New Weather Channel Series Makes the Conservative Case for Climate Action
For true audience engagement, the messenger is often just as important as (or even more important than) the message. A new series of videos about to be launched by the Weather Channel aims to engage their largely conservative audience by using voices they think their viewers would relate to.
As this Slate article explains, most of the videos present the case for action from a conservative angle, featuring speakers like Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA administrator under George W. Bush, and former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. “We felt that we needed to give a stage to some of the more courageous voices on the right,” says Weather Channel president David Clark.
Weather forecasters are increasingly making the connection between climate change and extreme weather. The Weather Channel has often reported about this link, but with these videos, they’re confronting the issue head on. By framing their message in terms that will resonate with their viewers, they hope to move the climate conversation towards solutions.
By Eric Holthaus, contributor to Slate’s Future Tense
On Wednesday, the Weather Channel launched a dramatic campaign it says is intended to help shift the climate change conversation from science to solutions.
The series of short videos, called Climate 25, is surprisingly political for a venue like the Weather Channel, and most are aimed at making the case for urgent action from a conservative, Republican angle. Among the featured speakers are U.S. Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby (Ret.); Henry Paulson, a former CEO of Goldman Sachs who served as secretary of the treasury under President George W. Bush from 2006 to 2009; and Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever. At one point, Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA administrator under George W. Bush, addresses Republicans directly, saying, “It’s our issue.”
The 25 black-and-white segments seem inspired by TED talks—short, two- to three- minute video essays by influential speakers with interesting perspectives. They were produced with help from one of the producers of Showtime’s Emmy-winning documentary Years of Living Dangerously. Often, the speakers in Climate 25 make direct eye contact with the camera, and the effect is gripping and memorable—like a blunt Ad Council PSA. Taken together, the series is one of the best-produced summaries of climate risk I’ve ever seen.
Image credit: The Weather Channel