Science-Rich Educational Videos on Climate Change
For classroom and discussion in colleges, churches, book clubs, living rooms, and other venues
Superb 18-minute video by Australian television (ABC, the program Catalyst) that shows images of recent extreme weather in the eastern hemisphere, followed by an illustrated science lesson on ocean warming (07:22 timecode) and jet stream anomalies caused by loss of Arctic sea ice (12:30).
A compact technical introduction to the jet stream
in text format is "A Rough Guide to the Jet Stream".
"Climate Change and Extreme Weather"
LEFT: Rutgers University climatologist Jennifer Francis is not only one of the top researchers on climate change but perhaps the best teacher for the serious learner. Both in her oral explanations and the images and animations she uses to illustrate scientific concepts, she is unsurpassed. Her specialty is the Arctic and her 2012 research brought forth important new understandings of how Arctic Sea Ice melt alters the jet stream from a linear west-to-east whoosh across the upper northern hemisphere into a weird meandering river of wind. The shift to a north-south curvy meander, in turn, sets up "blocks" that hold summer high heat over middle North America and also "blocks" Atlantic hurricanes from turning eastward as they head north (hence, Superstorm Sandy in 2012). Note: VIDEO left by Connie Barlow excerpted the original 112-min video into just 40 minutes of spell-binding education. Click the "show more" link in video caption to see a detailed table of contents with hot-linked time-codes.
Or, view just the 5-minute segment on understanding the JET STREAM of Jennifer Francis's longer talk, which is essential for comprehending how a warming Arctic can produce unusually cold springs in temperate latitudes.
In June 2013, Prof. Jennifer Francis presented an update of her "Arctic amplification" and "jet stream" work pertaining to extreme weather events. This video includes a superb discussion of time lags (03:11) and why the Arctic is warming faster (05:28) and how in 2013 "We are setting ourselves up for higher likelihood of heat waves and droughts as we lose this [Arctic] snow earlier." "We're seeing Arctic amplification not just in the fall and winter now, but in all seasons." Extraordinary sea ice loss during 2012 and how that heightens global warming (09:48). A clear and visual introduction to why Arctic warming disrupts the northern jet stream begins at 12:53. Comparison of jet stream disruption in the spring of 2012 (warm over eastern North America) v. spring of 2013 (cold) 24:05. The example of Superstorm Sandy in 2012: 25:41.
See what the JET STREAM is doing in your region each day, by clicking the sites pictured below:
LEFT: Jennifer Francis testifies at climate change hearing of July 2013 US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Click for 6-minute video or the PDF testimony transcript (which includes illustrations). The written testimony is so clear and nontechnical that even an 8th grade earth science class could well use it.
Prof. Francis and two co-authors published a 2-page, illustrated article to help nonscientists understand the weather, jet stream, climate, and tidal conditions that caused hybrid storm Sandy October 2012.
RIGHT: Jennifer Francis's jet stream work became an important piece of climate science teaching by leading weather forecasters on broadcast and internet media in January 2014, when "the polar vortex" (released by a very weakened jet stream) provoked subzero temperatures in the eastern USA, while Alaska baked in record warm temperatures.
Note: A Washington Post "Capital Weather Gang" blogpost by Jason Samenow August 2013 on a study refuting the Arctic-sea-ice hypothesis for jet stream meandering generated a stream of technical arguments (including by Jennifer Francis) that demonstrate the difficulties of conducting and communicating science when the media and public are hungry for results (uncontested results) because the real-world consequences are severe indeed. This blogpost will give you access to the full debate: "Researcher defends work linking Arctic warming and extreme weather".
Examples of ClimateCommunication.org Short Science Videos
FOUR SHORT VIDEOS (above and below; each less than 3 minutes)
that illustrate the science of arctic sea ice loss and disruption of the jet stream.
"Hot Climate Women Scientists in Cool Places" 2013
00:01 Introduction: NEW SCIENCE IN 2013 (by science writer Connie Barlow)
01:06 JENNIFER FRANCIS teaches (1) why the melting of Arctic sea ice is causing extreme weather to the south; (2) how global warming has already weakened the jet stream, (3) why a weakened jet stream can cause longer-lasting droughts, bigger floods, and spring snow storms in the eastern USA, the UK, and eastern China.
18:20 JULIE BRIGHAM-GRETTE describes the rigors and excitement of an international expedition that extracted layered sediments going back nearly 4 million years from a crater lake in Siberia. From 3.2 to 3.6 million years ago, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere matched that of today 400 ppm. Yet plant pollen (pine, hemlock, fir) preserved in the lake sediments indicate a far warmer climate in the Arctic then (forest rather than tundra), and thus warn us that fossil-fuel-burning over just two centuries of modern times has already set in motion unprecedented shifts in climate that will unfold in the centuries ahead.
26:38 NATALIA RYBCZYNSKI shows the results of her paleontological exploration in the high Arctic. She unearthed fragments of a giant camel of Pliocene age (3.5 million years old) on Ellesmere Island, which confirms that forests reached far into an astonishingly warm Arctic when the atmosphere's measure of carbon dioxide matched that of today: about 400 ppm.
31:17 LISA GRAUMLICH (photo LEFT) is a paleoecologist who surveys the devastation of climate change already apparent in the mountain western USA: reduced snow pack, retreating glaciers (especially in Glacier National Park), dying trees, drying rivers, and a longer and far more destructive forest fire season.
Video: March 2013 Summary of Climate Science
Prof. Richard Somerville, a climate scientist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, gives a 45-minute superb summary of key features and evidence of climate science and effects on Earth. This video is highly recommended for viewers who appreciate university-level science presentations that are clear, cognitive (rather than emotionally charged), and well illustrated.
04:15 Prof. Somerville gives tribute to Charles David Keeling
07:16 history of CO2 data records (Hawaii)
12:32 1850-2010 average global temperatures
16:00 ten indicators that the climate is warming (especially in ocean)
18:24 arctic sea ice loss 1979-2012
22:56 sea-level rise 1970-2010
25:12 correlation of CO2 to global temperature 1880-2012
28:13 central point: the need for urgent action, apparent in "Ski Slope Diagram" (chart at middle right) of how delays in reducing fossil fuel use require future years to accelerate the rate of change in order to stay within 2-degrees C of temperature rise
35:22 two future scenarios for temperature rise depending on mitigation start-time
37:28 worsening of extreme weather owing to CO2 rise
42:04 refuting climate denialists (incl. chart at lower right)
44:23 "Carbon dioxide increase is the steroids of the climate system. You don't see its effects in one weather event; you see it in the statistics" (Hurricane Sandy example)
46:10 closing remarks
49:20 "The role of science is to inform the public and policy makers. The urgency I speak about is not political or ideological; it is fact-based. It is firmly based on the physics of the climate system."
Find excellent graphs and 2-minute videos at Somerville's ClimateCommunication.org.
ABOVE LEFT: 2-minute introductory video to the science of methane stored in Arctic permafrost (2010)
ABOVE RIGHT: 6-minute video about the risk of land-based permafrost melting (2013)
"Interviews: Peter Wadhams, James Hansen, Natalia Shakhova, David Wasdell" (20 minutes, illustrated, Spring 2012)
00:19 intro to arctic sea ice thinning and frozen arctic methane (clathrates)
04:23 Methane emissions from East Siberian Sea - data since 2004
06:17 sea ice loss, methane release, and the risk of runaway feedback
12:40 how climatic instability in Arctic impacts agriculture & coastal cities
17:00 Paleo-Perspective: rate of climate change now is 200-300 times faster than in any previous mass extinction event, other than asteroid impacts
July 2013 update (interview of Peter Wadhams) of risk of Arctic methane release at: "Ice-free Arctic in two years heralds methane catastrophe"
"Arctic v. Antarctic Sea Ice": richly illustrated video collage of short excerpts of answers by scientists on physical differences in Arctic v. Antarctic sea ice environments, and whether periodic extensions of sea ice along some parts of Antarctica offsets the large summer retreat of sea ice in the Arctic.
Scientists include: Claire Parkinson, Jennifer Francis, David Titley, Walt Meier, Ted Scambos, Sharon Stammerjohn, Marilyn Raphael, James Renwick.
7 minutes (November 2012)
LEFT and BELOW: Three key websites for daily data and animations.
RIGHT: A scientifically trustworthy site for finding online resources (including VIDEOS) and with indicators for grade-level learning.
RIGHT: A scientifically trustworthy site for locating VIDEOS explaining the SCIENCE and clips of videos highlighting the POLITICS of climate change action/inaction.
Do's and Don'ts of Communicating Climate Science
"Slaying the 'Zombies' of Climate Science" (2013)
In this crisp 18-minute talk, Dr. Marshall Shepherd (the 2013 president of the American Meteorological Society) explains how he goes about knocking down the "zombie theories" that plague our discussions about climate change. What is a zombie theory? Says Shepherd: "It's one of those theories that scientists have refuted or disproven time and time again, but they live on like zombies in the blogs and on the radio stations." Another superb analogy he uses: "Weather is your mood; climate is your personality."
"Telling The Climate Change Story" (2012)
by Susan Joy Hassol: Highly recommended for those looking for expert guidance in how to most effectively communicate the basic science and urgency of climate change in ways that different peoples can hear. Key topics include: framing metaphors (15:10); connect on values & talk solutions (21:12); words to avoid (29:59); best ways to communicate (33:15); Q&A (46:45). Terrific videos, graphics, and other resources on her website: ClimateCommunication.org.
Note: Hassol is one of 15 members of the American Geophysical Union charged with updating the official AGU position on climate change. The 2-page statement (update released in August 2013) is titled, "Human-induced climate change requires urgent action.". The panelists are listed in the AGU press release on this statement.
In 2011 Susan Joy Hassol and Richard Somerville published a feature article in the leading professional physics journal, Physics Today: "Communicating the Science of Climate Change".
Both figures here appear in that article with the tagline, It is urgent that climate scientists improve the ways they convey their findings to a poorly informed and often indifferent public.
Hassol and Somerville went on to create a website to help do just that: ClimateCommunication.org.
"An Inconvenient Mind Mental Barriers to Confronting Climate Change" (2013)
Twenty-five years of climate reporting (including for the New York Times, is journalist Andrew Revkin's ground for speaking on the immense challenges and the crucial leverage points for helping the public hear and grasp the realities of climate change now and in the future. Key topics include: Talk begins (03:02); how human psychology impedes climate action (05:43); problematic shift of media role & internet (17:40); schisms among climate concern leaders (22:06); leverage points (28:05); rich v. poor countries (35:14); facts v. uncertainties (42:10); human instincts miscalculate risks (46:46); what teachers need (48:17); scientists must collaborate with communicators (52:58)
(2013) "Psychological Perspective on Climate Change"
In 50 minutes, Beth Karlin covers the challenges and opportunities of human psychology in dealing with climate change. She is a dynamic speaker and uses excellent illustrations. Highly recommended for everyone advocating for climate action. 34:30 timecode is the final section on behavioral interventions.
See also an essay by Maggie Klein "Are Our Emotions Preventing Us from Taking Action on Climate Change?" (2013).
"How Common Threats Can Make Common (Political) Ground" (2013)
In this 20-minute TED Talk, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt urges both liberals and conservatives to acknowledge the "asteroids" (most worrisome issues) in the other's camp as well as their own. Climate change is a major "asteroid" that liberals see heading for a collision with Earth, while Boomers using Medicare entitlements is a major "asteroid" that conservatives point to as a fiscal problem that must be dealt with.
Hour-long AUDIO interview with Haidt: "Climate Change and the Righteous Mind"
"Scientists and NGOs Collaborate to Improve Climate Communication" (2013)
Amanda Staudt, a senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation offers best practices and a powerful example from her own experience with the 2012 draft of the U.S. multi-agency National Climate Assessment. She shows how old methods of publicizing governmental reports no longer work and how NGOs can assist. Notably, social networks can no longer be ignored by report publicists.
In this 16-minute presentation, a single case study is used for making all the points. How the National Wildlife Federation ramped up media attention of a government climate report begins at timecode (04:35).
Use Powerful Real-World Photos and Film (2013)
James Balog is the originator of the "Extreme Ice Survey". Its goal: to photographically document the rapid depletion of glaciers around the world. What his team discovered was so shocking that an independent filmmaker created the award-winning 2012 documentary Chasing Ice.
Balog's portion of this session at a science policy conference of the American Geophysical Union in June 2013 begins at 16:59, but the climate change part begins at 31:05 (which is where the image link at left will take you). Specific climate topics are: background and an amazing clip from the film (36:05); additional images of deglaciation (40:20).
Six-minute, high-impact conclusion begins at 51:38: "Nature isn't natural anymore." "Climate change matters if you breathe air, eat food, drink water, pay taxes." We are in the midst of a worldview shift from a long-accepted, but now "discredited truth: People can't change Earth."
Create a MUSIC VIDEO by auto-tuning climate scientists (2012)
John Boswell is the young video artist who originated science music videos in 2009 with his multi-million viewed "A Glorious Dawn" (starring Carl Sagan). Here, in 4 minutes, he has Bill Nye, Isaac Asimov, Richard Alley, and David Attenborough "sing" the science underlying climate change and the imperative for climate action.
Waking Up to Climate Disruption As a Moral Issue
TWO PHOTOS ABOVE (excerpted from 34 minute VIDEO): "Why Tim DeChristopher Went to Prison for His Protest". Interview by Bill Moyers, May 2013, 34-minutes. Note: Near the end of the interview, Tim speaks of the moral and spiritual imperative for his climate advocacy and why he is now studying at Harvard Divinity School to become a Unitarian Universalist minister.
TED Talk May 2012: Best 15-minute advocacy of why climate change is real and why it must be stopped. Physicist and blogger David Roberts presents on this topic at Evergreen University in Olympia, Washington. This version is a remix (music added for emotional effect) by Ryan Cooper.
TED Talk March 2012: Top climatologist, James Hansen, who has been researching and publishing on anthropogenic climate change since 1981, explains why he became a climate activist (even to the point of getting arrested in civil disobedience actions). 18 minutes
December 2012 direct moral appeal to fellow Boomers by a Christian minister (Michael Dowd) and a humanist science writer (Connie Barlow). 49 minutes (commentary with embedded graphics and video-clips). Or, click for the audio podcast version of this highly illustrated video.
In 2013 Michael Dowd began speaking out about climate change in the church sermons he delivered in the USA. The above video is a 90-second call to action: "Baby Boomers: we have an opportunity to redeem ourselves!"
2013: Philosopher and renowned nature writer, Kathleen Dean Moore recounts her own wake-up call and challenges fellow parents to take personal responsibility for getting politically engaged in climate activism. (12 minutes)
Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Climate in Peril was published in 2011. Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson are the co-editors. The above video offers a one-minute book preview.
Stephen Schneider, one of the lead scientists and certainly one of the top communicators of climate science since the 1970s, died in 2010. Here is a sample of his expertise and power in communicating climate science both as a young man and not long before his death.
Key here is the content: educating us in just 12 minutes about systems thinking, risk management, and how the climate denialists (as with tobacco denialists of several decades ago) exploit unavoidable scientific uncertainty to advocate callous complacency.
The video culminates in a sense of moral outrage that broadcasters and other mainstream media, for both good (balance) and ill (paid advertising) reasons would so effectively lend a platform to the simplistic, yet seemingly convincing, sound bytes of seasoned denialists.
See also Schneider's 2009 hour-long lecture to a university audience: "Climate Change, Adaptation, and Mitigation"
May 2013: Van Jones is one of the most informed and effective speakers against business-as-usual in fossil fuel energy use. Here he advocates for bold action against the proposed tar sands pipeline from Canada. (4 minutes)
In 3 minutes, this video flashes through images of some of the great marches for justice during the 20th century: women's suffrage, freedom in India, civil rights, and nuclear-free peace in its plea for those on fire about the intergenerational injustice of climate change to join the Great March for Climate Action of 2014 across the USA.
JULY 2013 nonviolent direct action to stop tar sands mining in Utah
Climate Change Videos for KIDS
NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles,
present an animated cartoon series on the atom at the heart of global warming: carbon (2009)
Each episode is 3 to 4 minutes long:
Miscellaneous Climate Videos: Technical Science
ABOVE LEFT AND RIGHT: Two 8-minute videos highlighting paleo (ancient) climate differences, from much warmer than today to much colder. Because they contain some technical science, they are ideal for college students. But they also help nonscientists appreciate the attention to detail that is the hallmark of the practice of science and the complex technologies without which very little evidence could be gathered and interpreted.
JUNE 2013 CALGARY FLOOD
8-minute aerial visuals and expert voice-over CBC interview of the June 2013 floods in southern Alberta, with explanation of how a warming climate amplifies the hydrological cycle and disrupts the jet stream wreaking havoc in vast urban and suburban areas where building occurred in the floodplain, and severely damaging roads and bridges.
The Science Underlying Record Arctic Sea Melt (in 2012)
7-minutes of educational instruction by Arctic researchers themselves on (a) HOW MUCH MORE Arctic sea ice is melting and thinning in the summer and (b) WHY that is happening.
Note: This video was produced by Peter Sinclair for the Yale Climate Forum, whose mission is to "improve public understanding of climate change."
Emotionally Charged (Humor, Poignancy) Climate Advocacy
May 2013: A powerful 5-minute video produced by The Climate Reality Project, chaired by Al Gore, recounts in audio and images the toll in human health and life exacted by tobacco-industry money in the mid to late 20th century which is reprised now by "climate denialists" supported by fossil fuel companies.
This 3-minute comical video mocking climate denialists went viral in 2012. Make sure you also view its Sequel: "Weathergirl Goes Rogue 2 Still Hot, Still Crazy"
3-minutes of hard-hitting video advocacy that is funny, poignant and intended to make a difference. Produced by Al Gore's Climate Reality Project project.
6-minutes of comedian Stephen Colbert at his best, broadcast January 28, 2013.
Recommended ONLINE TEXT RESOURCES
"The Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment" - Bill McKibben's powerful February 2013 article in Rolling Stone. See also Bill's other online essays:♦ "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math" (July 2012)
♦ "Is Keystone XL Pipeline the 'Stonewall' of the Climate Movement?"
♦ "The Fossil Fuel Resistance", April 2013.
♦ (with Van Jones) "Martin Luther King and the call to direct action on climate", April 2013.
InsideClimateNews.org" - well organized, comprehensive site for all aspects of climate change news (e.g., "Climate Change Divestment Campaign Spreads to America's Churches".)
"Climate Change: The Next Generation" - complete, easy-to-use (by title), online access to key news reports on climate science, events, and statistics, listed chronologically by year/month. Just click on a title and scroll down to view/read the article. Then scroll back up and click on another title you are curious about. It is thus a superbly efficient way to ensure that no crucial scientific or political news passes you by.
"Climate Denial Crock of the Week" - compendium of the best and the worst in climate crisis news, updated daily. Because embedded videos are abundant, this site is an excellent way for activists to stay on the leading edge without having to read a lot.
"Climate Progress" - compilation of best blogs on the science of and solutions to human-induced climate change, edited by Joe Romm.
"Climate Central" - an independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the American public.
LiveScience: The Reality of Climate Change: 10 Myths Busted
Skeptical Science: Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism, including:Global Warming and Climate Change Myths: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php / Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism: http://www.skepticalscience.com/The-Scientific-Guide-to-Global-Warming-Skepticism.html / Climate Graphics: http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php / Graphs of Myth Rebuttals: http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?c=1 / Links sorted by argument: http://www.skepticalscience.com/resources.php Reality Drop - spread truth; destroy denial (tips for responding to climate deniers)
"Global Warming & Climate Change" - superb and constantly updated history of international climate action (by The New York Times)
Paul Gilding's blog - Gilding is the author of The Great Disruption. A superb writer and thinker, Gilding is the primary climate advocate we turn to when we verge toward depression. If you, too, would benefit from a dose of realistic optimism (thanks to Gilding's big picture perspective), see especially these posts: 20 March 2013, "Victory at Hand for the Climate Movement?" and his 23 August 2012, "The End of the Industrial Revolution". Note, the latter begins, "What a privilege it is to be alive in these times, in such a significant period in human history. It's not always easy to see moments of great historical importance when you're in the middle of them. Sometimes they're dramatic, like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the landing on the moon. But more often the really big ones appear, from within them, to be unfolding in slow motion. Their actual drama and speed then only becomes clear in hindsight. That's how it will be with this. But in the end we'll look back at this moment and say, yes, that's when it was clear, that's when the end game began. The end game of the industrial revolution." Also, "Will the techno-optimists save the world?"
Climate Citizen - excellent and richly illustrated blog produced in Australia but reporting on significant climate events globally.
350.org - includes access, as well, to "Do the Math Tour," "Fossil Free" (divestment of oil/coal stocks), "Tar Sands Action," and more
"Carbon Tax Center" - blogs and news links on progress toward a carbon tax. See also: "Forget Kyoto: Putting a Tax on Carbon Consumption" by Dieter Helm
"Citizens Climate Lobby" - activist group endorsed by James Hansen that guides the formation and empowerment of local-group actions toward fostering systemic change (through local newspaper writings, visits with Congressional representatives, etc.)
"Cool City Challenge: Reinventing Our Cities From the Bottom Up to Achieve Dramatic Carbon Reduction, Deep Resiliency, and Green Prosperity" - An initiative of the Empowerment Institute to produce measurable behavior change, block-by-block, household-by-household. Includes the workbook Low Carbon Diet: A 30-Day Program to Lose 5000 Pounds
The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World - by Paul Guilding (book / audiobook)
Storms of My Grandchildren - by James Hansen (book / audiobook)
Eaarth: Making a Living on a Tough New Planet - by Bill McKibben (book / audiobook)
Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril - edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael Nelson. See also a 48-minute video of Moore (a moral philosopher) presenting on this topic, titled, "Ethics of Climate Change: It's Wrong to Wreck the World"
The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crisis - edited by Richard Heinberg and Daniel Lerch
The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality - by Richard Heinberg
A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (2011 book by Stephen Gardiner, professor of philosophy at University of Washington)
AL GORE's early and continuing role in climate advocacy: "An Inconvenient Truth" (2006 documentary film); Our Choice (2009 book); 2008 TED Talk: "Al Gore: New Thinking on Climate Crisis"; Alliance for Climate Protection (umbrella group for many advocacy campaigns initiated by Gore)
"It's Global Warming, Stupid", Businessweek, 1 November 2012.
"Scenarios and Global Warming a futurist perspective from Keith Orndoff", blog of 21 December 2012.
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