My Climate Story

In the week leading up to the 2019 UN climate summit, The Nation, Columbia Journalism ReviewThe Guardian and more than 250 other global media organizations are collaborating to maximize coverage of the climate crisis. As a part of the Covering Climate Now initiative, Climate One has produced a mini-series of podcasts featuring the personal stories of experts and communicators.  

Although the science of climate change has been well understood for decades, the conversation continues to be convoluted, contentious and controversial. The tide of coverage has ebbed and flowed with clicks and politics. Balance-bias has led to as much coverage for dubious claims as for actual science, sowing doubt among the public. Often, climate change is left in the same lockbox as sex and politics, and occassionally, the conversation leads to the persectution of the truth tellers. These interviews tell the stories of those who have paid a personal price for telling the story of climate change. 

Listen now to the first episode in a special mini-series featuring the personal stories of today's pioneering climate scientists.

Episode 1: Ben Santer

In 1995, Ben Santer authored one of the most important sentences in the history of climate science: “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” While one of the first statements to identify humans’ role in driving climate change, the vitriol that followed was personal and malicious, impacting both Santer’s career and family.

“If you spend your entire career trying to advance understanding, you can't walk away from that understanding when someone criticizes it or criticizes you,” says Santer, now a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Berkeley. With his research contingent upon Department of Energy funding, Santer is concerned about the future of climate science under an administration that does not prioritize it.

Episode 2: Terry Root

Scientist Terry Root’s research has helped reveal how climate change puts bird and animal species at risk for extinction. For Root, the climate connection is also personal: she was married to the late Steve Schneider, a Stanford professor and pioneer in communicating the impacts of climate change, who died suddenly in 2010.

“It's been a fabulous career, but it has been very painful at times, very painful,” says Root, who was the lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Assessment Report in 2001 and 2007, when it was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore.