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Anna Fahey's Posts

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Talking to the Tea Party about climate?

Green tea: Is there a little Tea Partier in all of us?Photo: Czajnik ZielonyCross-posted from Sightline Daily. Striking up a conversation about climate change with somebody who denies the science? Usually I'd say, "Don't bother." But if I'm right and there's actually a little Tea Partier in all of us, maybe there's a thing or two hard-core science deniers can teach us about climate communications more generally. First things first. Where is the so-called Tea Party on climate change? Recent polling shows that it's not a voting bloc that we're likely to persuade. Indeed, research by Yale and George Mason …

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The first rule of talking about extreme weather

Extreme weather can be an opening to talking about the climate-weather connection.Photo: Ani CarringtonCross-posted from Sightline Daily. This is part four in the series "Talking Weather and Climate." Read parts one, two, and three. In the movie, the first rule of Fight Club was "you do not talk about Fight Club." (That was also the second rule, in case anyone overlooked rule No. 1.) There's long been a similar but unspoken rule for journalists and scientists when it comes to making a connection between extreme weather and climate change. Don't talk about it. But that's changing. As one of the …

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Heated debate: public opinion on climate and weather

No one denies that it's hot. But public debate about climate change is still highly politicized.Photo: Joe ChungCross-posted from Sightline Daily. This part three in the series "Talking Weather and Climate." Read parts one and two. In late July, officials put nearly half of the U.S. population under heat advisories, and an unusually prolonged streak of day and nighttime temperatures broke more than 220 records. At least 22 deaths were heat-related. In Canada, temperatures broke records in two dozen cities across Ontario and Quebec on one day, and Toronto saw its hottest ever July temperature: 100.2 degrees F. Based on …

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The new abnormal: look who's talking about climate and weird weather

Photo: Chris Toombes Cross-posted from Sightline Daily. This is part two in the series "Talking Weather and Climate." Read part one. If you're like me, you've been mentally cataloging a bunch of weather events that have seemed weird and extreme, wondering to yourself: Is this normal? Am I the only one who thinks this is odd? Prompted by those feelings, and spurred on by a nascent conversation about the connections between extreme weather and climate change, I started asking the question: Just how should climate change communicators be talking about the weather? One possible answer came from national climate action …

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Talking about the weather, post chitchat

Photo: Tom MaglieryCross-posted from Sightline Daily. Talking about the weather has always been a favorite American pastime. But recent extreme weather events seem to have propelled us into a post-chitchat era. With droughts, heat waves, dust storms, tornadoes, wildfires, and floods dominating the headlines, many folks are starting to talk about the weather with a sense of mystification -- if not dread. And some are even beginning to connect the dots between extreme weather and scientific warnings about global warming. Like many of you, I've been trying to sort out what extreme weather means for those of us who communicate …

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What ‘The Simpsons’ could teach us about global warming

Are climate scientists the Milhouses of America?Cross-posted from Sightline's Daily Score blog. I encourage you to check out a downright awesome analysis of the treatment of global warming on The Simpsons, over at The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media.* Meanwhile, here's my take. The Simpsons phenomenon is a reminder of the power of pop culture to reflect -- and shape -- political attitudes. But, as Sara Peach concludes, the longest running (hardest working?) show on TV hasn't exactly moved the public forward on the issue of climate change -- in terms of basic knowledge about the actual …

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How To Talk About Energy Policy

Matthew Yglesias makes a strong case that the “energy independence” frame has backfired when it comes to moving the public on climate-friendly energy policy. I agree. (Jon Stewart illustrates better than anyone how poorly this line has fared—as far back as the Nixon years!) And Yglesias isn’t alone. My colleagues in the climate policy communications arena have long known that it’s hard to argue with the drill, baby drill (or dig, baby dig) mentality when you’re pushing independence. Tapping nationalism and an already ramped-up fear of “evil-doers” has had its allure. But it blunts the issue, weakening calls for a …

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The Day When Breast Isn't Best

A list of ghastly toxics known to be present in human breast milk—from pesticides and flame retardants to deodorizers and wood preservatives—is enough to make any new mom question the oft-heard refrain that “breast is best.” Still, most experts still agree that breast milk is the healthiest choice for both moms and babies. That’s probably why parenting magazines and doctors’ office pamphlets rarely mention chemical contaminants in human breast milk: they want to encourage breastfeeding, rather than sow doubt about it. And as a result, moms are exposed to a lot of information on the health benefits of breastfeeding, yet …

Read more: Living

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Fish for Thought

Editor's Note: Anna wrote this post (and several others) before leaving on maternity leave. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl in December. To eat fish, or not? If you’re pregnant, nursing, or even thinking about becoming pregnant, it’s a Catch-22. Seafood is the best possible source of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is critical for a baby's brain and eye development, both in utero and in the “fourth trimester,” while the baby is nursing and the brain is still developing. But there’s a catch: seafood contains contaminants that can be harmful to babies—particularly methylmercury, which can …

Read more: Food, Living

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Mom-powered politics

Editor's note: Anna wrote this post (and a few more) before she left on maternity leave. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl -- Audrey -- in December. All moms have a stake in public policies that affect the health and safety of their families. But as I've found throughout this series, pop-culture resources for pregnancy and motherhood only occasionally point out the risks of toxics and almost never make the connection between pollution and political action. It's a missed opportunity. Moms have the potential for massive political clout, but so far that potential is largely untapped. Concerned mothers …

Read more: Living, Politics