The cover image from the Fourth National Climate Assessment captures the August 2018 Howe Ridge Fire in Montana's Glacier National Park. (Glacier NPS)

The climate change evidence right before our eyes. And a note on COVID-19

By John Mecklin, May 1, 2020

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The cover image from the Fourth National Climate Assessment captures the August 2018 Howe Ridge Fire in Montana's Glacier National Park. (Glacier NPS)

There is an entire literature focused on improved communication of accurate information on climate change to general audiences, particularly general audiences at least sprinkled with – and in the United States, sometimes dominated by – climate change deniers. The advice from those who research climate change communication goes in many directions. To better reach those unconvinced that Earth is warming and human activity is the cause, one might try reducing use of the term “climate change,” instead speaking in terms of “resilience” to natural disasters of the sort climate change causes. One could employ non-scientist messengers, using, for example, trusted Republican or conservative spokespeople to communicate the reality of climate change to Republican or conservative audiences. Most anyone who has dealt much with the issue knows it also helps to include some sense of hope in your climate stories, and if possible, action items ordinary citizens can use to make a difference. After all, convincing your audience that climate change is real and caused by human activity – mainly, the burning of fossil fuels that release the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – won’t do much good, if at the same time you convince your readers that the fight to arrest climate change is a lost cause.

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For this issue of the Bulletin, I decided to try what I call the “so deny this” approach, asking our authors to offer concrete, indisputable evidence that climate change is happening right now, right before our eyes, along with clear explanations of why that physical evidence can’t reasonably be explained, except as a result of warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions. The climate change they describe is not some vague theoretical effect that will come in the year 2100. It is here, now:

As the coronavirus crisis shows, we need science now more than ever.

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