Sam Champion: Weather reporting to US citizens is the ONLY way to raise awareness of our changing climate

Author:
Clare Saxon Ghauri
10 September 2014

LONDON: On Wednesday September 10 we hosted "America's most-watched weather anchor", Sam Champion of The Weather Channel, in a live Twitter Q&A, to talk about how ready America is to act on climate as fast-rising global temperatures and worsening extreme weather events dominate the headlines in the US and beyond.

Below is a snapshot of the conversation. 

Sam Champion began the Twitter chat early, keen to respond to the mounting discussion on climate science and American citizens' awareness of and readiness to act on climate change. First though, he answered a key question around the role of corporate America in acting to curb climate change. 

We then asked Sam about America's reactions to the increasingly extreme weather that has swept America recently. The award-winning journalist is at the forefront of environment and climate change coverage and has reported from extreme weather-related events around the country, including California's wildfires and the recent hurricanes that hit several southern states. His work around Super Storm Sandy last year even helped win ABC News a coveted Peabody Award.

This brought us to the idea of 'trust'. It seems that the American public relies on their TV weather reports but become dubious when it comes to scientists talking about climate change, even when damning reports are released by highly-respected UN organizations such as the IPCC. Sam suggested this could be because weather anchors "can talk about what we want", as opposed to scientists, who must be more cautious.

But while the public's lack of trust in science remains unexplained, Sam pointed out that it is also the controversial arguments around climate change that may be stemming action from Americans.

Sam answered some local climate questions from worried participants and also happily confirmed his attendance at the People's March in New York later this month, which is an affiliate event of Climate Week NYC. 

But he soon brought the conversation back to the all-important topic of how mainstream weather reporting is an effective vehicle for bringing critical information about a changing climate to everyday people, by exposing them to the very real impacts of increasing extreme weather. Sam also thinks that these impacts are now costing local governments enough money to pay attention and act too. 

Looking more to solutions rather than just focusing on climate impacts, the chat then moved to raising public awareness of the benefits of clean technologies in order to urge US national and local governments to spur widespread scale-up, despite political issues and economic barriers.

With the strong statement that the US "can and should be a leader" in clean energy globally, we look forward to hearing more from Sam Champion in New York later this month, where he will be MCing the Opening Day of Climate Week NYC. 

Climate Week NYC, convened by The Climate Group, is a key international platform for governments, businesses and civil society to collaborate on low carbon leadership, through a week filled with events, activities and high-profile meetings. 

This year, taking place from September 22-28, Climate Week NYC is also the collaborative space for all related events in support of the UN Climate Summit, convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday September 23Together the two summits have the potential to catapult climate change back to the top of the world agenda, mobilizing leaders to act now.

There are now more than 100 events confirmed for this year's summit. See what's happening near you at ClimateWeekNYC.org or follow the global conversation on #CWNYC.

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