Paul Douglas is one of Minnesota’s best-known meteorologists, delivering weather reports with a droll sense of humor. But he’s dead serious in a lesser-known side of his life, namely as an evangelical Christian sounding the reality of climate change.
Douglas has been a guest speaker at Twin Cities “creation care” events over the years, arguing that climate change is irrefutable and it is a Christian obligation to care for God’s creation. He now has co-authored a book he hopes will be a bridge to skeptical evangelicals who view global warming as a hoax to grow big government.
“Being open to data, facts and science doesn’t make you a liberal,” he writes in the book. “It makes you literate. Scientifically literate. It means you favor data, facts and evidence over conspiracy theories, manufactured misinformation, and cherry-picked industry spins.”
The book, entitled “Caring for Creation: An Evangelical’s Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment,” hit the bookstores this month. It is co-authored by the Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
“I figured if people didn’t want to hear from scientists, maybe they’d listen to a minister and a meteorologist,” said Douglas.
The book constructs the debate around evangelical values: It is the “personal responsibility” of Christians to protect God’s creation. It is “pro-life” because it is protecting children from illnesses from autism to asthma, as well as protecting all life on Earth.
Most evangelicals report experiencing God in nature, the book says, but many “haven’t made the connection that caring for creation nurtures our relationship with him.”
“The goal was to frame this in a way that resonates with people’s spiritual lives,” said Douglas. “To tell people they can have faith in God and follow the Ten Commandments, but that God also gave us tools to improve our lives, our society.”
Douglas also draws on his 35-year career in meteorology to make his case. For example, 14 of the 15 warmest years on record worldwide have occurred since 2000, he writes.
Just look at Minnesota, said Douglas. The average number of days in Minnesota’s growing season is 154. This year, it was 220.
The “solutions” offered focus on renewable energy such as wind and solar, which Douglas describes as “cheaper, clean, homegrown American energy” that can lead to “energy freedom.”
“Is there a … common sense, conservative response to climate change?” he asked.
“Caring for Creation” had its Minnesota debut at Minnehaha Academy last week. Douglas and Hescox addressed individual classes, and spoke at a school assembly and at an evening meeting for adults and the public.
No high-profile promotions are in the works. The authors are doing some media interviews, and expect to hold some bookstore readings along the way. Douglas continues his meteorology work, including writing a daily weather column for the Star Tribune.
In the meantime, the book has garnered praise from people like Galen Carey, vice president of government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals. He wrote: “A must-read for any Christian seeking to be consistently pro-life.”
The authors don’t expect any overnight epiphanies, but they do hope the book opens the door to less polarizing conversation. Said Douglas: “This isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon.”