Communicate Weather and Climate with Humor and Fun
Today's guests, Dr. Ellen Prager and Dave Jones have found engaging, relevant, and understandable methods to bring the science of ocean, atmosphere, and climate issues to the so-called, ‘non-choir.’ Presenting the information in such innovative and entertaining ways keeps them committed to finding new approaches to reach their target audience. This is crucial since climate change is a critical topic for everyone, not solely those interested in science. Ellen and Dave have an extensive network within the broadcast meteorology community and work to bring them together with leading climate scientists through extreme weather, climate change, and community resilience summits. They believe broadcast meteorologists offer an especially effective way to reach people with scientific information about more than just weather, such as climate change. Additionally, they have written a book for Columbia University Press to engage the public and help combat misinformation about the ocean, marine life, weather, hurricanes, climate change, and more. Their thesis focuses on the frequently asked and sometimes oddball questions they and their colleagues receive, using easy-to-understand answers and some humor to make it more interesting. The title is tentatively ”Megalodons, Mermaids, and Climate Change: You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers. Ask Away!!!,” which is slated to come out in Fall 2024. Ellen and Dave hope to complete a series of public-oriented events associated with the book and restart the summits (the last one was right before COVID) in the next year or two, especially as the impacts of climate change are expected to get more extreme in the future. Climate change doesn’t cause hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves, or flooding, but it makes them more extreme with costly and, in some cases, tragic consequences. About Ellen Prager, PhD Ellen Prager, PhD, is a marine scientist and author, widely recognized for her expertise and ability to make science entertaining and understandable for people of all ages. She currently works as a freelance writer, consultant, Chief Scientist for StormCenter Communications, and Science/Program Advisor to Celebrity Cruises in the Galapagos Islands. She was previously the Chief Scientist for the Aquarius Reef Base program in Key Largo, FL, which includes the world’s only undersea research station, and at one time, was the Assistant Dean at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Dr. Prager has built a national reputation as a scientist and spokesperson for the earth and ocean sciences and is a sought-after speaker for public-oriented events. She has appeared on “The Today Show” and “NBC News”, “Good Morning America”, CNN, “Fox News”, “CBS Early Show”, The Weather Channel, shows for the Discovery Channel, and was a consultant for the Disney movie “Moana.” Ellen focuses much of her time on bringing earth and ocean science to the public through writing, working with the media, creating innovative partnerships, and speaking events. Her recent publication “Dangerous Earth: What We Wish We Knew About Volcanoes, Hurricanes, Climate Change, Earthquakes and More” takes an engaging look at what scientists wish they knew about some of the planet’s most powerful forces. Her latest novel for young readers, “Escape Greenland”, released in April 2021, combines fast-paced adventure, humor, and relatable characters with fun learning about climate change, science, and nature. It is the second book in a series entitled “The Wonder List Adventures” published by Tumblehome Learning. The first book, “Escape Galapagos,” released in 2019, received rave reviews from readers. The first book in her previous middle-grade series, “The Shark Whisperer”, has been called, ‘an underwater Harry Potter.’ Her previous popular science book, “Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans’ Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter”, took an entertaining look at marine biodiversity, its relevance to the average person, and why ocean life and resources are now at risk. Ocean advocate Carl Safina says of the book, “A great book for beginners and even experts can learn from and enjoy—this is possibly the best general book ever written on creatures of the deep.” It has also been called, “hilarious,” “tastefully salacious,” and “fascinating.” She has written articles for scientific journals, public-oriented magazines, and several other books including “Chasing Science at Sea: Racing Hurricanes, Stalking Sharks, and Living Undersea with Ocean Experts” and “The Oceans.” Ellen has also published a series of children’s books with the National Geographic Society. The first, “SAND” received the 2000 Parents Choice Award, and was followed by “Volcano” and “Earthquakes.” Ellen has participated in research expeditions to places such as the Galapagos Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and the deep waters of the Florida Reef tract. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, a master’s degree from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and in 1992, a doctorate from Louisiana State University. In 1992, as a faculty scientist at the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, MA, Ellen taught oceanography to undergraduates, teachers, and senior citizens in a unique educational program in which classroom learning is supplemented by extensive hands-on experience at sea aboard tall sailing ships. She later became the resident director of the National Undersea Research Center in the Bahamas. In 1997, she joined the U.S. Geological Survey where she split her time between scientific research in marine geology, oceanography, and coral reefs and public education. During 1998, the International Year of the Ocean (YOTO), Ellen co-chaired the subcommittee on research, exploration, and education for the National Ocean Conference presided by the President and Vice President of the United States. Ellen was a member and then Chairman of the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel for the federal government and was hired by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy to help write their report to Congress and the President. She continues to focus her efforts on developing innovative and entertaining ways to share her passion for the oceans and the environment with others. About Dave Jones Dave Jones is a 35-year veteran of the weather industry and worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He also served as an on-air meteorologist for nearly a decade in the 1990s at NBC4 WRC-TV, the NBC-owned and operated TV station in Washington, DC. Additionally, he appeared multiple times on NBC’s “Today Show”, NBC Europe, and CNBC Asia. While working for NBC, Dave developed the FIRST television weather website in the nation in 1995, launching a new era in communicating NASA data to the public. The website, “WeatherNet4” positioned NBC4 in Washington, DC, and NBC across the nation as a broadcast leader and early innovator of internet technology. For several decades, Dave was a co-organizer and host of an annual weather and climate summit to bring together leading scientists and broadcast meteorologists. The summit quickly became a favorite event for broadcast meteorologists at both the national and regional levels. It reached millions of households through related live productions and, later, via social media. In 2001, Dave founded StormCenter Communications, Inc. Under the Federal Government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, he and his team developed a unique technology known as GeoCollaborate. This groundbreaking technology allows the sharing of trusted data across any web mapping platform in real-time, enhancing situational awareness and decision-making across various sectors, agencies, and organizations. GeoCollaborate is being adopted by US Federal Agencies, States, and private sector organizations facilitating more effective decision-making in markets such as military, intelligence, civil agencies, climate resilience planning, energy and transportation, food, agriculture, healthcare, cyber, and homeland security. Due to StormCenter’s SBIR success, the company was honored as a Tibbitts Award Winner by the Small Business Administration for exceptional performance under the SBIR program. Dave, a former president of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP Federation), continues to co-chair the ESIP Disaster Lifecycle Cluster. He has recently played a crucial role in advancing Operational Readiness Levels (ORLs) for trusted data to inform decision processes. In 2006, Dave received the ‘Charles S. Falkenberg Award’, an esteemed ESIP-AGU recognition given to an early to mid-career scientist who has contributed to the quality of life, economic opportunities, and planet stewardship through the utilization of Earth science information and to the public awareness of the importance of understanding our planet. Dave was also honored as ESIP’s Partner of the Year for 2020.