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A Unique Voice for Climate Change

Sabrina McCormick, PhD

Sociology and Environmental Sciences, Brown University, 2009-11 S&T Policy Fellow. Now president, Evidence Based Media


Everyday millions of people tune into the NBC Nightly News to catch up on the latest national and world events. If you were watching on November 18, 2011, then chances are that you heard expert analysis from former Fellow Sabrina McCormick. Sabrina, who served at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2009-11, was interviewed as one of the lead authors of a report produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The media coverage didn’t stop there. Sabrina and the report on the extreme weather impacts of climate change also received high profile coverage in Time magazine and The New York Times. It all began when Sabrina was asked to write a guest blog about her experience working on the IPCC, on Sheril Kirshenbaum’s Culture of Science blog. Sabrina is a sociologist and filmmaker, and Sheril thought that brought a unique voice to the climate change debate. After reading Sabrina’s engaging blog post, Sheril contacted some colleagues, and Sabrina’s work was mentioned in The New York Times DOT Earth blog and Time magazine.

Sabrina was first nominated to participate in the IPCC report before her fellowship began. She is one of the only sociologists studying the extreme weather effects of climate change and the only sociologist selected to participate in the report. Sabrina completed much of the work for the report during her fellowship in the EPA National Center for Environmental Assessment, Global Change Research Program.

She shared that it felt gratifying to see the report receive high visibility news coverage, yet she was disappointed at the lack of coverage since then on such a critical issue. Which brings Sabrina to her next challenge – keeping the discussion going.

As president of Evidence Based Media, a media production and research company addressing environmental science issues, she is currently working on a project focused on creating online climate education for older adults and developing an outreach strategy on climate change assessments.

“We have so much work to do in order to make change on these issues to help everyone deal with the extreme impacts of climate change. Overall, at Evidence Based Media, we are trying to help investigators in the climate realm communicate the ‘so what’ of their work.”