undergone ice ages and dramatic warming trends in past eons, but this is the first time the warming is global and can’t be linked to an astronomical trigger, like changes in the Earth’s orbit or tilt on its axis.
Many people can’t separate the topic from Al Gore, whose film, An Inconvenient Truth, shined a bold light on global warming. However, you don’t have to like Al Gore to agree that climate change is real and deserving of our time and attention.
Q: Camping in the woods left me woozy. Could a swarm of mosquitoes or a tick have depleted my blood supply?
A: Science has yet to test this concept of tick versus mosquito blood-sucking, but Mayo Clinic’s information on fatigue and dehydration leads me to believe you weren’t getting enough fluids and proper sleep. Next time, drink more water. Trust me. I’m a weatherman.
Paul Douglas is a meteorologist, inventor, and businessman living in the Twin Cities. Got a tough question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.