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The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Vitetnam Television (VTV), and Climate Central organized a workshop for Asian weather presenters to talk about climate change and how they can be instruments in communicating it to the public. With the theme “Hanoi Workshop for Weather Presenters: Communicating the Science of Climate Change” began on September 29, 2015 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Read: Panahon TV goes to Vietnam: Workshop for Weather Presenters (Day 1)
After getting to know each other and learning more about climate change, we, participants, were encouraged to apply what we learned. Before jumpstarting a group discussion with scientists, were were grouped into four with each member having the opportunity to pose questions to the climate change experts.
I must say, climate change is a more complicated concept than weather, on which I usually report. There are a lot of things to know and understand about it. Because climate change is an urgent issue that requires action, the media has a big responsibility in presenting the topic in simplified yet comprehensive terms.
Bernadette Woods Placky, the Chief Meteorologist of Climate Central which is an independent organization of leading scientists and journalists who report about the changing climate, discussed how crucial it was to effectively communicate climate science. Currently, Placky works with meteorologists from the United States, and is an Emmy Award-winning meteorologist who spent 10 years as a TV weather forecaster.
According to Placky, we, weather presenters are unique in a way that we are skilled communicators who have large daily audiences. As we encounter complicated science, it is our role is to simplify it for the public. Also part of our duties is to understand local weather and connect it to a bigger climate picture.
She mentioned that including climate change in our news creates many challenges because of its complexity. Other factors that need to be considered are time constraints, and the need to balance the topic with entertainment. It is not considered a “sexy” subject; thus, our reports must have good content, and we must always look presentable.
Placky shared some ways of communicating climate change that worked in the United States:
– Discuss climate change in a separate segment from the weathercast
– Inject climate change information into the weathercast
– Produce a longer news story on climate change
– Create a regular series (weekly, monthly) on climate change
– Add climate change to a seasonal special
– Promote it on other platforms like social media
– Include more science concepts in fair-weather day forecasts
– Connect climate change to local extreme weather
– Give context to climate change by connecting it to a newsworthy national or international story
Placky reminded the participants to always simplify. We can also localize global news, make the story relevant to the viewer, and connect it with current weather patterns.
I felt proud that some of the ways she recommended are already being applied in Panahon TV. We report about climate change and regularly dish out updates on the El Niño phenomenon that currently affects the Philippines, especially the agricultural sector. We are also brewing something, which will allow us to regularly discuss climate change.
After teaching and giving us some pointers, we were given two exercises. The first exercise was reporting the hottest years recorded in an engaging manner.
My groupmates discussed the topic with the provided materials. Based on the data, 2015 is projected to be the hottest year on record due to the strong El Niño.
There were visuals and details given to support each presentation. In our group, I was proud to see everyone contributing to the outline and script of the report.
We decided to use the context of the year 2025. Tin-Tin, one of the Thailand’s twin weather reporters, represented our group. Ms. Placky loved how we creatively thought of reporting the climate change condition 10 years from now. I think every group did a great job on this activity.
For the second exercise, we were told to make another report— this time on the sea level rise and its connection to typhoons. For this exercise, I volunteered to be our group’s presenter because I could relate well with the subject since the Philippines is just beside the Pacific Ocean, where sea level rise is mostly observed.
Sea level rise is a result of water expansion. When water is heated, it expands. The melting of glaciers and land ice contribute to the oceans’ increase of level. According to Rosa Perez of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), higher sea level rise could create higher storm surges, while posing the bigger threat of affecting more inland areas.
Short Video Clip of our presentation
Every group performed well during our exercises. With the brief time given to us, we were able to apply what we learned and execute creativity with teamwork. Despite the differences, we became united and came up with a successful output!
The day ended like a graduation ceremony where we were handed certificates. But more than these printed documents, the memories we shared in the workshop mattered most. Our concern for our global weather and climate meaningfully brought us together.
And then, the most exciting part of this trip came…our trip to Halong Bay! It took us about four hours to get to Halong City from Hanoi. While having our lunch on a cruise, we were amazed by a very majestic view of the Halong Bay. They said there were thousands of islands found in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After enjoying the cruise and kayak, we proceeded to the Thien Cung Cave. This spot amazed me! The space was so huge and the slightly cold ambiance was refreshing. This trip was indeed very memorable for me; not only was it my first trip abroad, it was also my first time to kayak and see stalactites.
We had our last dinner at the Hanoi Buffet Restaurant. The place was impressive with a lot of cuisines to choose from. Right after I finished my meal, they surprised me with a birthday cake and a birthday song in both English and Vietnamese languages. It left me speechless. I am very happy and touched with their sweet gesture. This was probably the most memorable birth week for me!
This workshop taught me a lot, making me realize that mastering the weather was not enough. As a weather presenter, I should also know how current situations are related to climate change. And since climate change is very complex and technical compared to weather, it is my job to simplify the concept and deliver it effectively to our audience.
Climate change is real. We have to act now because our future depends on how we address this global concern. We are now living in a world of “extremes” – extreme heat, extreme coldness, extreme cyclones and extreme drought. This could be the new normal if we do not do anything to prevent climate change impacts. Little by little, let us be united in exerting effort for a more sustainable life.