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Republican Meteorologist: Climate Change Has Nothing To Do With Al Gore

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"Republican Meteorologist: Climate Change Has Nothing To Do With Al Gore"

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by Paul Douglas, via Bloomberg Businesweek

I’m a moderate Republican — a fan of small government, light regulation and market solutions. A serial entrepreneur, I founded companies that invented 3-D television weather graphics and the first app on a cell phone. I’m a Penn State meteorologist. My day-job since 1979: tracking weather for TV news.

If you know anything about American politics these days, and follow the climate war at all, you might anticipate with some confidence that I agree global warming is a hoax. That’s a shame, and I hope it changes soon.

In the 1980s I was skeptical that an upward blip in global temperatures was the result of manmade gases. Then the blips persisted. By the mid-90s I began to see them as unsettling changes. The weather was becoming erratic and even more unpredictable than usual. Storms were more frequent and intense. Curious, I began including climate statistics in daily TV weather segments, like annual trends in flash-flooding, hail, summer humidity, fewer subzero nights and decreased snowfall.

Mixing climate and weather was a problem in local TV news, with its reliance on Q-scores and market research. Finally, in 2008 I lost my job in local TV. I continued to write a daily column for the Star Tribune. Mixing climate news in with weather reports made me a lightning rod for skeptics there, too. The flame-mail was relentless. “Stop proselytizing, you crazy liberal – climb back under your rock!” wrote one reader. That’s one of the tamer, more family-friendly messages I’ve received.

I don’t take speaking out on this topic lightly. My father escaped a communist regime in East Germany, moved to the U.S. and became a Republican. He taught me to never take my freedom for granted. He taught me “actions have consequences.” That’s true of nations as it is of individuals. It is sheer lunacy to pretend that releasing 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year won’t come back to bite us.

Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get, the saying goes. Climate is the weather over a long period of time — 15 or 30 years. We’ve pushed the bell curve of ‘average weather’ in a new and more extreme direction. There are simply too many coincidences not to take this seriously.

Climate science shows that over a long period of time, the statistics have changed. Things that used to happen a lot, like consistent winter snow cover, are happening less reliably. Things that happened every now and then, like droughts and wildfires, are happening more reliably. And things that almost never happened — such as the 15,000 new U.S. temperature records in March — sometimes now do occur. And they can’t be explained with purely meteorological reasoning.

The changes we’re seeing, far more than I can list here, seem like an accumulation of coincidences. Pieced together, reveal the full puzzle: There’s more heat and moisture in the atmosphere, and our emissions are largely responsible for keeping it there.

The millennium’s first decade was the warmest on record and included nine of the 10 hottest years. Greenhouse gas levels are at their highest in 800,000 years. Less heat is escaping the top of the atmosphere in the wavelengths of greenhouse gases. For the first time, scientists have recorded both hemispheres are warming – and the global temperature spike can’t be linked to an astronomical trigger, such as solar variability. Great Lakes peak ice has seen a 71 percent drop since 1973. Winters are shorter. Lakes melt earlier. Plants are moving north.

Worldwide, 95% of land-based glaciers are losing mass. September Arctic sea ice has lost 10 percent of its area every decade. Sea levels are rising. Oceans are 30 percent more acidic. Flooding and extreme storms are spiking in frequency and intensity. Last winter was the 4th warmest on record, despite the cooling influence of a La Nina phase in the Pacific.

Extremes are becoming more extreme. And none of it has anything to do with Al Gore.

During a 2007 homecoming banquet for Iraqi war vets I asked my personal hero, Senator John McCain, if he thought this could all be some cosmic coincidence. He rolled his eyes. “Paul, I just returned from the Yukon, where a village elder presented me with a tomahawk that had just melted out of the permafrost. The answer is no.”

How did so much of the Republican Party enter perpetual denial? 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. No harm. No foul. Keep drilling.

I’m a Christian and ultimately come to Christ through faith. With climate change no faith is required. 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.

Paul Douglas is a Twin Cities meteorologist and the founder of five companies, including WeatherNation TV, a new 24-hour weather channel. This piece was originally published at Bloomberg Businessweek and was reprinted with permission from the author.

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20 Responses to Republican Meteorologist: Climate Change Has Nothing To Do With Al Gore

  1. PC Bob says:

    OK, so maybe there IS something to this global warming, after all. But, giving the third world nations a free ride by allowing them to generate MORE CO2 and restricting the more advanced nations isn’t going to solve the problem, either. Either we ALL cut back, using less-intrusive forms of energy, or else we will all face the consequences.

    • Paul Magnus says:

      The only way forward is to cut back each own emissions. Leading by example as negotiation is futile.

      The first step in any negotiation is to make that step yourself.

    • Anne van der Bom says:

      Hell no! Climate change is for more than 90% the cause of our historic emissions. Of course we can’t give *them* a free ride when addressing those problems that we caused. That would be unfair. I’d say we cut their supply already. Just to be safe.

    • sailrick says:

      the vast majority of the excess CO2 from human emissions that is now resident in the atmosphere, was put there by the industrialized countries, mostly in the west, over the past 100 years plus.

      “In the Developing World, Solar Is Cheaper than Fossil Fuels
      Technology Review has an article about the developing world leap-frogging straight to solar power in the absence of reliable grids ”

      {read it at Peak Energy}

  2. Raul M. says:

    The way nature works applies the same…
    Nice line and easy to remember, thanks.

  3. Sasparilla says:

    Excellent piece, so well put together and logically laid out. I salute you Mr. Douglas – keep speaking the truth.

    I can’t imagine the hate mail this poor guy gets, as someone else once said:

    “Hell hath no fury like vested interest(s) whose future power and profits are being threatened”

    • Raul M. says:

      Actually there is a price on such garbage. Back when the storms hit in the gulf of pollution, many oil workers and supply rigs noticed they were doing much more than a smirk and nod to the warnings. Even with notice of impending disaster, a storm took one oil rig “huge thing” and slammed it into a bridge. Was a big deal.

  4. BBHY says:

    It is important to note that the situation is not that climate scientists noticed a warming trend and then went to find a reason for it and decided on global warming theory.

    In fact, the climate scientists predicted that the excess CO2 in the atmosphere would cause warming long in advance of any evidence of the warming trend that we now see so clearly.

    That is why we should take their predictions of future warming so seriously.

  5. M Tucker says:

    “The flame-mail was relentless. “Stop proselytizing, you crazy liberal – climb back under your rock!” wrote one reader. That’s one of the tamer, more family-friendly messages I’ve received.”

    Feel the love from the “big tent” Republican Party. What’s the matter Paul? Did you expect them to welcome you with open arms? These are the folks you are trying to reach with facts and reason. Good luck with that.

  6. David Lewis says:

    I visited the website of your hero John McCain to see if there was any mention at all of climate change.

    I could find nothing at all. Zero.

    Can you explain why this US Senator who has nothing to say publicly about this issue you care about is your hero?

  7. Ozonator says:

    Extremist Republicans and Christians are just using might to negate the millions of people who have mastered any education to loot heritage resources.

  8. kindler says:

    Thank you for your courage in speaking the truth. It’s so refreshing to see a Christian who actually follows what Jesus had to say. Keep up the good stewardship.

  9. And there is not a single reporter in the main stream news who has the guts to ask Romney how he justifies his energy policy when the additional carbon will cause so much harm.

    And if they did, they would get fired.

  10. Peter says:

    There is much confusion here in Mr. Douglas’ beliefs. He still says he believes in small government. He father he says taught him the importance of ‘freedom’ an overused word thrown about like cheap confetti by the T Party and Libertarians. Yet his new found ‘understanding’ of the facts and truth of global warming clash with the republican party’s dark doctrine of denial, lies, misinformation and criminal behavior in regards to AGW but also to basic human rights.

    Douglas might be better off leaving the GOP- since by now he really has no place in their diminishing ‘tent’.

  11. Tim says:

    You’re a “moderate Republican”? Sorry Paul, but that is now an oxymoron. I’m a liberal, but I don’t call myself a Democrat. Call yourself an independent, or even a conservative, if that is what you are. Why on earth would you still call yourself a “Republican”?

    • Digby Dellums says:

      Tim – Spoken like a true paleo-conservative: Don’t address the issue, distract and confuse with extraneous matters.

  12. Steveintulsa says:

    “How did so much of the Republican Party enter perpetual denial?”

    Good simple question. It has a good simple answer. One word answer, actually. MONEY. The republican party – and now much of the news media – is too invested in Big Oil. Take away the campaign money from Big Oil (Exxon/Mobil, Koch Industries, et.al), the advertising revenue from the media.

    The bottom line the GOP must answer to is its willingness to inflict catastrophic climate consequences on the human race for the next 1,000 years in order to buy a couple more decades of Big Oil profits.

    It’s always the same with the GOP. Nothing has ever changed. It’s ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY.

  13. Some Guy says:

    This is a sad pattern. People on the political right when they have expertise in one field tend to take the line, “I agree with the party on everything except this one area, where I happen to be an expert.”

    This allows the overall policy of a party to remain uniformed and misguided. People who are experts in the medical field might disagree with their party’s position on medical issues, but agree that global warming is a hoax. And vice vera, and so on…

    I sometimes wonder if you tried to make a right leaning party by getting all the experts in each particular field to guide policy, then you’d end up in the centre or even a little left.

  14. Brian says:

    This guy isn’t a climate scientist so this entry has no point.