Celebrating Local Climate Change Reporting

Story Ideas Local Reporting We Love

Climate Week and Climate Central

In celebration of 2019 Climate Week, we highlight tools, tips and resources for reporting local climate stories and feature the work of our partners who communicate the science and effects of climate change.
Climate Central uses the power of science and communications to make climate change immediate and personal. Find out more about who we are and what we do.

Looking for local story ideas to cover climate? Here’s a top 10 list of potential stories linked to resources below to help you.

  • Newly assigned to reporting on climate change? Climate Science 101 answers all your questions.
  • Extreme weather toolkits help you link climate change to increasingly destructive weather.
  • Our nation’s health at risk: warming contributes to poor air quality, heat illnesses, increased allergies, & other diseases.
  • Sea level rise is threatening coastal communities as chronic flooding intensifies.
  • Places of worship, national parks, military bases, and other significant sites are increasingly becoming locations at risk.
  • Writing about solutions? Resources include WeatherPower, a tool to track wind & solar electricity generation.
  • Our national hobbies & obsessions -- gardening, sports, fishing -- are being impacted by climate change
  • Climate change threatens the food & drink we love. Including beer.
  • Seasonal trends & shifts caused by a warming are creating disruptions & imbalances across the country.
  • Climate Week reporting, the United Nations Summit and climate reports
local-graphics-examples

Global Warming, Local Stories

Integrating the complex issues of global climate change into a local news story can be challenging, but empowers your audience to understand the impacts humans are having on our environment.

Make your story local and personal. Climate Central's Media Library is full of ready-to-use graphics, data, and information specific to your city or media market so you can easily personalize your weather and climate coverage.

Meet people where they are; know your audience. Topic, tone, & timing are important. Do locals fish for trout or bass in the spring? Write about warming stream waters. Are folks concerned about local air quality? Cover the health impacts of high heat & air stagnation.

Climate change doesn’t have to be the whole story, but part of the story. Global warming is affecting our health, our infrastructure, our food supply, our economy. In writing about these issues, you can provide readers with context for how their lives are being touched by climate change.

Focus on the science. The consensus is real--climate change is happening and is human caused. You don’t need “false balance.” You need to stick to the facts while still keeping it simple enough for non-science readers. The Society of Environmental Journalists, the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication, and Harvard's Journalist's Resource all have online resources to guide your climate reporting.

Climate Science 101

New to reporting on climate change? Climate Central is here to help! We provide journalists and meteorologists with cutting-edge science and communication tools to tell effective climate stories at the local, state, and national levels.

The Climate Central Media Library offers explainers on all things climate change: your local warming trends, carbon emissions & emissions cuts, and climate reports.

Climate change is making extreme weather worse. We have video explainers and extreme weather toolkits for everything from drought to heavy rain and flooding.

Climate Central’s primer on sea level rise takes you through causes, projections and impacts, as well as the history of sea level and links to more resources.

Story Ideas: Trending Climate Topics

To help your reporting on local climate stories, Climate Central offers explainers, data, graphics, research, and multimedia — all grounded in science.
The following collection of tools can help you present these complicated topics to your audience in a clear, compelling way.

Extreme
Weather

Climate change has increased and intensified extreme weather in many communities. Climate Central’s extreme weather toolkits provide you with graphics, interactives, videos, webinars, and local data to report on disastrous or dangerous weather that comes your way.

Health At
Risk

Worsening air quality, dangerous heat, and pest-borne diseases are some of the health risks more Americans are facing with a warming climate. Our site explains the weather trends that impact our health, and provides links to health resources and experts.

Sea Level
Rise

Global warming has raised global sea level about 8 inches since 1880, and the rate of rise is accelerating. Climate Central’s Surging Seas website provides research and a set of interactive tools and maps, along with analyses of coastal flood hazards.

Locations
at Risk

Many of the institutions that protect or support us--military bases, churches, hospitals, national parks--are located in places that are facing challenges due to climate change. And our RiskFinder tool allows you to generate local reports on critical infrastructure at risk from coastal flooding.

Climate Change
Solutions

Climate Central’s WeatherPower tool shows local wind and solar electricity generation forecasts for all media markets. Find more graphics, data, research, and information on carbon emission reductions below.

Ways
of Life

Whatever your passion or hobby--fly fishing, pond hockey, gardening, or watching football--climate change is impacting the many ways we live and enrich our lives.

Food &
Drink

Drought, floods, heat, heavy rains and other climate change impacts are threatening to disrupt our food supply and what we eat and drink.

Seasonal Trends
& Shifts

Climate change is impacting our experience of seasons--from cherry blossoms in spring to the first frosts of winter. Our Media Library is full of materials to report on local shifts.

Reporting on
Climate Week

Climate Week NYC (Sept. 23 to 29) coincides with the United Nations Climate Action Summit. September 25 marks the release of the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, authored by 100+ scientists from more than 30 countries. Here are some other resources that can help you navigate Climate Week:

Subscribe to Climate Matters

Climate Matters is our climate reporting resource program that helps meteorologists and journalists report on climate impacts and solutions in ways that are local, immediate, and personal — grounded in the latest science, with easy-to-understand text and ready-to-use visual materials.

Stories We Love: Local Climate Change Reporting

Over the past few years, our network of meteorologists, reporters, producers, editors, and writers have generated an expansive collection of local climate reporting. We invited our Climate Matters members to send us their best advice on climate reporting and examples of how they connected the global climate problem for their local audience. Their engaging, thoughtful storytelling brings to mind any number of descriptions: Innovative. Moving. Consequential. Meaningful. Committed. Engaging. We’re delighted to share some of their stories and their words.

Jayme Lozano

Jayme Lozano

Regional Agriculture Reporter, Lubbock Avalanche-JournalRead: “I think farmers are more concerned about the climate than they let on because it plays such a huge role…”

Kat Snow

Kat Snow

Senior Editor, KQED Science

Listen: Podcast series on living with wildfires in California

Rachel Hager

Rachel Hager

Science Reporter and AAAS Fellow, Idaho Statesman

Read: “Boise 13th fastest-warming city in the US. Here's why that is unlucky for residents”

Alex Herbst

Alex Herbst

Meteorologist & Reporter, KGBT Watch: Special Report: Climate of change in the Rio Grande Valley

Tribute to Alex

Elisa Raffa

Elisa Raffa

Meteorologist, KOLR10Watch: Losing Land, Beans, & Sleep: Climate Change Impacts on Coffee

Meera Subramanian

Meera Subramanian

Independent JournalistRead: “The Fate of Gulf Fisheries in a Warming World”

Monica Woods

Monica Woods

Chief Meteorologist, ABC10 Watch: Sacramento would be underwater if Greenland's entire ice sheet melted
Joe Martucci

Joe Martucci

Meteorologist,
Press of Atlantic CityAdvice: “People might not care about what will happen 10 or 50 years from now. However, if you can say that this has already happened here and it has caused this, then people pick up the point.”

Krystal Klei

Krystal Klei

Meteorologist, NBC-10

Watch: More pollen, more problems from climate change in Philadelphia

Jorge Torres

Jorge Torres

Chief Meteorologist,
KOB-TV News 4

Watch: “El agua es vida. Water is life” The future of water in New Mexico

John Patrick

John Patrick

Chief Meteorologist,
WZVN-TV ABC7Advice: "Even in Southwest Florida, you can talk about and teach viewers about the reality of climate change. All you have to do here is bring it back to money. Blue-green algae plagued our waters in 2018 and tourists were turned off, which hurt our local economy. As a meteorologist, and with the help of Climate Central, I’m just factually explaining why it’s happening.

Mike Augustyniak

Mike Augustyniak

Director of Meteorology / Anchor,
WCCO-TV

Advice: “Climate coverage can truly stand out when the audience connects to the topic on an emotional level. The truth is that climate change is affecting almost everything, from the cost of insurance, to the spread of diseases, to outdoor recreation, and the cost of food.”

Greta Moran

Greta Moran

Freelance Journalist

Advice: “I think it's really important for journalists, even at national publications, to look out for local, place-based climate stories. Every large, climate-related issue has a local iteration and often local activists working hard to find solutions. There are so many communities working towards transitions from fossil fuels, and their efforts are really important and undercovered. Plus, these stories are often really inspiring and make a vast, global problem more digestible.”

Paul Gross

Paul Gross

Meteorologist, WDIV/ClickOnDetroit.com

Advice: “Engage people. Encourage them to ask questions, and respond to them. Use all mediums! An article I wrote had 300 to 400 Facebook comments, so I responded to many of those comments in the second article.”

Amelia Draper

Amelia Draper

Meteorologist, NBC Washington

Advice: "This is a complex topic, most viewers are not scientists so don’t complicate the message. Let viewers know it is not too late and we can still turn our changing climate around--air quality is a great example of that."

Eric Sorensen

Eric Sorensen

WQAD (ABC) Quad Cities, IA/IL

Advice: “Using Climate Matters allows me to make weather and climate relatable to my audience. Being the authority on the subject means that as impacts increase, more people will seek me for the right information.”

Steve MacLaughlin

Steve MacLaughlin

Meteorologist, NBC6

Advice: "As television meteorologists, it is now our obligation to report on climate change and connect it to our local weather...Climate has become the most important weather story in every single market."

Ariel Rodriguez

Ariel Rodríguez

Meteorologist & Environmental Reporter, WSCV Telemundo 51

Advice: “Send a clear and direct message. Do not leave room for disinformation to gain hold. Talk about what is known; climate science is not about showing sides, since facts speak for themselves. Use the facts and avoid the politics. Let your interviewees touch on the difficult subjects and be the advocates.”

More Resources for Climate Reporting

To cover climate, you need to be clear about the science--here are some online resources to help you communicate the facts

Interview Local Experts

National organizations can help you find experts near you. Think about talking to state climatologists, university meteorology or atmospheric science departments, flood management specialists, or medical practitioners aware of climate change impacts.

Myth Busting

At Skeptical Science, climate myths are debunked and climate science is explained in terms for non-scientists. The Consensus Handbook details how 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening.

Talk to a Scientist

Check out SciLine, 500 Women Scientists or the press offices of local universities to discuss climate change impacts on local biodiversity and ecosystems. NASA’s videos of climate scientists answering climate change questions may help inform your own questions.

Read the Research

The National Climate Assessment summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.

2019 Climate Week: Events to Report On

UN Youth
Climate Summit

21 September 2019
In the lead-up to the Climate Action Summit, young leaders will gather at the United Nations headquarters in New York to discuss solutions.

UN Secretary-General's Climate Action Summit

23rd September 2019
World leaders will meet in New York at the Climate Action Summit, hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Global Climate Strike

20 September 2019
Adults and youths alike plan to voice their deep concerns about climate change.

National Clean Energy Week

23-27 September 2019
Advocates for clean energy across the U.S. will come together to promote sustainable energy sources.

Climate Central

An independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the public.

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info@climatecentral.org

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