The good news

Lately, watching or listening to the news is getting more complicated. On the one hand I want to be informed of current events but on the other hand, so much of the news is negative that it is like taking in a deep breath of anxiety. My late father in law used to refer to the 10pm newscast as the “bad news” and to a large extent he remains right. The focus is often on political divides, crime, crappy weather, and male sports. Most broadcast stations are dependent on getting viewers to tune in so that they can show their advertisers metrics to get them to buy ads, and unfortunately the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ mentality remains effective at gaining viewers.

A few months ago I wrote letters to all of the local TV meteorologists asking them why they do not naturally work climate change in to their broadcasts. I gave some examples where they could weave it in and asked them to consider raising public consciousness on this important topic. I did not get a single reply but I already knew the answer from listening to Paul Douglas many times over the years. The station directors are not going to let the meteorologists talk about something on the air that might alienate 30% of their misinformed viewers who think climate change is a hoax or a liberal conspiracy. Some might talk about how the local news is a public service or similar but in reality, it is a popularity contest trying to gain viewer share. For the most part they all follow the same format, take the same time for commercial breaks, have similarly relatable and attractive anchors, and so on. No one is willing to take a risk as it might put them at a disadvantage. This same type of issue plagues other industries as well, one example is the rental car business. I could make 10 car rental reservations for tonight at 10 different airports and when I do not show to pick up my cars there is no penalty, no cost, no consequence to me of any kind. Rental car companies would love to take a deposit that is not refundable after 48 hours before the reservation or similar but they won’t until the majority of rental car companies do it because it would give other companies a marketing advantage. So they continue on with their current process which costs them revenue. The news is the same way, until most agree to openly discuss climate change as a regular part of their broadcast, very few will.

I find myself more drawn to late night, satire, and comedy segments lately as a means of keeping up with current events, because at least then I can have a laugh about it and not feel quite so hopeless about humanity. The other place that I have been finding incredibly positive to watch is actually right within our local news broadcast. Award winning journalist Boyd Huppert does a segment called “Land of 10,000 Stories” that I would strongly suggest you give some time even if you are not in Minnesota. His stories are often inspirational and positive, while showing a human element that is challenging to find elsewhere. I would recommend Mrs. Delicious Pay It Forward Ice Cream which convinced me that goodness is prevailing and that I would be willing to pay $20 for an ice cream bar under these circumstances. Next give a watch to this Switched at Birth story which is genuinely amazing and follow it up with a bittersweet story about Best Friends, one of whom is a WWII veteran and the other who is a preschooler. If you too need a dose of positively and optimism and want to follow and see more of these stories on Facebook, you can do so here.

Links worth clicking

Of local interest (MN):

  • Paul Douglas Blog – Paul provides accurate weather and forecast information as well the latest information on climate change and how it is impacting us.  Perhaps, he says it best, “My intention isn’t to alarm you or depress you but prompt you to go online and see the real scientific findings, free of ideological spin or snark.” This is the most comprehensive and consumable blog I have seen because it is so factual and provides great detail.  Pick a day and give it a read.
  • Minnesota Retiree Environmental Technical Assistance Program – RETAP is a FREE program and intended for businesses and schools interested in reducing their energy consumption.  Engineers will come to your business and do an assessment to determine ways to reduce waste, save energy, conserve water, etc.  This program is highly organized and something that every business and school in Minnesota should be taking advantage of.
  • Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment – MNCEE is a great local non-profit that brings energy solutions to homeowners as well as businesses.  You might have seen their home energy squad vehicles in your neighborhood helping install efficient lighting, programmable thermostats, insulation, and more.  Regardless of if you are a homeowner or business owner, this group can help you save energy and accelerate the return on investment for renewables.  They also sponsor the Minnesota Energy Challenge which has brought schools, businesses, and neighborhoods into friendly competition to help save energy.
  • Minnesota Renewable Energy Society – Whether you are interested in attending workshops or classes on sustainability solutions or speak to homeowners who have implemented clean energy solutions, this is a great place to start.  They have dedicated staff and you have most likely seen them at the ECO Experience at the great Minnesota get together.

General:

  • The Story of Stuff Project – This site has great information about some of the issues with our current approach to sustainability.  If you have not seen any, check out the videos Annie Leonard does under the movies section and start with the original; Story of Stuff.  Coming soon is the Story of Solutions which will recognize some of the great opportunities and work being done.
  • Citizens Climate Lobby – The CCL is a non-partisan national group with local chapters who recognizes that getting local elected officials aware of the facts is critical to getting change implemented.  Their site and group is highly organized and regardless of if you are interested in engaging a congress person or writing a letter to the editor, this is a great site to give a read.
  • Department of Energy – The DOE site has all of the information on tax credits and rebates, energy saving information, energy use per person averages, details on emerging energy solutions, and lots more public information.  The Environmental Protection Agency has similar content with an additional focus on human health impacts and you can jump over to the Energy Star website for comparison of the efficiency of new appliances and more.

Places to find factual and scientific information on  climate change:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA is a Department of Commerce agency that does weather forecasts, storm monitoring, climate monitoring and more.  They are dedicated to protecting humans and natural resources and the site is full of interesting information.  Climate.gov is also a NOAA site promoted to increasing the public understanding of climate science and climate related events.
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – The IPCC is the international body of scientists in charge of assessing climate change.  Thousands of scientists from around the world contribute to the work and the assessment reports are incredibly detailed.  The IPCC is one of the primary targets of the denier community because their information is so scientifically factual and damaging to the fossil fuel industries impact on our planet.  The fifth assessment report is officially released tomorrow (Monday 9/30/13).

Fun:

  • Walk off the Earth – because sometimes sitting back and appreciating talented people is a good investment of time.  If you have never seen their videos, there are plenty to check out and be entertained by, like this one.