Visual by Ian Cheney

Tipping the Scales on Climate Change


In its physical, political, and ethical dimensions, the climate change problem is mind-boggling — and perhaps more complex than any other humanity has ever faced. With that reality in mind, the Knight Science Journalism Program and Undark Magazine teamed up at the 2017 Cambridge Science Festival to present a short film and panel discussion aimed at bringing the problem down to size.

Panelists included Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ian Cheney, whose yearlong Measure of a Fog series for Undark took a unique look at climate change as a scale problem. A 10-minute overview of that film series launched the event. He was joined by Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication; climate activist Nicole Hernandez Hammer; and former Obama climate policy adviser Bina Venkataraman. The panel was moderated by climate journalist Andrew C. Revkin.

“Belief that climate change is happening is at an all-time high, at 70 percent of Americans,” noted Leiserowitz, “and that shift upwards that we’ve seen in just the past couple years? That’s not happened among Democrats, it hasn’t happened among independents, it’s happened among Republicans. And not just liberal-moderate Republicans. The real shift has happened among conservative Republicans.”

And that, the panel agreed, is reason for hope, given that the political dimensions to the problem have proven far more difficult to overcome than the technological ones.

The full panel discussion — along with the debut of Cheney’s visually stunning short film, “Measure of a Fog,” can be viewed above.