Profile in Courage: Republican meteorologist Paul Douglas

Here’s veteran TV meteorologist Paul Douglas (“A Message from a Republican Meteorologist on Climate Change):

“I’m going to tell you something that my Republican friends are loath to admit out loud:  climate change is real.   I am a moderate Republican, fiscally conservative; a fan of small government, accountability, self-empowerment, and sound science.

“I am not a climate scientist.  I’m a meteorologist, and the weather maps I’m staring at are making me uncomfortable.  No, you’re not imagining it:  we’ve clicked into a new and almost foreign weather pattern. . .

“To complicate matters, I’m in a small, frustrated and endangered minority:   a Republican deeply concerned about the environmental sacrifices some are asking us to make to keep our economy powered-up, long-term.

“It’s ironic.  The root of the word conservative is ‘conserve.’  A staunch Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, set aside vast swaths of America for our National Parks System, the envy of the world.   Another Republican, Richard Nixon, launched the EPA. . . “

Three weeks later, Douglas fleshed out his position — and his biography — in “Climate Change Has Nothing to Do With Al Gore,” (Business Week, 4/19/12)

“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. . .

“There’s more heat and moisture in the atmosphere, and our emissions are largely responsible for keeping it there.  .  .

“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. . . .

“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.”

But truth-telling carries a price:

“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.”

Can you think of anything more important today than seeing more pro-science conservatives speak out?    I can’t.    Unfortunately, in today’s tribal politics, once an ideological shibboleth has hardened, failure to utter it correctly risks ostracism— and a flood of hate mail.

For conservatives today, simply accepting well-established science—as affirmed by every major scientific academy in the world— has become an act of courage.  Just ask  Jon “Call-Me-Crazy” Huntsman.     Or Commentary’s Peter Wehner (“A thoughtful conservative perspective.”)     Or libertarian economist Jonathan Adler.    Or Paul Douglas.

Leave a Reply