Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Climate change initiatives push journalists to go beyond weather coverage

Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Climate-focused news initiatives are pushing media outlets to devote more coverage to the way climate change impacts extreme weather events.

Why it matters: Meteorologists and weather journalists, who worry the topic is under-covered and over-politicized, are leading these newsroom efforts in many instances.

Driving the news: On Monday, the nonprofit science research group Climate Central launched a new initiative designed to detect unusual weather or climate events around the country and trigger real-time e-mail alerts to newsrooms with information on the underlying climate change context.

  • The bulletins, delivered via email, will come complete with TV-ready graphics. The program, called Realtime Climate, is designed to bring the global conversation around climate down to the local level.
  • A handful of other groups and coalitions, like and Covering Climate Now, are building similar programs, in an effort to bring more climate coverage to news companies, local weather forecasters and ordinary citizens.
  • "We're at a point in society where we can’t separate weather and climate," says Bernadette Woods Placky, Chief Meteorologist and Climate Matters Program Director at Climate Central. "I feel like this conversation is advancing."

The big picture: Climate Central's new tool builds on their experience helping local TV weathercasters convey to viewers how climate change is affecting them.

  • Meteorologists "intimately understood weather models," says Woods Placky.
  • But when they try to apply their knowledge of weather models to climate models, "they weren't understanding fully what they could trust in the data on these bigger timeframes."

Between the lines: As climate change intensifies and causes more dangerous weather events, more attention is also being placed on weather coverage. But not all weather coverage is as inclusive of climate narratives.

  • While some new efforts, like Currently — a new weather news outlet created in partnership with Twitter — promise to make climate change a critical part of coverage, others, like Fox News' new ad-supported service Fox Weather, will focus more on covering weather.
  • A spokesperson says Fox Weather "will be a full service platform covering all weather conditions, including immediate and long term patterns."

AccuWeather is one of the many outlets partnering with Climate Central to help incorporate more climate coverage into its weather coverage, which is notable, given that the network has a mixed record when it comes to climate coverage.

  • "We try to put weather and climate in the context of what our audience needs to know in order prepare and plan for their day-to-day activities, whether that’s today, tomorrow, or looking ahead to an entire season," says Trish Mikita, VP of Content, AccuWeather.
  • Meanwhile, AccuWeather's rival The Weather Channel is doubling down on its climate coverage, adding new programming and experts to cover climate change more in-depth.
  • "We’ve heard loud and clear from our audience that our changing climate is an issue of great importance to them," says Nora Zimmett, Chief Content Officer and Executive Vice President, The Weather Channel.

The big picture: Data shows that while consumers say they want to learn more about climate coverage, reading habits don't often reflect that desire.

"The 'Dismissive' and 'Doubtful' segments of America have significantly decreased over the last 5 years," says Nora Zimmett, Chief Content Officer and at The Weather Channel, referring to polling from Yale and George Mason University.

By the numbers: Data from Stanford TV analyzer shows that cable news networks tend to overwhelmingly cover extreme weather events more than climate.

  • Some network newscasts still lead their nightly broadcasts with reports of major weather disasters, without ever mentioning climate change's role.
  • The polarization of climate change doesn't tend to play out as much in the cable news data, as climate change is still universally covered so infrequently on cable news.
  • When it comes to coverage of climate-related terms, all three of the major cable news networks tend to cover the topic somewhat equally. The same pattern holds true for coverage of weather-related terms.

What to watch: "What we’re seeing is network news move at a slower pace," Woods Placky says. "People are making a lot more connections (between weather and climate change) at local level than they are the national."

  • Weather departments at the national level are starting to take the lead in pushing for climate coverage, not political units, she notes.
  • NBC News, for example, launched a climate unit in 2019, that originated from its weather team. CNN is building a new team dedicated solely to climate coverage.

NOTE: Andrew was a guest on a Climate Central webinar discussing their new feature and climate journalism on Monday, but was not involved in its development.

Massive California blaze levels town, threatens others as it burns out of control

The small Sierra town of Greenville, Calif., was heavily damaged on Wednesday night into early Thursday as the Dixie Fire surged northward amid high winds, extremely dry air and hot temperatures.

The big picture: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze and the sixth-largest wildfire in state history, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through Greenville and surrounding areas in Plumas County.

Keep reading... Show less

Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine "remains durable" with 93% efficacy through 6 months

Moderna said Thursday that its coronavirus vaccine was 93% effective against COVID-19 through six months after receiving the second dose.

Why it matters: The number shows that efficacy "remains durable" through that time, and hardly wanes from the 94.5% efficacy Moderna reported last November. But the clinical trial, which started in July 2020, was conducted before the Delta variant became the common strain in the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less

U.S. women's soccer team beats Australia, wins Olympic bronze

The U.S. women's soccer team won the bronze medal on Thursday after beating ninth-ranked Australia 4-3.

Why it matters: Thursday's victory marks the U.S. team's first bronze in Olympic history, handing the team a medal after it failed to earn one during the Rio Games in 2016.

Keep reading... Show less

Top Democratic operatives mapped out how to defend Kamala Harris at high-powered dinner

A group of the Democratic Party's most influential women met for dinner at a home in the nation’s capital last month to game out how to defend Vice President Kamala Harris and her chief of staff, Tina Flournoy, against a torrent of bad press.

Why it matters: It's telling that so early in the Biden-Harris administration, such powerful operatives felt compelled to try to right the vice president's ship.

Keep reading... Show less

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 13 highlights

Day 13 of the Tokyo Olympic Games saw Team USA's men's basketball team beat Australia 97-78 on Thursday to advance to the gold medal game.

The big picture: Kevin Durant led the charge with 23 points to help the U.S. secure a final spot against either France or Slovenia on Saturday local time. Elsewhere, the U.S. added to its gold medals count, with shot putter Ryan Crouser and teenage canoeist Nevin Harrison both winning their events.

Keep reading... Show less

Judge to Capitol rioter: Insurrection is "not patriotism"

A federal judge sentencing a Michigan man in D.C. Wednesday over his role in the U.S. Capitol riot dismissed any notion that he's a political prisoner.

Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that she wasn't sentencing Karl Dresch, of Calumet, "because he is a supporter" of former President Trump, noting that "millions of people" had voted for him "and did not heed his call to descend on the nation's Capitol," per the Detroit News.

Keep reading... Show less

2 wildfires ravage Northern California homes as thousands evacuate

Two massive California wildfires have triggered new mandatory evacuation orders for thousands of people and destroyed homes and businesses in the state's north overnight.

Details: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through the Greenville area of Plumas County Wednesday night, per AP. The rapidly spreading River Fire burned "multiple" homes as it tore through Placer and Nevada counties, KOVR notes. Mandatory evacuation orders were in effect for both fires.

Keep reading... Show less

Landlords mount legal challenge to Biden administration's new eviction moratorium

A group of landlords and real-estate companies issued a legal challenge on Wednesday night in a D.C. district court to the Biden administration's new national eviction moratorium.

Driving the news: The Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors' emergency motion argues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's order Tuesday barring evictions for most of the U.S. through Oct. 3 exceeds the CDC's powers, according to a statement from the National Association of Realtors.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories