Tilting Against the Wind

Weatherman Paul Douglas talks straight on climate change

| May-June 2010

  • Paul Douglas

    image by Travis Anderson / www.travisandersonphoto.com

  • Paul Douglas

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:

R Cree
4/23/2010 7:07:18 PM

"Science is science." Obviously, the weatherman is not much of a scientist. Just because the concensus of the scientists making a living off government grants theorizing about global warming say that the data says that it is true---doesn't necessarily make it true. Remember the Club of Rome and their dire predictions about food and resource shortages and famine coming in the 1970's. They were wrong--very wrong and their predictions were simplistic because they used simplistic assumptions for complex systems. Just because your models are bigger and more complex, doesn't make your predictions any better if your assumptions are wrong or how you calculate the statistics over various time frames. So think of science as psuedoscience based on someone's or some group's political agenda. If you really want to see how screwed up and political and unreliable science has become, just read Edith Effrom's APOCALYTICS: CANCER and the BIG LIE from the 1980's on how political and misguided psuedoscience has become.

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