The popular weather website and television network the Weather Channel has launched a dramatic video series on the impacts of climate change from the global security perspective featuring a bevy of conservative voices.
The series, "The Climate 25," went live last week across Weather Channel platforms. It features a multimedia Web component with two- to three-minute conversations with 25 experts in a range of areas but focuses on climate change, energy and security. This week, five mini-episodes are set to air on the Weather Channel.
The black-and-white interviews were shot so that the speakers often look right into the camera. The series was produced by Solly Granatstein of "60 Minutes" and Showtime’s climate change documentary series "Years of Living Dangerously."
"We were purposeful in making something that was visually pared down and allowed the smart thinking and ideas to shine through," said Neil Katz, vice president of digital content and editor in chief of Weather.com.
Katz said the brand has the benefit of being a trusted source by millions for what is arguably the most nonpartisan issue — the weather. Although the intent of "Climate 25" was to serve all Americans, he said the creators felt it was important to include conservative voices and ideas. Increasingly, he added, the Weather Channel is covering the effects of climate change especially as it relates to weather.
"We wanted to move past the political debate on climate change and focus on issues that matter to almost every American," he said. "We wanted to find voices we felt were forward-thinking on the issues. We also wanted to find voices that conservatives would respect."
Among the featured experts are a former Pentagon official; four retired generals or admirals; former CIA Director James Woolsey; former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis from South Carolina; Eli Lehrer, the former vice president of conservative think tank the Heartland Institute; and two Republican EPA chiefs, William Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman.
Users can scroll online through the interviews — which cover a range of issues — at their leisure.
Polman: Inaction is ‘radical risk taking’
In his interview, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said his company faces $300 million a year in climate disruption costs. Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said inaction on climate change amounts to "radical risk taking" for our economy.
Sherri Goodman, deputy undersecretary of Defense for environmental security from 1993 to 2001, was one of the 25 speakers. In her interview, she spoke about the multiplier effect that climate change has in the Arctic and the need for the world to get creative when it comes to solutions.
"Something is going to happen in the future years, and we’re not going to be prepared," she says.
Goodman, who is currently the CEO and president of the nonprofit Consortium for Ocean Leadership, said she was very impressed by the final product. She said she thought the multimedia format of the series played to the younger generation’s proclivity for getting their news in formats that skew away from lengthy print articles.
"I like it; it’s a little different. It’s a different way of telling the story," she said. "When I look how it’s a broad cross section [of experts], to me it signals that climate change is a multidimensional challenge and affects many sectors of society."
The chief scientist at the news site Climate Central, Heidi Cullen, said that as a climatologist, she was asked to cover the physical science basis of climate change. She added that when Granatstein reached out to her last September for the series, he said he was interested in discussing climate change from a global security perspective.
"Placing climate change within the context of risk management is critical," she said in an email. "Like it or not, this is an issue that will touch us all. And one of the ways it will touch us is through our weather."
This is not the first time the Weather Channel has faced extensive attention about climate change — its co-founder John Coleman is an avowed climate skeptic, although the network released a public statement last year declaring that humans are causing warming.
Reporter Christa Marshall contributed.