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Paul Douglas: 'I’m a recovering Republican, and I don’t recognize my party any more'

Tuesday's record-low barometric pressure has meteorologist Paul Douglas feeling low about the Grand Old Party.

The lefty site Think Progress caught up with Douglas in the wake of what he dubbed the "Landicane of '10." Though Douglas didn't link the low-pressure "bomb" to global warming on his Star Tribune blog, Think Progress asked him about "about the numerous conservative global warming deniers in his own state," referencing Minnesota Republicans Tom Emmer, Michele Bachmann and Congressional candidates Chip Cravaack and Randy Demmer.

Douglas's reply:

I’m a recovering Republican, and I don’t recognize my party any more. I’m ashamed so many Republicans don’t recognize the science. The writing is on the wall. ...

My dad was the biggest Republican that ever walked the earth. He always said: “Actions have consequences.” To pretend that a 38 percent increase in greenhouse gases isn’t going to have any impact, that we can have our cake and eat it too, and smear it all over our face, and maybe have our grandchildren deal with the hangover, I think it is immoral.

Though I haven't heard Douglas talk so openly about his partisanship, it shouldn't shock anyone; he's been a lightning rod for global-warming skeptics and deniers since his KARE11 and WCCO days. Douglas speaks to many groups about climate change, and his Weather Nation has a deal with Conservation Minnesota.

Even though West Virginia Democratic U.S. Sen. nominee Joe Manchin recently took a gun to the cap-and-trade bill, Republicans have been far more hostile to the idea humans are causing catastrophic climate shifts.

[Hat tip: Midwest Energy News.]

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Comments (15)

"Actions have consequences."

Yes, indeed. Or, to use another truism as rendered by Robert Heinlein, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch". Anyone raised with a respect for the truth and a grounding in basic science knows that this is so. Denial of human impact on our environment is simply irrational.

Inaction, too, has its consequences. It's popular among conservatives these days to criticize government deficit spending as stealing from our children. But they are happy to consume the finite resources of our one and only planet, to degrade it, diminish it, and literally suck the life out of it, while leaving the consequences for their children and grandchildren. The ultimate case of eating your seed corn.

Nice family values. And yes, such a position is immoral.

Bravo to Mr. Douglas for his intellectual and scientific integrity. He's not the only one that doesn't recognize today's republican party.

In the book "Hot, Flat, & Crowded," author Tom Friedman writes of a courageous meterologist Heidi Cullen, of the Weather Channel.

Going against the grain of reporting weather only, she attempted to place the conditions in the context of climate change. Cullen faced a lot of opposition, despite her colleagues' also being certified by the American Meterological Society, which had taken an official position that recognized climate change.

Understandably, people often get upset when they get what they perceive to be politics mixed with their weather. But as the bold folks like Heidi Cullen and Paul Douglas recognize, this misses a superb opportunity to educate people about objective data that has real impact on every day life.

Hopefully more professionals like them will get the courage to wade into the advocacy for quality-of-life matters at the center of questions surrounding climate change.

"Denier" is a loaded term, which should be reserved for those who deny the holocaust. Global warmongers should be willing to continue the discussion, rather than denying that there is a discussion.

Notable local skeptics include Channel 4 meteorologist Mike Fairborn and Channel 5 meteorologist Dave Dahl.

Funny that you would try to make the link between low atmospheric pressure and global warming. The release of carbon into the atmosphere would tend to have the opposite effect.

I ithink there are lots of Republicans that have not yet realized their party has left them.

The problem is it's human nature to avoid innovation when you're comfortable, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires innovation from, or forced upon, people comfortable with fossil fuels. It requires changes in lifestyles that we can't entirely predict, and it requires actions that challenge our ideologies. A lot of environmentalists are rethinking nuclear power, and while not many of us are for it yet, we have by and large had to move from "no" to "if certain problems were solved". Conservatives have their belief in government doing only certain things being challenged by the unavoidable fact only the government can do some things.

It's comforting to think the people telling us something we don't want to believe have bad motives or are making it up. Such thinking is right often enough that it can become a default position.

Steve, are you saying releasing carbon dioxide should mean no more low pressure? That makes no sense. It's not like global warming will abolish weather.

You'll also find no matter what one TV weatherman says, most meteorologists are with Paul Douglas, as is almost every climatologist not on a coal company payroll. If you're going to argue from the authority of an expert, then at least recognize where almost every expert is.

Eric:

No. I was pointing out the author's laughable attempt to link a low pressure event with global warming. During a Mars winter, atmospheric pressure drops due to carbon dioxide freezing out of the atmosphere. The pressure increases when the carbon dioxide returns to the atmosphere.

It sounds as if your are denying that there is a discussion, falling back on the oft used "settled science" argument.

Steve, "denier" is absolutely the appropriate term here. While there is discussion about the extent of man-made climate change, there is no discussion about whether it is occuring at all. Well, at least no discussion among climate scientists. The fact that meteorologists like Fairborn and Dahl are considered rebutting experts is a testament to the scientific illiteracy in this country. These guys aren't remotely qualified to weigh in on climate change. They haven't researched this. Now, Douglas isn't qualified either on his own, but his opinions are actually based on the research of climate scientists, which he is very well versed in.

When you have scientific evidence on one side, and people who just don't want to believe it on the other, you may have a political debate, but you don't have a scientific one.

While extreme weather on a macro level is a symtom of climate change, the author did not associate this particular weather event to climate change. I realize straw man arguments are all you have, but you do know the original article is still available up above, right?

And again, if by discussion you believe there is a political debate between climate scientists and people who don't understand or don't care to understand the science, that is true. But there is no real scientific debate as to whether man-made climate change exists.

"It sounds as if your are denying that there is a discussion, falling back on the oft used "settled science" argument."

And what I find so amusing is all these internet Einsteins that cite incomplete, out of context or controversial scientific date with the air of clueless authority.

Every time I read such nonsense, I pay homage to who ever invented the classic internet shorthand for incredulity....

*facepalm*

Incredulously, I find myself in complete agreement with a Swift post.

The Denialists do indeed cite incomplete, out of context and controversial data (I omit the qualifier "scientific" for obvious reasons) with an air of clueless authority.

Kudos to you, Mr. Swift, I would have assumed you were one of them.

Or did you mean something else? ;)

To resort to vulgar simile, I'm reminded of the axiom that only a fool, er, defecates where he eats. With respect to human abuse of the ecosystem which sustains us, I fail to understand why conservatives favor the practice.

Dan:

I reject your label. It is rude and disrespects diversity. The are other venues for trollish behavior.

I see from your review of local meteorologists that you are aligned with the one that shares your views, which comes as no surprise. What makes him the bright one?

You are clearly denying that there should be a discussion, while participating in that discussion. Denying that there is a scientific debate reveals a fear to have your beliefs challenged. Why does climate research continue when the questions have all been answered?

What of the medieval warm period? It was as warm or warmer than the past 20 years, and it lasted a for hundreds of year. Explain what makes that impossible today.

Note--
Meteorologists are trained to predict day-to-day changes in the weather;
climatologists are trained to predict long term trends over decades and centuries.

Actually Paul, your party doesn't recognize you. I have no problem at all with a party staying with their principals (even if many think they are wrong). That's the entire point of having a party.

One thing I'll give Paul is that he is the ultimate entrepreneur. I remember running into Paul at a Best Buy when he was driving his VW Toureq SUV. When he later bought a hybrid that was news in his column. Of course he then expected everyone to get religion now that he found it.

A few years ago I was playing Bearpath and a member pointed out Paul's rather large home -- I'm guessing it took a little fossil fuel to keep that thing cooled and heated.

Paul is a very successful business man. Global warming expert? Not within a country mile.

There are a few things the public are experts in. Some being, Global Warming and How to coach the Vikings.