Creative Weather Challenge or Change the News

Jul 4, 2021

Independent climate journalist Emily Atkins recently wrote about how the news media is not adequately reporting on the climate emergency.

This has been a frustration of mine for so many years!

For example, during a recent heatwave in my state of Colorado less than 4% of stories about the unprecedented temps mentioned climate change as a factor.

(This was first reported by Chase Woodruff and here is his spreadsheet of the stories and here is Emily interviewing Chase).

This is not exclusive to Colorado. Writing for The New Republic about the catastrophic weather events of 2018, Emily noted how few news outlets worldwide cited the climate emergency as being a factor in weather events.

If we are going to change the human story, we first need people to see there is a need to change the story!


Where do you get your news?  Choose one source to focus on.

Notice who reports the next story about the next extreme weather event (there is probably one happening near you as you read this).

The news source will link to their email or Twitter handle (online). Twitter is a great place to get journalist’s attention and you can join to do your climate activism.

Write to your journalist friend (they aren’t bad people or climate deniers, they are operating under an outdated abundance of journalistic caution and as Emily writes…

“…fear. I will never forget, when I started this career, the backlash I used to get for mentioning an extreme weather event was made more likely by climate change. I’d be bombarded with accusations of insensitivity (“Now’s not the time for politics!”) and mischaracterizations of what I’d written (“This girl says climate change caused the hurricane!”). Their anger made me feel like I had done something really wrong. I never wanted to write a climate-focused weather story again.

I understand now that those reactions were merely symptoms of the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long climate denial campaign—a campaign to make climate science too poisonous to touch. Because what are you really saying when you blame worsening weather extremes on global warming? You’re saying fossil fuels cause suffering and death. The industry cannot afford to have that printed in every newspaper in America, even if it happens to be the truth.” 

Treat your journalist with respect and point out something like…

“Your story on _____ (extreme weather event) was an opportunity to inform your readers about the effects of the climate emergency on our daily lives. Your readers viscerally experienced that climate change is here now. It’s not abstract. It’s happening now. You do your job for great reasons, and no doubt they include making the world a better place. There is no greater threat to human survival than our deteriorating climate. It is the biggest story you or anybody else will ever report on. You have power, the power to get people to see what’s happening. I know you cannot report that this or any weather event was caused by climate change but you can connect the dots by saying climate change makes extreme events, such as _________ that we just experienced, much more likely.  Please join me in turning this crisis around by spreading awareness of the impact of climate change. Thank you for your time.”  (Hat tip to Emily for the language I borrowed from her.)


Reporters will not and should not report “this heatwave/tornado/hurricane is caused by climate change.” No single weather event can be directly attributed to climate change. But they can – and must – connect the dots.

Be creative, of course! Send a voice message. Make a funny GIF.  Send a picture of the extreme weather event and how it affected you. Write a haiku. Offer links to relevant resources especially around the most recent weather event. Be funny. Be kind.

Use your voice to change their amplified voices.


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