Making the Climate Connection on Local TV

Here are tips and examples to help journalists make the connection between extreme weather and climate.

“It is my responsibility to empower my audience to know more about climate change, in a way that people not only understand it but accept it from a trustworthy source.” – John Morales, ClimaData founder & longtime meteorologist in Miami

Evidence of climate change is all around us — bigger wildfires, stronger hurricanes, more intense heatwaves, and more. Including the climate connection in our reports about events like these is essential to ensuring audiences accurately understand them. The connection can be made succinctly, usually in no more than a sentence.

Consider this simple language:

  • This [heatwave] is exactly the sort of extreme weather that scientists around the world associate with climate change/a warming planet.
  • This [hurricane] comes at a time when human-caused climate change is making storms like it more intense.
  • When scientists have weighed in on the direct role of climate change: “Human-caused climate change made these conditions more than [number] times as likely. In other words, the conditions would be nearly impossible in a world without carbon pollution.” – example from Climate Central

You can also try an analogy:

Climate change isn’t solely to blame for extreme weather, but…

… it stacks the deck against us.

… it’s often a key ingredient in the outcome.

… it supercharges normal weather patterns, like steroids.

Not sure exactly what climate change has to do with a specific extreme weather event? There are increasingly many tools out there to help with what climate experts call “event attribution.” For example, through attribution science we know that last year’s deadly heatwaves in northwest India and Pakistan were 100 times more likely due to climate change.

We especially encourage you to try Climate Central’s ‘Climate Shift Index,’ a daily tool, rooted in the latest science, that helps journalists identify the impact climate change is having on local weather worldwide, with especially detailed information available for the continental US.

Even in the absence of explicit attribution data, it’s accurate to say that climate change is making extreme and unseasonable weather more common and more severe. And you can always quote an expert, as in this example, from KCRA-TV in Northern California, regarding a record, late-summer heatwave:

“[Doctor Patrick Brown, a climate researcher] says the data showing that Earth is, on average, getting warmer as a result of increasing greenhouse gasses is irrefutable — and as those average temperatures rise, our hottest days are increasingly more likely to get hotter. … And Brown says that as long as we continue to add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, the global average temperature will likely keep rising, along with record heat, meaning climate change adaptation will be just as important as mitigation.” Heather Waldman, meteorologist & climate reporter at KCRA-TV

Here are a few more great examples of journalists nailing the climate connection:

On heat in the West: “Fueled by climate change, the first major heat wave of the summer has seized the western United States, toppling records and threatening lives.”Sarah Kaplan, climate reporter at The Washington Post

On prolonged drought in the Southwest: “It’s no secret. Our planet is warming. That includes Phoenix and Arizona, coming off the hottest summer on record last year. … Those changes [are] already impacting our state’s water supply. The Bureau of Reclamation will declare water shortages along the Colorado River this weekend.”Jorge Torres, meteorologist & climate reporter at KNXV-TV

On local impacts in the Carolinas, during the COP26 global climate summit: “We are seeing that warming right here in charlotte. This [Climate Central chart] is a look at our temperature history … and if we continue business-as-usual, look at the way continued emissions will warm up those temperatures. If we make these cuts, we can stop this warming and stop that weather from being as extreme nationwide.”Elisa Raffa, meteorologist & reporter at WJZY-TV 

On a warming Gulf of Maine: “Two days before Christmas, the Maine coast was clobbered by winds and seas stronger and wilder than many had seen in years. Record tides swamped many spots. Was it all a warning? … A growing number of Mainers have noticed changes in their world as a result of climate change.” Don Carrigan, reporter at WSCH-TV


  • Jeff Berardelli, of WFLA-TV in Florida, hosts a weekly on-air segment called ‘Climate Classroom.’
  • Waldman, of KCRA, mentioned above, hosts a weekly on-air segment called ‘Forecasting our Future,’ in which she takes up a wide range of climate-related stories, both local and global in scope.


  • CCNow’s ‘Extreme Weather’ reporting guide breaks down, in brief, how climate change is influencing specific weather events — including drought, extreme heat, heavy rain and flooding, hurricanes, snow and ice, wildfires, and more — with links to sample stories and expert sources.
  • Climate Central, in addition to their ‘Climate Shift Index’ mentioned above, produces a wide range of resources for journalists, including graphics for use on-air and in stories that powerfully illustrate the results of our changing climate.
  • SciLine, with a large rolodex of top scientists, quickly connects journalists with experts and relevant evidence for their stories, in addition to offering helpful explainers. Need a camera-ready expert now? SciLine’s your best bet.
  • The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication can help you identify what your audience is thinking about climate change, with diverse opinion surveys and state- and county-level opinion polling nationwide.