As UN Sounds Alarm on Global Warming, Revisit FRONTLINE’s Recent Climate Reporting

October 10, 2018
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by Patrice Taddonio Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist

A still from "Greenland Melting."

From irreversible damage to coral reefs to serious coastal flooding, global warming could have severe effects across the world as early as 2030 — and an even more catastrophic impact soon after — unless there are “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” according to a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s panel for evaluating climate change science.

In what UN Secretary-General António Guterres described as an “ear-splitting wake-up call,” the report outlined dire likely consequences if the average global temperature were to rise by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrial levels — an increase, the report said, that would require immediate and widespread action to avert.

FRONTLINE has been reporting on the threat of climate change for years, and across platforms. Learn more about the science and politics of climate change in four of our most recent projects on the subject: a broadcast documentary on the forces shaping America’s climate policies; an interactive, multimedia film about an island nation threatened by rising seas; a 360-degree documentary on Greenland’s melting glaciers; and a text investigation involving efforts to influence climate change education.

1. War on the EPA (2017)

Since President Donald Trump took office, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sought to delay or roll back environmental regulations involving everything from coal-fired and natural-gas power plants, to oil and gas wells, to landfills and vehicle emissions. This documentary examines how combatting perceived federal overreach by the EPA became a popular conservative cause, and how now-former EPA head Scott Pruitt went from fighting the agency to running it. The film also unpacks the events that led up to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

2. The Last Generation (2018)


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What is it like to grow up in a place that’s going away? In this interactive documentary from FRONTLINE and The GroundTruth Project, meet Julia, Izerman and Wilmer — three children living in the Marshall Islands who are grappling with the possibility of seeing their low-lying homeland disappear due to rising sea levels.

3. Greenland Melting (2018)

For centuries, the enormous ice sheet covering the Arctic island of Greenland has been relatively stable. But over the past 15 years, Greenland’s glaciers have been melting much faster than expected. Why — and what does it mean for the rest of the world? Follow a team of NASA scientists as they try to find out, in this 360-degree documentary from FRONTLINE, NOVAEmblematic GroupX-Rez Studio and Realtra.

4. Climate Change in the Classroom

In 2017, FRONTLINE and The GroundTruth Project broke the story that the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank that rejects the scientific consensus on climate change, was seeking to influence some 200,000 K-12 public school teachers by mailing them textbooks, DVDs, and other materials rejecting the human role in climate change and arguing instead that rising temperatures have been caused primarily by natural phenomena. Learn about the group’s effort — and the responses and reactions it spurred – in a series of stories by reporter Katie Worth.

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