Radio show raises climate change awareness

In less time than it takes to brush your teeth, a new radio series out of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies is spreading climate change awareness.

The series, produced by Yale Climate Connections at FES and launched on Aug. 18, features 90-second stories about how climate change is affecting lives nationwide. Numerous studies conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication revealed that many Americans see climate change as an abstract issue of politics, the environment or scientific theory. The goal of the series is to help people realize the immediate, tangible impact climate change is already having on energy, extreme weather, public health, food and water, jobs and the economy, and national security, as well as creative arts and religious and moral values, said YPCC Director Anthony Leiserowitz.

“Climate change is so fundamental — we’re talking about the climate system on which all life depends on this planet — everybody has a real stake in this issue,” Leiserowitz said. “One of our hopes with this series is to help people connect the dots between climate change and other parts of our lives.”

Climate Connections is broadcast in 50 markets across in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah, with an audience in the hundreds of thousands. In its first 12 days on the air, some of the segments have garnered significant attention, said Yale Climate Connections editor Bud Ward.

The series’ first story, “The Green Tea Coalition,” shows the unlikely collaboration between the Tea Party and Sierra Club in Atlanta, Ga. In the partnership, the Sierra Club promotes renewable energy sources, while the Atlanta Tea Party advocates for the free market and consumer choice. The groups joined forces to help Georgia residents sell excess solar energy back to the Georgia Power Company.

“Here are examples of people all across America taking action today to deal with this problem, which for too many people seems big, abstract, overwhelming, and in some cases even unsolvable,” Leiserowitz said. “We want to bring attention to some great efforts that are already underway.”

Although some Americans might feel hopeless about the progress of climate change, the best science says that it’s not too late for action, Ward said.

Leiserowitz said he plans to continue growing the show’s radio presence over the next six months. The series, which was in development for over a year, is currently funded for a year, and Leiserowitz said he hopes it will be supported for longer. Graduate students from FES helped market the series on social networks and plan a website for the radio program.

For years, Yale Climate Connections has produced online content about climate-related issues, and the radio component allows Yale Climate Connections to reach a broader audience, Ward said. While most people who read the online content arrived with an existing interest in climate change, the radio broadcast allows the content to have a broader reach, Ward said. The radio stories’ accompanying articles will continue to be written by veteran environmental journalists.

“I am delighted that through Climate Connections, the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies is engaging an increasingly broad audience about how climate change connects to all of our lives,” said FES Dean Peter Crane in an email.

The Climate Connections stories are available for download as podcasts on iTunes.

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