Marketplace Parses Climate Questions

The public radio program Marketplace continues its ambitious series on climate change, later this month. New reports will air November 16-20 as part of “The Climate Race”, a multidimensional look at “how global warming is already affecting us and the tough choices we have to make.” While the geographic scope of the series ranges well beyond California’s borders, it underscores that much of the nation grapples with the same issues that confront us here in the West. The first four reports, aired last week, are worth catching up with online.

Part 1: “Climate Change in Our Own Backyards” is a snapshot of how climate change is already affecting residents of Helena, MT.  Fewer cold snaps have allowed the mountain pine beetle to run rampant, devastating the area’s surrounding pine forests, and leaving a tinderbox of dead trees for miles across the landscape.  Reporters Sam Eaton and Sarah Gardner talk to residents about how this reality has changed the way people think about climate change and what challenges lie ahead.

Part 2: “The Planet Will Survive, But Will We?” explores episodes of severe climate change in the Earth’s distant past, and explains what ancient tree stumps can tell us about climate past, present, and future

Part 3: Is There Energy to Slow Climate Change?” focuses on energy and the political, social, technological, and economic challenges we face as we consider moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy supplies.  This report zeroes in on West Virgina and the debate between the coal industry and wind power advocates.  In Part 4;  “How Do We Live With a Warmer Planet?”, Eaton and Gardener look at what lies ahead for business, agriculture, and society, as temperatures continue to rise.

Photographs and audio slide shows related to the radio stories are available on the series web page:  “Futuristic Farming” offers a look at a farm that takes water efficiency to new heights, and “Climate Past” features stunning shots of Mono Lake and an interview with paleoclimatologist and geomorphologist, Scott Stein. The “Climate Race” page also includes links to resources, an interactive map of the United States with statistics about how climate change is affecting regions and what changes are expected by the end of the century, and audio clips from experts on topics such as how climate change is expected to affect health and agriculture.

Climate Watch will be sharing resources with Markeplace to cover the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen, next month. KQED’s L.A. Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz will team up with Eaton for coverage of the two-week conference. Schmitz, who recently reported a series of Climate Watch stories from Japan, speaks Chinese and has extensive experience in international reporting.