Cuale River after Hurricane Lidia in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Cuale River after Hurricane Lidia in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

New Initiative Based at YSE Provides Timely Climate News in Spanish

A news site launched by Yale Climate Connections, YCC En Español, is providing coverage in Spanish of climate change and extreme weather events to Latino and Hispanic communities.

In October, when Tropical Storm Max and Hurricane Lidia, a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 140 mph, were both bearing down on Mexico’s southern Pacific Coast within 48 hours of each other, YCC En Español, an initiative of Yale Climate Connections at the Yale School of the Environment, provided news and information about resources to residents in the path of the storms. Several weeks later, YCC En Español, also reported on Hurricane Otis, which made landfall near Acapulco at Category 5 intensity, and, last spring, the site covered Hurricane Hilary, the first tropical storm to directly hit San Diego in nearly a century.

The Spanish news stories are part of a new initiative by YCC to provide news and information on climate issues to Hispanic and Latino communities. YCC launched YCC En Español in September 2022 with the goal of publishing 30 articles and conducting 10 digital campaigns in Spanish to attract 100,000 pageviews to its news hub by the end of 2023. It has since published 90 articles, conducted 43 digital advertising campaigns on Facebook and Google alerting Spanish-speakers to storms and other severe weather events and garnered more than 500,000 page views.

Pearl Marvell
Pearl Marvell

“The project and demand for our content far exceeded our expectations,” said Pearl Marvell, features editor at YCC En Español. “Altogether, our articles received over 530,000 pageviews, more than five times our goal. Most importantly, an audience survey we conducted this fall found that the project has impact. A majority of respondents reported that our Spanish-language articles inspired them to take action on climate change and prepare for extreme weather.”

The initiative grew out of studies conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) that gauge concern about climate change across age, race/ ethnicity and gender. The studies found that a majority of Hispanic and Latino adults (64%) in the U.S. are concerned about global warming and are more likely to be “Alarmed” or “Concerned” than white adults. A recent YPCCC study also found that residents of Puerto Rico are among the most worried about climate change in the world.

“Latinos are one of the fastest growing demographics in the U.S., with a growing influence in American politics, economics, and culture. Our research has found that Latinos in the U.S. are very engaged with the issue of climate change. They are more likely to know it is happening and that it is human caused. They are more worried about it, more supportive of climate policies, and are willing to get personally involved,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of YPCCC and YSE senior research scientist. “And interestingly, primarily Spanish-speaking Latinos are even more engaged with the issue than English-speaking Latinos.”

The Spanish-language breaking news content has been produced with the help of YCC’s Jeff Masters, a hurricane scientist who co-founded Weather Underground, and Bob Henson, a meteorologist and journalist. Marvell has been in charge of translating the site’s content from English to Spanish. Volunteer translators from Climate Cardinals, a youth-led nonprofit aimed at making information about the climate movement more accessible to non-English speakers, also have contributed to the project.

Our research has found that Latinos in the U.S. are very engaged with the issue of climate change. They are more likely to know it is happening and that it is human caused. They are more worried about it, more supportive of climate policies, and are willing to get personally involved.

Anthony Leiserowitz YPCCC Director

In the next phase of the project, which was seed funded by CO2 Foundation, YCC will continue to produce articles about the causes of climate change and the link between climate change and specific weather events. It also will report on the consequences of climate change, climate solutions, and actions individuals can take to protect themselves and their communities. The site has partnered with La Red Hispana, a Spanish-language media outlet that helps to distribute YCC’s stories, Climate Central, which works with a network of Spanish-speaking meteorologists, Latino Verde, and Factchequeado.

Sara Peach
Sara Peach

While the news site is aimed at the Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S., readership includes residents of the Caribbean, Mexico, and other Latin America countries.

Marvell said YPCCC studies have been invaluable in helping to discern and communicate the climate content readers are seeking. The news site is an initiative of the Yale Center for Environmental Communications, which is directed by Leiserowitz along with YPCCC.

“Through our relationship with YPCCC, we have an incredible tool about how to effectively communicate climate change,” she said.

YPCCC’s groundbreaking study, “Global Warming’s Six Americas” identified six different audiences in the U.S. who respond to global warming in different ways. The study found that 35% of the Hispanic/ Latino population surveyed are “Alarmed” about climate change and 29% are “Concerned.”

“So many people that speak Spanish either work, live, or have loved ones who are essentially on the front lines of climate change, such as those who live in Puerto Rico where Hurricane Maria was a huge wakeup call,” Marvell noted.

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This year, YCC is seeking to deepen its relationship with readers to become a trusted site on climate science and solutions among Spanish-speakers, Marvell said. The site has brought in four Spanish-speaking contributors, including Rafael Méndez Teresa, an atmopsheric scientist at the University of Puerto Rico who is an expert on Carribbean climate change, and will start publishing articles written originally in Spanish and some content only for Spanish-speaking readers.

“We’ve learned to treat the Spanish-language news hub as a media channel in its own right, rather than merely a translated version of our English-language work. We heard feedback, for example, that readers value seeing stories written by Latinx writers, as opposed to only translated versions of articles by writers with Anglo names,” Marvell noted.

Sara Peach, editor-in-chief at YCC, said the site will also be inviting readers to pledge to take action on climate change.

“We have a goal that 50% of our stories will point readers toward a solution,” Peach said. “We want to know whether the content helps move people to take action.”

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