Updated: March 17, 20201
For those who are relatively new to the climate story from the Great Lakes region, this document provides general resources for reporting on the climate crisis, as well as those specific to the Great Lakes region. We also provide an opportunity to watch our recent webinar on building climate confidence: Great Lakes edition.
Climate change affects us all, but in many ways it’s personal: How the climate crisis will play out in one region is different from how it will play out in others, based on geographic, political, and cultural factors. In the webinar, we framed the conversation around the issues that matter in the Great Lakes region, such as erosion along the lake shores, changing rainfall patterns, environmental racism, climate impacts on agriculture, water and air quality issues, and much more.
Our panel of experienced journalists shared their testimony on how they got up to speed on the climate issue, challenges they’ve faced in reporting and ideas on how to tell localized, human-centered stories that will engage audiences. We flagged common mistakes and best practices to emulate. You can watch the webinar here:
Below, we’ve put together a list of resources that you can turn to as you expand your reporting on the climate emergency. These include resources to help you: learn the science behind climate change; get started on climate reporting; understand the state of the climate crisis and its solutions – both globally and regionally; find climate experts for your reporting; access polls on audience’s climate views; as well as tools to help you tell your stories. You’ll also find an introduction to the webinar hosting organizations and their reporting resources.
Webinar Hosting Organizations
The webinar co-hosts — Covering Climate Now, Climate Matters in the Newsroom, Great Lakes Now at Detroit Public Television, and the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources — have all developed resources and stories to help you better understand and report on climate change. Please see information about all of these organizations and the resources they have available at the end of this document. If you have questions feel free to reach out to Symone@coveringclimatenow.org.
Your Audience’s Climate Perceptions
Below are some sources for ongoing climate polling to help you better understand your audience’s climate opinions.
Global Warming Six Americas categorizes American’s beliefs and attitudes about climate change into six distinct groups, ranging from alarmed to dismissive.
Climate Change in the American Mind, a project by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, tracks and investigates public understanding of climate change and support for climate policies.
Yale Climate Opinion Maps show how Americans’ climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and policy support vary at the state, congressional district, metro area, and county levels.
Getting Started on Climate Reporting
Here are best practices to follow, a reporting guide with story ideas and a first-person account of how a reporter gained climate confidence.
The Climate Reporting Master Class is a free, online program designed to help journalists up their game in incorporating climate change into their reporting on every beat. A collaborative project by Climate Matters in the Newsroom, the Master Class is organized as topical modules led by top experts that journalists can engage with at their own pace and on their own schedule. Viewing eight or more modules and attending at least one live event earns a climate reporting certificate from Climate Matters in the Newsroom.
10 Best Practices for Climate Reporting: Journalists have a responsibility to the public to get the climate story right. Follow these “best practices” to make your reporting shine.
Reporting Guide: Living Through the Climate Emergency: No matter what beat you work on, there’s a climate story for you. To help reporters jumpstart brainstorming and find new story angles on the climate emergency, CCNow has pulled together story ideas across news desks.
How a Texas TV Reporter Gained Confidence to Cover Climate Change: Read how David Schechter, host of Verify Road Trip at WFAA-TV in Dallas, Texas, gained the climate confidence he needed for a reporting road trip to Alaska with a climate change skeptic.
The Climate Museum provides resources to help you feel confident to begin—and sustain—climate conversations. Also, watch this video, produced by the Alliance for Climate Education, for tips on talking about climate change.
Our Changing Climate is a customizable climate change presentation produced by Climate Central that meteorologists, journalists, and others can use for educational outreach.
The Science Behind Climate Change
For anyone new to climate reporting or in need of a refresher, here are some basics to help get you up to speed.
The Basics: Climate Science 101: In this primer, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe explains the basics of climate change for beginners and those in need of a refresher. It includes a brief overview video by Bernadette Woods Placky, chief meteorologist of Climate Central and Climate Matters director, featuring easy to follow data and charts.
Fact Sheet: Who Says It’s A Climate Emergency?: Here’s why scientists and others are declaring that humanity faces a climate emergency and must respond with immediate, far-reaching action. Newsrooms may also find this information useful internally as they reflect on their reporting and editorial decisions.
Skeptical Science, a website by a global team of scientist volunteers, explains and debunks common climate myths. Members of Skeptical Science contributed to The Debunking Handbook 2020, which summarizes the current state of the science of misinformation and its debunking.
The Consensus Handbook, produced by the Center for Climate Change Communication, provides a brief history of the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming and examines the best way to respond to misinformation and communicate the consensus.
National & Global Reports
There are thousands of reports on climate change. Here are a few we recommend to help round out your introductory knowledge of the climate emergency. For journalists, reading the executive summary will likely suffice.
The Fourth National Climate Assessment is the product of an enormous effort by the U.S. government and scientists to provide the American public with the state of the science on climate change, its impacts on the country, and those that are likely to happen in the future. Volume II of the assessment focuses on the impacts and risks associated with climate change for U.S. sectors and regions, including the Midwest.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change, will release its Sixth Assessment Report in 2021. Its Fifth Assessment’s findings helped drive world leaders to pledge in the Paris Agreement to limit temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees C.
What We Know, produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), presents key messages that scientists believe every American should know about climate change. In How We Respond the AAAs examines the range of response options to climate change, drawing on specific communities as examples of different approaches.
MEDICAL ALERT! Climate Change Is Harming Our Health, published by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, summarizes the threats of climate change to our health through extreme weather, reduced air and water quality, increases in infectious and insect-borne diseases, and more.
Project Drawdown conducts an ongoing review and analysis of climate solutions. Their comprehensive guide, The Drawdown Review, provides concrete examples you can localize and illustrate with further reporting.
Climate Facts & Other Resources
SciLine, in collaboration with Climate Communication, produces Quick Facts for Any Story, evidence-based, factual summaries of newsworthy issues, designed to be quickly and easily scanned by journalists. They will help you connect the dots between climate change and extreme events you are reporting on. If you have room to include one sentence in your reporting, the top line of each of these is that sentence. They also include the backup facts, references, experts they can call for a quote, and pitfalls to avoid. They include:
- Torrential Rain, Flooding, and Climate Change
- Heat Waves and Climate Change
- Hurricanes and Climate Change
- Wildfires and Climate Change
- Cold Snaps and Climate Change
- Drought and Climate Change
- Climate Change and Environmental Justice
The Resources section of ClimateCommunication.org includes relevant articles on this topic including:
- (Un)Natural Disasters: Communicating Linkages Between Extreme Events and Climate Change
- Communicating the Science of Climate Change
NPR’s Guide: What Journalists Need to Know When Covering Climate Change, is National Public Radio’s “cheat sheet” for journalists that provides big-picture context for weather events and other stories.
Society of Environmental Journalists’ produces TipSheet, a bi-weekly source for story ideas, background, interview leads, and reporting tools for journalists who cover climate change and the environment.
The Open Notebook Pitch Database contains more than 200 successful news and feature science-based pitches to a wide range of publications, including Bloomberg, Conservation, The Guardian, and more.
Regional Resources & Climate Experts
The organizations below are helpful sources of regional information and expertise for your reporting on climate. You might consider contacting some of them to be added to their mailing lists for updates on research and other news.
The Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan facilitates sustainability-focused collaborations involving faculty, students, and external stakeholders.
Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission is an agency of eleven Ojibwe nations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, who retain off-reservation treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather in treaty-ceded lands.
Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments is a collaboration between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University supported by NOAA. GLISA works to enhance Great Lakes communities’ capacity to understand, plan for, and respond to climate impacts now and in the future.
The Great Plains Institute is dedicated to engaging and collaborating with people, organizations, and communities to craft nonpartisan, pragmatic energy solutions that benefit the economy and environment.
Midwest Environmental Advocates is a non-profit environmental law center that works to defend public rights, protect natural resources, and ensure transparency and accountability in government.
The Midwestern Regional Climate Center, a cooperative program between the National Centers for Environmental Information and the Illinois State Water Survey, monitors and assesses regional climate conditions and their impacts to help explain climate and its impacts on the Midwest.
NOAA/Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory conducts research on the environments and ecosystems of the Great Lakes and coastal regions to provide information for resource use and management decisions.
Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin brings together climate scientists with researchers in geography, botany, oceanography, and other disciplines to investigate the implications of climate change for the future.
Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts is a statewide collaboration of scientists and stakeholders between UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It evaluates climate change impacts on Wisconsin and fosters solutions.
Below are a few sources to help bring diversity to your climate reporting. We also list a number of climate experts in the Great Lakes region, along with their contact details.
SciLine, a resource provided by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, connects journalists on deadline with scientific experts on climate change and a range of other topics.
Diverse Sources is a searchable database of underrepresented experts in the areas of science, health, and the environment for journalists on deadline.
Source of the week: environment is NPR’s resource for journalists covering climate who believe in the value of diversity and share in their goal to make the media look and sound like America.
Women’s Media Center’s Shesource is an online database of media-experienced women experts useful for journalists, bookers, and producers.
- Indiana State Climatologist, Beth Hall, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: (765) 494-8060
- Illinois State Climatologist, Dr. Trent Ford, Email : email@example.com, Phone: 217-244-1330
- Michigan State Climatologist, Dr. Jeff Andresenm Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 517 355 0231 x107
- Minnesota State Climatologist, Luigi Romolo, Email: email@example.com, Phone: +1 651 296 4214
- Ohio State Climatologist, Dr. Mark Bryan, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 614 292-7930
- Wisconsin State Climatology Office, Email: STCLIM@aos.wisc.edu, Phone: 608–263–2374
Be sure to reach out to colleges and universities in your state to connect with experts and find new story ideas. For example, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign hosts Illinois Experts, a database where you can find researchers and scholars who can help in your reporting.
More Editorial Tools & Resources
These tools will help you stay up-to-date on the latest climate news, get climate reporting tips, access visual materials for use in your reporting, and more.
Climate Nexus focuses on changing the conversation on climate change and clean energy from an argument to a constructive search for solutions. Their Daily Hot News newsletter briefly summarizes and links to about 30 climate news stories every morning.
Images & Visuals
Climate Matters produces a weekly package of localized climate reporting resources, including data, broadcast-ready visuals, experts, and story ideas, in both English and Spanish. This is all bookmarked in the searchable media library.
Climate Visuals has a large collection of photographs that emphasize the human connection to the climate crisis and illustrate its causes, impacts, and solutions. Many of its photographs are either free or low in cost.
NASA Global Climate Change produces multimedia resources, including images, graphics, b-roll, videos, and more, on climate change for use by the media.
Weather Power is Climate Central’s wind and solar forecasting tool featuring electricity generation based on installed capacity for various geographies. Using the tool, reporters can customize and download production-ready forecast graphics.
Best Practices Reporting in the Great Lakes
Here are some climate-related stories from the Great Lakes region to inspire your own reporting.
- Great Lakes advocates look to Biden administration to take on climate change: ‘A breath of fresh air’ – Chicago Tribune
- Climate change comes to Duluth — one of America’s “climate refuge cities – Ensia
- Michigan is on thin ice. Get used to it, climate experts say – Bridge Michigan
- Millions of Homeowners Who Need Flood Insurance Don’t Know It – Thanks to FEMA – ProPublica
- Climate change threatens winter recreation – Minnesota Public Radio
- From Rust to Resilience: Climate change brings new challenges and opportunities – Great Lakes Now
Covering Climate Now is a nonprofit collaboration of more than 400 news organizations committed to improving climate coverage. Partners include some of the biggest names in news, including The Guardian, Reuters, NBC and CBS News, our co-founders Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation, and hundreds of others, including many local outlets across the country and the world. CCNow’s website is rich with resources, including reporting guides to help journalists report on climate throughout your newsroom. Sign up for CCNow’s weekly newsletter and be sure to attend its Talking Shop webinars for journalists.
Climate Matters in the Newsroom is a partnership among the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, Climate Communication, and Climate Central. Climate Matters helps meteorologists and journalists report on climate change impacts and solutions in ways that are local, immediate, and personal. Sign up to receive their weekly reporting resources, often localized to every media market. Their Climate Reporting Master Class is a new online training program designed to help journalists take their climate reporting to the next level.
Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, promotes public dialogue about natural resource issues through programs that inform, empower, and inspire better journalism. It provides top-quality training programs and reporting grants for environment and natural resource journalists throughout North America. It also provides tools to tackle environmental racism. Upcoming events include a four-part workshop on the Great Lakes, during the month of May.
Great Lakes Now at Detroit Public Television is a regional news and information hub, offering in-depth collaborative multi-media coverage of news, issues, events, and developments affecting the lakes and the communities that depend on them, while capturing the character and culture of the region. If you’re interested in collaborating, please reach out to Sandra Svoboda at email@example.com.