A Parkite helped create ‘Climate of Hope’ documentary episode streaming on Hulu
‘Our America’ segment looks at the climate change crisis through the eyes of meteorologists
Parkite Anna Robertson gave the planet a gift to celebrate Earth Day.
The vice president of content and partner innovation of ABC Owned Television Stations, a division of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, and her team worked with National Geographic to create “Climate of Hope,” an episode of the ABC series, “Our America.”
The 46-minute program, which premiered April 17 in several ABC markets across the country, and nationally on Hulu, looks at the climate change crisis through the eyes of meteorologists across the country who have witnessed extreme weather, said Robertson, who is known by family and friends as Anna Wildman.
“In the past year, we’ve had more billion-dollar weather disasters than in any time in history,” she said. “We wanted to paint that picture about what is happening to our climate for people, because it is urgent that we do something about it.”
Those disasters included the Southern California wildfires and unhealthy air quality, flooding in the East, coastal erosion in the West and the deep freeze that hit Houston, Robertson said.
The program also examines these calamities’ disproportionate effect on communities of color, she said.
“Many of these communities don’t have the resources to prepare or recover from a cataclysmic event,” said Robertson, whose family moved from Los Angeles to Park City last fall.
Instead of just examining these catastrophes, the episode’s creators wanted to give viewers a glimpse of hope that future emergencies can be reduced, she said.
“We do have the technology, solutions and great innovators and ingenuity to solve these problems,” Robertson said. “We have solved hard problems in the past, and approaching (climate change) through the lens of hope and action shows what we all can do to make a difference in the future trajectory of our Earth.”
Throughout the episode “Climate of Hope” gives viewers an idea of what larger corporations are doing to help slow climate change.
“Most of our work at our local stations is focused on solution journalism, but I don’t think it’s enough just to report on the issues,” Robertson said. “We want to provide examples of how people are trying to solve those issues.”
Some of these solutions include indoor urban and vertical agriculture and the development of meatless protein that can reduce methane gas levels.
The program also gives individual viewers ideas of what they can do to address the crisis.
“There are things we, as individuals, can do to make an impact,” Robertson said.
One of those is cutting down food waste.
“A lot of people don’t realize the food we throw away goes to a landfill and creates more problems,” she said. “So we spend a whole segment on how much waste we produce, what kind of waste we produce and how to limit waste, which can actually save people money, as well as help the planet.”
Some of the ways to limit food waste include composting, eating meat less frequently, understanding how to recycle, reducing the use of single-use plastics and using glass jars, which helps fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer, according to Robertson.
“We wanted people to feel some agency and some involvement,” she said.
The seed for “Climate of Hope” was planted a few months before COVID-19 hit the United States, Robertson said.
“In my role, I oversee innovation efforts and try to think about the future of local news, and one of the top areas is weather,” she said. “We gathered some of our meteorologists from around the country together with the ABC News weather team and National Geographic for a weather innovation summit to talk about how we could make sure that we were delivering a great, next-generation experience focused on weather.”
One of the topics the summit covered was climate change.
“Given that National Geographic was at that summit as well, we spent a good time talking about our responsibilities and what we could do to best inform our communities about what was happening with respect to climate change,” Robertson said. “After we had done some research and found our viewers wanted more information about climate change from our weather team to help provide context and action items, we came up with this idea to put together this special through our unique opportunity to collaborate.”
The team put the project on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, but after seeing how the string of disasters affected the country, and being inspired by the notion of “climate hope” from National Geographic explorer Victoria Hermann, the team revived the project with the goal to air it on Earth Day 2021.
Still, the scope of climate change prevented Robertson and her team from addressing all they wanted.
“There is a lot of material we had to leave on the cutting-room floor and a lot of stories we had developed but couldn’t get to this time around,” she said. “While it was challenging figuring out what we should include, we tried to focus on some of the biggest issues that we felt were most impactful to provide context to what’s happening right now.”
The team has plans to cover additional topics in the months ahead, according to Robertson.
“It’s critical that we continue to provide contextual coverage of what is happening in our communities and the innovation and solutions that they are applying to the problem,” she said. “We’re committed. We have a great partnership and are committed to telling these stories on an ongoing basis.”
Robertson is grateful she now lives in Park City, a place she says is also committed to addressing climate change issues.
“I know these issues are at the top of mind for the community, and I’m excited to bring these to light in this national special, and let everyone here in our community know they can have an impact so they can enjoy the nature that is just at our fingertips,” she said.
“Our America: Climate of Hope” is currently screaming on Hulu.
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