CHARLOTTE, N.C. — WCNC Charlotte Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich is a trusted weather source in the Carolinas. And when it comes to climate change, Panovich is passionate about sharing as much information with viewers as possible.
“We do pretty heavy research on our audiences and the overwhelming majority of people want information about climate change," Panovich told Samuel Earley with Queens University of Charlotte in a recent interview. "They really do,”
“People are really starving for information and they want it from somebody who's not a politician, and who's not an activist, but someone who is just a scientist,” Panovich said to Earley. “And one of the benefits I have as a local meteorologist is people tend to look at me as an unbiased scientist and kind of somebody who's going to give them the straight facts.”
In addition to the YouTube channel, Panovich has a huge social media following, and he is leveraging those platforms to disseminate that information.
And while climate change might seem really far into the future to some people, Panovich emphasized it's more immediate than many people think.
“A heavy precipitable water event maybe 20 years ago might have been an inch, inch-and-a-half, 2 inches, and the last five to 10 years, I've seen events where we've had 3-inch precipitable water in the atmosphere, which is just off the charts," Panovich explained to Earley. "You usually never seen that in a whole career.”
Panovich focuses on the facts and science of climate change when discussing it.
“People get caught up in arguing about policy, which I think is unfortunate because there are debates you can have about policy, but it doesn't make the problem fake or hoax,” Panovich admitted to Earley.
He said he will sometimes compare climate change to tax policies surrounding poverty.
“A lot of people want to deal with it through tax policy, whether you increase or decrease taxes, whether you increase or leave the minimum wage alone, whether you have training programs, right? These are political debates that we have all the time," Panovich said to Earley. "But very few people go, ‘Well, I don't like that policy. So I'm just going to pretend poverty doesn't exist.’ But for some reason, we've done that with climate change."
While he's frustrated by that trend as a scientist, he hopes the information he shares on YouTube and his various social media platforms will help people better understand that climate change is real and impacts everyone.
Samuel Earley is a student in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, which provides the news service in support of local community news.
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