The Weather Channel is no stranger to talking climate change or dunking on climate deniers (RIP Breitbart). But on Thursday, the only thing on their homepage is how climate change affects every American (along with your local forecast, of course).
The site publicized a series of stories that’ve been in the works for more than a year. Dubbed The United States of Climate Change, it chronicles climate impacts and solutions in all 50 states of the union. From sea level rise in Massachusetts to managing bison to sequester carbon in South Dakota, the stories written within the last year or so show that each state has its own problems to deal with and solutions to contribute.
These stories also pull no punches. One goes into how prisoners are dying from heat in Texas while another looks at climate change-fueled mental health issues in Utah. It’s a far cry from the views espoused by The Weather Channel’s climate-denying founder who was a staple of ring wing media. And it is most definitely not some easy listening, weather on the sevens shit. It’s real talk.
Climate change is not some distant woe, it’s a heart-wrenching issue we’re all dealing with today. By putting it in personal terms and telling stories that all Americans can understand, it has the potential to get people thinking and talking about climate change differently.
“We wanted to go beyond presenting the science of climate change, which we do often, and show clear, specific consequences,” Greg Gilderman, Weather.com’s editor-in-chief, told The Washington Post. “People across the U.S. are quietly living the impacts of climate change. The general public is searching for credible information on what is (but shouldn’t be) a contentious subject.”
Rather than have some science debate, Gilderman and the rest of the site’s executive editorial staff introduced the series with this full stop PSA:
The basic mechanism of climate change was described in 1896, and while the climate system is wickedly complicated, humans’ understanding of climate change and the factors which might alter or mitigate it has only grown over the past century.
This is lightyears beyond where most of the meteorology community is. While meteorologists have been accepting climate change and the science behind it in growing numbers, many are still a little iffy about discussing it on air. It’s somewhat understandable given the potential for backlash from local viewers and station managers wondering why they should be allowed to talk about climate change with the Monday morning drive time forecast.
Programs like Climate Central’s Climate Matters (full disclosure: I worked on this project in my previous work life) are working to break down those barriers further by providing on-air meteorologists with climate change graphics tied to their local markets. Having the largest weather site in the U.S. devote its homepage to climate change for a day could help break down those barriers even further while getting the general public to think deeper about how climate change impacts them and how they can be part of the solution.