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NASA image of Superstorm Sandy

Climate out of control

TV meteorologists talk about climate change: An interview with Paul Douglas, plus four local TV meteorologists

"I'm proud of having been one of the first to recognize that state and national government have a duty to protect our natural resources from the damaging effects of pollution that can accompany industrial development." You know who said that?

JP: Teddy Roosevelt?

PD: Ronald Reagan. July 19, 1984. Somewhere along the way, the Republican Party became totally beholden to fossil fuel interests.

I'm not saying we don't take advantage of our natural resources. The message I'm trying to get out is that by fixating exclusively on fossil fuels, not only are we endangering future generations, we are endangering our competitiveness down the road. Because there is no debate about climate change in Europe or China.

They are moving forward with clean alternatives to creating energy. If we totally focus on mining and drilling and extracting every last bit of carbon at the exclusion of solar and wind and geothermal and battery technology and everything else that's out there, we are going to be crippled as a country competitively. The point I'm trying to make as a jobs creator is that this is a chance to reinvent and retool America, wean ourselves off foreign oil.

I like to think we're at a turning point: the thirst for knowledge about what is happening to the climate is growing.

It's ironic that extreme weather has accomplished what the climate scientists up until now could not. And that is convince a majority of logical, God-fearing Americans that something has changed.

[According to a Yale University poll], four out of five people last year were personally impacted by extreme weather. … One out of three were physically injured by severe weather last year.

This weather-on-steroids environment is getting people to wake up. I keep telling people that trillions of dollars are in play. Fossil fuel companies are scared to death that they're going to be regulated out of existence or that there will be regulations that they can't drill and mine, and that will affect their share price, their stock price, and their ultimate company value.

JP: Are Republicans listening to you?

PD:No. No. Frankly, to some degree I've been, not ostracized, but I think ignored. I'm OK with that. I'm going to keep speaking out, because this is too important.

What I am finding is that younger people, younger conservatives, younger evangelicals are listening. They respond to data. That's one of the first things that I say when I go out and talk. I ask people, "Do you have an open mind? Or is your mind made up and you're going to cherry-pick data to support your ideological beliefs?"

I find that, for most people under the age of 35, this is an issue that they really feel will impact their lives and their kids' lives. They are paying attention. That's why I can't understand why neither Mitt Romney or Barack Obama has really addressed this in the debates. I don't understand it because I think a lot of independents, a lot of people who have not made up their mind could be swayed if one of them came out and said, "Yeah, this is real and we need to address this."