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PBS North Carolina Initiative "State of Change" Explores the Local Impact of a Global Crisis
PBS North Carolina presents State of Change, an initiative examining the impact of climate change across the state.



New broadcast special about how North Carolinians have met the challenges of climate change premieres Wednesday, April 20. 

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, 4/14/2022 — PBS North Carolina, in partnership with the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, presents State of Change,an initiative examining the impact of climate change across the state and how communities have responded with innovative solutions. A new broadcast special, narrated by musician and North Carolina native Rhiannon Giddens, premieres on Wednesday, April 20, at 7 PM, on PBS NC, and re-airs on Earth Day, Friday, April 22, at 9 PM. It will also stream on our website, the PBS Video app, and YouTube with accompanying digital shorts about community initiatives and climate portraits of residents dedicated to environmental conservation. A free screening and panel discussion with local experts will be offered as a virtual and in-person event at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on Thursday, April 21. 

Sea-level rise, coastal erosion, ghost forests and increasingly powerful and frequent hurricanes directly impact North Carolina’s more than 12,000 miles of coastal shoreline. However, flooding and storms from extreme weather events as well as droughts and wildfires impact the entire state. This series delves into how solutions like land conservation, living shorelines, new building practices and beach nourishment programs are creating a more resilient state. 

“Our producers spent almost a year collecting the most impactful stories from across our state, highlighting the effects of a changing climate on North Carolina and, most importantly, on all our residents from the coast to the mountains,” says PBS North Carolina’s Chief Content Officer Justine Schmidt. “Luckily, North Carolinians are addressing the issues and providing solutions to this local—and global—problem. PBS North Carolina is proud to showcase their stories of impact and resilience through strong reporting and artful storytelling.” 

In addition to the hour-long special, State of Change presents digital shorts that report on how North Carolina communities have addressed the challenges of rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, stormwater management, flooding, habitat destruction and beach erosion. Climate portraits introduce those personally impacted by climate change, including a municipal leader in Princeville, a commercial fisherman in Ocracoke, an urban farmer and beekeeper in Winston-Salem, a river guide in Wilmington and a coastal scientist in New Hanover County. 

This series was produced with support from the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and is part of the Pulitzer Center’s Connected Coastlines reporting initiative. 

On Thursday, April 21, at 7 PM, PBS North Carolina will host a free screening of State of Change, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A moderated by Frank Graff, producer and host of Sci NC. Panelists include Dr. Kathie Dello, director of the North Carolina State Climate Office; Todd Miller, director of the North Carolina Coastal Federation; Dr. Amanda Martin, chief resilience officer, NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency, NC Department of Public Safety; and Dr. Solomon Bililign, professor of physics and director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ISET Center (Interdisciplinary Scientific Environmental Technology) at North Carolina A&T. The event will be offered virtually and in person at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. To register, visit Thanks to the North Carolina Science Festival for its generous support. 


Digital Shorts of NC Community Initiatives 

“Squeezing the Marsh”: Coastal saltmarsh habitats are being squeezed out of existence, threatening birds as well as depleting natural barriers against storms and flooding. Researchers from UNC Wilmington survey the marshes and report on what they’ve found. 

“Feeding the Beach”: North Carolina’s famous beaches bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to its coastal communities. Will expensive projects to replenish sand lost through storms and rising sea levels be enough to save our iconic beach towns? 

“Protecting the Shoreline”: Rising sea levels and increased development on the North Carolina coast have led to shoreline hardening. However, placing a hard wall along the edge of land to prevent beach erosion destroys ecosystems and doesn’t hold up in storms. Scientists see living shorelines—natural habitats that act as coastal barriers—as a better solution. 

“Resisting the Flood”: The historic town of Princeville sits on low-lying land within the floodplain of the Tar River. With increasing storm intensity due to our changing climate, the town experiences more frequent flooding. Princeville has turned to innovative building practices to “flood proof” the town, starting with their elementary school. 

“Flooding in the Streets”: Flooding when there are no major storms—called sunny day or nuisance flooding—impacts the entire East Coast, damaging cars, pipes and infrastructure and adversely affecting daily commutes and local businesses. Scientists from the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University are helping towns like Beaufort monitor real-time data to deal with the persistent flooding. 

“Keeping the Trees” (to be released next week): North Carolina’s high elevation peaks like Grandfather Mountain near Linville are home to a unique ecosystem: the spruce-fir forest. Plants and animals that inhabit this forest can survive extreme conditions but as temperatures increase and precipitation shifts, will they be able to adapt? Land conservation might hold the answer. 


Climate Portraits of NC Residents 

“Building Resilience”: Four years after Hurricane Matthew flooded 80% of Princeville, Commissioner Linda Joyner and the town continue to rebuild and elevate homes and businesses. Drawing inspiration from the formerly enslaved people who built Princeville, Joyner believes that resilience, strength and grace will carry the town through. 

“Adapting to Climate Change”: Ocracoke commercial fisherman Morty Gaskill makes his living on the water. He has experienced first-hand how the changing climate, increased development and erosion have affected North Carolina’s fisheries. For Gaskill, adaptability is the key to success on the island and on the water. 

“Just Ask the Bees”: An urban farmer and beekeeper from Winston-Salem, Samantha Winship shares how changing weather patterns affect the bees and her business. 

“History in the Trees”: Charles Robbins spends his days taking visitors down the Black River and into the Three Sisters Swamp to see ancient cypress trees. More than 2600 years old, they are a living record of climate and weather in the region. 

“Ecosystem Guardian”: Tracy Skrabal is a coastal scientist, avid surfer and mother who is passionate about protecting the outdoors where she works and plays. 

About the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources 

The NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development. For more information, please visit

About the Pulitzer Center’s Connected Coastlines Initiative 

Connected Coastlines is a nationwide climate reporting initiative in the U.S. coastal states. The initiative is building a consortium of newsrooms and independent journalists across America to report on the local effects of erratic weather patterns on coastal populations using the latest climate science. The Pulitzer Center has supported dozens of journalists covering climate change issues on every coastline in the mainland U.S.—the East Coast, Great Lakes, Gulf Coast and West Coast—along with Hawaii and Alaska. 

About PBS North Carolina  

As North Carolina’s statewide PBS network serving the country’s third-largest public media market, PBS NC educates, informs, entertains and inspires its statewide audience on-air, online and in-person. Through its unique partnership of public investment and private support, the statewide network includes in-person engagement, digital-first social and online content delivery, and four over-the-air channels—PBS NC, the North Carolina Channel, Rootle 24/7 PBS Kids and the Explorer Channel. Its transformational events and content spark curiosity and wonder for all North Carolinians. Additionally, PBS NC serves as the backbone for North Carolina’s state’s emergency services. Visit and join the conversation at and @MyPBSNC on Instagram and Twitter.  


Media Contacts: 
Kathleen Kramer, PBS North Carolina Marketing & Communications