Early Signs: Reports from a Warming Planet

Airing today at noon!

The early signs of climate change are showing up across vastly differing landscapes: from melting outposts near the Arctic Circle to disappearing glaciers high in the Andes; from the rising water in the deltas of Bangladesh to the “sinking” atolls of the Pacific. Reports from a Warming Planet takes listeners to parts of the planet where global warming is already making changes to life and landscape. The reports demonstrate how climate change is no longer restricted to scientific modeling about the future… it’s happening now.

Last fall, a team of eleven young reporters, led by veteran environmental journalist Sandy Tolan, gathered in a classroom at the graduate school of journalism at the University of California Berkeley. Their assignment: to identify the places around the world where global warming is already making changes to life and landscape.

The team spent the first few weeks poring over thousands of pages of documents on the science and politics of global warming. They made lists of the dozens of places around the world where they might investigate. The science advisor and co-teacher was climatologist John Harte, of U.C. Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group. Under his guidance, the team focused on two conclusions of scientists around the world: first, that the earth’s atmosphere is growing warmer; warmer than at any time in recorded history. And second, that this warming is driven in large part by the burning of fossil fuels.

Climatologists have essentially reached consensus on both points. The intergovernmental panel on climate change, more than 2000 scientists working in more than a hundred countries, has concluded that global warming is happening and is driven largely by humans. So the team decided not to focus on the false balance in much of the U.S. media – the “Is global warming real?” debate that gives equal weight to unequal sides. Instead, the team took it as a given that the world is heating up and focused on the impact, in human terms, of a warming planet.

At the end of 2005, the team of reporters set out from U.C. Berkeley to eight places around the globe and came back with stories about how global warming is already changing people’s lives.

 

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