Tilting Against the Wind
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Many TV weathercasters never touch climate change in their forecasts, let alone politics or religion. His candor is proof that Douglas is a man who believes it’s time to stop dancing around difficult topics and get down to talking about them. The son of a conservative household who still more closely identifies with Republicans than with Democrats, he rues the fact that climate change has become a partisan topic.
“Science is science,” he says. “How has this become a political litmus test? I think a lot of it stems from Al Gore. Al Gore is the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to climate science. People think that for me to buy in to climate science, I have to endorse Al Gore.”
Douglas believes there might be something to the theory that meteorologists are keenly aware of the limitations of computer models in day-to-day weather forecasting.
“We get burned so often with these models, just trying to predict what’s going to happen tomorrow, I think there’s a natural skepticism that is hard for some meteorologists to avoid,” he says. “They’re very wary of modeling in general, and so they equate short-term model discrepancies and errors [with] larger climate models, which look 20, 30, 50 years into the future. It’s simplistic to have that mind-set, but there is a built-in skepticism about models in general.”
Ultimately, this weatherman’s climate change awareness campaign is not just a scientific but also a moral imperative.
“My grandkids are going to be pissed,” he says. “They’re going to ask what did you know, when did you know, and what did you do about it? Did you sit on your hands? Did you deny this? Or did you open your mouth and at least try to point out that something is going on here that we ignore at our peril?”
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