Friday, March 16, 2018

Meteorologists Have a New Strategy for Bringing Climate Change Down to Earth

Elisa Raffa (Credit: KOLR10 News) Click to Enlarge.
For years, TV meteorologists were hesitant to talk about climate change.  Climatological views — the long-term trends and patterns that influence weather — were not part of their education.  Their time on air is limited.  Some stations may discourage climate change talk.  Many meteorologists simply feel it isn’t their responsibility.  And some are concerned about how it might affect their ratings and job security.

“Audiences trust their local meteorologists,” says Mike Nelson, chief meteorologist at Denver7, an ABC affiliate in Colorado.  “Our jobs depend on that trust.  Meteorologists understand this, and some tend to stay away from controversial subjects.”

But that won’t do anymore, says Nelson.  “We are as close to a scientist as most Americans will ever get.  People invite us into their living rooms.  We have a responsibility to educate them on the facts.”

In 2010 several meteorologists joined Climate Central, George Mason and Yale universities, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the American Meteorological Society in a pilot project to explore how broadcast meteorologists could better communicate climate change.  Two years later, Climate Central launched Climate Matters as a full-time, national program to help meteorologists talk about climate change in and with their communities.

“We need more people connecting the dots about how climate change is already affecting people and will continue to do so in the future,” says Bernadette Woods Placky, Climate Central chief meteorologist and director of Climate Matters.  By linking local impacts to larger changes, Climate Matters aims to empower people to prepare for impacts like heatwaves, flooding, elevated food prices, and health situations.  “We are a resource to help meteorologists tell their local story,” says Woods Placky.

Today, Climate Matters supplies webinars to help meteorologists understand topics such as climate models, health impacts, and extreme precipitation events.  It provides data for individual markets, such as how viewers think about climate change.  It also offers weekly communication packages containing location-specific climate analyses and visuals as well as workshops offering a deeper dive into the science, impacts, and solutions to climate change.

Read more at Meteorologists Have a New Strategy for Bringing Climate Change Down to Earth

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