To the average reader or listener of news, the idea of climate change might be too big to grasp, too big to feel personal or just too intimidating to care about.
The Cool Down is trying to change all that by including information about innovative thinkers and developments in the climate front while providing suggestions on what people can do every day to make real changes in their lives.
While working for Disney and ABC-owned stations, career journalist Anna Robertson learned more and more about weather and the looming long-term and very large impacts the planet already is starting to see due to climate change.
“I wanted to do a better job connecting the dots between climate and extreme weather,” she says. “I worked with local meteorologists across the country, with ABC News and National Geographic. … We got everyone into the same room. We had a weather innovations summit and we talked about how are we going to cover weather as it’s going to be an increasing issue for everyone, in terms of their day-to-day lives, but also to highlight what’s being done to protect cities.”
That conversation turned into an hour-long special on Hulu, “Climate of Hope,” sparking Robertson’s passion in climate work and leading her to co-found The Cool Down with Dave Finocchio, founder of the Bleacher Report, to do for climate reporting what he did for sports.
The Cool Down is a website that’s focused on all topics relating to climate change and trying to make it more relatable and understandable to readers.
While working on the Hulu special, Robertson wondered why more people didn’t share her passion.
“I felt that climate communication was broken,” she says. “Why weren’t more of my family and friends and those I knew engaged in the topic, making changes in their lives, realizing the urgency of the situation we were in? That’s the premise of The Cool Down. Climate communicators have been communicating to each other. A lot of it is focused on doom and gloom, a lot of it is very text heavy. There’s not a lot of great engaging content. People just feel super overwhelmed by climate as an issue. They feel there’s nothing they can do about it and they don’t know where to start.”
Discussions of climate have also become politicized, which further drives people away from wanting to get involved, she says. The important thing is to make content relatable and starting from the perspective of what most people want.
“If you think about climate change as a word on the bottom of a pyramid, and you think about, at the top, what people want in the future, we all agree on certain things,” Robertson says, borrowing an approach from climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. “They’re going to say I just want to be healthy. I want air I can breathe. I don’t want a drought. I think we need to focus on the things we agree on and figure out how to get there.”
Anna Robertson, co-founder and chief content officer of The Cool Down, talks to It’s All Journalism host Michael O’Connell about how the website is laser-focused on fighting pollution and filling the gaps that other news outlets leave out when covering climate.