My friend Paul Douglas calls himself an albino unicorn. He is a Republican (one of my few Republican friends!) and an evangelical Christian (one of my few evangelical Christian friends!) who is extremely well informed about climate change, and who acts on a day to day basis as a climate warrior, informing people of the realities of climate change at several levels.
I tend to think of Paul as a tire, because he is where the rubber meets the road. His job is informing corporations and such about the risks they are facing right now, today, tomorrow, next week with respect to weather. Paul has been doing some sort of meteorology or another for quite a while now, having been a TV presenter meteorologist in Chicago and the Twin Cities, having consulted in Hollywood (Jurassic Park and Twister), and having run various metrology companies like the one he runs now. He also gives talks around the Twin Cities and elsewhere about climate change, writes a regular column for the Star Tribune, and has consulted for or testified for various government agencies on long term climate change risks.
Paul and I have somewhat similar histories. Born only a few weeks apart, raised in the non-urban part of a semi-industrialized semi-rural eastern state (New York for me, Pennsylvania for him), and having had formative weather experiences early in life. In Paul's case, it was a major hurricane that eventually lumbered into the mountainous areas of Central Pennsylvania, causing killer floods and other mayhem. Paul, a teenager at the time, and a scout, developed an early warning system for river floods, and probably earning one hella merit badge.
Paul is an excellent explainer of climate and weather, as you can learn from this interview. And, he does not restrict his communication efforts to places like churches or whatever venues are frequented by Evangelical Christians such as lutefisk breakfasts, snake handling session, etc. In fact, the aforementioned interview is on Atheist Talk Radio.
And now, Paul has co-authored a book on climate change written specifically for Evangelicals: Caring for Creation: The Evangelical's Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment.
The book's structure swaps back and forth between science (the parts written by Paul Douglas) and scripture (the parts written by co-author Mitch Hescox). I don't know Mitch, but from the blurb I learn: "Mitch Hescox leads the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), the largest evangelical group dedicated to creation care (www.creationcare.org). He has testified before Congress, spoken at the White House, and is quoted frequently in national press. Prior to EEN, he pastored a church for 18 years and worked in the coal industry. Mitch and his wife live in Pennsylvania."
Now, you might think that the chances of an Evangelical Christian reading my blog is about zero. This is not true. Many Christians, ranging from Evangelical to less-than-angelical read this blog, they just don't say much in the comments section. Except those who do, mainly those denying the science of climate change. Well, this book is for all of you, especially the Evangelical deniers, because here, the case is made on your terms and in your language, in a very convincing way, and, including the science. It turns out that, according to the Bible, you are wrong on the Internet.
Let's say that you are a fairly active atheist who likes to annoy your Christian relatives at holidays. If that is the case, then this book is for you!! This is the book to give to your Uncle Bob.
I can't attest to the scriptural parts of this book. This is not because I'm unfamiliar with Scripture or have nothing to say about it. Both assumptions would be highly erroneous. But, in fact, I did not explore those parts of this book in much detail, just a little. But I am very familiar with the science in this book, I've delved deeply into it, and I can tell you that Paul has it right, and it is very current.
From the publisher:
Forget the confusing doom and gloom talk about climate change. You want to know the truth about what's happening, how it could affect your family and the world, and more important, if there are realistic ways to do something about it--even better, solutions that reflect your beliefs.
Connecting the dots between science and faith, pastor and influential evangelical leader Mitch Hescox and veteran meteorologist Paul Douglas show how Christians can take the lead in caring for God's creation. Tackling both personal and global issues, these trusted authors share ways to protect our families, as well as which action steps will help us wisely steward the resources God has given us.
This hopeful book offers a much-needed conservative, evangelical approach to a better way forward--one that improves our health, cleans up our communities, and leaves our kids a better world.
What I find exceptional about Paul Douglas's conversation about weather, aside from the fact that he well commands an audience of those who might otherwise be naysayers, is that he brings decades of direct observation of actual climate change into the discussion. He has been a) reporting the weather during the periods of maximal change so far, b) while paying close attention and c) never had his mind shut down to ignore climate change, as has happened in the past to so many meteorologists.
The book is loaded with helpful greyscale graphics, and notes/references. Paul is at @pdouglasweather
It's nice to see people concerned about our future and the health of the planet. That's a good thing. When Al Gore came out with his "An Inconvenient Truth," I was an immediate fan. The UN could do no wrong and I supported all their efforts. I could not understand why others would criticize the UN and even think of having the United States leave that august body.
Sometimes life gives us rude awakenings. They come in many forms. When I discovered that Al Gore and I had been horribly wrong, it destroyed me at least a little. For days, I felt crushed and betrayed -- more from what I had done, or not done, than from what anyone else had done. I had not done my homework.
Since the early 70s, I had studied climate science, and many other sciences. Most of my interest was purely academic. Some I applied to my writing. So, when I first heard of Al Gore and the "climate change" movement, I was fully prepared. I knew humans had been polluting the world. I thought it was shameful and we needed to do something.
So, what changed?
I learned, for instance, that we live in an ongoing Ice Age. There remains a great deal of confusion on this point. What actually ended 12,000 years ago? Some say the Pleistocene, or Pleistocene Ice Age. But when you look at the climate record, you see that the Pleistocene consisted of glacial periods and interglacials -- several dozen of each. Our Holocene is merely another interglacial period in a long sequence of interglacials. The definition of "interglacial" means "warmer phase of an Ice Age." Ironically, the UN wants to cool down the planet.
Earth has been far warmer and life thrived. The Ice Age comes along and life struggles, and the UN wants to end the current interglacial? Am I missing anything here?
During the 1816, year without a summer, thousands died internationally, and that was from a -1C of cooling globally. Thousands more were turned into climate refugees because a volcano blew its stack halfway around the world. Fast forward to the summer of 2016, and CIA Director Brennan is talking to the CFR, telling how wonderful is the new technique to cool down the planet "like volcanoes do." On the 200th anniversary of the year without a summer, the US government is talking about a possible repeat. The only problem is that our Holocene is already as much as 6,000 years older than the average interglacial (Ref: W.S. Broecker, 1998). And according to the data of Alley (2000), the last 4 warm periods of the 10 Holocene warm periods show a strong cooling downtrend. Combined with the deep and broad cooling of the Little Ice Age, it looks as thought the Holocene may already have started to shut down, preparing for the next glacial period.
Global Warming made civilization possible 12,000 years ago. A massive warming spike of 5-7 degrees Celsius in 50 years changed the environment in favor of life, and away from the death of ice and cold. Suddenly, agriculture was broadly possible for the first time in 90,000 years.
If the Holocene were to accelerate in its shut down because of Stratospheric Aerosol Injection, as CIA Director Brennan suggested, then we could see another 90,000 years without summers, rain, crops, food, and civilization. That would give us plenty of time to reflect on our gullibility to Biggest Oil Rockefellers and their UN minions, like the late Maurice Strong (Canadian big oil).
I love our world, our fellow humans, and civilization. There's a lot that needs fixing, but there's a lot of potential in us, still.
For those who want to save the ice and the coastal real estate, good luck. But realize the other side of the equation. Cooling the planet could kill off 99% of all humans, but then you'd lose an equal amount of real estate to glaciation and desertification. After all, cold oceans don't offer much for rain.
Rod, I appreciate your comments, but, you are a troll.
You are a concern troll. You do this by telling us lies about how you once felt, then how you changed, then how you discovered the "truth" and then changed again.
You are a science fakir. You claim to have been informed by science but everything you say about the science of climate is wrong, demonstrably wrong, everyone who reads this blog knows it is wrong, and you know it is wrong.
Gone are the days when it is advisable to be polite to people like you.
We are all in agreement that a glacial period would be a disaster. But it is generally understood that the glacial age ship sailed as we were passing something like 300 - 350 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere.
Have a nice day.
"Since the early 70s, I had studied climate science, and many other sciences."
How many times does it happen that when someone leads with this but follows with comments that clearly contradict it?
It is sadly similar to the situation when a conversation with someone begins with "I am not a racist, but ..."
"I learned, for instance, that we live in an ongoing Ice Age....blah blah blah....The definition of “interglacial” means “warmer phase of an Ice Age.” Ironically, the UN wants to cool down the planet. "
As did anyone doing higher level physical geography. But this does not disprove AGW. Indeed none of that section I condensed managed to do that. Mind you it didn't claim it to disprove AGW, you only prattled it out.
"Earth has been far warmer and life thrived. The Ice Age comes along and life struggles, and the UN wants to end the current interglacial? Am I missing anything here?"
Yes, anything showing the UN is wrong. Or, indeed, that the UN "wants to end the current interglacial". Or that even if this were all given, that AGW is therefore wrong.
"Global Warming made civilization possible 12,000 years ago. "
No it didn't. Bare assertion countered equally by more blank assertion from me.
"A massive warming spike of 5-7 degrees Celsius in 50 years changed the environment in favor of life"
Proof required. Were you there? Where's the data? How was it created and calibrated, or were you there with a global thermometer?
Nah, you're just parroting the denier talking point about the (polar) Vostock Ice core, which shows that level of warming (but being polar, it's a much higher figure than the global average), but has nowhere NEAR that level of accuracy in time.
"I love our world, our fellow humans, and civilization. There’s a lot that needs fixing, but there’s a lot of potential in us, still."
Even if that were the case, rather than you love living guilt free, it still doesn't show AGW is wrong, or that the UN wants the end of civilisation (or whatever the hell you think is going on).
A few points RE: Rod Martin's comment.
* Earth has been far warmer and life thrived.
True. But human civilization was not part of life then. It is the possibility that climate change may end human civilization that concerns us.
* The Ice Age comes along and life struggles...
Earlier you stated that we live in an ongoing ice age. Use of terms in sloppy and even contradictory ways casts doubt on your understanding of the problem.
* Fast forward to the summer of 2016, and CIA Director Brennan is talking to the CFR, telling how wonderful is the new technique to cool down the planet “like volcanoes do.”
As you should know if you've studied the geoengineering techniques proposed, most scientists think they are all really bad ideas. You could read Oliver Morton's latest book to get up to speed on the subject. However, I recommend The Madhouse Effect by Mann & Toles for a succinct but accurate overview.
I would have said that the Ice Age was a pretty good time for humans; by offering a climate in which agriculture would not succeed, it prevented us from breeding gigantic populations that then had to rely heavily upon genocide to obtain new lands to deplete (not to mention slavery to do the scutwork of agriculture). The Holocene interglacial period has given us the most brutal elaborations of tribalism and dominance hierarchy imaginable, with regular plagues for the cherry on top.
Thank you for your less than cordial response. You said, "I appreciate your comments," but it seems clear that you did not, because "gone are the days."
You accuse me of being a troll. That was not my intent. A conversation? Yes. A flame-throwing contest? No. I suppose gone are the days when ideas can be discussed cordially. I've had some very cordial conversations and correspondence with scientists over the years, including a nice email from a climate scientist in San Diego just a few days ago. I even co-authored a book with a PhD forest ecologist back in 83. No, maybe the lack of cordiality is here.
Lies? Me? Are you claiming to be omniscient? You know for a fact that it's a lie? I usually like a lively debate about facts, but your long comment seems to be almost entirely ad hominem (logical fallacy), with perhaps a little strawman thrown in for good measure.
You said, "everything you say about the science of climate is wrong." And yet, you agree with me that "a glacial period would be a disaster." Another logical fallacy.
You say, "generally understood that the glacial age ship sailed as we were passing something like 300 - 350 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere."
According to a climate graph based on several peer reviewed climate papers, initial glaciation of Antarctica started during a period of CO2 levels between 800 - 1800 ppm (~34 Ma). When CO2 levels fell below 800 ppm (~31 Ma), plants freaked out and evolved C4 species to cope with the CO2 starvation. These are facts you can look up, or ignore (Ref: Pagani 1999, Berner GeoCarb III, Pagani 2005, Antarctic Ice Core Composite, Royer 2006 Composites, Pearson 2000, IPCC AR4 2007 – Royer 2008 Composites, Pearson 2009, Tripati 2009, Bao 2008, Hoenisch 2009, Seki 2010, Beerling Royer 2011, Bartoli 2011, Mcanena 2013).
The Jurassic-Cretaceous cool period (not really an Ice Age, because, at its coldest, it was several degrees warmer than today) occurred during a massive CO2 peak -- the highest point in the last 350 million years (Ref: C.R. Scotese).
I was hoping for something better, here. But it seems that ego has taken over this area of "science." Being right in your own mind seems more important than discovery. And that seems anti-science.
Since this is not a venue for cordial discussions, but only cheers from the choir, I will bid you adieu.
"Since this is not a venue for cordial discussions, but only cheers from the choir"
Odd how people who don't understand what they're talking about conclude that the problem is something other than their lack of understanding.