ABC News and Ginger Zee Celebrate The Power of Us This Earth Week (Exclusive)

It’s all too easy to feel powerless when contemplating the long list of environmental concerns impacting life on the planet we all call home, be it climate change, rising sea levels or a depleted ozone layer. That’s precisely why Ginger Zee wanted to send an empowering message when selecting a name for ABC News’s new week-long series commemorating Earth Week 2024.

“Last year, we did The Power of Water, so it would have made sense for us to choose another element,” the network’s chief meteorologist and climate correspondent tells TVNewser with a laugh. But air, fire and other natural elements will have to wait their turn, as Zee and her weather and climate team at ABC instead decided to bring the power back to the people with their ultimate choice of title: “The Power of Us: People, Climate, and our Future.”

“What it really comes down to is the choices that humans make, not just on an individual level, but on a community, government and global level,” she stresses. “And that’s what The Power of Us means—to incorporate all of it.”

Launching Sunday, April 21 and running through Friday, April 26, The Power of Us encompasses a number of environmental-themed stories that will air across ABC News programs like The View, GMA3 and Nightline, and platforms including ABC News Digital, ABC News Radio and ABC NewsOne. The series is part of The Walt Disney Company and National Geographic’s ourHOME campaign, which has been running throughout Earth Month on other Disney-owned properties.

Watch an exclusive clip from The Power of Us below: 

Zee reported many of the stories featured in The Power of Us and says that the experience of seeing human initiative for finding sustainable solutions to various climate crises in action provided her with fresh hope for the future. “We’re a lot better than we give ourselves credit for,” she notes. “We’re coming up with ways of revolutionizing the world and utilizing technology. I get really excited about the solutions—the part that gets murky is how do we agree on those solutions?”

That’s an allusion to the politicization of climate change that’s still rampant in American discourse about the issue, a subject that The Power of Us wrestles with ahead of a consequential presidential election cycle. A report set to air on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, for example, focuses on the efforts of the Environmental Voter Project to engage the Pennsylvania electorate and turn out the vote in November.   

“Nobody wants to hurt other people,” Zee says of what she thinks lies at the root of the current political divide over environmental issues. “Where it gets political is when people say, ‘It costs the wrong people too much to do it sustainably.’ But at the end of the day, everyone wants the same thing—they want to be heard. We can’t leave anyone out of the conversation.”

Ginger Zee tours an Earthship with architect and environmentalist Michael Reynolds. (Courtesy ABC News)

One of the most memorable conversations that Zee had while reporting The Power of Us was with Michael Reynolds, the Taos-based architect and environmentalist behind the Earthship solar house. Largely constructed out of recycled materials, including tires and bottles, Earthships eschew conventional utilities for geothermal heating and cooling, cisterns for water and greenhouses for food. Living in one of Reynolds’s signature creations for three days—a stay that will be chronicled on Good Morning America—almost convinced Zee to make an Earthship her dream retirement home. Almost.

“My husband was very nervous when I came back,” she jokes. “He was like: ‘We’re going to be building one then?’ I could see starting with an Earthship greenhouse. The house we lived in was 5,000 square feet and 2,000 feet of that was a greenhouse with garden ponds. You could take a fish out of the pond, grab some citrus off of a tree and grill it in a wood-fired oven. These buildings are meant to take care of everything and be autonomous—and they really are.”

While in the American Southwest, Zee also spent time with Brett Isaac, the founder and executive chairman of Navajo Power, for a story that will air on World News Tonight with David Muir. Located in Navajo Nation, the organization seeks to bring reliable and renewable energy sources—including solar power—to the estimated 15,000 homes that still lack electricity in the region.

Zee with Navajo Power founder, Brett Isaac. (Courtesy ABC News)

“We visited one woman who has been without electricity for 11 years,” Zee remembers. “She had a car battery that was powering her phone! Then Brett and Navajo Power brought her solar power and we got watch her turn the lights on for the first time. I asked her, ‘What’s the one thing you’re most excited about?’ And she said, ‘I can’t wait to plug my laptop in.”

That moment crystalized the message that Zee hoped to communicate to viewers this Earth Week. “Brett told me, ‘This for Navajo people by Navajo people, and it’s about our future,” she says now. “And I just thought, ‘That’s the power of us.’”


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