Tilting Against the Wind
Weatherman Paul Douglas talks straight on climate change
image by Travis Anderson / www.travisandersonphoto.com
To hear a full interview with Paul Douglas, visit Utne.com/Douglas.
Paul Douglas is a weatherman, and this is his long-term forecast: “Our kids and grandkids are going to live in a different world.” Meaning a warmer world, for the 51-year-old Minnesotan believes the earth’s climate is changing, and we are to blame.
It’s a position that puts him at odds with some of his weathercaster brethren, who are surprisingly likely to be skeptics on the issue, whether privately or publicly (see main story). Douglas feels beholden to make climate change a part of the “weather story” he tells daily.
“As television station meteorologists, we have an obligation to reflect the scientific consensus that climate change is taking place,” he says. “I think many of my colleagues who are misrepresenting the science are being shortsighted.”
Douglas has a platform different from most weathercasters’, and thus more freedom than many to speak his mind. He once was a traditional weatherman on a Minneapolis network affiliate, WCCO-TV, but after being “outsourced” he became the CEO and star talent of WeatherNation, a company that delivers tailor-made online forecasts to TV stations, cable channels, websites, and newspapers in 27 U.S. markets. So he’s basically the “local” weatherman in many areas, and along with his forecasts he delivers nuggets of climate-change information.
Douglas often takes pains to point out the difference between weather—what we see outside our window—and climate, the long-term atmospheric changes that play out over decades or centuries. He delivers more pointed messages, too. One of his newspaper forecasts for the Minneapolis Star Tribune was titled “Keeping an Open Mind” and began:
“As a Christian and recovering Republican, many people ask how I can possibly believe that climate change is real. My answer: There is a place for science, and peer-reviewed climate scientists have spoken.”