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TV meteorologists as climate change educators: Exploring the implications of national survey results for professional development and support

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Monday, 24 January 2011: 1:30 PM
TV meteorologists as climate change educators: Exploring the implications of national survey results for professional development and support
618-620 (Washington State Convention Center)
Ed Maibach, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA; and K. Wilson, J. Witte, J. Witte, and J. Thaker

A confluence of factors points to the 1,300+ TV meteorologists in the US as a potentially important source of informal science education about climate change. In winter 2010, to explore their interests, abilities and current activities in reporting on climate change, we surveyed all AMS and NWA broadcast members (51% adjusted response rate), and all RTDNA member TV news directors (18% unadjusted response rate), nationwide. In this presentation, we will present key findings from both of these surveys with the specific aim in mind of answering the question: So what? In brief, we found that a large majority of weathercasters would like to report on climate change, but only a small minority currently does so monthly or more often. Those weathercasters interested in reporting on climate change indicated that various specific resources – such as access to high quality graphics and to climate scientists for interviews – would be helpful in increasing their ability to report on climate change. We also found that a large minority of weathercasters does not believe that climate change is happening (25%) or they “don't know” (21%), and the same is true of news directors (21% not happening; 26% “don't know”). This presentation will conclude by discussing the implications of these and other findings as identified by a partnership currently forming to support broadcast meteorologists in their efforts to educate their viewers about climate change and its local weather manifestations. This “climate change education partnership” includes AMS, NWA, AASC, AGU, NOAA and various universities and non-profit organizations.