Montgomery () - Recent analysis of the flight logs
of ADEM's private plane reveal a level of activity that in fact may be contributing to the drought problem in Alabama. Although ADEM's official position is not to take a position on the causes of climate change, studies
have shown that national aircraft traffic causes a 2 degree variation in the daily high and low temperatures throughout the country. The sheer number of flights (147) by ADEM between May 2006 and April 2008 has a number of scientists concerned. State Climatologist John R. Christy has admitted some correlation between high altitude exhaust and temperature changes. "I'm not prepared to say that the drought was caused by ADEM and not by God," said Christy, "but I can't deny the possibility.
"Does a slight temperature variation really matter in the grand scheme of things," asked ADEM director Onis "Trey" Glenn from the tarmac at Montgomery Regional Airport. "Take this aerial surveillance flight to Destin for instance. Is it more important for us to look for pollution or keep our plane on the ground?" Records show numerous such aerial surveillance flights, including fourteen to Alabaster over an 18 month period. Some potential violators were spotted but, "from the air it is difficult to pinpoint the exact culprit," said Glenn. "Therefore, we have not followed up on any findings at this time. But we'll keep trying." The purpose of a number of flights to Gulf Shores, Atlanta, Destin, Columbia SC, New Orleans, Orlando, Tampa and Tunica also included surveillance missions as well as passenger transportation.
"We aren't just doing aerial surveillance either," said Glenn. "Take our recent visit to a Montgomery Biscuits game where we used Alabama Power furnished equipment to perform air monitoring. All of this data will be part of our complete and accurate contribution to the Climate Registry." ADEM is a member of the Climate Registry which tracks greenhouse gas emissions. "We participate, but I haven't been to any of their meetings in a while since they take place so far away," said Glenn.
"I think what we are doing for this state far outweighs any unsubstantiated claims that our aerial surveillance contributes to drought," said Glenn. "Besides, the drought has been good for business."