Meteorologists Bringing Climate Change Home. It’s in your Beer.

March 9, 2018

Climate change. It’s not in the far future.
It’s not in the arctic. It’s not in the tropics.

It’s in your beer.


KOLR10 News TV meteorologist Elisa Raffa wanted to tell her viewers about climate change, so she started with beer.

“Beer is mostly water, right?” the Springfield, Missouri, reporter says. “One of our local breweries gets the water they use from a nearby lake. Well, because temperatures are going up there has been an algae bloom in the lake. It’s not a dangerous bloom — but it impacts the taste of the water and, of course, the beer.”

Mother’s Brewing Company also buys produce like peaches and cucumbers from local farmers, Raffa says. Those fresh fruits and veggies give brews like the Sunshine Chugsuckle and the Uncanny their signature flavor. But between increasingly violent hail storms and early blooms on the peach trees that then get hit with late freezes, that produce is in trouble. Mother’s and other Missouri brewers may have to turn to imported, frozen products. “And that not only impacts taste, it harms the local economy,” Raffa says.

Raffa’s 2017 beer story was a short segment on the evening newscast. But it marks a shift. From heat waves and extreme rainfall to drought and flooding, climate change is becoming hard to ignore. To help their viewers understand what is happening around them, TV meteorologists are increasingly taking the lead in educating the public as to how climate change affects their lives.

Responsibility to Educate

For years, TV meteorologists were hesitant to talk about climate change. Climatological views — the long-term trends and patterns that influence weather — were not part of their education. Their time on air is limited. Some stations may discourage climate change talk. Many meteorologists simply feel it isn’t their responsibility. And some are concerned about how it might affect their ratings and job security.

“Audiences trust their local meteorologists,” says Mike Nelson, chief meteorologist at Denver7, an ABC affiliate in Colorado. “Our jobs depend on that trust. Meteorologists understand this, and some tend to stay away from controversial subjects.”

But that won’t do anymore, says Nelson. “We are as close to a scientist as most Americans will ever get. People invite us into their living rooms. We have a responsibility to educate them on the facts.”

In 2010 several meteorologists joined Climate Central, George Mason and Yale universities, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the American Meteorological Society in a pilot project to explore how broadcast meteorologists could better communicate climate change. Two years later, Climate Central launched Climate Matters as a full-time, national program to help meteorologists talk about climate change in and with their communities.

“We need more people connecting the dots about how climate change is already affecting people and will continue to do so in the future,” says Bernadette Woods Placky, Climate Central chief meteorologist and director of Climate Matters. By linking local impacts to larger changes, Climate Matters aims to empower people to prepare for impacts like heat waves, flooding, elevated food prices and health situations. “We are a resource to help meteorologists tell their local story,” says Woods Placky.


9 Responses to “Meteorologists Bringing Climate Change Home. It’s in your Beer.”

  1. Alan Thorpe Says:

    What an utter load of rubbish. These people will stop at nothing to spread the message that we are responsible for changing the climate. First we invented god and now we think we are god. They talk as though they are the only ones who have any scientific knowledge but all they say proves that they have none.

    Again we hear that 97% of climate scientists agree that we are responsible. This is from another fraudulent analysis of scientific papers. The analysis was based on a check of certain words appearing in the abstracts. Many of the papers were discounted and in the end it was only about 30% of the papers that mentioned human cases, So the correct fact is that 70% of scientists do not agree that we are causing climate change.

    Once more the unsupported claims of extreme weather events increasing when there is no statistical support for the claim. More clouds actually cool the earth because the prevent sunlight reaching the surface and they are the main mechanism for taking heat from the surface. Latent heat obviously is unknown to most people.

    The earth has been cooling for about 3000 years. Look at the past temperature records of cycles between warm and cold periods. 3000 years ago we had the Minoan Warm period, 2000 years ago the Roman Warm period, 1000 years ago the Medieval Warm period and now the Modern Warm period. Each time the temperatures of the warm periods has been lower than the previous. There is nothing unusual about temperatures today. But the trend is cooling not warming. Cold temperatures are not good for us or for farming. Winter is coming.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    It’s heartwarming to see so many meteorologists stepping up and trying to educate people about climate change and how it relates to their local weather. People ARE far more likely to pay attention to them than to scientists they think are in some ivory tower. Elisa Raffa’s piece in particular was excellent, and I think it’s telling that we almost NEVER see anything approaching it on local news in the Washington DC area or on the national network nightly news shows.

    Perhaps it’s best that the first strides are being made in the boondocks and in red states. Climate change messing with people’s beer is going to get attention—-maybe if we spread word out there that it was going to make their guns rusty and their ammunition unreliable they’d really sit up and take notice.

  3. Sir Charles Says:

    Now it’s getting serious. Beer’s too important to let it suffer from climate change…

  4. Sir Charles Says:

    This article is almost five years old, but nonetheless still up-to-date:

    => Brewers opposed to hydraulic fracturing

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