Meteorologists are not known for being green, let alone Republican ones. However, recently Paul Douglas offered his thoughts on climate change and proved both stereotypes wrong in this case. Douglas is a self-proclaimed moderate Republican, founder of five different companies and Penn State meteorologist. Since 1979 his life has been tracking weather for our convenience and safety on the television.
Despite his political leanings, he is adamant that the effects of global warming is not a hoax, but a very real, scientific challenge that we all need face, be it instaling solar panels on our homes or curtailing our dependence on oil. It wasn’t always so cut and dry for him however. Throughout the 1980s, Douglas was also skeptical that an upward trend in global temperatures were truly the result of man made gases.
Tthis notable upward trend,however, continued consistently. By the mid-90s, even Douglas had no choice but to acknowledge these unsettling changes. At this point, the weather was becoming remarkably erratic, unpredictable and intense; far more than usual.He began including climate statistics in daily weather segments on television such as annual trends in flash-flooding, hail, humidity, decreased snowfall and the like.
Sadly, Douglas found that mixing climate and weather was a problem in local TV news given its reliance on Q-scores and market research. In 2008, he lost his job in local TV. Douglas did however continue to write a daily column for the Star Tribune. According to Douglas, “Mixing climate news in with weather reports made me a lightning rod for skeptics there, too. The flame-mail was relentless”
Douglas felt strongly about speaking out and he continued to, despite hate mail. Douglas discovered that climate science demonstrates that over a long period of time, the actual statistics have changed. Things that used to happen frequently, such as consistent winter snow cover, now occur much less reliably.
Furthermore, bizarre weather extremes that used to occur rarely, now happen with increasing frequency such as intense drought or dangerous wildfires. New statistics that previously would never have occurred at all, now do happen such as the 15,000 new U.S. temperature records in March alone. Meteorological reasoning simply cannot explain these frightening facts.
According to Douglas, the changes are tiny pieces of a much larger puzzle. When pieced together one can see the full puzzle: There is simply more heat and moisture in the atmosphere, and our emissions are largely responsible for keeping it there. This millennium’s first decade was the warmest on record. Amazingly, it included nine out of 10 of the hottest years to date.
Greenhouse gas levels are at their highest in 800,000 years. Clearly, there are far too many coincidences not to take this seriously. Furthermore, Douglas acknowledges the sheer lunacy in the premise that by releasing 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year is somehow safe and perfectly okay.
The truth is, regardless of Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative; extremes are simply becoming more extreme. According to Douglas himself,
“We’ve turned climate science into a bizarre litmus test for conservatism. To pretend that heat-trapping gases can be waved away with a nod and a smirk is political fairytale….There is a large and growing body of evidence. The way nature works applies the same to Republican and Democrat, Christian and Muslim, animal, tree and stone. Why do people who profess to love and follow God roll their eyes? Luke 16:2 says ‘Man has been appointed as a steward for the management of God’s property, and ultimately he will give account for his stewardship.’ It’s a message that my father put succinctly: Actions have consequences.”