3.4 Communicating climate change in a weathercasting context: An analysis of “early adopter” TV meteorologists and their educational methods

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 9:15 AM
618-620 (Washington State Convention Center)
Katherine Rowan, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA; and B. Klinger, J. Witte, P. Baldwin, B. Brown, and E. Maibach

Although two out of three broadcast meteorologists indicate they have reported on climate change at least once, less than 20% do so at least once a month, most commonly in community or school presentations. In the fall of 2009, to better understand the minority of broadcast meteorologists who regularly and actively educate members of their viewing audience about climate change, we used snowball sampling to identify and interview in-depth 18 broadcast meteorologists (14 men, 4 women) who were “early adopters” with regard to on-air and on-line climate change education. In this presentation we give an overview of their characteristics, educational methods, and perspectives on their successes and challenges in educating viewing audiences about climate change. Furthermore, we analyze their educational methods as compared to “best practices” in informal science education as characterized in the 2009 National Academy of Science report titled Learning Science in Informal Environments. Lastly, we demonstrate a web site created to showcase the best videos, graphics, and other materials used by the early adopters to explain climate science to a wide array of audiences (e.g., through blogs, on air, in audio files, on Power Point slides). This presentation will be of interest to broadcast meteorologists who wish to cover climate change, climate change educators and educational researchers, and more generally to informal science educators and researchers.
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