DETROIT LAKES — TV and radio weatherman. Published author and newspaper columnist. Entrepreneur and innovator in data technology. Christian.
Pennsylvania native Paul Douglas has identified as all of this and more in a career that spans nearly four decades now — most of it based in Minneapolis-St. Paul district. Although he “leans conservative,” as Douglas said during a Saturday, Oct. 15 presentation at First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes, he also believes climate change is a fact, not an opinion or a myth. .
“I’m a Christian and I’ve been saying that for a long time,” Douglas said. “I love the Lord, and the Lord loves me, despite my many imperfections. And that is a gift that is available to all of us.”
During his hour-long presentation, titled “A Christian Case for the Climate Conversation,” Douglas kept a church sanctuary filled with Lakes Area EV (electric vehicle) exhibit attendees enthralled as he discussed how he reconciles his faith as a Christian with the undeniable facts of a planet in ecological and environmental crisis.
“In my Christian walk and my weather walk, I kind of came to a fork in the road because in the late 90s I was scratching my head and wondering, maybe those climatologists were right. “Douglas said. “I was seeing things, almost every day, that made me scratch my head. So it wasn’t an overnight epiphany, where I wake up one day and be like, ‘Oh yeah, the climate is changing. It was a gradual drip, over the decades.
“You have natural weather variations, we’ve always had that. Ever since Adam and Eve, we’ve had crazy weather variations,” he continued. “But on top of that, something else was going on. And in the mid-90s, I was talking and talking and sharing my observations to try to connect the dots.”
Douglas said his family had a cabin on Pelican Lake. “We love it,” he continued. “We call it our little slice of heaven.”
He recounted how, on his way up from the cabin, he “discovered that there was no direct way to get from Pelican Lake to Detroit Lake. But that actually wasn’t a negative, it was was a positive. I had the most amazing ride here, with the leaves maturing and the solitude, I felt like I was the only person on the highway.”
He added that Lake District residents “live in a resort town, and that requires our care and compassion.”
After showing some photos of the beauty of the people living in the surrounding lakes region, Douglas said: “I wanted to remind you all that the world isn’t ending. Not yet. But it’s getting warmer, and that has consequences. It’s a threat, and it’s an opportunity.
“I think most experts would agree that the downsides of a warming world more than outweigh the upsides. We’re still going to have winter. It’s still going to snow, although we may see a bit more ice here. in the Detroit Lakes as we continue through this century. We’re already seeing it in southern Minnesota, with four times more ice events in January than before 2000.”
Douglas explained how, despite being “raised in a very conservative home”, he couldn’t ignore all the signs of climate change.
“Isn’t talking about climate change a conservative issue? Douglas said, mimicking a stern military man (his family has a military background). “No! It’s data! It’s reality. And I don’t think acknowledging reality is a liberal or a conservative thing. It’s a common sense thing. And the people of Minnesota have common sense. J invite people, even if you’re skeptical – it’s okay to be skeptical, the biggest skeptics on the planet are scientists. Science is organized skepticism – so keep an open mind. I have more than respect for people who change their minds, based on the preponderance of evidence, than for people who dig in their heels and say, “No, that’s threatening. I can’t change my mind.”
“Don’t do it for a politician. Do it for your kids, do it for your grandkids. And their grandkids.”
Douglas talked a little about his media journey, first as a meteorologist who worked in radio, then in television (with KARE-11 in the Twin Cities, from 1983 to 1994).
He added that his radio, TV and film gigs were “a kind of side hustle”, to pay the way for his various endeavors in the business world, most of them weather-related. “It’s nice to have a steady income, and that’s what the media has done for me over the years,” he said.
Speaking of weather data, Douglas noted, “As a meteorologist, I can’t afford to ignore data that makes me feel uncomfortable – data that makes me feel uncomfortable. If you ignore the data, you will eventually close up shop. in the data every day.
“Around the world we’ve warmed just over 2 degrees Fahrenheit; this part of Minnesota has warmed almost 4, 4 and a half degrees since the mid-1800s,” he said. declared. “Some people say, what is 2 degrees?”
In response, Douglas said: “I usually report that a drop in temperature of just 5 (degrees) Celsius, 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) or so, a little more than that, triggered the last ice age. We just came out of that The ice age right now… We’ve warmed 1.2 degrees Celsius, or just over 2 degrees Fahrenheit, in the last hundred years, most of it in the last 30 to 50 years.
“According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), carbon dioxide concentrations of 421 parts per million is the highest level in 3.6 million years,” he continued. “This increase in CO2, man-made CO2, is worrying. The hottest years on record were in 2015. I’m all for coincidences and serendipities, but at some point you look at this and go, wait for a second, there is a trend. Each year is a little warmer than the year before.”
Douglas also talked about his adventures as an electric vehicle owner (he and his wife both have Teslas). Local electric vehicle owners also played a part in this Saturday’s exhibit, talking to attendees about the pros and cons of owning electric vehicles in the cold climates of northwestern Minnesota.
“In the 70s, my dad said he would never own a diesel tractor because they weren’t made for cold weather,” said Bernie Meyer, a Rochert resident who owns his 2018 Nissan Leaf. (all electric) for three years. years.
While cold and weather are certainly factors insofar as an all-electric vehicle can run on a fully charged battery, Meyer noted, they’re also a concern for vehicles that run on internal combustion engines. i.e. petrol). The main difference is that while there is easy access to gas stations along most highways, electric vehicle owners do not have such easy access to electric charging stations when traveling.
“With electric vehicles, you have to plan your driving a little more,” said Meyer, who drives about 30 miles, round trip, from her home in Rochert to her job at BTD Manufacturing in Detroit Lakes every day of the week. . “I generally recommend having a 30% (battery) range buffer on winter rides. Wind on the road, cold (temperatures) and drag pushing through the snow are also big factors.”
But the cost of charging and maintaining an electric vehicle is significantly lower than those powered by fossil fuels, he added. “Driving 700 to 900 miles a month costs me about $12 to $15.”
When it comes to maintenance, the biggest change he’s noticed is that he doesn’t have to schedule an oil change every 6,000 miles.
Although he and his wife also own a Subaru Outback that they use when weather conditions make electric vehicle use less reliable, the technology is changing rapidly, Meyer said. “Currently, there are a variety of techniques that manufacturers are using for battery thermal management, and this technology is evolving at a very rapid rate,” he added.
Mark Andersen, husband of Polly Daggett Andersen, founder of West Central Climate Action, also brought his Chrysler Pacifica hybrid pickup truck to the show. “It’s my second, a 2020 model, and I love it,” he said, noting that the rear of the vehicle is large enough to store lumber and other building materials. he uses in his business, or to hold up to 7 passengers at a time.
“As the charging infrastructure is built, I would consider trading it in for an all-electric vehicle,” Andersen said, adding that he can travel about 35 miles using just electricity – usually far enough to make most trips around the Twin Cities. metro area – but it’s nice to have gas power as a backup for long road trips, like the drive to and from the Detroit lakes.
Having both available means he spends “the equivalent of 80 cents per gallon” on fuel, Andersen added.
His wife Polly, of which West Central Climate Action was a co-sponsor of the event along with the Prairie Woods Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, Detroit Lakes Public Utilities, Lake Region Electric, Otter Tail Power and Wild Rice Electric, said organizers estimated attendance at between 100 and 160 people, of whom about 100 remained for Douglas’s presentation inside the church. All slots for electric vehicle test drives were also filled at the end of the day.
Detroit Lakes Utilities Energy Services Specialist Bridget Penton said she was really pleased with how the event went. “Everyone is so engaged and so interested, it was a wonderful event. I was thrilled with the turnout. For a premiere like this, you never know what to expect.”