Most Americans say they now believe in climate change, but the looming threat remains a low priority in their lives.
So we decided to talk to families about climate change. The goal was to understand why this is an issue so many people know is important but is still so easy to ignore?
We found 13 families from all over Chicago and convinced them to let us into their homes. Before we arrived, the only thing we told them is we wanted to talk about the future. Every family was engaged — and they were very generous to let us waltz into their living rooms with our microphones and intrude on their weekends.
LISTEN: “Why Isn’t Climate Change a Dinner Table Topic?”
We talk to scientists a lot on the Nerdette podcast, but we’re definitely not experts. So we asked Heidi Cullen to ride shotgun.
Cullen is a climate scientist who runs the Climate Central website. She has a particular mission: get people motivated to act on climate change.
Cullen says she often thinks of a quote by F. Sherwood Rowland, an atmospheric chemist who won a Nobel Prize in 1995. He said, “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”
“I’m really worried that’s what we’re going to do with climate change,” Cullen said.
So in late August, Cullen flew out from New Jersey for a two-day road trip to meet the families.
We traveled all over the city, from the Far Northwest Side to the South Side. (And, yes, we get the irony of all this driving.) We visited condos, houses and apartments. We met new parents and toddlers, foster children and grandmothers, all willing to sit down at their kitchen tables to let us ask them about what the next generations could face.
This story was produced by WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR news station. And be sure to check out more stories in WBEZ’s “Heat of the Moment” series, which explores the impacts of climate change on our everyday lives. Support for “Heat of the Moment” is provided by The Joyce Foundation, which works to improve quality of life, promote community vitality and achieve a fair society.