How does a self-described conservative meteorologist with Christian values interpret climate change? An upcoming “Nova” special on PBS will feature longtime Twin Cities weatherman Paul Douglas and highlight his shift from skeptic to believer.
“We’ve always had crazy weather, but in recent decades the extremes have been trending even more extreme,” Douglas said. “It was the increasingly erratic, jaw-dropping weather that tipped me off that climate change had gone from theory to reality.”
Douglas, whose weather reports appear in the Star Tribune, said he grew up watching the popular prime-time science series, so “it was a thrill” to be able to work with “Nova.” Interviews for the documentary, titled “Nova: Decoding the Weather Machine,” were taped at Douglas’ weather-technology companies in Eden Prairie; a film crew also tagged along to WCCO Radio for a show that he co-hosts with Jordana Green.
“They flew out for an interview and saw what I was trying to do, weaving faith and science together into a narrative that tries to frame climate change and renewable energy into a story that appeals to people’s hearts, as well as their heads,” Douglas said. “I think it’s essential to do both.”
During the documentary, “Nova” will speak to scientists and “cut through the confusion to help define the way forward,” a description of the show reads. But as Douglas points out, “you can’t club people over the head with science. Many people respond to science alone but some conservatives view climate change as a proxy for Big Government and more regulation.”
In his talks around the state and Midwest, he said, he tries to “stress a market-based approach, and point out that solving climate change will not only mean healthier communities and a better future for our kids, but more good-paying jobs and a healthier economy, if we do this right.”
Skepticism is healthy, Douglas said, but “persistent skepticism and cynicism in the face of overwhelming evidence is dangerous, and not a sound platform for thoughtful policy.” He asks that people keep an open mind and “avoid the urge to respond to political talking points and special interests. Sound policy should be based on data, evidence and facts, not orthodoxy or ideology.”
The two-hour special featuring Douglas will air at 7 p.m. April 18 on TPT, Ch. 2.
“In the end this isn’t about polar bears — this is about the world we’re leaving to our kids,” Douglas said. “Actions have consequences, and we are accountable. I grew up believing those are conservative values. I still do.”
A panel discussion with Paul Douglas and producers of NOVA will be held at Christ the King Lutheran Church in New Brighton on Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m.
Rachel Chazin • 612-673-4726