Republican Meterologist To Romney: Top 10 Reasons The GOP Needs To Accept The Climate Reality

Posted on

"Republican Meterologist To Romney: Top 10 Reasons The GOP Needs To Accept The Climate Reality"

by Paul Douglas via Neorenaissance

During the Republican National Convention in Tampa, climate change became a punch line. “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet” Mitt Romney said.

(Pause for polite laughter)

My promise is to help you and your family.”

All well and good. But denying climate change won’t help any American family or our fledgling economy. And looking at the world with carbon-colored glasses, or using Solyndra as an excuse to snub renewables and clean-tech, is not only short-sighted, but makes America less competitive on the world stage. According to the World Economic Forum, America’s global competitiveness fell from 1st to 7th place since 2007. Should we just accept that most breakthrough energy technologies are originating in China and Europe, where there is no more “debate” about climate trends? Why is America still questioning the science? For political entertainment? Something tells me Mother Nature may get the last laugh.

To be fair, Romney later adjusted his position on climate change. “My best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming,” he said last week in an online debate with president Obama at ScienceDebate.org, “and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences.” Bravo! That’s leadership. But then sadly, in the very next sentence he veered into denial when he said “there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue.” This is simply not true, and a candidate for president needs to be dealing in reality on an issue like this. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree. That’s a consensus.

If it’s not raining, why are we getting wet?

As a Republican business owner, entrepreneur, meteorologist and father of two upbeat, optimistic boys, I may not fit the stereotype of a “global warming alarmist.” I’m an Evangelical Christian. I’m enthusiastic about streamlining government and letting the markets work. But unlike some, I see no inherent struggle between my faith and the ability of science to improve our understanding of the world. The Creator gave me a brain, to think and reason, and react to facts on the ground. And I’m disillusioned, because some in my party are pro-science-denial, and on the wrong side of history.

The word “conservative” no longer applies to the environment. The GOP’s new energy platform shows this, in a stunning departure from 2008. Don’t get me wrong. My party’s focus on the economy and putting Americans back to work is dead on. And America has been blessed with a rich supply of natural resources and innovative technologies to wean ourselves off foreign crude. But our fossil fuel frenzy is impacting the weather floating above our heads. Denying that it’s raining doesn’t keep you from getting wet, and climate change has gone from theory to reality — while our side fiddles away like Nero.

What the data tells me

climate extreme index

CEI. Climate Extreme Index. 46% of the USA experienced extremes in temperature and moisture (floods and droughts) in 2012, breaking the old record in 1934. Source: NOAA NCDC.

If any climate change skeptic had spent the year I have watching the weather maps – I’m confident they would be saying the same thing. These maps passed “normal” a long time ago. 2012 is the most severe year in recorded history; 46% of the USA has experienced extremes in moisture, drought, temperatures and tropical cyclones, breaking the old record set at the height of the Dust Bowl in 1934. This has been The Year of All or Nothing: drought or flood. And jaw-dropping weather is accomplishing what climate scientists couldn’t quite pull off: convincing a majority of reasonable, logical, God-fearing Americans that something is up. Something has changed.

I make predictions every day, and based on the data I’m seeing here’s my long-range prognosis. What we just experienced was not an aberration. It’s a conservative example (most climate scientists have been, if anything, extremely conservative in their projections) of what’s to come. Sizzling summers will become the norm in the years ahead. We may soon look back on 2012 with fondness for its mild weather. We’ve experienced 7 times more record highs than record lows in 2012; expect that lop-sided ratio to continue. Meteorologists will be spending more precious airtime tracking brushfires — when they’re not warning of impending floods. Nights will trend warmer and fewer subzero outbreaks will reach the continental US, a big silver lining for many. But both Greenland and the Arctic are melting faster than computer models predicted, with the Arctic shattering the old record set in 2007. Scientists were once predicting it would be ice-free in 2080 or 2090. Considering this acceleration we’re seeing, they’re now saying it could be as early at 2030, and some have even said 2015. You heard right. More water absorbing sunlight and less ice reflecting sunlight is accelerating a feedback effect, speeding the warming we’re already witnessing, worldwide.

A two-headed frog still might be a prince

On Earth Day I wrote a story for a blog post in Minnesota. The Huffington Post picked it up. A Republican concerned about climate change? Rare as a two-headed frog. And I can tell you, I got plenty of negative mail from conservatives. But here’s the thing: this isn’t a popularity contest. There’s too much on the line. Some in the GOP mock climate science, but most voters under the age of 30 take the subject very seriously. Dismissing it out of hand is not only disingenuous, but politically short-sighted, and is a failure to care for our children as our parents cared for us. Your kids are following this issue closely. They vote.

The weather has always been extreme. Why is this any different?” There’s no denying the trends. Actions have consequences. Releasing 90 trillion tons of greenhouse gas, 90 trillion hot air balloons of CO2 and methane in just the last 50 years, is spiking our weather extremes like never before. So rather than focus on the green skin of the messenger, put your ear up to hear what he’s saying.

Paul Douglas’s Top Ten Reasons to Accept Reality on the Climate

Here’s my Top Ten Reasons Why This Isn’t Business as Usual for the Climate – things that convince me — and should convince you too.

10). Shifting Weather Patterns – The jet stream is shifting north over time. I’m seeing things on the weather maps every other day that can’t be explained away as “normal extremes”.

9). Rising Sea Levels – whatever your skeptical uncle Joe says, seas are warming, and as they warm, they expand and sea level goes up. Most scientists predict 3-4 feet in the next 80 years or so. Think twice about buying that retirement condo right on the beach. Find something 4 blocks inland, and be patient.

8). Warmer, More Acidic Oceans – if you scuba dive, you’ve probably noticed that corals reefs aren’t what they used to be. That’s ocean acidification from absorbing carbon dioxide. It’s radically changing the ocean ecosystems and fisheries right now.

7). Straining Water Resources – water for drinking, “fracking”, farming, ethanol production, soda pop, or energy generation – whatever your flavor, it’s getting scarcer. That affects all of the above.

6). Dying Forests – not just by massive, historic wildfires, but by pests like the pine beetle that no longer gets killed off in the warmer winters, turning entire rocky mountains brown with dead pine trees.

5). Extreme Rains and More Severe Local Storms. 4-5% increase in atmospheric moisture – warmer air holds more moisture. That means it gets drier on the ground because more is absorbed by the atmosphere. But it also means when it rains, it rains harder as that higher water content rains out. But dry soil and heavy rains equal floods, and that means more damage and more water lost to runoff.

4). Spike in Wildfires – less water plus pine beetles and other crawly critters that kill trees plus drier soil means more wildfires.

3). More Drought — more water in the atmosphere means less on earth and thus more drought.

2). Superheated summers — the above combine to create hot, hot, hot summers. Drier air is hotter without water to moderate it. Hotter air absorbs even more, even quicker. And hotter air means more air conditioners, means more carbon going back into the atmosphere.

And the number one reason:

arctic sea ice extent

Arctic Sea Ice Monitor. The latest value: 3,593,750 square kilometers on September 9, 2012. A new record minimum of Arctic sea ice extent was set on August 24, 2012. The four lowest values of Arctic sea ice have been observed since 2007. Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Earth Observation Research Center.

1). Record Arctic Ice Loss. As I said, less ice reflecting means more water absorbing. We used to say the Arctic might be ice free by the middle of the century. Now scientists are saying it may happen as early as 2015. That’s in three years, people. The ice is melting this year at an unprecedented rate, and if we have another warm winter, it won’t be replenished. This could tip the scales for a lot of larger climate changes to come. A comprehensive article in the Wall Street Journal on September 7 summarized “…the six lowest Arctic sea ice levels on record all occurred in the past six years.”

How Mitt Romney can really help you and your family

With the problems facing America today, from record deficits to stubborn unemployment to Iran and The Bomb, why fixate on climate change? Because this will impact all our families; your kids and mine, as well as America’s competitive footing in the 21st century. If Mitt Romney is genuine about his promise to “help you and your family,” he needs to acknowledge this, and work for a solution that will solve both the economic and the climate crisis. He needs to help America to innovate our way into a new energy paradigm, one that will fuel growth, add jobs, and launch new companies focused on cleaner, more sustainable American energy sources.

Will the GOP rise to the occasion, or bet the farm on carbon, and ask our grandkids to deal with the mess? It’s time for bold leadership. Climate change is a threat, but it is also an opportunity to transition to a cleaner, greener, more sustainable economy. American Exceptionalism shouldn’t stop when it comes to innovating new energy sources. We have the technology and entrepreneurial DNA to mitigate climate change, foster innovative, job-producing clean energy technologies, and reinvent America’s economy. Let’s put it to work, Governor Romney. As one prominent supporter said at the convention: “Go ahead, make my day!

Paul Douglas is Founder and President of The Media Logic Group. Minnesota’s first Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, Douglas writes a daily print and online column for the Star Tribune. This piece was originally published at Neorenaissance and was reprinted with permission from the author.

« »

40 Responses to Republican Meterologist To Romney: Top 10 Reasons The GOP Needs To Accept The Climate Reality

  1. Paul Klinkman says:

    The Grand Old Party needs to accept climate reality because if it doesn’t, most voters will see the entire party as cultlike fools who can’t keep their story straight when pushed. Issues are nice, but why again should anyone vote for even one person that acts like a stooge?

  2. Curtis says:

    Reason #1 they will never accept the climate reality: They’re Republicans.

    • Lou Grinzo says:

      With all due respect, I think this is simplistic, Curtis.

      They are Republicans, which means, in 2012, that they’re living, breathing corporations. And that, in turn, means they will do absolutely anything that serves their needs. As long as they perceive that supporting these absurd policies and being CC deniers gets them even a single vote more than accepting the established science would, they won’t change.

      As soon as they think they’re suffering a net vote loss by their actions, they’ll change and try to convince us they never behaved otherwise.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        I have the feeling that Romney is such an opportunist, who says anything that he thinks will advantage him, and ignores any inconsistencies, that he might yet, if elected, be less bad than we fear. Of course, he may prove even worse, but the time left to the denialist industry is growing shorter. The longer they remain in denial, and the greater the damage they cause to humanity, the more virulent will be the inevitable reaction.

        • Dennis Tomlinson says:

          For those of us with a more conspiratorial bent, the masters of the GOP don’t care what Mr. Romney thinks or says. They know what they want to do, and their needs are satisfied with a president who will sing his name to important pieces of paper from time-to-time.

      • Mike Roddy says:

        I think that Republican leadership is more interested in money than votes. Red state Senators like McConnell are going to get elected anyway, and they don’t care if their climate madness ends up making the elections a little closer.

        We will see a pivot some day, though, as everything becomes even more obvious. The Republicans did it during the 70’s over Vietnam, all the “peace with honor” garbage while 20,000 more American soldiers died for nothing. Antiwar Senators like Fulbright and Morse were defeated, and the war hawks survived. The lesson in Congress was: never get ahead of the people, and it’s better to be a little bit behind them.

  3. squidboy6 says:

    Mitt, the Koch Bros., Adelson, and the rest will all be able to buy as much water and air conditioning that they want. Climate Change is going to kill both sides equally except these extremely rich so they don’t care what happens. Mitt isn’t going to provide for 99% of people he’s going to provide for the few.

    You should switch sides and do it very vocally. It’s like being a Log Cabin Republican, riches for me but nothing for everybody else. It doesn’t work for 8 billion people we’ll have when it hits the fan in 2030, or sooner.

    Good post otherwise.

  4. To see video of
    – Obama’s original remarks
    – Romney’s LOL about saving the planet at the RNC
    – And Obama’s response at the DNC

    http://www.NotFunnyMitt.com

    Add your own ‘joke’

  5. Ken Barrows says:

    Mr. Douglas,

    It’s not just about technology; it’s about changing the way we live…a lot. That goes for Evangelical Christians and atheists alike.

  6. D. R. Tucker says:

    It’s an all climate change show today with the latest news aspects of the story covered. First up Mike Stafford, a Republican lawyer turned Independent based on his party’s denial of scientific realities. Mike will discuss his latest column on Mitt Romney’s climate mockery comments. Next Jeff Gohringer, National Policy Director for the League of Conservation Voters, joins us to discuss a signature gathering drive to get climate change into the presidential debate questions. And we wrap up with Brad Johnson, Campaign Manager for Forecast The Facts, a group holding meteorologists accountable for connecting the weather dots.

    Read more: http://prn.fm/2012/09/12/green-front-connecting-weather-dots-091212/#ixzz26ItGiaD7
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

    • Mike Roddy says:

      Gohringer’s effort is very important. In the last presidential debate of 2004, Bob Schieffer asked nothing but social issue questions, gay marriage etc. That fits the Republicans’ agenda perfectly, and we need to hold the media accountable this time around.

  7. Chris says:

    The only science Romney accepts is quantum mechanics. Romney is in a quantum superposition of all possible positions. He is simultaneously for and against everything. When you observe him, his wavefunction collapses and he takes a randomly chosen position. If you repeat the experiment at a later time, you may or may not get the same result.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Does he have a cat?

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      A Richard Feynman quote comes to mind… The one about those who claim to understand Quantum Mechanics…

    • Rob Dekker says:

      I have not seen any evidence that Romney accepts the theory of quantum mechanics, but if he does, then he may want to check out radiative transfer theory, which is directly derived from QM. Which will immediately show him that greenhouse gasses such as CO2 and methane warm the planet, that increased H2O vapor on a warmer planet enhances that warming, and that the most significant warming will be in the Arctic, where sea ice is melting at a “faster than expected” rate.

      He may then also ask this question : “If Arctic sea ice is melting much faster than even the most aggressive liberal scientists expected, this “global warming” thing has a probability of being correct and underestimated, and maybe us conservatives are a bit behind the facts, and have some catching up to do on scientific facts, instead of us harrassing climate scientists with FOI act requests, venting pesonal attacks via the Murdock media networks, and filing lawsuits agaist the very same scientists that presented data that looked like unscientific but now turns out to be freakingly accurate reality”.

  8. Leif says:

    “Don’t get me wrong. My party’s focus on the economy and putting Americans back to work is dead on.” Leave off the “on” and your statement is accurate Paul, IMO.

    Not any job, only Green Jobs can start to move the economies of the world out of the morass. As long as capitalism has the ability to profit, handily I would add, from polluting the commons, every “Black” job just digs the hole deeper. Only green jobs ADD VALUE to the economy and start to rejuvenate Earth’s life support systems as well as the economy via energy from the renewable sector.
    Corporations are “People” now for better or worse. Speaking as a “Real People”, if I throw a paper cup out the car window, bingo, ~$100 fine. ($1,000 in Alaska.) Corpro/People can pollute the air, water, dirt, and oceans with Toxins and the dirtiest Corpro/People have become richest Corpro/People in the world and the foundation of Western Capitalism. Even the breast milk my Daughter-in Law feeds the Grand daughter is contaminated with their toxins, as does the tits and every other mammal in the world! Still Corpro/People get rich and even subsidized with YOURS & MY TAX MONEY. And I cannot stop it. GOP don’t fund abortion. Fine. A precedent. How come I must fund the Ecocide of Earth’s life support systems? Go figure. Please help! Stop profits from the pollution of the commons…. PLEASE…

    • Pamela Dritt says:

      “Not any job, only Green Jobs can start to move the economies of the world out of the morass. As long as capitalism has the ability to profit, handily I would add, from polluting the commons, every “Black” job just digs the hole deeper. Only green jobs ADD VALUE to the economy and start to rejuvenate Earth’s life support systems as well as the economy via energy from the renewable sector.”

      Right! I echo your cries of despair, made worse by watching good, cheap, workable solutions (like a carbon tax) pass by unmentioned by news media and politicians alike. Why can’t they realize that the job-creating economic system and the environmental system are linked? To really solve either problem would solve both.

      I’d like to quote your comment everywhere, if I may?

  9. Juli Viel says:

    Great Article. Now we just need to inform 314 million other Americans about global warming/climate change and what mess we are leaving our children. The Democrats have no more spine to attack this problem than the Republicans. They also keep supporting the “black industries”. My question is don’t the tea partiers, flip flopper Romney, big business people have children that they know will need to rely on the earth for their food.

  10. There are voters and then there are funders.

    Q: What do you do when the voters care about some about taking climate action but your funders care passionately about avoiding climate action?

    A: Do the Romney weasel waffle. To be fair pretty much all GOP politicians are doing the same thing. Even Obama has learned his lesson.

    The only financially safe time to talk climate for American pols is when the funding phase is over…just before the election. And then only in swing states where it matters.

  11. sailrick says:

    Yes Lief. And those commons?

    Mitt Romney
    “I don’t know what public lands are for”

    For Mitt, they are for things like Peabody Coal buying coal from the commons for $1/ton and selling it China at $123/ton, thereby helping China add to global warming.

  12. NJP1 says:

    seems like a conflict of ideas here
    the evangelical Christian, by every definition in the book, must believe in the second coming of a deity (the same stuff has been proposed by countless faiths down the ages) that fact is inescapable and beyond dispute
    That being so, then when that being shows up, he will restore the world to it’s original pristine condition, as promised (whatever that was)
    That being the case, the evangelical need do nothing to preserve the world we live in. Indeed, to concern himself with that would be to demean the power of the almighty one and possibly incur his displeasure at presuming to interfere with his divine plan for all of us.
    In spite of all the promises, no ethereal being has ever showed up and basing future performance on past incarnations, it seems unlikely to happen. so we may have to live with the mess we’ve made

    • Sloop says:

      What an offensive, misguided, narrow-minded stereotyping of evangelicals.
      I am a progressive democrat and devote zen buddhist. I likely adhere to quite different opinions on politics, religion, etc. than Mr. Douglas. But I am more than ready, eager, to reach out to anyone committed to climate change mitigation and adaptation, especially republicans and conservative christians.
      Second, evangelicals are able just as easily conclude that God made me responsible for caring for his kingdom on earth, so I’d better get to it, just as Mr. Douglas states for himself. The idea that we should give up because it’s all in god’s hands anyway is in my view a huge distortion of any kind of credible christian ethics.
      All religions (and anti-religions) are flawed or imperfect. All humans are consumed by personal desires and fear of the Other. Making those whose views differ from yours the enemy only perpetuates more suffering for all us. Get real!

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        ‘Christian ethics’, like that wag, MK Gandhi observed of ‘Western Civilization’, would be a good idea. Only problem is that the Bible contains sufficient, clearly contradictory, stuff to justify any position. The Rightwing ‘Çhristian’ mostly follows the Old Testament, where there is sufficient ammunition for every type of hate, from racism, homophobia and misogyny, to hatred of environmentalists. The less hate-wracked followers of the Nazarene come to a different worldview, yet each claim him as their Redeemer. But, I ask you-can you really imagine Jesus finding the greed-crazed destruction of the Creation, wrought by his alleged followers, anything but an Unforgiveable Sin.

  13. Rick says:

    Paul Douglas does yeoman’s work by daily publishing the latest climate data and reports along with his daily local weather predictions in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. His blog is daily reading, and he’s a tireless advocate for climate policy.

  14. Timeslayer says:

    “And I’m disillusioned, because some in my party are pro-science-denial, and on the wrong side of history.”

    Dr. Douglas,

    Respectfully, this is unfair. It’s not “some in your party”- it’s your party’s official platform and your presidential candidate’s position.

    Based on what you wrote, it’s clear that you are NOT an idiot. Why suggest otherwise by continuing to call yourself a Republican?

    TS

  15. The Oracle says:

    What!?!?

    A Republican NOT calling for tax cuts for the wealthiest while at the same time calling for cutting our government down to the bone, cutting We The People programs that help We The People during both personal, local, national and global disasters?

    Shocked. I’m shocked, I tell ya’. (Not really).

    What’s missing from this article is any suggestion about how to address this global disaster. I respect Dr. Douglas immensely for at least recognizing the “Houston, we have a problem” aspect of climate change, but the severity of this problem facing humanity requires a vigorous and coordinated response, one which requires doing exactly the OPPOSITE of what the Republican Party has been pushing for decades and keeps promoting, “conservative” policies that keep digging America (and many Americans) deeper into a hole.

    And “Ayn Rand” Tea Party Republicans are the most extreme. But taxes on the wealthiest. Cut social programs (and government environmental regulations) to the bone. Cut the size of our government (that is, fire government employees) even as our nation’s population has increased and more public employees are needed to service We The People. Think of this looming Climate Catastrophe as requiring a FEMA-like response, not a private for-profit contractor response, a FEMA-like government response.

    Instead over the past ten years, we’ve seen Republicans drive up the federal deficit by the trillions (over $5 Trillion added to national debt during the eight years of Bush/Cheney, foreign wars waged for oil, a government/taxpayer bail-out of corporate Wall Streeters who crashed the economy in 2008, two Bush tax cuts that primarily helped the wealthiest). Everything that Republicans did (and continue to do) exacerbate addressing rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and possibly mitigating the looming Climate Catastrophe (if it’s not already here). And if rising CO2 concentrations (with the resulting heating and melting) trigger a Methane release, then all bets are off, the future of our nation’s and the world’s children is screwed. And it doesn’t matter if the parents of these children are wealthy or poor, they’re all screwed. And who needs Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, universal healthcare coverage, pensions, etc., if the goal is to murder everyone, which seems to be the overriding goal of the most radical elements of the Republican Party today?

  16. Evan Ravitz says:

    In point #5, it’s important that water vapor is a POWERFUL greenhouse gas. So, since water vapor is up 4-5%, that not only makes weather more extreme, it hastens the warming, which means more water vapor, which further hastens warming, etc. This is what scientists (stupidly, I think) call “positive feedback.” Most people call it a “vicious cycle.”

  17. “But unlike some, I see no inherent struggle between my faith and the ability of science to improve our understanding of the world. The Creator gave me a brain, to think and reason, and react to facts on the ground. And I’m disillusioned, because some in my party are pro-science-denial, and on the wrong side of history.”

    Thanks for saying this. For the life of me, I don’t see why there has to be a contradiction between a belief in the mysterious and science. Science explains how things work, not why. In a sense, the more we know about how things work, the more mysterious they are.

    I know that some people are stuck with the idea that a 2,000 year-old book is the only valid explanation of how things work, but they don’t have to be.

    • sailrick says:

      “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”

      “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”

      Both by Albert Einstein

  18. James Grossmann says:

    Dr. Douglas,

    Your account of climate change is cogent and obviously authoritative.

    Your hope that the Republican Party will respond intelligently to climate change is absurd.

    Modern American conservatives will neither do nor say anything that undermines the short-term interests of oil industry CEO’s, who would doubtless be content to retire to any comfortable latitude while the rest of the world swelters.

  19. “Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me.”

    “The young man went away sad for he had many possessions.”

    “They have Moses and the Prophets. If they do not believe these, they will not believe if a man were to rise from the dead.”

    “A man cannot serve two masters.”

    I’m not saying you’re wrong on the climate. I’m just wondering why you’re a Republican.

  20. Stuart says:

    Here in Minnesota the effects of climate change are becoming too great to ignore or write off as natural variation. Lake Superior is rapidly warming, much faster than the surrounding land due to decreased albedo from lack of winter ice. The old timers know things are not right.

  21. Gerald Einem says:

    We need to expose the fossil fuel industries true agenda, to sell carbon based fuels at all costs to the planet and our childern.Don’t let them hide behind slick TV adds and thier silver tounged pupet politicians.