'Currently' Is the Daily Weather Report That Doesn't Ignore the Climate Crisis

The way we talk about the weather has changed; now we need to talk about climate.

Woman weather forecaster in the 1970s
The way we talk about the weather has changed.

H. Armstrong Roberts Classic Stock / Getty Images

Every morning I wake up to Currently, a newsletter with weather information specific to a growing list of cities in North America, with two sections: a paragraph about the local weather, currently, and a story related to weather or climate. It was founded by meteorologist Eric Holthaus, author of "The Future Earth" who Sami Grover wrote about here. There are no moving maps and hourly predictions; just a well-written description by a local meteorologist or expert. It's described as "a community of people sharing resources and delivering justice, hope, connection, safety, and resilience in a world in urgent need of systemic action."

Cities that currently get Currently
Cities that currently get Currently.


Weather and climate are very much on people's minds these days as much of the world lives through unprecedented heat waves. However, reading Currently reminded me that for a long time, we had to deal with the difference between weather and climate. A decade ago, many American meteorologists and weather forecasters were, in fact, climate change deniers. Katherine Bagley of Inside Climate News reported that "only 19 percent accept the established science that human activity is driving climate change."

It was only back in 2015 that Senator James Inhofe, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, brought a big snowball into Congress to prove climate change was a hoax, because, hey, it's cold outside in February, even in Washington, DC. The response to this idiocy was usually to point out as Jeffrey Kluger of Time magazine did: "Either he really doesn’t understand that weather isn’t climate, that long-term trends are different from short-term bumps, that what happens at your house or in your town really, truly isn’t what’s happening everywhere else on the planet, or he does know and he’s pretending he doesn’t."

Perhaps the best explanation of the relationship between weather and climate came from Kate Marvel in Scientific American, who wrote "Don't be fooled: Weather is not Climate," with the subhead "But climate affects the weather." In 2018 she wrote:

"I won’t be sad to see the end of this summer. It’s been brutal: heatwaves in London and Tokyo, scorching temperatures and melting permafrost in the Arctic, wildfires ravaging California and Greece. A city in Oman saw temperatures exceeding 108 degrees F. At night. I wonder if this could be the year the world finally wakes up to the reality of climate change." 

She notes it is impossible to predict the weather far in advance: "Because of this, many people are nervous when talking about extreme weather events in a climate context. But a changing climate can “load the dice” on weather, making certain kinds of extreme event more likely."

I discussed this issue and Marvel's article with Meg Rutan, the partnership coordinator at Currently, noting that for years we would say "weather isn't climate." Yet Currently is a website discussing both climate and weather, founded by a meteorologist. She told Treehugger:

"Kate describes it very well—climate is the personality; weather is the mood. Climate sets the baseline for what the weather should be, but there's a lot of variability within a constraint," says Rutan. "The weather is influenced by climate change - it's the daily/weekly signal as to the effects of climate change on our everyday lives. Hurricanes, heat waves, and rainfall are all weather but climate change makes them even more hazardous. And as we continue to emit, these-climate charged weather events become even more pertinent to our daily lives. There'd be no forest if there weren't any trees."

Rutan adds: "I think activists and climate communicators make a mistake by only trying to see the big pictures; we need the smaller view of how important weather is to all of us every day and how the climate is fundamentally changing those parameters. Weather makes the climate personal and persistent rather than distant and slow. Aside from bringing people the weather services they need to stay safe on a regular basis, weather is a means by which people can understand climate change in their daily lives."

What's fascinating about Currently is that in a time when I get incredibly detailed weather data through Snowflake or Apple Weather, Currently gives me the big picture in well—written words, much like you would have got in your newspaper 20 years ago.

At the time of writing, Anwar Knight, the Toronto writer, notes that "the heat wave continues" and tells me the projected high for the day and that "There may be enough instability to generate a quick and isolated shower for the afternoon, but that risk is quite low." It's chatty, informative, and really all you need, followed by the article of the day. It is my new morning go-to source for information on both the personality and the mood of what is happening outside. Check it out at Currently.