Meteorologist Paul Douglas says kids can do more than worry about climate change – they can fight it. Now.

Paul Douglas has been on the school circuit for 40 years.

The affable meteorologist with the welcoming smile and guy-next-door appeal has made a name for himself nationally, but we claim him as one of ours, given his long reign on local TV, radio and in newspapers, including a daily column in the Star Tribune.

In the course of his decades-long career (which includes starting several weather-related companies), Douglas has talked to “hundreds and hundreds of classes and assemblies” about weather – and increasingly – about climate change.

With this new book (his fourth), Douglas is taking his classroom message to a larger audience. “A Kid’s Guide to Saving the Planet” (Beaming Books, $ 22.99) explains the science behind global climate change, but it also includes actions that kids can take to be a part of the solution.

“I talk to a lot of people and there is a sense of despair and anxiety out there,” he said. “The book was to counter the narrative of gloom and doom.”

We talked to Douglas, who lives in Excelsior, about his focus on the younger generation, his idea of ​​an “ethos of sustainability” and the year 2050.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

A: I really started noticing the effects of climate change in the late 1990s. My presentations changed from weather-specific to climate change and how climate change is flavoring our weather.

Most Minnesotans get that something is going on, that climate change is real. There’s natural variability [in weather]. There has been since the dawn of time. But people are seeing climate change in their lives.

Perhaps we can make sure that our kids and their kids can enjoy the same Minnesota that we have.

Q: Why did you decide to write it for kids?

A: There’s an undercurrent of anxiety about climate change. I see it everywhere, but it seems to be a constant in young people. They’re concerned. They’re paying attention. They’re connecting the dots between extreme weather and climate change. We ignore that anxiety at our own peril.

That was what got me off the dime to write this book. That and the birth of my grandson. That got me thinking about my legacy and what I can do to help him and other kids like him.

Q: Isn’t climate change kind of a tough topic for kids?

A: It’s a big, daunting topic, but I chip away at it and make it more relevant – and actionable – for kids.

You have to be careful about how you present information. If you do it in a way that’s paralyzing, people just curl up in the fetal position. But if you present it in a hopeful way, people can be empowered to take action. I did not want to scare kids. I tried to thread the needle.

Q: There’s plenty of science in your book – greenhouse gases, disrupted jet streams, ozone depletion, acid rain. Were you concerned that it would be too complex for kids?

A: I did not want to sugarcoat the facts or minimize what’s happening. I wanted to be true to science and present science in a way that’s a little more approachable.

The tone of the book, the illustrations help. At first, I thought “We’re going to have diagrams and maps and charts.” But the publisher suggested illustrations might better reach kids.

Q: Did you have one kid in mind when you were writing?

A: I really tried to stay focused and imagine my own 10-year-old, science-geek self.

Q: The book’s subtitle, “It’s not hopeless and we’re not helpless,” is a powerful message itself, one we do not hear often in relation to climate change. How did you come up with it?

A: It’s been part of my presentation for five or six years. And I mean it. If we sit on our hands for the next 50 years, we might be hopeless. But right now, scientists are saying we need to take action. It’s politics and policies, but it’s also about developing an ethos of sustainability – a smarter, less-polluting way to live and work, which (in my opinion) is common sense.

Roughly half of the book focuses on the problems, the other half is focused on what kids can do – today.

Q: In the book, you include short profiles of kids from the Twin Cities and around the world who are already fighting climate change. Why?

A: I wanted them to be an example of young people who were already taking the initiative.

Q: You seem to place a lot of hope in our young people.

A: Tom Brokaw talked about the Greatest Generation, who lived through World War II. But I think there’s room for a new greatest generation.

Some kids are angry that they’re about to inherit a world that’s warming. There’s a sense that “You adults kind of screwed it up.” I’m optimistic that young people will save us from ourselves. They’re the ones who are in charge of what comes next.

Q: You end the book imagining the year 2050, where we’ve made considerable strides – electric vehicles, eco-friendly houses, extensive recycling, reliance on solar and wind power, closing in on net-zero emissions. Why paint such a rosy picture of the future?

A: I think we can do it. We can have everything we need and everything we want and not put too much pressure on our only home – Earth.

There is going to be more warming, more disruptions down the pipeline. But we can avoid a worst-case scenario. Ultimately, we’re going to need government intervention, but many of the solutions are going to be from the ground up.

There is no silver bullet with climate change, but there is silver buckshot. If everybody takes steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle, that’s huge.

That’s what I wanted to leave young people with: You will be part of the solution.

Paul Douglas will discus “A Kid’s Guide to Saving the Planet” at 6:30 pm on April 21 (Earth Day) at Red Balloon Bookshop, 891 Grand Ave., St. Paul. To register for the free event, go to redballoonbookshop.com.

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