Importance of Natural Resources

Communicating Climate Change


Okay, hi everyone welcome this is a great turnout there’s still some people trickling in but we’re going to go ahead and get started I Adrienne Russell. I’m a professor in the Department of Communication an associate director of the center of her communication and specific engagement which is hosting this event and Just before we get started. I wanted to get a sense of who’s in the audience There’s a I think there’s a big mix of people from on campus and in the community So we just can we have a show of hands for people who are here that are journalists? Okay, great and what about UW students or professors? Okay, and what about people working on climate or state or federal agencies? What about was interested community members? So there’s a perfect mix So we have a fantastic lineup of speakers here tonight to discuss communication about climate change and of environmental issues Evan Bush covers the environment among other local issues of the Seattle Times And then to his right, Heidi Roop is lead scientist for science communication with the UW climate impacts group and an affiliate faculty of the department of environmental and occupational health science which she will explain more about Eve Andrews is associate that direct Grist insurance Grist advice column asked Umbra as well as learning features and creating videos for the site and Kamna Shastri is a freelance reporter who writes about climate justice issues in and around scale so welcome everyone and I just wanted to open up by asking each of you to Introduce yourselves more in depth and talk a little bit about the work you do Sure, so I’m Evan Bush a reporter at the Seattle Times About 25 percent of my time goes to climate 25% Environment and outdoors 25% science and then the rest is breaking news and whatever hell is breaking loose in Seattle so Cover a diversity of things My favorite stories are the longer ones where I get to go someplace and meet fabulous people and spend some time outdoors I’ve been at the times almost seven years, but I’ve not been a reporter for all that time It’s been maybe three and a half years as a reporter and my first beat was marijuana legalization. So that was that was fun Hi, my name is Heidi Roop, I’m a research scientist at the climate impacts group here at the University of Washington. I Have a sort of dual roles and a split identity in my work. I’m a climate scientist by training But now I focus really on how it is that we deliver climate science Information to the people who need it so that they can use it to help prepare our communities for the changes we know we’ve set in motion as we’ve warmed the planet so that takes on a variety of forms including getting to interact with several of the folks up here to share what we do and how the Pacific Northwest is adapting to a changing climate through Media, I also work with a lot of wonderful people in our state agencies to help understand what their climate change information Needs are so that we can do the most relevant science that helps advance our region In addressing climate change. So at the heart of that is communicating about climate change in the Pacific Northwest Which is why I guess I’m here Hi I’m Eve Andrews and I’m a writer for Grist and for those of you who are not familiar with Grist. It’s an environmental magazine it’s been in Seattle for about 20 years now and I have been there for a little over five years and in that time My beat has covered Reproductive rights it’s covered. I guess just writing for videos in general. I also host videos for Grist and Recently or I guess in the past two years I’ve become Grist advice columnist and that means that I have a very strange job indeed because I get a lot of Questions every day from people. Just trying to figure out how to Live their lives in the time that climate change is happening and I do my best to answer them So that’s what I do Hi everyone, my name is Kamna Shastri and I am a freelance journalist I also call myself a community journalist because a lot of the work I do is based in the community and I write for a lot of community publications and Work with community radio as well. So I have a academic background and environmental studies and sociology so that informs a lot of the work I do and most of the Stories that I end up covering are the intersection of social justice Environment what’s happening in the community And I especially am really passionate about getting those voices from the community that we don’t hear about in mainstream media so a lot of our communities the communities of color in the Pacific Northwest and I think in my work I try my best to privilege those community voices and kind of make that the center of Each story that I’m working on and whenever I can I have recently done a lot of environmental justice pieces for especially the Seattle globalist but also for other publications and so that I think Has really brought together the intersection of racial equity Social justice and climate as well as environmental justice Can you talk a little bit each of you about what you see is the most pressing environmental and environmental justice issues in the region I’ll start For me the most pressing environmental issue in the Pacific Northwest is it has to do with the inaccessibility of cities most I’m talking inaccessibility price-wise and where we’ve priced a lot of people out of the city of Seattle and it really needs to be rebuilt in a way that just can house a lot more people and can also transport them around the city more sustainably and That yeah, that’s what I would say is the biggest issue I’ve started to think a lot about water as the through line For climate change in just a way that we can tell stories Sort of around a theme that that carries into everything that climate change affects because it’s really cumulative effects That are the most concerning you have You know you have wildfire you have ocean acidification all those things are going to you know damage people’s livelihoods and Lifestyles here and I think water is able to connect every everything that that I think about when it comes to climate change Too much when you don’t want it and too little when you do I think you’ve said that More water when we don’t need it unless when we do I’ll maybe piggyback on that because I think we at the climate impacts group often talk about water as the great integrator of Sort of how we feel climate change here in our own backyard and that as Evan has said is everything from coastal pressures like ocean acidification and Sea level rise which we already see having impacts on coastal communities around the state That are causing us to have some significant discussions both about financial investments as well as things like relocation and retreat Which open up a huge amount of societal and cultural conversations that are sensitive and important And need to be happening now And are but need to be happening on a scale. That’s much larger And that goes all the way up our really important watersheds that are experiencing increased flooding You can pound that with our wet seasons and our stormy seasons and we see communities Sort of getting pressed and squeezed by water coming from all directions But I think in terms of the big environmental pressure I mean I could give you a long list of things that we’re concerned about in our environment and that the climate will be influencing But I think one of the biggest things is figuring out ways to have meaningful conversations with people about what in the environment matters to them and identifying ways that we can start to be using Similar the same language or at least understand when we’re describing how we’re experiencing environment change around us That we can establish common ground on how we move forward So I think in a lot of communities that I’ve worked with and a lot of agencies and others We’re often talking about the same things, but describing them differently And so I think there’s a really important need not to require a common language But to really actively work to listen across communities. So I think that transcends all of the environmental issues They think arriving at equitable and inclusive solutions to both our urban and rural populations and those that are in between really requires more innovative thinking about how we build dialogue which I think all these folks on this panel here are really working to do I Would agree with everything Heidi just said and I think for me it’s it’s hard I was thinking about this question earlier today I was like there’s so many so many environmental challenges that I think maybe the one I’ll bring up because it’s maybe most aligned with what the work I get to do is like thinking about who’s going to be impacted the most and it’s always across the United States just report, you know, low-income communities of color that have been Redlined or I think in our area too you know what the way people are being pushed out of their homes because of housing prices and how how do these climate impacts and things like, you know pollution and those things are just going to get worse as As our climate gets worse as well And so who’s getting impacted and then who gets to decide the policies that help them? I think that some people might think of as a political or economic issue But I think that is also an environmental one and that’s where this idea of becoming, you know Getting equitable solutions that are really drawn from the communities that are affected affected and then allowing them to put those solutions and implement them, you know rather than just taking the idea and then having Someone else come in and put the solution into practice I think people in those communities have the tools the knowledge and the understanding to actually put that into practice So that’s I think that’s at the intersection of all those, you know, I cannot make environmental and political issues right now Can you maybe talk a little bit more about that about how you make decisions each of you have slightly different audiences right? so, Heidi, you’re working primarily with scientists and people who are making policies right? And then different community members having to buy various publications So, can you talk a little bit more about how you make decisions about how to most effectively communicate issues or bring people together or involve the community in these stories? I’ll take a stab I think again sort of framing this very much around the teamwork that happens in my organization we approach our Communication through a strategic lens that’s really about identifying who our priority what we call actors and audiences. So We see the sort of keys to building climate resilience in the northwest and sort of having four Important components or building blocks one of them is knowledge. So that means that people have access to the knowledge that they And that we’re generating or helping to co-produce generate together that knowledge that climate knowledge or whatever that knowledge is People with authority have the authority and things that they need in order to act So those are people at the top of the chain who are making decisions and I’m going to challenge myself here. We need capacity so people have to have the capacity to Adapt that means again tools resources skills staff financial resources to do those things Now I’m gonna forget the fourth of the building blocks, which is really embarrassing because help come up with these point being that we think really strategically about where we are on those building blocks and who it is that we are reaching through specific means so and why Right? So you would communicate with someone who ultimately has authority in a very different way than someone who you’re trying to identify What kind of research priorities that are within say an organization or across a region or community? And so that’s the sort of like nitty-gritty strategic way. We think about it, but that’s not really how it unfolds in practice I think often it’s being Responsive and reactive to requests that come in for information some of which are really urgent and some of which are less urgent But where we work to try to identify say a funding stream so that we can work to develop That collaboration or whatever it may be to address those needs I think when we’re particularly responsive that is again to a lot of national international and regional Requests we get from media that’s occurring on all different scales. So in the context of this discussion often The strategy is responding to sort of what’s important and the news and thinking about how to frame Our regional experiences and what matters here in the northwest in the larger sort of national or international? context I would say my My approach is extremely straightforward, which is just that whenever I’m trying to explain any kind of Climate issue or any kind of climate based decision. I just about it as if I were writing to a friend because I think that Climate change is an extremely intimidating and nuanced and complicated issue and so many people are just now trying to understand it and I don’t think that they should be antagonized for that or guilted for that Yeah, I mean to be completely transparent I Had no background in climate or environment or science before I started my job at Grist I was an econ major in college and I Everything that I’ve learned about climate change I’ve learned on the job and I think that Like an attitude of patience and Compassion and understanding will go so much farther than just Yelling at people about why they haven’t done more to date to deal with climate change I think I can trying to think of An example. Well, I think generally what really helps me with my decision-making is I said in the beginning You know highlighting the voices of the community and the people that I’m interviewing in a piece and so I think about the I worked on a podcast with the Seattle globalist last fall called the colors of green which profiled four different local Changemakers where people of color and the work they’re doing and I remember and I feel a little ashamed to say this But when I went and I I went in with this expectation that the stories were going to be crafted around this kind of like look at all the horrible things that are happening in our communities and just a little more of kind of a Kind of a heavier Maybe slightly depressing tone and I think I was surprised to find that the way these these leaders thought about what was happening there communities was actually You know With the solutions approach, but also they’re like they were driven to do this work Not just because their communities were endangered because of various environmental issues. Like I think of the Duwamish River, it’s a Superfund site Very polluted water you it’s not safe to you know fish and a lot of the communities there do still do that And so there’s a lot of there’s so many issues with the Duwamish River But I remember one of the things that stood out to me was every one of the people that I interviewed came with this this kind of guidance that what they were doing this out of a celebration and love for the land that they’re living on and the people that are part of their community and I think for me like that changed the framing of the way I was putting these stories together and I kind of took their lead because I think as a journalist I’m always thinking about where’s the tension? Where’s the conflict? where are the problems and that’s a huge part of our I think environmental conversation is is really talking about those problems and I Think calling out who should be responsible, but the other half of it is also what what are people already doing? how do communities see themselves as having agency and either to and as a person I feel a lot more empowered when I take their lead because then I can you know I also feel like okay Maybe there’s a little bit of hope that’s not just say they you know that it’s sugar coating it but I I Think there’s a lot to be said for taking the lead from the people who are actually at though at the forefront of these issues Think the the stories that I’m always most proud of Always, you know, I always go somewhere and meet people and have them just walk me through their life’s and their livelihood and and see How they interact with the environment how they interact with the climate and in the context of maybe it’s their work or you know I recently met with a guy who used to live in Tacoma and now he’s farming on the east side and You know, I’m a West Sider now I didn’t grow up in Washington but I don’t know a lot of the issues on the east side but spending a day with him you’ll get a sense for What his connection to the land was and in the earth, and I think that that was really important to be able to tell his story with empathy and and the the second piece of the stories that I feel most proud of is just that they’re they’re complex and that they don’t shy from the complexity of climate change and the Tension and conflict that people sometimes feel internally or with within their own communities and I know that like I drive a car in a lot of my assignments that uses gas, I feel conflict about that at times. You know, there’s we all have these inner Inner conflicts when we think of ourselves in the wider wider scope of the the climate in the environment We all have our guilts when perhaps an Amazon package that was you know, shipped many many Thousands of miles across the country because I needed it in one day because I hadn’t remembered to you know Go to the store after work or something like we all have those Feelings and so the kind of diving into those and addressing those head-on I think is really important Can you all talk a little bit about the constraints that you face whether it’s professional or budgetary or political? In communicating the coverage that you do And also talk a bit about what you would do if you had unlimited resources what would it take to overcome some of these constraints So the seattle times when I arrived six and a half years ago had 230 journalists, I think we’ve got about 140 But ten of those positions I think are unfilled right now. So just in my time at the paper we’ve had Almost a hundred people and and I’m this is just based on memory, but I think between eighty and a hundred Journalists out of our newsroom. We’re still the largest newsroom on the west coast and that’s something to be really excited that our community has that And I think that you know financially I hope were a little bit more stable But we’ve lost some incredible writers. Great mentors Craig Welch. I don’t know if anybody knows him He’s a brilliant National Geographic writer he was at the Seattle Times when when I first got there and it was really nice to be able to work with him and learn from him and I wasn’t reporting at that time, but we’ve you know, I know that our newsroom has lost a lot of a Lot of talented people and and good mentors for younger journalists. I think that’s true of Seattle media in general I mean crosscut is doing really well and that’s really exciting I love seeing that That place is flourishing, but they’re unique. I think that the media landscape is pretty dire right now with multiple outlets shuttering or I mean basically shuttering which is sad and I mean if I think it’s a credit to Seattle and and freelancers in Seattle That we have as vibrant a media environment as we do I also think though that institutions that are media institutions are important and Not necessarily, you know one or over the other but that we have sort of more robust Just more voices and I think the voices that we often lose when we have layoffs and things like that or some of the more important voices is Younger people, you know, just the way that layoffs work it often. They’re often reducing jobs from places Where we miss really important voices Um, I Think that everything that Evan said about the media landscape is correct Grist is a nonprofit organization And I actually think that right now in the media landscape nonprofit organizations are in a safer position than for-profit organizations because We don’t depend on ad revenue for financing but at the same time You’re I mean you’re limited by similar constraints you’re limited by what grants you get and what donations you get and I’ve been at grist at times when funding and grants were slimmer and times when funding and grants were more secure and I like The quality and the breadth of the work that we’re able to do with that To do with secured funding is just so far in a way different then then what we can do with less and if if I had Unrestrained resources or unconstrained resources, I Would have a grist writer in Just every part of the country because we’re we’re a national publication and We’re relatively constrained in what we can cover based on where our writers are and We’re pretty distributed there’s a Fair amount of us in Seattle. There’s some in the Bay Area. There’s some in New York but even describing that like you can tell that’s a huge limitation on stories already and To the whole like horrible Climate change catch-22 and this is a kind of recent phenomenon for me, but I just feel hugely guilty whenever I Fly anywhere to cover a story like when we have money to send reporters out to travel it just it feels really hypocritical, but that’s that’s how you how you covered stories outside of the the radius in which you are I think for me I’ll just say mine. Mine is kind of really personal because I’m a freelancer There are a lot of limitations there and I think a lot of the places I work for our nonprofit So there’s a lot of budgetary Constraints and I’m always you know asking myself like I want to put my all into this story and I think with the environment and with especially because I I like that environmental justice space like it’s really important to make connections between Things that are seen as disparate like our economy and our environment and our politics and even social justice issues like those are all really connected and I wish I had more time and resources to make those connections clear to people I feel like as a freelancer was also worried about you know, the next assignment and Can I pay next month’s rent from that? There is this cost-benefit analysis of you know, like how much energy do I have how much work needs to be done? How much time do I have? and with something like The environment which is such a big like such an urgent issue It kind of breaks my heart when I can’t make those connections well, and when I look at an article And I’m like well this is surface level and I know it could have been like 10 times better if I just had you know the time and the budget to travel wherever I need to do to and talk to everyone I needed to so I think for me, that’s the But that’s the life of a freelancer I guess Can offer maybe user different context and a different challenge, which is difficult within the confines of the university because it comes to Limitations on My ability to speak about some of the things that in my personal life I’d really like to scream from the rooftops about but in my professional capacity and this is both controversial Amongst my colleagues and peers in academia a man at the University and we all approach this very differently But there’s a very significant tension Between my professional identity and my personal identity and how I show up in the world and what I can and cannot sort of risk commenting on or the ways in which I comment so an example might be Particular climate legislation or policies so I work at an organization That’s at the University and we have very strict limitations on what we can and cannot do in terms of being perceived as advocating for specific policies And there’s a lot of benefits to being Seen as and being a neutral broker so not being seen as partisan It’s really difficult in a climate change landscape. You sort of are already pegged as someone we’re having a certain identity or agenda But that is a deeply personal Challenge because I do have a life outside of my work But they are also very intimately berated together and so we as individuals in our organization have numerous conversations about that tension and it’s one that everyone is exploring individually and we all are of course given our Latitude to land wherever it is that we are as long as we’re in line with University policy But that for me is something that is always evolving and is particularly challenging We had a ballot initiative here in Washington State I 1631 Then the climate impacts group was actually named in the voters pamphlet And you know, I really could not comment On the initiative itself, we can comment on the importance and the validity and we get a lot of pushback We get asked to comment on a variety of things from legal cases to helping convince commissioners that something is good or not Policy or some bill is going to be effective and get a lot of negative Pushback when we have to sort of respond in What can be a frustrating sort of university line, right? I’m probably breaking all sorts of rules right now Or making all sorts of people upset, but I think that is it’s not unique to the climate impacts group It’s certainly not unique to me But I think it’s a really important Tension because someone like Evan might call and ask for comment specifically on say greenhouse gas Legislation in the state and I can comment on certain elements But I can’t take a position and so it’s treading very lightly and also being very careful but also Not being able to maybe say what it is. I really want to say and that can be difficult and is an ever moving target, so Is that something that the rest of you face? I see you nodding But also Because Brist is a 501 C 3 – we can’t Advocate for any candidate or we could get our status revoked we can’t advocate for any policy and That gets so complicated a lot of the time in my little segment of Kristen particular because so much of the time, you know, people will write in and say How do I fix this thing? How do I fix that thing? And the ultimate answer is like you can do XYZ in your personal life, but really like you have to vote for people who will carry out this thing and that thing on a legislative level and So that’s always toeing a line and at the same time The politics I’m also probably going to get in trouble right now But the politics of climate change right now are just so buck wild like there’s just such a clear division you know people always say it a nonpartisan issue and inherently It is a nonpartisan issue but there is such a division in how the two parties of this country deal with it and there’s even some division within those parties, but I mean You know what I’m saying? And I Yeah – anytime there’s an election season Especially a presidential election season we have to be so Careful about how we write about these different candidates, and this was an issue During the Trump election. It was like this guy is just like spouting off like bonkers stuff all the time and we end I think every other publication in the country had to cover it in this like balanced way That’s actually a great lead-in to the next question which is You know there is a lot of criticism of journalism and how climate change often sort of is talked about as a failure Journalists failed to communicate effectively so this is where we’re at, right? And I’m wondering if you can reflect on maybe not your own publication’s coverage cause we don’t want anyone to get in trouble but but just all of you just give the state of the journalism landscape and how it’s done in terms of communicating climate change and if you’ve seen any significant changes recently I can It’s been a very a kind of strange recent few months at Grist because there has been a palpable increase in people’s interest in climate change like I I can see that just in the the types of questions that we get into the advice inbox and also, I mean, it’s It’s just it’s clear in national news people are really passionate about climate change and it feels like it happened all of a sudden and For years We as an environmental magazine. We’re just like struggling to get people to care about environmental issues and to care about climate change to get a more general audience to care to like reach outside of Environmentalist circles and reach outside of the like niche of environmentalism and Now all of a sudden as more and more people are growing interested in climate change in climate issues There is also this chorus of like why haven’t people been covering climate change more? why hasn’t this been in the news and it’s like it has been in the news and Lots of people have been covering it. Lots of publications have been covering it and I’m sorry, if CNN hasn’t been doing it justice, but at the At the same time as you criticize CNN for not covering climate change properly You can show them that you don’t want to support them anymore and go to any of the number of publications that are covering it and have been covering it for a long time and know how to do it and Yeah, so just the the blanket criticism of the media as this singular monolith is kind of insane in of itself because even in this terrible landscape there is a huge variety of publications and there’s a huge variety of writers and their writing Environmental stories like you can yell at the media all you want for not covering climate change But in the end people do have to click on the stories and read them to have more of those stories So that’s that’s my personal soapbox on the issue. I Think some of what you’re saying reminds me of kind of how we need to think Media literacy as well And it’s not I think and go back and forth on this. I’m like, yes, the onus is on media organisations to provide, you know unbiased news of all kinds but also I feel like Like he was saying like Grist has been there for a long time and all they cover is environmental stuff So if that’s what you want it’s there and I think we need to do a better job of educating Just the public on how to make your own choices in the media that you want to consume And then I think I guess to go back to the original question right of the media landscape in general Yeah, I think that might change I always I think I also wake up in the morning and I do this work and yet I want to bury myself You know in a pillow and just not come out of it because it’s so depressing and I feel like with climate change, too it’s always as doomsday story and As if you know as if telling us that we are getting rid of so many species all you know That everything’s gonna go extinct is gonna rise us, you know into action. I don’t know I just want to bury into a hole when I hear that so I think There’s also some onus on Thinking about what really compels people to do something and to feel inspired to take up, you know, take up arms in a way I guess for change And I wonder if I wonder if that media literacy point would start to help make that shift away from the few giant institutions that we look at as the media and start to see like there are places that and Grist also does a great job of covering like the reality of What really sucks and then also I think like I think you have like a list of 50 leaders that are doing something And seeing those things makes me feel like okay There’s a narrative that counters that doomsday approach that I feel like I see in larger mainstream media, but that’s just me Thank you I guess I see Things I really haven’t seen I guess I feel like journalists have Failed in some senses and that journalism hasn’t led on the issue Rarely does journalism lead on issues though? You know, we’re a lot of times reflecting the political climate or the climate or the climate of the science and using climate too much here, but and I think that there were opportunities for journalism to Do a better job and devote the resources and I think we’re hitting a point right now. Where there is incredible urgency both politically and From the science perspective and I think you’re seeing news organizations do a much better job Now not the grist of the world. They’ve been there the whole time right? But the New York Times in the Washington Post like they’ve really beefed up their climate teams They’re doing some phenomenal work. And I think that the sort of the national print media is doing a better job I think broadcast is maybe still behind and but now that You’re seeing the effects in person And it’s not theory. I think that that that gap is going to be gone and if it’s not already to some extent and a lot of criticism has been You know there there hasn’t been enough urgency and there hasn’t been enough Enough Concern maybe and And I think that I think that folks are getting the message now I Think I don’t mean this to be a criticism but I think one of the things that is That I would like to see more of and I think I think a lot about and I increasingly sees these stories of other voices That are experiencing climate change So it’s not necessarily scientists who I think should share some of the burden Not all of it, but some of not necessarily being effective communicators over the last 50 plus years which we’ve been concerned as a community about the consequences of The missions of greenhouse gases those sar clear and simple and well understood have been constrained since the late 1800s so I think that some of that responsibility really Falls the scientific community for not necessarily being very effective communicators or Relying on a few solitary voices to represent. What is a broad international community for which we have Significant consensus amongst our community about both what we anticipate seeing in the future and what’s causing those changes But I think one of the things that’s really needed is connecting the dots between people’s lived experiences and climate change So as a scientific community We are increasing our ability to attribute Single events to climate change or to say how much more intense or severe a given event Say a hurricane is as a consequence of both a warmer ocean and a warmer atmosphere So we are getting better as a community. Also saying this is Some of this is climate change We’re seeing it it’s here now We’re feeling it but I also think there’s a need to start really being explicit about saying this is Maybe not this wildfire is climate change but we expect more bigger fires as a consequence of a warming planet and Taking weaving in climate change into these sort of lived experiences We know from recent polling that the thing that is changing people’s Perceptions or their concerns about climate change is their lived experiences their personal observations and direct experience with an extreme weather event And seeing it happening to peers and Families. So if we start Talking about those risks as reoccurring restore ones that are intensifying I think we’re gonna start to gain more traction in the space of people feeling Personally connected and having agency and coming up with place specific solutions that help us not incur as much you know destruction and Health impacts at etc from from these climate events so I think that is a space where we need to do more work and where scientists also are doing more science, but also could Maybe step a little bit out of our comfort zone and at least be clearer about How these events that are experiencing now are really kind of postcards from the future Yeah, just to add a little bit to that I mean I think that the that the banner climate reports last year were extremely clear and hedged not one bit as previous had to some extent and I think that scientists are increasingly coalescing around Messages that I think have more potential to resume and are perhaps speaking clear another thing that I would add is journalists are famously bad at sort of assessing probabilities or uncertainties and Perhaps communicating those and I think that also journalists have often engaged in bad faith arguments when they’re maybe on deadline and and trying to fill out a story if if they’re not sort of steeped in in that I think when you’re seeing how clear the IPCC report is there’s no reason to engage in bad faith arguments there never was but I think that that there’s I think that there’s there’s less I Think it’s it’s a lot easier now from that perspective I’ll just ask one last question and then I’ll open it up to everyone else in the room But I just wanted to ask you to talk a little bit more about how scientists can better communicate with journalists and journalists could better communicate with scientists to increase the likelihood of people being able to make these connections So maybe its a particular example of something that worked, that didn’t work or maybe realize or maybe this can’t happen again or something like that I Call it my tennis ball hopper of failures communicating You gotta like go around and pick them up and you feel bad about each one And then there’s a lot of them in a basket. So it’s hard to pick out The good example in the hopper of possibly failed communication I think there’s always a bit of self-doubt once you hang up the phone or the camera turns off and I think there’s a lot of trust between Someone being interviewed on a reporter Or a journalist right? It’s often. I mean, I have the privilege of even seeing some of other friendly reporter faces in the audience tonight Where you build a relationship And where it’s not always about you necessarily showing up in a story but helping out I loved interactions with Evan just sort of clarifying and somewhat arguably really jargony ridiculous things that we put out there and I hope everyone understands but really they shouldn’t We’re I’m even doing research to be able to help Evan do things So there are many kinds of missteps, but that trust is incredibly important. I think it feels really vulnerable at least from this position and I think a lot of other scientists that like Experiencing that vulnerability and entering into that vulnerability is a big step Especially when you haven’t been equipped with the skills and resources and knowledge to know how to do it at the University of Washington we are really lucky to have a rich array of resources and experts so our news office helps immensely with figuring out what stories to tell are on call for Helping with Lake op-eds that you feel like you have to get out the door or just saying hey, this person’s gonna call me Or I got this request is this is this a good faith request and getting help that way I’m in the College of the environment. We have science communication training That we do we also have a ton of support From our director marketing communications again just sort of in that space of vulnerability Like how do you enter that space help with? Request that you get when they come in fast and you got to respond just there’s a team and so I I seek a lot of comfort in that team and I also Haven’t had a bad experience yet So I think on the sort of media literacy piece, there is a lot of work that we need to do with the scientific community in understanding how to interact with journalists and what it what their jobs are and what their Responsibilities are and what your role is in participating in a story? We are not editors. We don’t get editorial privilege Right, they’re experts in their own, right? They have their own standards against which they’re held accountable So I think there is a mismatch and that is part of the distrust And so I’ve been really lucky to both have access to training throughout my career have a support net that I feel like I have at the University and also having Really positive interactions with the range of reporters both here in the region and internationally Because in certain interactions I’ve perceived a lack of trust between journalists and scientists and I think that One instance recently sort of highlighted this for me. I interviewed a UW professor in Atmospheric sciences and like maybe five or six days after the story had published She sent an email was like everything was correct. That’s fabulous. Thank you. And like I was like, oh god, that’s the that’s the bar That was concerning to me and I think that you know, I think journalists need to take very seriously the responsibility of fact-checking with scientists and making sure everything’s contextual and accurate which is extremely important to me and building that trust and In working on that quite a bit and that doesn’t mean that I Think what oftentimes happens is that what scientists would see as an inaccuracy journalists see as maybe a generalization or something like that and you know, we have slightly different goals, and I think that having conversations around that before you start that interview Explaining your purpose as a journalist explaining, you know, your purpose of scientists, you know I’m not here to get every single detail of your 36 page paper Published in a general interest newspaper. I’m gonna pick like four or five facts from your paper I need to convey because it’s urgent to my readership to know these facts and I’m gonna do it in a way that You might perceive as simplifying but we need to talk about what what over what’s oversimplification and then what is going to kill my editor and you know cause heart attacks, so I think having those conversations being frank open and Talking about a lot of that ahead of time could go a long way Yeah, I think we’re kind of if to remind myself that as journals for translators and there’s so many times where I’m With an editor and they’re like, yeah, you know, you’re you’re going you’re saying this in too many words let’s simplify it and I’m like, yeah, but that’s gonna it’s gonna make it seem like this whole issue is simplified, but I Don’t know I feel like just like anything woman you translate some things are not always going to be Exactly the same as they were in that original kind of language, but I think one cool thing journalists have is the power to Take what the public is saying and what people are saying and kind of Provide that to scientists and kind of be a back-and-forth because I think not so much to provide pushback to what scientists are saying But like science to me it’s like what’s the point unless it’s put in the context of people in our world and the way it interacts with our Communities I like that word a lot but and I think in a way the journalist has this we has this viewpoint of People that may be scientists don’t always get to get and that might be something that we could use to help bridge those gaps between Scientists and journalists in the public, but I I don’t know. I don’t know how often That’s always on our minds. Even on its I’m thinking for myself. Like how often is that on my mind? And how much is it? Just I need to get this information to the people and the most distilled way possible, but it can go the opposite way as well I think the translator analogy is super apt and That in any In any journalist scientist Interview that both sides have to give up a little bit of ego for a lack of a better term because I think that The journalism side wants to make sure that the study is as interesting and I don’t want to use the term sexy because I know that’s thrown around a lot but interesting and Exciting as possible and the scientist is like – hold up that’s like we need to include all 36 pages of details and Both sides have to give up a little bit of that to arrive at the at the most accurate Translation of something that’s really not Meant for the general public – something that is useful to the general public One last thing I like that is I have a lot of politicians policy people Who will call and I don’t had as many scientists call just to say like hey, here’s what I’ve been working on It’s really interesting and I’d love love love if that were more It was happening more often okay thanks so much so we’re ready to questions from all of you Thanks, so coming from Europe I’m amazed at how challenging it is for climate scientists people working around these issues because of the environment which a lot of we’ve got loads of other problems like in the UK at the moment the Climate change debate about climate change between the main parties isn’t one of them. I wanted to ask the panel if there are any new narratives that they’ve seen That can create kind of cross-party consensus around climate change. I Don’t know if it works, but I can talk about recent media coverage that I think is onto something So in the Midwest region, there’s been extreme flooding and wild swings in weather that have prevented sort of the Heartland Upon which we all rely. I’m from the Midwest so Plants are not seeds are not getting planted in much of the upper and lower Midwest region and Typically we think of these regions as being more conservative maybe more critical or skeptical of climate change science and The reporting and the conversation there is really about reducing risk So it’s about reducing risk to life and property and the economic burden of these things, so I think in some ways This sort of comes back full circle to my first comment, which is that maybe we’re not using the same words and that’s okay But we need to establish some way of understanding what we mean when we’re talking with one another or importantly listening to other voices And I think the climate change framing is is important But I think there are other ways to have these Conversations that reach across the aisle and I see a lot of those examples where they’re sort of proactive Resilience and adaptation happening that’s getting covered in national news, New York Times is covering these stories and others and they’re bringing in those voices, and actually I was just in Where was I? Burlington last week working with a farmer who said yeah climate change it’s a thing, but it’s actually extreme weather and I thought you know what? Yeah, sure Let’s let’s start there and we’ll talk about extremes extremes and precipitation extremes in heat greater frequency of drought so that was that I think those those pieces are moving into the national narrative into scientists narratives, and I think we’re becoming increasingly comfortable with having conversations start at different places and maybe not being led by The sort of the polarized climate change piece, but there I also have issues with that Again, it’s sort of like let’s call a spade a spade but if it’s gonna move conversations forward I think that’s far more important and establishing common ground and understanding so I think there is a shift The other thing that’s unresolved and I think this is a really cool research question And I’m sure some of my colleagues are doing this but there’s an active conversation about whether we should be using climate crisis As a narrative frame, there’s eight pieces today in the media about Adopting that as the framing and I think there’s a really interesting question to be asked about again Is that one make you want to put a pillow over your head and stay in bed? Or does it? Inspire you to act and I think that there are gonna be people that fall on both sides of that spectrum And so I think it’s also thinking about who should have embraced and adopt that language Should everyone and should say all of our government agencies be using that language I have an informed opinion so I won’t share it But I think that these are really important questions because language matters we’ve seen a huge amount of confusion between global warming and climate change and now they have their different definitions but in The public sphere they don’t so you I think there that language and peace really matters And I think we’re shifting to other things and maybe climate change isn’t the heart of the story. I Think one language that I’ve seen used really successfully on both sides of the aisle is the language of money The New York Times headline in the most. I think it was the u.s. Global Change report came out was like the economy could lose ten percent and it was like this document says like Hundreds of thousands of people are going to die. And like that’s the headline and I was sort of like Questioning the The Times News judgment on that and then I was like, oh, well, this is reaching different audience And and this is actually what a certain portion of of the country Might might need to hear if you look at like how the Wall Street Journal covers climate change. There’s often like economic opportunity that climate change presents which is Perhaps could be viewed as cynical, but that’s another that’s an avenue to connect with people I’m working on a story that I won’t go too much into but it’s pretty much capitalism and water and it you know I think that That people who I interact with Particularly on the east side in agriculture. There’s quite a bit of conversation about Climate weather related things that is around money and yields and things like that looking at the UW climate model projections But maybe not talking about it in the same terms the other thing is I think just you can see what what certain portions of the Country are preparing for or planning for because infrastructure projects take so long And so a lot of times people might not be talking that they’re planning for climate change, but they are and you know this I don’t think there’s an example of that but You know the Yakama plan in eastern well Central Washington really is preparation for a climate future with last mountain snowpack And more precipitation falling as rain. That was a bipartisan project. Maria cantwell You know did a lot of work to get that through the public lands bill and one of her main allies was Dan Newhouse who is Republican from Sunnyside and And I think that there’s a lot of bipartisan conversation happening it’s not often what gets covered and I think that I I mean I’d certainly like to do more of that coverage and I know I know a lot of other folks would as well I Was just in the Midwest and I was talking to a colleague and You know just sort of being on my high horse about the Pacific Northwest and all the great things that are happening about climate adaptation how we have such a great breadth and depth of nonprofit and government agencies doing all this great work and climate all these hope stories and like what about the Midwest and she’s like we’ve been doing that for decades and A were modest and be like why talk about it if you’ve got work to do and I was like Well then righty-oh I Think I’ll just say this very quickly It’s a slightly It’s a perhaps slightly controversial position, but I feel that if if you are someone who at this point in the climate change conversation in 2019 does not Believe at all that climate change is happening Or thinks that people are lying to you like you’re down my problem. It’s not my job to talk to you Because there are so many people Who are accepting that climate change is a thing and just want to know more about it and are curious and are scared and It’s It’s worth so much more of my time to address those people than To address people who don’t accept that. It’s happening. I Have a question about how articles are written for the journalists and Scientists, but I was a cub reporter for the UCLA daily Bruin many years ago Mm-hmm and we were told to put Who what where when in the first? paragraph and write the story in a way that anyone could stop reading it at any time and get the gist of What’s going on? and what I read today are stories that insist on being human interest no matter what and You go on for paragraph after paragraph on some Person who is at the crux of some problem without ever getting to what it’s all about I read a story today in this Seattle Times not having to do with the environment but about The dairy industry which is collapsing in Wisconsin half the dairies have gone out of business And it went on and on about how Duff Dairying is in Wisconsin and I still couldn’t figure out why there’s a glut of milk in the world. What policies have led to that? It was really opaque as to what actually was going on, so I’m thinking that if you want to provide reasons to people about what’s happening It’s got to be built into this story a bit higher than you often find it and is that a fair statement or not? Yeah, I think I mean it just depends on the story you’re trying to tell I mean there’s a lot of times when I’ll try To tell stories economically in 600 words and you know, just get the information out as quickly as possible there’s other times when I think that you know You need empathy you need character you need narrative for people to connect and understand with perhaps a very complicated situation Many times those are climate stories and to get into some larger issues. I certainly think that our editors are taking that very seriously to Cut down on the you know, go for a more economy It’s not something I’m very good at so I think that’s worthy criticism I also think that it might depend on just the kind of story and the What the journalist is trying to do there’s value to both approaches and there’s valued at choosing the stories situationally how you tell it I Guess I do a lot of human interest stories so I can kind of Tell you a little about like the process I try to follow and I am generally told by editors and also, you know That’s kind of a rule of thumb is the nut graph in the beginning. You want to give all the basic information? sometimes I feel though that that is I Always feel like, you know, I want people to be care enough to learn about this person and then towards the end I often put a lot of my chunky analysis more towards the middle and the end Which kind of I don’t know I I go back and forth on does that mean that should should we expect reason readers to take? the time to read a whole article through if they’re that interested because sometimes I think you can’t Tell the whole complex that you can’t connect all the dots in that first paragraph But as a rule of thumb you do want people to know what they’re gonna get when they read that article So I think if they’re not getting that in the first paragraph or two There’s maybe some thing to work on but it’s it’s always a balance. I agree It’s like, you know, what do you want people to get out of that particular story? Hi, thank you for this great conversation. I want to ask about a general I think sense of Powerlessness in the general public about what’s going on. I think that people are very aware of Climate change and I think that people are becoming more aware of why and how climate change is happening I think what we’re less aware of is what do we do about it? When we do hear about wildfires and floods For myself, you know geographically, they’re very removed from me and In my day to day life. I’m recycling. I’m taking the bus. What else do I need to be doing? So in terms of again connecting the dots How do we connect the dots to these? huge events, they’re happening to solutions that you know everyday people like myself will be inspired toward action that will compel me to go out and do this other thing I just don’t know what that thing is right now Well, I’ll just start I mean I’ve been careful you did say your phone lines were open so I Think that there are a lot of those stories and they’re not being told to the public I have the great privilege of getting to work with both individuals and groups of people, who are actively considering how climate change will influence basic functions that we take advantage of every day like access to drinking water and our abilities to flush our toilets and have it Go away all those things are climate change changes our ability to do all those things and you hope that the people who are responsible for doing that long-range planning are Are taking climate change into consideration and in many cases they are And so I think you make a really important point that the next step in the conversation is giving people Agency and seeing where positive stories of change in action are happening and where more work is needed And I know we mentioned earlier The act of voting is an important one the act of using your voice is a really critical one we all have different ways that we are able to do that and society based on who we are and our abilities to do that but One thing that may this is a message that other climate scientists are sharing Is that a majority of adult Americans don’t ever discuss climate change like 64% and only 40% think that climate change will harm them personally and I think through conversations with people who you are have relationships with or who trust you those are critical ways that we open up the narrative and we understand what people care about and that helps leading to what is it that we do and how do we do it on a scale that’s meaningful and that matters and Individuals certainly have an important role in that but we also as as Multiple individuals have to come together and demand more of the people who make decisions on our behalf. We do that by electing people people like our commissioners There are people who make a lot of decisions that will shape whether we are prepared or not for climate change And I think we need to tell those stories and we need to connect those dots for people While also being careful to not say you need to vote on a specific specific policy But I think giving people tools and resources to access that information To see how climate change shows up in our everyday lives is really important and something that I need to do more work on and I think we as a community of people who are responsible for telling these stories And have opportunities to connect those the Champions of Change that aren’t scientists Who are the people that I think people want to see? We need to do more of that. So thank you for that question and comment Also hit up Grist.org slash ask Umbra and you can send me any question you want you guys are gonna be so busy. I Did want to this might be kind of a weird way to answer the question of what can you do but one thing I’ve learned is to A lot especially from the people that I’ve interviewed who come from a lot of non. I would say non-western lenses and worldviews are Push the boundaries of what we think of as environmentalism I think we think of environmentalism and aligning ourselves with this environmental ethic in a specific way, and that’s great I mean, I feel bad when I don’t recycle in compost so like I’m not saying that those aren’t things that are valuable, but there are other ways of connecting back to our ethic and our connection to nature around us and I think I Bet a lot of us Like I’ve done a lot of reflecting recently about what what cultural things that I grow up with and did I hear from parents? grandparents and family from where my family is from and how can I use that as a way to create a support for me to feel empowered and build on that and Remember that instead of feeling powerless. So this is just a small step It’s not gonna it’s not like a big You know fix but it’s it’s the point of how do you start getting that sense of power within yourself? And I think all of our cultures all of our identities have that in them Every culture has a connection to nature and land and an environmental ethic and I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from my reporting and there’s strength in that I think it just takes some reflection maybe digging if we don’t know what those things are anymore So it kind of I mean just a way to start like that first scene, I think All right, so my question and I apologize if This goes into the political realm and you can’t answer this question But I’m gonna do it anyways And I just want to first preface this by saying This crisis that we’re going through I want reporters and I hope that reporters can see this as a Wartime effort that we need to mobilize behind, right? So if if there was a country that was invading it wouldn’t be political to report that So there’s a crisis that’s invading our society I don’t think it should be political to report that so I hope that gives you some strength to speak up on this subject But my first question goes to the audience by a show of hands does Anyone here believe that the government has done everything in its power to stop this crisis from happening Okay So that’s why we want to curl up into a ball That’s why we have that feeling of retreat And I’m gonna wrap it up here, but just a quick reminder. We live in King County After Martin Luther King, he was famous for creating a social change to Gather the entire community to fix a problem But how did he do it? It was through non-violent civil disobedience So we in King County we can’t forget that we named that this county after him and if that’s the thing that we instead of curling up into a ball and Turn into a community that organizes together and finds ourselves in the streets To bring about that social change. I hope we can do that but to the panel Since all of us here have kind of given up on the political process or we have a little faith in it Do you believe that The answer within this next eleven years that we have left is nonviolent civil disobedience? I Will I Think that we need nonviolent civil disobedience by some and we need people all coming to Confront this crisis with the strength and the voices and the authority that we all have in our individual spheres of influence and I think that it is through a rapid and urgent combination of collaboration and thinking innovatively and also leaning on those who successfully changed the path that our country has been on we certainly have lots to learn and I think we need to look to other leaders like yourself in the back of the room whom I can’t actually see so I would Be making eye contact with you if I could. Yes. Thank you I think we need it all and I think that is most certainly part of how we march forward to confront What is certainly something we at the climate impacts groups now say is an issue for which we have no time to waste it is urgent it is here and we need to act now and I think that is an important act I Don’t think this will be a very satisfying answer but it’s going to take a little bit of everything would be my guess I mean it’s gonna take civil disobedience political engagement pressure on politics it’s going to take You know economic programs new technology and I think it’s going to take a lot of attention from every sphere of our Economy our social existence. I mean it will probably take some change cultural change What we value as As a country and as a society, and I think that that’s you know, so yes civil disobedience I think will be a part of the you know, the The change that will be required First of all, thanks again for Coordinating this and to the panel members are really learning a lot from you. I’m Karen May I work for King County Solid Waste, and I’m very fortunate to work on food waste prevention and wasted food is and has an enormous impact on climate change and my question to the panel is I’m kind of going under the assumption and this is where I can actually help the most I’m hoping I’ll hear the right answer from you or the one that’s going to support me most I’m assuming that it would be helpful to provide a lot of Tips to people not only on food waste but we also have other people in our office a lot that are working on climate change, but tips that are really helpful everyday actions that people can take in order to make a change and then kind of connecting that with The point that Climate change as a topic climate crisis is what I prefer It’s such a daunting topic. But look, here’s some ways that you can Really make a positive difference and collectively It can be an enormous change that we make so I guess my question is do you as panel members Have a sense that there is a great need for people to know more about what everyday actions they can take? Because I’m glad to see you shaking your heads Yes, because that’s actually what I can do most in my work and some of my colleagues as well So it’s good to have that validation. So, thank you yes, yes, and yes, I think it all matters and I think it coming from all different Spaces and places where people are trusted and seeing it appear from say King County from government agencies I think it’s really important because all of us reach different people and we’re communicating Different things and the thing that isn’t different is the need to act but we do need to give people resources on what those things are and Like you said small one small action by one individual becomes much more impactful when it’s multiple individuals doing that same thing So thank you for your work. I know you have a lot of wonderful climb related work that’s going on. So, thank you Just one one quick thing I would add to that is that In my work whenever I’m trying to advise people on The small daily things they can do and the tips they can do I always emphasize That a lot of the time when you start to undertake those daily changes in your life you’ll realize all the systemic obstacles to doing them easily and that motivates people to again vote I Actually just have a follow-up to the question point that was just made Because I feel like a lot of the things that were taught to do you like recycle at ect We get a lot of feedback like oh, it doesn’t actually work. So for example the recycling thing with China it’s not being accepted So even just a better understanding of what is working and what doesn’t working and a better line of communication I think would be super helpful in understanding what is What we should do and I don’t know what mechanisms there are out there for For us as a public to kind of work through that Not necessarily direct follow-up, but I’d say encourage everyone to follow their county and local authority agencies on Twitter a lot of our state agencies and local Government like King County and all the subsections of King County that have twitter handles. Some of them are super fun So if you’re looking for a laugh like definitely WSDOT yes they do memes like it’s nobody’s business, but I think those are great places where increasingly they’re very skilled communicators that are embedded in these agencies are Communicating and they’re sharing that information and they’re contextualizing it in the impact that the actions right here In your local community are having so I encourage folks to if you’re on social media Facebook. I think those are really great formats where that information is increasingly being communicated in context like to specific actions in a place and how that matters or how these Organizations are handling some of these issues that emerge say not being able to send as much of our recycling abroad So I think people are actively engaging and trying to communicate that information So making it accessible is a challenge, but I that might be a starting spot for people Um, hi, my name is Sami, I’m the science editor at The Daily you’d have student newspaper follow us This is like a very journalism specific question but something that I’ve really focused on in the past couple months is putting like more of my writers voice into their pieces because I found that people at least and my age Demographic pay more attention to the science pieces if they have voice But there’s definitely like a line where I have to cut out opinion I’m just wondering if you could talk more about how you deal with like Integrating writers voice in pieces, but also like keeping hard facts because it’s hard I would say I started out very very hard on one end of the spectrum which is like 100% voice and Have had to learn how to dial it back in in the other direction But I do I do agree that Especially, I mean it’s basically another version of the Of the thing I said at the beginning of the panel, which is if you’re Trying to engage someone in a story then just talk to them as if they were a friend that’s honest That’s a lot of how I write a lot of what I do. I Think I really feel you in that because I’m always struggling I’m like, I want it I want to put this slightly opinionated thing in here but I think one way I’ve learned to balance it is bring your writers voice in the spaces where you can maybe Analyze and draw connections and bring your voice there and also, you know if they’ll send more creative way you know in the space where you’re Setting up a scene like those in a way like when you set up a scene you can set it up in a way to make people feel something so That’s I think kind of how I’ve tried to balance it out. So it’s not I’m not bringing in my opinions I’m still sticking to the facts that I’m bringing in that voice and maybe my own Like what I believe it into those moments where It’s not I’m not inserting what I actually think but I can bring my passion into boosting that scene or that moment and then I also like to think like if you keep in mind that This is issue matters to you or why why you care about covering this? I like to think it’ll just come through but that’s just me hoping I Think for me, you know, I grew up in sort of a traditional journalism atmosphere and I’ve learned to care a lot more about fairness and having conversations with a wide range of people than Just like straight object objectivity That doesn’t mean that I mean that doesn’t mean that you can you know throw opinion into your news stories but definitely if you’re able to engage people in an honest way and convey their their perspective as accurately to what they’re they’re saying but have you know Narrative have character have you know development of a scene your voice could carry through those through those elements and your perception just like she was saying it can can draw people into a story and and capture people that way We are out of time but I wanted to thank the panelists so much for this great conversation.


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