In the last 18 months I have traveled through five continents reporting about research on, and impacts of, climate change. In Europe I reported on the heatwave of 2003, which scientists say was made more likely by Earth's rising temperatures. I interviewed researchers who predict more and warmer extreme heat events in the coming decades. In India and Bangladesh I reported on the impacts and possible responses to rising sea levels caused by melting glaciers and warming sea water. In southern Africa I reported on drought, which many climate models say will likely increase there later this century. In Australia I joined a research team seeking clues to how high sea level rose during the mid-Pliocene (3.5 million years ago), the last time Earth had carbon dioxide levels as high as those in the atmosphere today.
As part of my reporting I interviewed scientists about their research and I interviewed many other people about climate impacts and how they were combating them. Wherever possible I also interviewed average people on the street about what they thought about global warming and what, if anything, they were doing—or would consider doing—to halt or slow it. Often I simply set my camera up on a tripod at a busy city intersection. There—sometimes with the help of a translator—I found pedestrians willing to give me a few minutes of their tme. Some of these people were concerned; others were not. Some have tried to reduce their carbon footprint. Others doubt there is anything useful individuals can do. Some simply despair that anything at all can be done.
I have compiled some of these short videos as the Heat of the Moment Voices series, a complement to the Heat of the Moment radio documentary and website. In addition to the average people I met on the street, I have also included a few short video clips of some of the scientists I interviewed. In these interviews, these researchers talk about the impacts of climate change and about why they think public opinion in the U.S. about climate issues seems so out of synch with that of people in the rest of the world.
This story was reported for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting as part of the Copenhagen News Collaborative, a cooperative project of several independent news organizations. Check out the feed here from Mother Jones.