For those who are relatively new to the climate story, this document (pdf here) provides general resources for reporting on the climate crisis, as well as those specific to the South.
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 South, such as intensifying hurricanes, more flooding downpours, extreme heat, energy production, environmental racism in and outside of cities, health impacts related to climate and fossil fuels, 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.
The webinar co-hosts — Covering Climate Now, Climate Matters in the Newsroom, and Southerly — have all developed resources and stories to help you better understand and report on climate change. If you have questions feel free to reach out to Symone@coveringclimatenow.org.
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. Learn about their Partnerships Journalism program for local reporters and newsrooms and sign up to receive their weekly reporting resources, often localized to every media market.
Southerly, is a non-profit media organization that covers the intersection of ecology, justice, and culture in the American South. Southerly collaborates with publications of any size to tell more thoughtful, informative stories about climate and environmental issues. Sign up for Southerly’s newsletter to get connected.
Southerly recently worked with the Society for Environmental Journalists on a special report — Covering Your Climate: The South — designed to help journalists cover the impacts of climate change, and to report on actions taken to mitigate its worst effects and preparations for what can’t be stopped. See their background overview for the South and related tip sheets:
- Backgrounder: Is the South Confronting Its Climate Threats?
- Crisis Threatens the Country’s Most Vulnerable Region
- Why the South Lags on Staving Off Crisis
- South Slow To Adapt to Rising Sea Levels, Other Climate Impacts
- Resource Toolbox for Climate Change Reporting in the South
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 you’ll find an online program to get you started, best practices to follow, a reporting guide with story ideas and more.
The Climate Reporting Master Class is a free, online program designed by Climate Matters in the Newsroom to help journalists up their game in incorporating climate change into their reporting on every beat.
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.
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.
Climate Reporting Master Class is a new online training program from Climate Matters in the Newsroom designed to help journalists take their climate reporting to the next level.
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 Southeast.
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 the extreme weather 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 facts, references, experts you can contact 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, State, and Local Resources
The organizations below are helpful sources of regional information and expertise for your reporting on climate. You might consider contacting some and ask to be added to their mailing lists for updates on research and other news.
As part of their Toolbox for Climate Change Reporting in the South, the Society for Environmental Journalists and Southerly gathered a variety of regional, state and local resources to help reporters track down climate stories throughout the Southern United States.
- Fourth National Climate Assessment: Southeast chapter (2018) | Third National Climate Assessment: Southeast chapter (2014) | State Climate Summaries (2017)
- NC State: Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center
- NOAA: National Centers for Environmental Information – Southern Regional Climate Services program | Fisheries’ Southeast/Gulf of Mexico Climate Science Strategy Regional Action Plans | Climate Impacts Research Consortium Climate Toolbox
- U.S. Geological Survey: Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center | Region 1: North Atlantic-Appalachian | Region 2: South Atlantic-Gulf | Region 4: Mississippi Basin | Region 6: Arkansas-Rio Grande-Texas-Gulf
- Southeast Regional Climate Center (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Southeast Climate Impacts & Impacts by State) (archived site) | MyEnvironment site (search by state, i.e., “South Carolina”) | Utility Markets in the United States
- Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange Southeast & Caribbean
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Southeast Climate Hub
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Climate Change in the Southeast
- U.S. Forest Service: Southern Region Climate Resources
- National Weather Service: Southern Region | Eastern Region
- Federal Emergency Management Agency: Region 3 (DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, WV) | Region 4 (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN) | Region 6 (AK, LA, NM, OK, TX)
- Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program
- Risky Business Southeast Report
- Climate Central Surging Seas: Risk Finder Map | Coastal Risk Screening Tool
- State Policy Opportunity Tracker: Spot for Clean Energy (state-by-state dropdown)
- NRDC Southeast regional resources
State and Local
- North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies: State Climate Thumbnails
- U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit: Find Experts by state | Case studies – Southeast
- States at Risk project national summary
- Georgetown Climate Center State and Local Adaptation Plans
- Sierra Club Ready for 100 Clean Energy Campaign Locale Map
- CDP Cities List 2020
- Solar Energy Industries Association Map of Solar Installed by State
- ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard
South Atlantic Region
- EPA: What Climate Change Means for Florida | Georgia | South Carolina | North Carolina | Virginia | West Virginia | Maryland | Delaware | District of Columbia
- Florida Climate Institute
- Florida Climate Center
- Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact
- Georgia Environmental Protection Division: Greenhouse Gases | 2020 Climate Summaries
- Georgia Department of Coastal Resources: Coastal Hazards and Resiliency
- Georgia Climate Project
- Atlanta Regional Commission: Climate Change
- Atlanta Office of Resilience: Atlanta Rising Report
- City of Atlanta Climate Action Plan
- South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Climate: Climate Change Impacts to Natural Resources in South Carolina (pdf)
- North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency
- North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality: Climate
- North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan
- Triangle Regional Resilience Partnership Resilience Assessment
- Virginia Governor’s Commission on Climate Change Final Report: A Climate Change Action Plan
- Virginia Climate Change and Resilience Commission Report to the Governor
- Virginia Department of Health: Public Health Impacts of Climate Change
- Virginia Institute of Marine Science: Climate Change & Coastal Resilience
- Virginia Conservation Network: Addressing Sea Level Rise and a Changing Climate
- US Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District | Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management
- Fairfax County, Va.: Climate Change Planning and Action
- NRDC: Climate Change and Health in Virginia
- West Virginia Climate Alliance: A Citizen’s Guide to Climate Change
- West Virginia Center on Climate Change
- USDA Northeast Climate Hub: What West Virginia’s Changing Climate Means for Its Farmers
- Maryland Commission on Climate Change: “2020 Annual Report“
- Maryland Climate Change Health Adaptation Program
- University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science: Maryland and Climate Change
- Chesapeake Bay Foundation: Climate Change
- Baltimore (Md.) Office of Sustainability: Baltimore & Climate Change
- Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control: Understanding Climate Change
- Seagrant Delaware: Climate Change and Delaware
- Washington, D.C. Department of Energy & Environment: Climate Change
- Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments: Climate Change
- DC Climate Coalition
East South Central Region
- EPA: What Climate Change Means for Mississippi | Alabama | Tennessee | Kentucky
- Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality: Energy Conservation
- Mississippi River Collaborative: Climate Change and Water Quality
- Alabama Department of Environmental Management: Climate, Policy, and Water Availability: The Future of Irrigation in Alabama Report
- Southern Alliance for Clean Energy: Factsheet on Climate Change Impacts on Alabama
- Sierra Club Alabama Chapter: Impacts of Climate Change in the State of Alabama
- Tennessee Department of Health: Climate Change and Public Health
- Southern Alliance for Clean Energy: Factsheet on Climate Change Impacts on Tennessee
- Louisville, Kentucky Sustainability Department: Climate Action and Resilience resources
West South Central Region
- EPA: What Climate Change Means for Texas | Louisiana | Oklahoma | Arkansas
- Texas: State Hazard Mitigation Plan
- Environment Texas: Global Warming Solutions
- City of Dallas: Climate Action Plan
- City of Houston Office of Sustainability: Climate Action Plan
- City of San Antonio Office of Sustainability: Climate Action & Adaptation
- Austin, Texas: Climate Program
- Louisiana Climate Initiatives Task Force | Interim Report
- Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority: 2023 Coastal Master Plan
- LSU Law Center: Climate Change Law and Policy Project
- Oklahoma Climatological Survey: Statement on Climate Change and Its Implications for Oklahoma
- Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program: Climate Change in Oklahoma | Climate Change in Arkansas
- National Wildlife Federation: Global Warming and Arkansas Factsheet
Below are a few sources to help bring diversity to your climate reporting. We also list a number of climate experts in the South, 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.
American Association of State Climatologists offers a directory of climatologists by state, including contact information. Also, be sure to reach out to colleges and universities in your state to connect with experts and find new story ideas.
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.
Realtime Climate monitors local weather and events across the U.S. and generates alerts when certain conditions are met or expected. These alerts provide links to science-based analyses and visualizations—including locality-specific, high-quality graphics—that can help explain events in the context of climate change.
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. Surging Seas is their program on sea level rise and offers tools to assess and map sea level rise risk, as well as a range of visuals and videos.