I recall telling a reporter recently to ask me something different than the “temperatures are warm” thing. My point was that we are in a changed climate paradigm. Record warmth and new records are the “new normal.” At what point are such records not “breaking news” anymore? In a press release on February 6th, NOAA led with:
Earth’s long-term warming trend continued in 2018 as persistent warmth across large swaths of land and ocean resulted in the globe’s fourth hottest year in NOAA’s 139-year climate record. The year ranks just behind 2016 (warmest), 2015 (second warmest) and 2017 (third warmest)…In separate analyses of global temperatures, scientists from NASA, the United Kingdom Met Office and the World Meteorological Organization also reached the same heat ranking.
Most major news outlets led with a similar narrative. These facts are interesting, important and terrifying at the same time. However, is it really breaking news? Technically, I suppose it is, but you get my point right? I fully expect 2019 to be in the top 5 and possibly even number one given potential El Nino impacts.
I published a Forbes article a few years ago conveying nine tips to communicate science to the non-scientists. Two important points in that piece were to ( 1 ) get to the point (graphic above) and ( 2 ) keep the message miniature, memorable and meaningful. Specifically, I noted:
Scientists need to work hard to keep their message memorable, meaningful and miniature. These are the so-called “Three M’s of Messaging” that the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has also recommended in its Science Communications workshops.
Scientists, media, and stakeholders must move beyond the annualized, methodical reporting of “it’s the ____ warmest year every” or “temperatures continue to rise.” I argue that such headlines are not “meaningful” to the public or a policymaker. People don’t notice averages, they notice extremes or impacts on their immediate lives. Even as scientists understand the implications of 1 to 4 degrees of warming, many people, particularly in the United States, will go “Meh, I like that its 80 degrees F in February (as it was in Atlanta yesterday).” I often point out that in isolation a 2 or 3 degree fever doesn’t sound that bad. However, a child running a 100-101 degree fever over a sustained period of time is not good for the body and extreme things will eventually happen to the system.
This is exactly how I see with climate change. The “so what” for people is not more graphs and charts showing warming. It is placing such warming within the context of their lives, “kitchen table” issues, well-being, and health. For me, the most important information in the aforementioned NOAA press release was,
In 2018, the U.S. experienced 14 weather and climate disasters, each with losses exceeding $1 billion and all totaling around $91 billion in damages. Both the number of events and their cumulative cost ranked fourth highest since records began in 1980.
Hurricane Michael, Hurricane Florence, and the western wildfires caused $75 billion in damages. Weather-climate related events also killed 247 people and injured numerous more. However, if you take a deeper look at these disasters, “kitchen table issues” can be found. Florence and Michael significantly impacted the cotton, peanut, poultry, turkey and pecan sectors of the agriculture community. I challenge you to consider how many products you will use this week from those sectors. Wildfires in California impacted the wine industry, construction, and film production. In a recent Weather Geeks Podcast, Steve Bowen, Director and meteorologist at Aon, and I reviewed the economic impacts of 2018 weather disasters.
Most articles this week led with a trend line map or the map below. I chose to end this piece with such a graphic information. It is scientifically important, but its just not the story that resonates with the public. I don’t believe it is also the type of information that provokes action by policymakers either. Their constituency are people in their districts not journal articles. My colleague professor Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology, eloquently articulated to Congress this week why action is need “now.”
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In my Forbes posts, I attempt to offer reputable clinical info in a way that a researcher, trainee, policymaker, or somebody at the Shopping mall can comprehend. I frequently utilize the “ So What?” base test to communicate my ideas due to the fact that lots of researchers get “stuck in the mud” of their discipline ideas and lingo. As a researcher and teacher, I browse the “scholastic treadmill” and the more comprehensive “health club” of media, policymakers, and public groups. I frequently make the point that there is an unsafe inertia in how environment science is gone over that does not resonate with the general public. Just recently, NASA and NOAA revealed that 2018 was the 4th most popular year for the world considering that record-keeping started This was the dominant heading. It was likewise the subject that press reporters connected to me about. We are well past the time for the story to progress on how researchers, media, and policymakers talk about environment modification.
I remember informing a press reporter just recently to ask me something various than the “temperature levels are warm” thing. My point was that we remain in an altered environment paradigm. Tape heat and brand-new records are the “brand-new typical.” At what point are such records not “breaking news” any longer? In a news release on February sixth, NOAA led with:
Earth’s long-lasting warming pattern continued in 2018 as consistent heat throughout big swaths of land and ocean led to the world’s 4th most popular year in NOAA’s 139- year environment record. The year ranks simply behind 2016 (hottest), 2015 (2nd warmest) and 2017 (3rd warmest) … In different analyses of international temperature levels, researchers from NASA, the UK Met Workplace and the World Meteorological Company likewise reached the exact same heat ranking.
(* )Many significant news outlets led with a comparable story. These realities are intriguing, crucial and scary at the exact same time. Nevertheless, is it actually breaking news? Technically, I expect it is, however you get my point right? I totally anticipate 2019 to be in the leading 5 and perhaps even primary offered possible El Nino effects.