An online press briefing on Feb. 17 was held by Covering Climate Now and Scientific American, entitled “The Best Climate Science You’ve Never Heard Of.”
The event, held over Zoom, discussed a misconception. As written in the description of the event, journalists covering climate have been reporting what was considered “the scientific consensus,” being if greenhouse gas emissions stop now, temperatures across the globe will keep rising for decades.
“But in fact the latest science doesn’t say that. The lag time for temperature rise would actually be as little as 3 to 5 years,” as was noted in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
With the next IPCC report scheduled to debut later this month, the press briefing’s goal was to inform members of the media aspects of the latest climate science.
Panelists included Dr. Michael E. Mann, a professor of Atmospheric Science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State and Professor Saleemul Huq, the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Dhaka and a professor at the Independent University Bangladesh.
Moderators included Mark Hertsgaard, Covering Climate Now’s executive director and environment correspondent at The Nation and Laura Helmuth, Scientific American’s editor in chief. Hertsgaard stressed the importance of the talk, saying that “virtually no one outside of the scientific community knows about this,” even though the science was included in IPCC’s latest report released in August.
Huq explained that as a Bangladeshi, his country has been a primary victim of climate change.
Bangladesh suffered devastating cyclones and flooding last year. “You guys have just started hearing about it,” said Huq, “But we’ve been facing it and we are facing it successfully.”
Huq helped train diplomats who inserted the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Helmuth added that an opportunity for journalists in other parts of the world can learn from Bangladesh and from some of the places that are adapting necessarily fastest and most creatively.
When responding to a question about global carbon models, Mann explained that there is potential for uncertainty when covering projections. “We can’t rest on our laurels… But what it likely does mean is that we’ve got more time than we may have realized to try to do something.”
“I hope this conversation helps fortify you in your newsroom. We face a climate emergency and we as journalists have to be clear about it. We as journalists have to follow the science,” said Hertsgaard.